Greed was the villain at the once-every-five-years Parliament of the World's Religions that wound up last week in Melbourne's cavernous new convention center. More than 6,000 people attended.
In session after session greed got the blame: for the destruction of nature, for conflict, for inequality, for the erosion of values. Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners, made a passionate plea for moderation and balance, especially in what we consume. Swami Agnivesh from India, Sulak Sivaraksa from Thailand, Dr. A.T Ariyaratne from Sri Lanka, Mary Evelyn Tucker from Yale, the Dalai Lama, Hans Kung: they and other leaders from all over the world and from different faiths agonized over the human desire to consume more and more. The "market", globalization, and capitalism are seen as flawed. And greed and America are seen as going hand in hand. Yet this was hardly an anti-American gathering.