The Life Road heading to Dharamshala
with ‘The Charter on Earth-Life’
Prof. Lee Won-young (The University of Suwon, Institute of Country Futures)
January 24, 2019
The drafting of the Charter on Earth-Life initiated by Buddhist leaders was recently completed after two years of discussion. Expectations are high as the charter will be hand delivered to prominent religious leaders such as the His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Pope.
Lee Won-young, Professor of the University of Suwon) held an event called ‘The 2018 Seoul Draft of The Charter on Earth-Life’ at the Francisco Education Center in Seoul on December 13, 2018. Starting with Woljeongsa Temple in Pyeongchang, South Korean religious and academic figures, and foreign scholars such as Germany, Thailand, Canada and Japan participated in the drafting and review process.
The Life Road is a pilgrimage planned and implemented by Professor Lee, who felt the need to manage and dispose of nuclear power plants after the Fukushima nuclear explosion. The Charter on Earth-Life was established to spread the meaning of life dignity and denuclearization around the world through the Life Road. In fact, the pilgrims are planning to dedicate ‘The 2018 Seoul Draft of The Charter on Earth-Life’ by visiting the His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and Pope Francis.
Professor Lee Won-young said that the Life Road is a project with the goal of establishing a new international organization, a religious coalition.
Professor Lee said “Seven years have passed since the Fukushima accident, but the U.N. has remained silent. If the U.N. was created because of nuclear weapons, a regime that corresponds to the threat of nuclear power plants is also needed. Our goal is to establish an organization that is jointly monitored by religious communities around the world.”
The Charter on Earth-Life inherited the value of the U.N. “World Charter for Nature” (1982), the Rio Summit’s “Earth Charter”(2000), and the charter lays down how the religion communities should cooperate and practice nuclear-free. In the Charter, we propose to spread the value of life as the main goal beyond anthropocentrism, unlike the previous two charters.
The charter points to the limitations of the role played by international organizations such as the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and emphasizes the need for a ‘binding implementation system, not an abstract declaration’.
We also suggested seven principles of the Earth-Life that humans should pursue: ” Dignity of Life”, ” Connectedness of Life”, “Life community”, ” Humanity’s Responsibility”, ” Abolition of Nukes”, ” Cease of the Infringement on Life” and ” Duty to Act”.
The pilgrims left in May 2017 and walked 4,000km in 10 countries until early last year, and resumed from December 22, 2018. As of early January, they are walking toward Dharamshala, India, where the Office of His Holiness the His Holiness the Dalai Lama is located .
The pilgrimage plans to walk 5,000km to Vatican via 18 countries by April 2020.
The following is ‘The 2018 Seoul Draft of The Charter on Earth-Life’ (English version).
The nuclear power plant accident in Fukushima Japan in 2011 that shocked the world was the third disastrous accident after the Three Mile Island accident in the US in 1979 and the Chernobyl accident in the USSR in 1986. As a result, the earth’s atmosphere, sea, and land are still contaminated with radiation. The humanity realized that its end may come not with a nuclear war but a nuclear power plant accident. In addition, the nuclear wastes coming from 450 nuclear power plants across the world are life-threatening to the future generation. What is more, the civilization created by humans for the last 100 years has plundered the earth. Environmental and ecological problems like air pollution, ocean pollution and desertification, and climate changes leading to the extinction of many life forms are becoming worse in various places in the world. The disregard for life such as mass slaughter of livestock is also at a critical level.
The earth is the only habitat that holds such ecological fundamentals of life as abundant plants and animals, rich fertile lands, and clean water and air. It is the irreplaceable home of all humans. All life forms must be respected from the moment of creation as they are individual entities with originality and at the same time contribute to, and assist in the creation and existence of other life forms.
Because of their endless greed, humans who emerged most recently in the history of the earth have built civilizations but have destroyed the balance of the ecology of the earth and brought sufferings to many life forms. The right to life of all life forms must not be infringed upon. The crisis of life is the crisis of humanity. No organization or state has the right to ‘exclusively or monopolistically’ dominate the earth. Especially, the world powers must reflect on the shameful history of their destruction and killing of the earth and seek a fundamental transition in the ways of thinking in order for the life community to be sustained.
To this day, international organizations, including the United Nations (UN) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), failed to adequately respond to the crises and showed the limitations of their roles. A profound transformation of the awareness of the life community and a new solidarity is needed. Our such efforts must not stop with the adoption of a declaration for its sake, but must be translated into actions with binding forces. The existing agreements should also be revised based on the dignity of life.
In keeping with the spirit of the UN World Charter for Nature(1982) and the Rio Earth Summit’s Earth Charter(2000), we propose the following Earth-Life Principles that all humans must adhere to.
Article 1. Dignity of Life
All life forms have dignity. All life forms adapt continuously to the environment through birth, growth, and mutual exchanges. The dignity of life is the highest value.
Article 2. Connectedness of Life
No life form can exist alone. All life forms are connected like a web. Life is a real thing having lived through billions of years, continuing the cycle of mutual dependence where countless numbers of species are born, grow, and die.
Article 3. Life Community
The earth is a common habitat for all life forms including humans. The crisis of the life community is the crisis of humanity.
Article 4. Humanity’s Responsibility
Humans have the responsibility to respect other life forms and protect and care the earth’s eco-system. Moreover, humans have the responsibility to find the way to continuously protect the earth’s eco-system and to pass on in the sound state to the future generation.
Article 5. Abolition of Nukes
Nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants that can cause disaster and annihilation of all life forms must be abolished. The humanity must strive for peace, the expansion of renewable energy and the conservation of energy.
Article 6. Cease of the Infringement on Life
All scientific and technological actions, including genetic modifications that harm the dignity of humans and life forms, must be stopped. Humans must set stricter standards on issues related to the use of stem cells and human embryo and abide by them.
Article 7. Duty to Act
Every government and organization, and the people of the global village must endeavor to create policies to promote the freedom and rights of life forms in all areas and implement them.
Appeal to the Faith Communities
Faith communities teach the dignity of life and understand the people’s wish for a safe life. Many religious people are engaged in praxis to achieve this. Nevertheless, the crisis is still continuing. Humans must not artificially cause harm or influence negatively by excessively intervening in the process of birth, growth, and death of all life forms, including human beings. Humans must put tremendous emphasis to maintaining a natural life. Instead of entrusting the task to the UN alone, we appeal to all religious communities to unite and work toward the realization of the ‘safety and life of the global village,’ the core value of this drafted charter.
The Earth-Life Charter Drafting Committee
New Silk Road for Life and No-nukes
– Prof. Lee Won-young (The University of Suwon)
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