Public Comment

Commentary: Genuine Democracy Should Be the Universal Human Religion

By Nazreen Kadir
Tuesday January 22, 2008

We—all 6.6 billion of us humans—live on the surface of a ball which we call planet earth. We have some theories and some evidence as to how land masses and oceans formed over millennia. The land masses were fixed, for the most part, until recently when the waters start to rise and encroach on bordering populations. We are in this together, so what should our response be? What should be our guide? 

If we follow the teachings of Jesus, we would live and let live, love our neighbors as ourselves, and treat others as we would want them to treat us. If we follow the Ten Commandments, we would not covet our neighbors’ goods and property. If we follow Qur’anic teachings, we would view the earth as a carpet on which people should be free to walk. If we follow the Golden Rules, it’s even simpler—we would do no harm. If we believe that all men, women, and children are created equal, then crafting public policies around these simple tenets should not be difficult. These tenets would guide our justice and economic systems and immigration laws, and we would not wage wars. But we do not adhere to any of these principles. So we should agree that religion does not shape our public decisions and activities and set it aside. So what should we fall back on to guide us? 

For a start, we should recognize that the entity we refer to as the human spirit runs through all 6.6 billion of us. In other words, we share an identical human spirituality. To the extent the source of this spirituality is some higher power, some super-natural energy, some extra-terrestrial, some celestial being, it’s the same for all of us. There is not one source for North Americans, another for Europeans, a different one for Asians and yet another for Africans. It gets easier. Scientists tell us that we share 98.5 percent of our genetic make-up, our DNA, our biological heritage, with primates, our closest non-human relatives. By this reasoning we have a one and half percent wiggle room in our humanness. It’s a tight fit. This is the physical diversity we spend so much time writing about, arguing and fighting over. It’s really silly when you think about it.  

If we accept that our finite resources are not to be wasted but to be shared equally until the last hungry child on the planet has been fed, we would start to behave differently towards each other. We would begin to view the world as a whole system. We would develop technologies, through mutual cooperation not market competition, that are beneficial to the entire system. We would develop whole systems making sure that a perceived gain in one part of the system does not produce a negative consequence in another part. We would elect public leaders who are capable of thinking in these terms; who would develop policies whether in food, health, education, housing, transportation, energy, the environment or foreign policy built upon these simple basic principles. This would be genuine democracy. This should be the basis of a universal human religion if we want to face an imperiled planet together as a single human race.  


Nazreen Kadir is an Oakland resident.