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On October 19, the Soka movement in France held an interfaith conference titled “The Economics of Happiness” at the Soka Atlantic Buddhist Center in Nantes. Some 160 people attended the conference, which was supported by volunteers from Coexister, a movement that brings together youth from different faiths. The conference was the last in a series titled “The Economy in Question: The contributions of spiritual and religious perspectives.”
The event included a panel discussion among specialists in the field of humanistic economics, including creators of complimentary currencies and panelists from different religious traditions including Islam, Catholicism and Buddhism.
Panelists included Etienne Hayem, creator of the SYMBA currency in the Île-de-France region around Paris; Omero Marongiu-Perria, seasoned participant of interfaith dialogue and specialist on the Muslim diaspora in Europe, who represented the Islamic perspective; Michel Boucher and Bertrand Decoopman, volunteers from the Catholic Committee Against Hunger and for Development (CCFD-Terre Solidaire); and Jean-Claude Chauvigné, creator of the Retz’L complimentary currency, representing the Buddhist perspective as a practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism.
related article SSA Strengthens Interfaith Ties In March, in line with their commitment to deepen mutual understanding in a racially and religiously diverse society, Singapore Soka Association (SSA) participated in two interfaith events and co-organized a seminar on parenting with other faith-based organizations. The panel discussion and Q & A session covered topics such as the definition of wealth and whether its accumulation is the only way to enrich our lives, if all that is valuable has to be monetized and how to create an economy that has human happiness rather financial gain as its driving force. Overall, panelists emphasized that respect for the dignity of life and the environment are central to spiritual and religious perspectives on transforming our economic relations.
A film was shown introducing the work of CCFD-Terre Solidaire volunteers in rural village communities in Indonesia where interfaith dialogue is employed to resolve conflict between communities. Volunteers also support the villagers in their struggle to hold onto their land and maintain their traditional practice of agroforestry in the face of the threats from multinational companies.
Preparatory workshops were held in both Nantes and Rennes. The workshops were organized with the support of the interfaith group Amitié entre les religions, Acsède Rennes, a Muslim organization promoting culture, education and exchange, and CCFD-Terre Solidaire. A collection of French language resources related to the topic of the economics of happiness was also shared on a collaborative blog that can be accessed at http://nagasenamenandre.blogspot.fr/.
Adapted from a report from the Soka Buddhist movement of France; photo courtesy of the Soka Buddhist movement of France.
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