God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Shadows of the digital age

I am not sure how you felt when you first got acquainted to a computer, a laptop, a cellphone or opened your first Facebook Account and discovered the 24/7/365 open world of connectivity and news. It was exciting, it felt that a new dimension was added to life and a window of opportunities, better understanding and freedom was knocking on the door.
I don’t know how much has changed for you, but meanwhile the flood of information, the stress of the constant music making gadgets, wearing headphones or earpieces and talking loud ahead while eating, walking, working and running around adds rather to stress than to the delight of being. Permanently being available – always knowing what happens across the globe can develop in a burden rather than a blessing. Because like in the newspapers: bad news travel fast, radical opinions making headlines and very often all the drama of the world popping up in front of the eyes masking the greatness and joy of real life.
Politics has changed dramatically and with more or less unrestrained possibilities to lie and cheat and fake news a new breed of politicians is turning the possibility of broad communication into a weapon of disinformation and manipulation.
And not only this: looking at the USA: being exposed by social media of often racist and macho white attitude, a new cult emerges bending laws and human decency to defend indefensible actions and by doing so destroying values most people thought we had secured for the future. Lots to digest for the normal human being, either forced instinctively to run with the crowd or withdraw into a little private world to avoid despair. Fencing the own little word creates its own discriminations and dehumanizations.
Another way out of those shadows of the digital age is absolute control like China tries to enforce it for their citizens. But giving the power to decide what I am allowed to now and then finally to live for is surely not compatible with the civil freedoms and the human dignity, many fought for through the ages.
There are lots of shadows of the digital age – the world transforms in a massive way and challenges the ways we humans perceive reality.
Interesting times, challenging times, times not for the faint-hearted, but we will be only able to create a future for all if we realize and confront the shadows now and don’t allow a group of people to not only match, but outperform Georg Orwell’s 1984.

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

FridaysForFuture

Even if it is questionable whether it is healthy for young lady Greta long term as a young girl using the world stage to therapize herself there is no doubt that the topic of climate change has reached a multitude of young people. And it has galvanised a youth long been seen as completely a-political and not really interested in anything than their own little pleasures. And as in every generation current youth is allowed to overdo it, put all emotions in it and indeed think that their order of the day is the most important and most essential as the world goes around. When I was young, the use of nuclear warheads and their storage in Germany as well as nuclear energy have been those topics moving us to the core of our young existence.

I would like to see FridaysForFuture reflecting a bit more on another reality that generally hinders the development of realistic changes towards dealing with the climate of our planet: the rise of egocentric and unreasonable politicians and the war between those wanting to preserve a male macho self-serving disturbing ignorant world order and those understanding, that the world has changed. With politicians like Donald Trump, McConnell and others in the USA, Boris Johnson, Viktor Orban, Sebastian Kurz in Europe, MBK in Saudi-Arabia or Vladimir Putin in Russia – to name a few – there will be no future for a world society tackling the climate change as a challenge for the global village. Simply because they don’t see beyond their power-hungry desire let alone understand the need for global social cohesion as a base for real change.

FridaysForFuture will only succeed if their action is framed by a global conscience shared by political leaders and enacted in forms of government recognizing the dependency of every country on each other. Make my country great again slogans and similar arrogance are stumble blocks for any joined action of a world, in which via social media, economics and travel people have reached a point of togetherness besides all existing differences.  The more in-depth realization of this togetherness to overcome remaining inequalities in the world order, in countries, societies or even between human beings related to sex, gender or human dignity is the base for any meaningful global action. Therefore, the movement will have to dig in deeper and political more fundamental if it will have merit and a successful place in the history books.

FridaysForFuture is a child of the digital era which at the moment changes fundamentally the world in a way most people even don’t start to imagine. Only when they understand their role within this scenario they will be a force for good, and they will help to shape a future for the human race which will be so different from the past ways of life. For this to happen, they need the maturity of the older generation giving a helping hand.

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

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, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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