International Institute for Religious Freedom

A Clash of Civilizations or Shared Civilizational Values: We Must Decide

Presented to the G20 Religion Forum (R20) Bali, Indonesia, 2–3 November 2022



Today in Bali we are seated around a table, not only to enjoy hospitality, friendship, and beauty, but also to articulate civilization-building values. I will not be bothered if someone says, “Such a large table needs one or two more legs.” Nor will I be concerned if someone proposes to define one of the legs differently. Let the discussion continue! My central point is that independent of our diverse religious rituals and practices, which embody our very different ways of understanding the Ultimate, I believe we can readily envision gathering around a shared table to identify the most fundamental values on the basis of which our societies can truly flourish. Furthermore, I believe we can work together to build and strengthen our understanding and embrace of these shared values, without treating our deep religious differences as insignificant or trying to reduce them to some lowest common denominator. The choice is ours. Will we remain divided and polarized, sitting in our separate corners, or, worse, will we choose the path of religious conflict and civilizational clash? Or: Will we gather together, as one human family, around a common table of shared civilizational values?