God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Race & future

Twitter and social media thriving on it; people can get very emotional discussing it: the question of race and how to deal with it. “Whites” should do this – “Blacks” are like this – South Africa could fill tons of Gigabyte with assessments, insults and threats when it comes to the race question. Let alone politics where racist remarks and the use of race as a tool of political manoeuvring seems to dominate many debates and heated exchanges.

And only once in a while one hears the almost silent voice of reason, acknowledging the damage this devilish invention of some humans has done in the past here in South Africa and still doing also around the world, but at the same time knowing that the future can’t hold using this word.
We have to overcome this poisoned word if the only race, the human race want to have a future for all. Knowing, how hard this can be I suggest that South Africa again could be leading the world out of this “race”-trap by showing that even the darkest past cannot hinder a brighter future.

And the world needs this brighter future – seeing the last stand of “white” macho dominance impersonated in Trump and those supporting “the good old times”. The world need to see the brighter future when looking at Great Britain where it seems that the sentiment of old colonial powers have been resurrected somehow in the Brexit debate. The world needs to see the brighter future when looking to China, which tries on the opposite to eliminate all natural diversity within the human race in designing one standard for all.

South Africa has the diversity needed to see the beauty of the human race in all shapes and colours. It could be on the forefront living the diversity while acknowledging that we are all – if the scientists are right – African origin. That we are all coming from one background, share most genetic material and colour only matters in ways of making a unique race of this world colourful and beautiful.

And yes, I hear now many saying that the past and the categorisation of race is part of a person, defines a person, needs compensation – and yes, : they have a point. Looking back is allowed, compensation is often needed, but it must end there – the future cannot be taken prisoner in using a concept which we all know holds no water under the bridge nor is fair to all concerned. Using this word or concept in current affairs or future developments will only guarantee pain and injustices for those living after us.

Filed under: Africa, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , , ,

Democracy – as we know it – is coming to an end?

A lot has been said about the digital revolution and it’s consequences for the future.  And if one thing is clear by now: the digitization of society, the constant connectivity to media, news, fake news and outright manipulation is overwhelming to the normal human being brain – trying to marry most people being in the stone-age of cooping with the mental requirements needed to deal with the influx of information – false and correct ones – has failed so far.
It seems that people cannot distinguish anymore between when and where manipulation starts, bluntly false news are circulated via bots and the honest true reporting of facts. And this leads to a tiredness or even willingness to simply accept whatever fits nicely in the narrow mindset of ones own little world. People are simply overwhelmed and anxious, ready then to submit to the best offer of “black/white” populist solutions.

The rise of the liar, cheater, racist and sexist macho Donald Trump to become the President of the United States speaks volumes about the inability of people to navigate through the new area; the Brexit debate and the re-election of Boris Johnson in Great Britain adds to the insult and attack on truth.
And truth is one of the most important component of democracy: without it – the system will crash. Add the fatigue created by the repetition of lies and fake news, the abuse of social media, the still unhindered power of the Facebook and Google mafia more or less allowing and controlling what one can read and what news one receives first and in which format. Headlines are the new content, emojis and sharing buttons are the new ways to instantly satisfy emotional reactions. The so called social media “shit storm” replaces the “hang him” calls of lynch justice in the “good old days” of undisputed white racist rule of the world, too often echoed and cloned by those previously suppressed.

And this is another battle field – clearly seen if you follow US American politics: the old white men’s club fighting to remain in power at all cost, using trolls and the new weapons of digital media with all the money they have stolen and accumulated in so many years. Eight year Obama was an insult not to be repeated.
Making now Great Britain great again by leaving the European Union – the same scheme of reviving the feelings of the old great empire underlines the debate lead on the island. Overwhelmed people yearning for the good old days of power and might – of safety and security in an ever faster evolving world with more people, more systems and more decisions made which cannot be overseen and triggering anxiety and fear by the single human being. A fertile ground for clever politicians and unscrupulous leaders.

Democracy and human rights are on the defense right now, civil rights, so long and hard fought for, are in retreat mood – and while the Western World battles in the aforesaid  ways, there is a new and even more dangerous threat to all achievements of civil and non racist societies:
China’s fantasy of harmony – going hand in hand with complete control of every human being; establishing a system far worse than Orwell ever could have fantasized about: the system of social points as a system of reward and punishment, 24/7 control via cameras – seeing in action by the treatment of the Uyghurs – all this giving clear indication what complete surveillance means by a gang of politicians prescribing how you have to live and to die. History later will value high the contribution of the Hong-Kong students who fought not only for their freedom, but the freedom of so many more on this planet.

So where does this leaves us? I guess with a lot of questions to answer. I feel we are in the same situation like after the discovery of the atom-bomb: human mankind played with it in in so dangerous ways thinking of it as a tool of advance. Those in power used it on innocent civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and only afterwards humanity started to understand the ethical implications with which we are still dealing in our days. It takes a lot of time to do so.

Democracy as we know it will have to change if with the advances of new technologies and the digital possibilities – the ways we organize societies, the way we disseminate information and allowing people in power to communicate in a globally connected world in an ethical and just format has to be on trial. Our thinking, our acting, our living conditions, our sense for the world has changed dramatically and it is time to catch up with this development before real disaster struck out of the incapability to acknowledge and act on these changes. But one thing remains: The truth must be the underlying factor of all developments.

Filed under: General, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

South Africa on the edge – and why NGO’s are in this time so important

We have to be honest: Corruption, the inability of freedom fighters turned politicians, sheer greed and no time to develop proper political and social leadership under the pressure and expectations of the new dawn – all those factors have brought South Africa on the edge of disaster – painted nicely in very dark colors yesterday with declaring “Stage 6” of load shedding. A very nice word for mismanagement as well as non existing or minimal maintenance by Eskom officials and the result of a transformation policy kicking out institutional knowledge and beefing up manpower far more than the operations necessitate.

