Rowan Williams is an Anglican bishop, poet, theologian, and master of Magdalene College at the University of Cambridge. He was the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury.
Rowan Williams on
The big factor for the world today is global communication, the rapidity and the reach of global communication and the fact that anybody, in effect, can post views electronically and have a global audience. We have a more direct picture of one another in the sense that we are aware of what other people are saying, but because of the relatively unmediated nature of this, we don't get much sense of the context of another person.
Empathy is one of the great ethical priorities of the day, and it is part of the recognition that our humanity is something we share, a sense that the problems that the human race faces cannot be resolved by one person, one group, one nation, one religion alone, understanding that we share the same vulnerability, that it is not a world in which the strong can pretend that they don't share the problems of the weak.
I would say that the heart of a global ethic for our time, or a convergent point of global ethical systems, is that twofold sense of recognizing one another's dignity and sharing our resources in justice.
We've come to a position where a major war between European countries is pretty well unimaginable. Now, that's a step forward. I'm not saying that Europe is a paradise or utopia by any means, but we have, in the aftermath of two shocking and appalling wars in the twentieth century, we have somehow found ways of maintaining some kind of equilibrium.