In a society increasingly driven by science and technology, world religions and the communities they inspire remain a vast and rock-solid political force. Going by the numbers alone, Pew Research Center estimated in 2015 that there were over 5 billion people of faith in our contemporary world, belonging to Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and other faith-based cosmologies, including Indigenous and Native belief systems. Despite their outsized influence on so many aspects of our personal, social, and political lives, however, religious thinking and morality have struggled to gain a foothold in debates over a number of critical issues confronting our world today, including climate change and environmental justice, consumer capitalism, and solidarity struggles.
In this four-part series, host and climate correspondent Aman Azhar shines a light on how faith-based cosmologies inform and influence our political conduct, even in the most intimate of ways. These interdisciplinary conversations with thought leaders from different faith groups explore the intersections of religion and the politics of climate change. What sort of political actions do—and can—these worldviews inspire? Do the gods and followers of Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism have a say in the future of our warming planet? If the answer is a resounding “Yes,” then why can’t we hear their voices more in popular media? Have they been muted? If so, why (and by whom)?
In Part 2 of this four-part series on interfaith approaches to climate change, Aman Azhar talks to Stephanie Kaza, educator and author of several books, including “Green Buddhism” and “Mindfully Green.” Besides exploring what personal and political action Buddhist values can inspire to fix our contemporary problems, such as climate crisis and runaway consumerism, this conversation also foregrounds the atrocious acts of violence against the ethnic Rohingya population in Myanmar—a Buddhist majority country. Set against this brutal political reality, Aman Azhar engages with Stephanie Kaza to ascertain if Buddhism as a political thought is in crisis, and whether it still holds any promise for our hyper-modern and gravely unequal world.
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