Eubios Ethics Institute | Book List | TOP - Asian Bioethics in the 21st Century

14.1. Conclusions

- Darryl Macer, Ph.D.
Secretary, ABA
Director, Eubios Ethics Institute,
Japan and New Zealand

Let me start with some thoughts about my background. I could be described as:
Someone with a genome that traces back about 3 billion years ago
Some who was born in Aoteoroa-New Zealand-Pacific
Some one who lives in Japan or Asia by choice
Some one who is seeking unity with other beings as one of the separated but inter-dependent organisms

Confucius said "To love a thing means wanting it to live." We have a great tradition of bioethics in Asia. Mahatma Gandhi (India, 1927) said, "Love is the strongest force the world possesses and yet it is the humblest imaginable. The more efficient a force is, the more silent and subtle it is. Love is the subtlest force in the world." and "...To see the universal and all-pervading Spirit of Truth face to face one must be able to love the meanest of creation as oneself."

Sometimes we have not seen the subtle origins of bioethics in culture. Instead we have looked at trendy words like bioethics that appear from overseas and thought it was good because it was new. However inside every culture we can see ways of decision making that had developed, and has been applied to questions like abortion, marriage, euthanasia, and truth telling, over the past few thousand years. Thus a bioethics developed in every culture. No one nation can claim to be the originator of bioethics.

I want to read a quotation from Mo Tzu (China, 6th Century B.C.),

"It [Family-centered love] should be replaced by the way of universal love and mutual benefit. It is to regard other people's countries as one's own. Regard other people's families as one's own. Regard other people's person as one's own. Consequently, when feudal lords love one another, they will not fight in the fields. When heads of families love one another, they will not usurp one another. When individuals love one another, they will not injure one another. When ruler and minister love each other, they will be kind and loyal. When father and son love each other, they will be affectionate and filial. When brothers love one each other, they will be peaceful and harmonious. When all people in the world love one another, the strong will not overcome the weak, the many will not oppress the few, the rich will not insult the poor, the honoured will not despise the humble, and the cunning will not deceive the ignorant. Because of universal love, all the calamities, usurpations, hatred, and animosity in the world will be prevented from arising."

Do you think if Mo Tzu were in this conference today, would he be satisfied with modern society? Although in our conference we may try to promote the ideals of bioethics, the ideals of a model physician, model student, model nurse, etc. it is very difficult. Still we have ideals. I appreciate all the conference papers where people are trying to present both the ideals and realities and look for a way to be moral. We need to find someway between the ideal and practice, which we can live with. Aspirations of the ideal are very important for our improvement. Han Yu (China, 8th century, A.D.) said:

"Universal love is called humanity. To practice this in the proper manner is called righteousness. To proceed according to these is called the Way. To be sufficient in oneself without depending on anything outside is called virtue. Humanity and righteousness are definite values, whereas the Way and virtue have no substance in themselves."

I think we cannot be sufficient in ourselves. While in some sense we can be individuals, all of us have to depend on many others. We have to work together.

Let me make some points for the future, one is the "Terminology". We've seen a range of terminology in this conference. I invite you all to contribute to the on-line free Living Bioethics Dictionary (UNESCO/IUBS/Eubios Bioethics Dictionary). There are over 3000 words in this dictionary and it is very important to have terms from every culture. The project is continuing and in the use of words and concepts we can explain our culture to each other.

We should congratulate ourselves on the acceptance of the Constitution of the ABA. It has been a long time to get agreement on the Constitution. I ask all members here to develop Asian Bioethics, and to continue to be involved in the association in a united way. Paul Tillich said, "One cannot be strong without love. For love is not an irrelevant emotion; it is the blood of life, the power of reunion of the separated." (The Eternal Now, 1963)

Let me conclude with some points on the recognition of diversity and the depth of Asian Bioethics. Our scientific evidence to date suggests bioethics is pre-human, the principles of autonomy, justice, beneficence and non-maleficence were important for the bioethics in human culture. They have been discussed for millennia in Asia. This is as shown in the many papers at this conference and at previous ones in Asia. No longer please say that bioethics is a U.S. invention, as they claim. Bioethics was here before we knew it. It is a global realization of an invention that occurred before people were aware of it.

Last but not the least, thank you to our Korean hosts! Thanks also to all who came from around the world spending time and money to join in this historic and successful occasion. I look forward to welcoming you to Tsukuba for meetings there, and to other occasions that we can hold.

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Eubios Ethics Institute | Book List | TOP - Asian Bioethics in the 21st Century