God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Thoughts, inside, comments of a Catholic priest

Difficult times for an US adventure

Preparing for my trip to the USA in March I wonder how the present situation is playing out. The messages coming from US soil are divers, hostile, confusing and at least irritating. Having founded HOPE Cape Town USA last year, nobody could envisage that the situation is getting so different in such a short time. It seems that a split is going through society, either complete and utter praise or complete and utter condemnation on the style of government in which the new president conducts business.
What does this mean for a NGO trying to bridge between the USA and South Africa – to tackle common problems, specifically HIV, AIDS and children, but also related problems? There are two possible scenarios: either people in the USA are so preoccupied with the internal battles that international affairs are on the back-burner; or the opposite effect will be seen: people want to make a point that “America first” is counteracted by “humanity first”.

Be it as it will be – the uncertainty does take its toll on planing and preparation for the work ahead. It creates more question marks than answers – but maybe the only answer is to go ahead, meet people in person and try to make the world a better place cutting through the rough waves of politics and anxieties. Maybe the joint venture can be a sign for those involved to remind themselves that the world is bigger than the tenure of a president and that focusing on the men in power might feed their egos as they crave for attention.

Maybe a bit “business as usual” is needed to maintain sanity in these turbulent days – showing practically what counts in life and for the good of the world. I am determined to continue walk my way with all those of good will – showing that “America first” maybe means “America first when it comes to humanity and service”. Let’s never forget that those we try to assist are those who need the compassion especially in such uncertain times – those in poverty, those at the bottom of society; those sick and thorn apart by daily problems need all help possible.

I am looking forward to meet my friends in the USA and to continue working for the hope we are called to be for others in need.

Filed under: Africa, HIV and AIDS, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town USA, Medical and Research, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, South Africa, , , , , , , , ,

As 2016 winds down…

As the year 2016 comes to a close, there is the usual time of reflection. On first view 2016 was indeed for the global community a very sad year: populism was triumphant, in the USA a self absorbed womanizer was elected to be the next president and as even history shows that you can’t run a country like a business as Thaksin Shinawatra in Thailand and Silvio Berlusconi in Italy clearly showed – the US system granted victory to the next failure with dire consequences to be seen if I may add. The human race is not learning nor is it able to master and digest what modern science and social media throw at them. After creating the global village and interconnecting with each other – humans are back to nationalism, patronism and guidance by anxiety and promised simple solutions.
In Germany, my home country this all reflected in the drama unfolding regarding refugees, the strengthening of the right-wings, the clash between those following in the footstep of reborn Neonazis and common sense and the uphold of human rights. A battle endangering the European Union symbolized in the Brexit and in the high amount of votes in the Austrian presidential elections. It seems that balance is lost and panic rules.In South Africa 2016 was the year of the Zuptas, the state capture, Nakandla, the SABC8 – and if conspiracy theories to capture a state are known in fiction, it shows reality in the Gupta’s attempt with the help of a president, who surely would have been a great village elders but he is completely out of place as a leading statesman. The mixture of tradition, corruption, brutality, streetwise cleverness is breath-taking and dangerous. And it hurts those suffering the most: the poor people of South Africa.
In this context the systems human mankind created to organize itself are not only abused in a constant way from those in power, but they also develop a perfection which makes them inhumane to its core. The spirits we created are taking over and it seems that compassion, seeing every situation as what it is, indeed a special one, as an impossible undertaking.
An example is the ongoing discussion in the Roman-Catholic Church about Amoris Laetitia: it shows a great example that people are resisting to except that there is no black and white, or in the computer language “zero” and “one” – systems have to be clear cut and judgements have to follow this rule. The law, which is an expression of mercy is seen as a threat to order when applied with the component of conscience and judged situation recognized as unique.
All in all the complexity of life and the interconnection with the possibilities of social media and constant news updates of all sorts seems to overstrain most humans and counter the believe in globalization – the pendulum is going into the opposite direction with a dire outlook into 2017. Anxiety and populism are governing our global village and both are used and abused to keep all afloat for the benefit of a few.

In this scenario the work of NGO’s and community based initiatives like HOPE Cape Town and millions of others are mere drops in the ocean – but those drops seem to me the only hope we have to survive the waves of inhumanity serving those aforesaid few. Those drops are the basis to conquer the negativity and abuse happening in our days, be it religious, social or political – those drops will make sure that 2017 will see rays of hope, rays of faith, rays of love reaching those suffering under the systems which try to maintain the status quo of this world.

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

Philip Seymour Hoffman death is speaking volumes

Another actor dead as a result of drug use; it seems that celebrities and public persons have more possibilities to entertain drug use, even confessing to it, getting clean only to start all over again. Fame seems not to translate into a happy life but into depression and yearning for more and the ultimate kick. All those stories tell us about a tragedy of being put on a pedestal and the assumption, that money and VIP treatment creates happiness in life. From Withney Houston, Amy Winehouse to Heath Ledger and Chris Kelly – they all tell the story of stars  at the end not able to connect to real life; and personalities, whose need for excitement, paired with unlimited finances and so-called VIP friends brought on a lifestyle that often breeds addiction.
It leaves the question what really carries us through life? Is it money, fame or at the end such simple things like love, good friends, a lover holding on to the person even in bad times?
For me such tragedies show how life can be wasted by slipping into an artificial life style often fostered by the need to have again and again a new story for all these celebrity magazines which live and strive of the curiosity of its readers.  So at the end it is the mixture of extreme personalities and perceived society demands which creates the need for drugs and prescribed medication leading to early death.
How far away is from this the daily struggle of those we cater for at HOPE Cape Town. It seems so far away, but at the end, it boils down to the same human experience: anxiety, yearning for love and acknowledgement, the feeling of loneliness and the cry for help in one or the other way. Celebrity person in Hollywood and a person in the townships of Cape Town:  when it comes to emotions, there is a certain similarity for sure.

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

05.11.2009 Theological conflicts are possible

Theological conflicts are possible, so Pope Benedict XVI in his sermon yesterday and he acknowledged, while theology wants to spark love towards God, there can be a different approach which can lead to conflict and dispute.

I am happy to hear such sentences, as I always have the feeling that the culture of debate is very underdeveloped in our church. Anxiety is a permanent threat accompanying hierarchical systems because everybody is anxious not to draw negative attention of superiors and even destroy the changes to climb up the career ladder.

The pope took the example of Bernhard de Clairvaux and Pierre Abelard who argued heavily in the 12th century about the secret of the revelation. He emphasised that the common grounds of both have been their intention to keep up the love, truth and faith which should be a basic rule to assume when two theologian argue with each other.

Lets hope that this all applies also for the topic of HIV and AIDS within the church.

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, Reflection, , , , ,

12th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenOctober 28th, 2017
7 months to go.

Ball of HOPE 2017

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 13th, 2017
52 days to go.

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