Every religion in the world has been preaching sustainability at its heart but not many can decipher the hidden essence of sustainable lifestyle coupled with a spiritual and mental awakening. Religious foundations have been promoting an eco-friendly life to work the world towards a healthier and better tomorrow. A seminar by United Nations recently focused on the same topic where United Nations urged these religious communities to continue their great work.
Religion and sustainability, working together since ages
Buddhism promotes the acceptance of the environment and everything in it to increase the value of life. The world’s oldest religion Hinduism regards Earth as the mother of everything and urges the followers to accept ways that can be used to give back to the Earth. In native American tradition it is quoted that “man belongs to Earth” and not the opposite. Most religions talk about man as the Earth’s Stewards and urge mankind to protect and save the Earth and give back as much as we take from it.
Working to a common goal
As trustees of God, the creator, we are entitled with the role of protecting and nurturing the Earth. This is our home and it is our duty to render it beautiful and safeguard it against any and all problems. The least that mankind can do is to preserve nature and not destroy the resources by polluting them with wastes. This is where sustainability takes roots from. Our religions have been guiding us towards this higher form of living since ages and we need to take a lesson and opt for eco-friendlier ways of living.
The Impact of Religion on lifestyle
A study was performed to find the relationship of pro-environmental beliefs and religious guidance. It was found that religion had planted roots of love towards nature and Earth and had initiated the followers into believing that they were Earth’s stewards.
Secular candidates on the other hand had no supernatural belief and were active participants in environment conserving initiatives. While religion poised challenges in the acceptance of eco-friendly technologies because of conflicts with their religious beliefs, secular candidates were free from a belief in afterlife and supernatural intervention and participated more actively.
Walking hand in hand with religion to make a difference
The seventh Millennium Development Goal (MDG) by United Nations has targeted three attributes, these are:
- Integrating sustainability into national policies to reverse the loss of environmental resources.
- Reduce by 50% the people without access to sustainable mode of safe drinking water.
- To improve the lifestyle of 100 million people living in slums by 2020.
To be able to achieve these goals the United Nations needs a helping hand in the form of religion. Religion has been shaping and reforming the attitudes of the followers towards pro-environmental living techniques for ages and can be a huge help in achieving sustainable development.
Shaping a coalition between religions
To realize the dream of sustainable lifestyle, religions will have to abandon defensiveness against it each other and establish common grounds. Inter-religion harmony is crucial to work towards a mutual goal. Religious movements can work at grassroots and these motivational speakers must communicate through expert panels to spread their message. To avoid disturbing the local religious harmony, development agencies can derive help from religious scientists to bring more acceptable technologies for preserving nature.
Challenges lining the way
The society has both the religious organizations and individual secular agencies, these may contradict in their principles and this may create unnecessary conflicts. While the secular agencies tend to dismiss a nonhuman divine entity, religious organizations mostly have low regard towards modern science. The two may conflict in aspects of free trading, wealth and consumerism and have to be brought on common grounds by developmental policies.
Sustainable choices can lead to spiritual peace, religious groups have always been promoting and shaping their followers’ attitude to be more gracious of the gift of nature.