God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Reflections / Gedanken

Turn of an era?

We are living in interesting times; we also could say we live in dangerous times or exciting times. However, one defines emotionally current times, it is increasingly becoming clear that humanity faces difficult decisions to make on a variety of questions flocking together in one moment in time.

The Coronavirus has brought us the message, how quick our big and small seemingly stable world can crumble because of a small little virus taking over the world. The way we densify areas to accommodate more people in spaces and the way we extend our habitat into the last pockets of real nature should be reflected on if we as the human species want to have a future on this planet.

Add to this the climate change which becomes increasingly dramatic looking at the so-called eternal ice, the glaciers, the weather patterns which will not go away while elected or authoritarian politicians try to make sense of it – always having in mind that the sacrifices must be on the other site of the fence.

The Ukraine war has shown the people on the “island” Europe the realities of the rest of the word, where violence and war is a much more frequent occurrence. But it also shows how interconnected the world is now and people all around the world are suffering because one leader runs amok for reasons one can analyse, but it does not mean they make sense.

Trump, Johnson, and their likes have brought a culture of lies and fake news to the table. Amplified by social media and as predicted by warning voices, that the amount of information and communication will overwhelm our brains, we have created the best environment to create a fictional reality besides the real reality. And millions, overstrained and anxious, flee into the madness of such fictions. Looking at the USA and its current affairs – the plan of the Christian right together with those wanting to keep the white macho monopoly comes dangerously to conclusion: racism, the upcoming decision “Roe v Wade” has ramifications far beyond the USA. A country and society which is at war with itself and therefore giving rise to others like China, which is posing the biggest threat to human rights, civil rights and civil liberties.

Looking at the overall politics, many democratic systems need an overhaul to arrive in the 21st century, but it is impossible to do with the culture of professional politicians who would never survive in the real world and who have mostly their re-election at heart instead of the people. Our democracies are a shadow of what it meant when the idea was born. It is still often the best we can, but it will not be sufficient to move forward in the next years to come.

And this applies also to international organisations like the UN, being stuck in a post II World War idea and clearly not being able to develop into a tool needed in our times. Alone the fact, that a country, being the aggressor and committing war crimes has a veto power is on all imaginable levels simply wrong.

Social media and democratic structures are also more and more in competition – reading Elon Musk’s announcement that he most likely will unban Donald T from the newly purchased Twitter, looking at the power of a company like Facebook to determine what you are allowed to say or not, the logarithm and AI increasingly and often silently starting to manipulate our lives: we are at a point in time when we collectively need to come to decisions how to proceed as human beings and what values we put first.

There would be so much more to list – the role of religious institutions and their failures, questions of how the global economy is working, questions of the interaction of so-called “developed / developing” countries in relation to the so-called “first world” – whatever that really means when looking at it more in detail.

We need to have more conversations – and when I say conversations I mean really engaging with each other, listening to each other and recreating a culture of engagement. Social Media should assist and stop creating millions of keyboard warriors and bots pushing their point of view in a way which defies the word “communication” and triggers rather aggression and violence.

We need to realise that putting average or professional politicians on pedestals because there are no better ones, or because they have a specific gender, sex or skin colour does not really help but often obfuscate the wanted outcome.

The world of our days offers so many tools and possibilities to reach out and connect; we need to make more out of it, and we have to learn to use it wisely if we really want to come out with a perspective for us humans as part of this world we are living in. We owe it to the next generations that we turn this obvious transition time into something which is worth living.

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

Time to realign…

What the elections of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson have indicated looking at how they came to power; what the refugee drama in Europe with the most famous quote of Angela Merkel “Wir schaffen das” has suggested, what “black lives matter” are yearning for since years again and again –  Covid-19 now has confirmed and is confirming in all mightiness:
Our systems are not really holding water not withstanding the dawn of technology and interconnectivity, the human race has not caught up with the challenges it faces in the new millennium on so many levels. It has lost direction and momentum and like on a sinking ship everybody tries to save what he or she deemed important in the times of confusion.
It is not the year 2000 with the magic of heralding a new time in number but the year 2020 which will determine which direction the global village will take and whether it entails a unified human race abolishing the selfishness on so many levels:

As a human race – we have to decide whether we acknowledge each other as equals, or we continue to fight each other as black and white and all the colours in between.
As humans, we have to decide whether we acknowledge being part of the world around us, part of planet earth or whether we want to try to continue pretending to be master of the universe.
As societies, seeing our brokenness we have to decide how we deal with the past, with hurt, pain and memory of the sometimes unspeakable.
As countries, we have to check in again how we are governed and what forms part of our contract between those, we give the power to be our leaders for a period of time.
As individuals, we have to re-assess our values, our commitments, our belief system and our ways of life.

