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Summary of World Views about Social Action

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    They say love your neighbour but don’t I only need to look after myself?
    Who cares about the whales, Burma etc ?
    Can one person make a difference to the world?
    There are so many charity collectors wanting my money; how can I choose?
    Isn’t life all about earning money and everyone for themselves?
    Do we need religion now we’ve got social services?
    Is believing or having faith more important than doing?

For all the worldviews represented in this project, the social implications of faith or belief were of essential importance:
    •    All agreed that happiness derived from helping others, not just oneself
    •    All agreed that the poor and excluded are the top priority for charity/doing good
    •    Social justice, and equal treatment for all regardless of race, gender, religion, origin etc
    •    Most say the performance of menial/mundane tasks of service is good in itself
    •    All traditions had specific organisations for education, poverty relief in the community
    •    All also had methods and/or organisations for wider purposes (eg international relief; education/training to lift people out of poverty, etc)

The Sikh contribution draws on the basic Sikh focus on self and others:
    •    All Sikh philosophy is based on the twin concepts of self-realisation (Simran) and selfless service (Seva)
    •    The Gurus said that God is in humankind: so Sikhs serve God by serving people, individually, or through voluntary organisations
    •    The Gurdwara offers free food to all and shelter to all who need it
    •    Sikhs are encouraged to carry out menial tasks (serving, cleaning) as part of their daily lives
    •    Education and all forms of social provision must be available for all, regardless of race, gender, caste or age

The Buddhist contribution tries to balance monastic and household/community traditions:
    •    Monastic life releases people from the myths, regulation and compromises of social life, renouncing paid work or even asking for food - to spend time understanding who we truly are
    •    Social action, as practised by other Buddhist communities, includes education, health, poverty, nation, etc
    •    Asking whether meditation or social action is better is asking the wrong question
    •    What is important is generosity, moderation, virtue, ethics - all are tools for living

The Christian contribution emphasises the universal prevalence of doing good:
    •    Helping others seems to make all of us happier: having money and possessions doesn’t
    •    Moral heroes, (eg Martin Luther King, Mandela) excite our admiration
    •    But we shouldn’t beat ourselves up if we can’t be like them
    •    Jesus says visiting the sick, giving a drink to the thirsty, feeding the hungry, being nice to people are the most important things
    •    But selfishness - eg using all our money for ourselves - is always wrong - we should all ask - what difference can we make - in college, community or at home

The Hindu contribution emphasises:
    •    Good is dependent on context - the same action can be good for one person and bad for another
    •    Good can be short-term (pleasurable) or long-term (beneficial)
    •    Hindus see doing good as getting our priorities right
    •    Because we and all reality are spirit, undivided, when we help or hurt others, we help or harm ourselves
    •    Doing good links us with our real spiritual nature, doing harm obscures it

The Humanist contribution is underpinned by the belief that in this world we have:
    •    Human problems can only be solved by humans, so humanists have been active social reformers
    •    Happiness can only be achieved by making others happy
    •    Compassion, justice based on equality, open democracy and a sense of duty are driving principles
    •    Many organisations, for education, poverty relief, homelessness, health have been set up and/or supported by humanists
    •    International co-operation, through the United Nations, Human Rights, UNESCO etc

The Jewish contribution begins with scriptural and rabbinic texts on charity:
    •    “Justice shall you pursue ...”   Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God
    •    Through social action, we become partners in God’s creation, improving the world
    •    Educating people, teaching a trade, supporting employment - to prevent people remaining in poverty is the highest task
    •    Jews have led on Women’s Right, Civil Rights in US, refugee work, all based on updating the Torah

The Muslim contribution emphasises:
    •    Social action is a form of worship, as much as rituals and prayer
    •    All activities which help fellow humans, or the environment, are part of faith
    •    Zakah is a percentage of annual income to be given to the poor
    •    Being a good neighbour involves six duties from greeting, to advice and visiting
    •    Sharing our goods with others and offering hospitality are obligations