We do not live in the childhood world of our grandparents. Yet, as momentous as the social, political and cultural changes of the last century have been, they are arguably dwarfed by the fact that we have crossed era-defining thresholds of scope and scale so that human activity is now affecting planetary processes like climate. Because of this, justice concerns about the life prospects of future generations are no longer academic anomalies: they are global ethical imperatives. This talk will build on recent efforts to craft an ethics of global justice around the “social emotion” of compassion, making use of Buddhist conceptual resources to shift attention from the individual agent as the basic unit of ethical, economic and political analysis toward the transformation of relational quality, envisioning a 21st century global ethics in which justice is delinked from fictions of equality and indexed instead to the relational achievement of equity-enhancing diversity
Peter D. Hershock is director of the Asian Studies Development Program at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawai’i. In addition to designing and implementing faculty development programs aimed at globalizing undergraduate humanities and social science curricula, he explores how Buddhist conceptual resources can be used to address contemporary issues. His books include: Liberating Intimacy: Enlightenment and Social Virtuosity in Ch’an Buddhism (1996); Reinventing the Wheel: A Buddhist Response to the Information Age (1999); Chan Buddhism (2005); Buddhism in the Public Sphere: Reorienting Global Interdependence (2006); Valuing Diversity: Buddhist Reflection on Realizing a More Equitable Global Future (2012); and, most recently, Public Zen, Personal Zen: A Buddhist Introduction (2014).