Jains in America: A Socially-Engaged Second Generation

Jains are moving from a de-centered diaspora group to an organized national community. With this momentum, individual Jains — and especially the socially-engaged second generation — may begin to make their presence and philosophical commitments known across social sectors in purely innovative ways for which there is no precedent. With a historic base in industries such as banking, engineering, education, and medicine, and recent involvement in technology and politics, it is reasonable to anticipate that modern Jainism will adapt itself to new challenges in global financing, scientific and technological innovation, corporate accountability, communication, and bioethics, rooted in the three core values of non-harm beyond the human, non-possession, and non-one-sided views.

The challenge will be for Jains to weave their philosophy of practice into an evolving context that will also benefit from its witness as ethical outsiders. The Jain perspective of embodied carefulness and respect toward all living entities sounds a dissonant note in the American anthem of progress at any cost — a productive disharmony that will hopefully enjoin new resonances within its adopted home.

7/1/2015 4:00:00 AM