Traditional morality is the solution

01 Oct 2019 / 19:32 H.

    “HAZE exposes our moral paralysis” (Connecting Faiths, Sept 27) refers. On the contrary, it is our lack of fidelity to ancient moral codes that have led to the planet’s present state of desecration. In reality, it is not the precepts of morality that need revision. Rather, it needs more devout followers, and not merely fairweather fans. Ask any Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist, Confucianist, Christian, or Hindu worth his salt, and he will tell you unequivocally that polluting the Earth is a grave sin.

    I find it extraordinary that the author goes so far as to deny the metaphysical reality that what happens on Earth is a reflection of our souls. It reminds one of the time when tourists bared all on Mount Kinabalu, and then Western newscasters laughed at Malaysians’ explanation that it was related to an earthquake that occurred soon after. The explanation may not concur with Western, modernist, conceptions of reality, which denies metaphysics in favour of strict materialism, but it is in tandem with traditional understanding. According to the moderns, looking inwardly for the causes of our outward realities is supposedly unscientific.

    It is not traditional ethics that have caused the degradation of the environment. Let us be honest. It is modern technology and our modern way of looking at the world, one that divorces man from nature, that is the prime suspect. Our traditional faiths, which teach us to respect mother Earth have been abandoned in favour of the new faith of utilitarian gain: the commandment to accumulate material wealth thoughtlessly.

    Another extraordinary claim the author makes is that traditional doctrine has nothing to say about climate change. Please allow me to pluck verses from two major civilisations in our richly diverse country. In the Chinese tradition, Lao Tzu wrote in Chapter 29 of the Tao Te Ching that, “The world is a sacred vessel that cannot be changed. He who changes it will destroy it. He who seizes it will lose it”. In the noble Quran, in the 41st verse of the surah fittingly entitled the Romans, God says, “Corruption has appeared on land and sea, because of what people’s hands have earned, in order to make them taste some of what they have done, so that they might return”.

    Instead of campaigning for climate action, which should undoubtedly be championed by all parties, it is in the introspective realm rather than the political that will make lasting difference. It is in that point perhaps that the true disagreement lies between the author and myself. Moral codes and the law are not merely tools for societal cohesion. They are not society’s children, but rather, her parents. Pre-existing and sacred, the ramifications of morality spill over not only in this world, but in eternity.

    Syed Emir Syed Hussain

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