God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

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

Racism – the original sin one cannot escape?

Visiting the Duke University with its vast history of racial divide and coming together there can’t be any evening meal with lecturers of history without at some point touching on the question of racism in the USA. Stories told about black movements on Duke campus – and those experiencing equality and black conscience movements in Montgomery and in other parts of the South States of the USA – for a German living in South Africa an intense evening of sharing the pain and questions arising from history and the challenges future will hold.

While it seems that my US American friends have made peace with the fact that as a white man, one cannot escape the original sin of racism purely by being born from a white mother and father -I still grapple with the fact whether it is fair to be again and again put in the structural and personal white privilege and somehow racist corner – no matter how engaged or involved one has been in healing the racial divide.

Recognizing the past, acknowledging structural privilege is one thing – making it the Cain’s mark of every white person for the foreseeable future is another. My question was on this eve and still remains whether talking in the same “termini” our forefathers have done will assist in overcoming a racist past and leading into a non-racist future. While under Obama and Trump here in the USA seemingly the topic is discussed much more prominent and controversial – so different from the usual US American way of being nice , shallow on this subject and avoiding conflict – we also going in South Africa and I guess in many parts of the world through a renewed debate on this topic. Yes, maybe it is true that we on all sides have to speak out and speaking out might even hurt – not only the listener, but also the speaker acknowledging truth we can’t allow for this seemingly original sin to linger and therefore darken the future of future generations.

Maybe the debate, the pain ,the accusations are a necessary redemption to be in the future saved from the evil of racism – maybe the revolution of social media taken note of all the racist acts and laying in bare in the public to see, to judge, to mourn, to decry – maybe all this is necessary in the development of a human civilization, which at the end only knows one race, the human race – later looking back on today’s debate and yesterdays history in sheer non-believe that racism was even a possibility to entertain for so long in history.

For me, this question remains after this eve as painful as ever – and the question-marks keep nagging how to approach a seemingly original sin which keeps on poising societies in our times. My experience at Duke University was a reminder how much had been done, and how much still has to be done – and how many circles we have already run without really moving in-depth forward on this question.

Filed under: Africa, General, HOPE Cape Town USA, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , ,

POZ Magazine: President Obama Approves More Than $1 Billion for Global Fund

POZ – POZ Magazine – POZ.com – News : President Obama Approves More Than $1 Billion for Global Fund.

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, Politics and Society, , ,

25.08.2009 The US is moving on HIV & AIDS

THE BRIEFING ROOM

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary
____________________________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release                                                        August 21, 2009

President Obama Announces National HIV/AIDS Community Discussions

First Event, the Atlanta HIV/AIDS Community Discussion, to be Held on August 25th at the 2009 National HIV Prevention Conference Community Discussions will feed into the development of a National HIV/AIDS Strategy

WASHINGTON – President Obama today announced the launch of the National HIV/AIDS Community Discussions, a series of events to be held across the country. These events, hosted by the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) will offer the public a chance to provide input as the White House works to fulfill the President’s pledge to develop a National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS). The first event, the Atlanta HIV/AIDS Community Discussion, will be held on August 25th at the 2009 National HIV Prevention Conference.

“HIV remains an serious challenge to the American people and I am committed to developing an effective National HIV/AIDS Strategy,” said President Obama. “The National HIV/AIDS Community Discussions will provide an opportunity for members of the public to give their input on how we can best address this crucial issue. With the insights from communities across the country, we will have a strategy that is focused on the goals of reducing HIV incidence, getting people living with HIV/AIDS into care and improving health outcomes, and reducing HIV-related health disparities.”

With more than 56,000 new HIV infections occurring in the United States each year, the President believes that we must re-focus national attention on the domestic epidemic. He has articulated three goals for the NHAS: reducing HIV incidence, increasing access to care and optimizing health outcomes, and reducing HIV-related health disparities. The national HIV/AIDS community discussions are just one mechanism for engaging the American people and obtaining input. The Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) will also provide input, and public comments submitted to the ONAP website will also be taken into consideration.

ONAP is part of the White House Domestic Policy Council and is tasked with coordinating the continuing efforts of the United States government to reduce the number of HIV infections across the U.S., and respond to the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS.

The Atlanta HIV/AIDS Community Discussion will be held on August 25th as part of the 2009 National HIV Prevention Conference, which is being held in Atlanta from August 23-26. The Community Discussion is open to conference participants and 200 tickets have been set-aside for the local Atlanta community. ONAP is also meeting with local HIV services organizations while it is in Atlanta.

Other cities in which communities discussions will be held are: Washington, DC; New York, NY; San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles, CA; Houston, TX; Albuquerque, NM; Jackson, MS; Fort Lauderdale, FL; Minneapolis, MN; Columbia, SC; Puerto Rico; and the Virgin Islands. Specific dates will be announced later.

Filed under: General, Politics and Society, , , , ,

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