It is felt like a time of crisis, a time of anxiety and a time where people and society feels left alone fighting forces on a daily base they can’t influence – being at the mercy of irrational SOE’s and broken services deliveries and somehow a very bleak future.
In such times the power of NGO’s and civil society organizations are coming to the front: they are often the rescue net for many ordinary citizens – they are able to give hold and a perspective for those feeling powerless, they are passing on the small flame of hope – in the darkness of load shedding a small flame has indeed the power to light up and guide the way.
In such times it becomes clear that politics alone can’t solve a countries problems or cover all the missteps done in the past. Non-governmental organizations, volunteers and all those forces for good are the stabilizing factors making sure that the social fabric of society is not completely broken.

Such times may be a wake-up call for the future that politics recognize more than ever before the need to develop a culture of cooperation, of reliable partnerships to strengthen the service delivery people are deserving on a daily base. In South Africa this culture is still in its infancy – often one has the impression that NGO’s are gap-filler or paid cheap sub-contractors of state entities not living up to the promises of past elections. It is time to elevate those relationships onto an eye-to-eye level.

At the end state entities and NGO’s are serving the same people – they are called to support the dignity of every citizen and enable him / her to live life to fullest as guaranteed by the constitution and the Bills of Rights.

NGO’s can’t replace government run services, but they complement and at times like ours even cushion lack of service and soften the anxiety and fear attached to it. In doing so they also cushion and influence the picture, in this case South Africa is giving to the rest of the world. All a reason more to realize how important NGO’s are in our times.

 

Filed under: Africa, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Exciting times for the Roman-Catholic Church

We are meanwhile used since the advent of the pontificate of Pope Francis that conservative and circles of the Roman-Catholic Church are falling into opposition to the man on top of the church’s hierarchy.

First very decent the choir of discontent and the wish to embalm tradition and keep the church from moving through the times even closer to the divine mysteries; now you hear screams and public discontent which in the times of John-Paul II would have had severe consequences if you would have been a priest or an employee of the church.
Times have changed and even the slightest acknowledgement of human development from the Vatican seems for some to constitute heresy on Peter’s throne. Footnotes in papal writings trigger storms of indignation in certain circles of the church.

And now the Synod Way of the German Bishops Conference and the implementation of a local Synod in the Diocese of Trier give way to another onslaught of staunch self-described Catholics who know the truth, who know the ways of God and who know exactly how salvation is achieved for human mankind. Prescribed since the old ages and seemingly never able to develop – let alone to change.
It seems that those fighting against any new insight forget how slavery was once normal for the church, how religious freedom or even democracy originated from the devil – let alone that the earth was the center of the universe….
Theology, once the crown jewel of academia is for those people sentenced to withstand research and new knowledge contradicting or expanding the bases for religious notions.

Indeed exciting times – and maybe the word ‘diversity’ would help us to understand that there is nothing wrong in feeling at home in different religious settings within the broader church.  Maybe the word ‘tolerance’ would prescribe a way to understand that my way of believing is in many instances unique and that there is a framework in which we are all allowed to prosper and indulge in coming closer to the divine and the mystery of God.

And maybe listening to each other instead of judging each other, allowing for questions of variance and doubt, not using sacraments as weapons or punishment and seeing the good, the divine in every brother and sister would help us to move forward – allowing for those who want to remain a bit behind and those who want to stray forward to still feel being part of the same church, the same group of faithful.

Filed under: Catholic Church, Reflection, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , ,

Wall down – challenge up…

30 year after the fall of the Berlin wall Germany is celebrating – somehow a bit strange as times seems to be tough and there is a sense that the lessons of history, Nazi Germany, Word War II and the divide for so many years seems to be forgotten. Fascists and Neo-Nazis celebrating within the AfD and the network around another spring – the ” we and them” theme is accepted as kosher again and there are not only those ” eternally right-wing” but normal citizens who are falling into the trap of a democracy allowing for parties which aim it is clearly to demolish exactly the system they use to get into power.

History is repeating itself – and whoever has pondered the question why people did not stand up before the firm manifestation of Nazi Germany and its grip on the citizens did not allow for any resistance anymore can currently learn lessons for life. A in big parts fascist, racist and anti-democratic party gets permission to run in a democratic system; Jews are attacked, politicians threatened, Muslims are called the real devils – and those in power currently are also not very creative how to challenge those dehumanizing tendencies carried by many ” braven Buergern” of the united Germany.

But it is not only Germany – looking at the USA and the experience of a liar and womanizer as president – and so many other countries walking dubious political and social directions –  it carries the question how we came to arrive at a point where humanity, human rights and the awareness of a planet being robbed of all resources are pushed on the backseat while madness is driving humanity in direction extinction.

It is an interesting political, social, psychological and also theological question. Is it the anxiety that the white dominant macho rule comes to an end? Is the answer to find in the overwhelming information stream which our rather stone aged brains cannot handle anymore? Is it the complexity of life we conceptualize but we are unable to deal with and to master? What does it mean for the concept of democracy to live in a digital future transcending physical borders?

Celebrating the fall of the Berlin wall is besides drinking champagne and dancing around the Brandenburg Gate as well as given sombre speeches a time to reflect on what it means for our challenges today. It should be a time to meditate how wrong decisions, how fascism, socialism and a political ignorance or even a limitless tolerance carries the penalty of suffering and injustices for generations.

 

 

Filed under: General, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,

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