Lech Walesa is a Polish politician and human-rights activist who is shaking up the current conversation on religion.
Walesa won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 and served as the President of Poland from 1990 to 1995. He earned his Nobel Peace Prize for leading Poland’s famous Solidarity trade union, which was responsible for the peaceful negotiation to the end of Communism in Poland in 1989.
A proclaimed devout Roman Catholic, Walesa attended the 13th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates on Monday in Warsaw, Poland where he called for a new “secular Ten Commandments.” He suggested that the world would benefit from an outline of universal values.
“We need to agree on common values for all religions as soon as possible, a kind of secular Ten Commandments on which we will build the world of tomorrow,” he said in his opening speech at the Summit.
He did not give any examples as to what those principles might be.
Due to the nature of the Summit, Walesa’s comments are being talked about all over the world, with similar reports surfacing in the United States, France and Russia. The story has run in both traditional media as well as via social media.
Many religious people are outraged by Walesa’s suggestion, referring to it as a sign of the end of times. Despite what you may think about the excess of end-of-the-world rhetoric, research shows that more people than ever believe that the world will end during their lifetime.
According to a poll by the global research company Ipsos, one in seven people (14 percent) across the globe agreed that the world would end during their lifetime. One in ten people believed that end was marked by the Mayan calendar.
Many people are relating Walesa’s proposal to comments made by Pope Francis after he was first elected. The first pope in 1,300 years to meet with leaders of non-Catholic Christian religions, Pope Francis urged members of all religions as well as non-religious people to unite “to defend justice, peace and the environment and not allow the value of a person to be reduced to what he produces and what he consumes.”
The Pope’s proclamation was intended to encourage Catholics to reach out to people of every religion and creed and to remember that there is no “one-dimensional version of a human person.”
While Pope Francis is often praised for his progressive ideals, some people find his unprecedented acceptance of alternative lifestyles another sign that the end is near.
I will be curious to see how the public continues to respond to Walesa’s suggestion, but even more curious to see if world leaders publicly comment or agree to his call for global principles.