Politicians love to speak of moments in history, of historical times – and I guess, those who have an interest in history have asked themselves often when reading about upheaval of historic proportion how people might have felt or whether they understood the severity of their times. I guess, now we know if we pay attention.

Systems and technology alone will not save us, mighty wannabe leaders with pseudo-messianic aura will turn out like the Pied Piper of Hamelin – there is hard work to do and it has to done on all levels of societies with a strong input of civil societies and religious bodies.
It is time to unite in diversity, to listen to each other, to keep silent with each other to be able to find a sensitive way forward acknowledging the past without being prisoner of what lies behind us. A real new dawn carries the pain and errors of the past like scars, visible but not hurtful anymore, forgiven, but not forgotten.
We need to connect to our roots as the human race while stretching to touch the stars of hope and destiny leading the way forward.

It is a monumental task we are facing as the human race – but there is no alternative. We either face it or we humans will one day in spite of all cleverness be only a footnote in the history of the blue planet living on without us.

 

 

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

Black lives matter

BLMYes, they matter – but I hesitated to write about it because it seems almost everybody on this planet is at the moment is on this topic. But that is not all:

My hesitation is not about that I would not agree with the slogan – my hesitation also does not deny the continuous human rights violation by a race theory, which is complete artificial, but has brought so much pain and hurt and destruction on people of colour.

My hesitation – as a human being- to say something is rather about the inside, that I am born into a system I am not able to escape – I enjoyed the fruits of racism, colonialism without being guilty of anything and even all my activism cannot overwrite this birth right.

As I theologian I would say: If there is any meaning in the term “original sin” – then the question of race, the question of white domination is an example par excellence for this theological concept.

As a German I grew up with the sense, that “we Germans” are guilty of Jewish genocide, of Auschwitz and the gas chambers – and I still recall the comments of elderly people in France verbally spitting at us young Germans touring the country.

So I am not sure where my place is in all of this;

while I am observing the hopefully last white right wing macho-stand off symbolized by the egomaniac in the White House and his cronies trying to keep an old world order alive which can’t be resuscitated;

while I am almost unable to watch the over 8-minute agony of Georg Floyd;

while I am aware of so many video clips of unnecessary violence and brutality;

I try to find a way to remain myself:

Observing, acknowledging, standing in solidarity but also knowing that the mark of Cain will always remain with me – innocently guilty

I also know that the yearning for a society without the term “race” can only be given birth if we overcome the prisons of language and perception on all sides but for that to happen there must be a longer period of silence and acknowledgement, of listening and enduring the voices of pain and despair of our wounded brothers and sisters.

There is no cheap solution,
no cheap escape –
protests,
kneeling,
standing together against unjust systems
can only be the starting point for a long journey ahead.

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

And again: the race question…

South Africa experienced yesterday the drama of the resignation of Mmusi Maimane from the main opposition party in the National Parliament of South Africa. Comments before and during – and even now after the resignation – are a mix of speculations, indications, accusations and controversies –  add the resignations of Athol Trollip and Herman Mashaba and one could assume that a political party is in meltdown after a disappointing election result and lots of internal fights in the last year.

What really catches my attention is the bitterness and almost fundamentalism when it comes to the question of race, the question how to attract black South Africans to vote for a party which is portrait in debates and news often as too white. Party politics and the egos of those concerned are surely a factor, but I guess what really bring theses events to the forefront is another question which is indeed a decisive one for the whole of the country:

How do I eliminate the question of race for the future without forgetting the injustices of the past and the necessary redress in the current time?

It sounds like the squaring the circle – but this is the question it boils to at the end. While most political parties in South Africa put their focus on redress and correcting the past – claiming this the only way for the way forward – even if this  would create new injustices and hardship – little effort is seen in creating an atmosphere where all three aspects are coming together.
The frustration of most young people, the mood of most South Africans, the hurt of each and every South African in one or the other way, the pitfalls of corruption and state capture; the infighting in all political parties seemingly ignoring the plight of the people – it all creates a conductive scenario for quick fixes satisfying emotions in the short term using the tools of the past.

South Africa will only get it right, if politicians combine redress with a new vocabulary, looking back inter-twining it with striving for a just and non-racist future – creating the miracle of acknowledging hurt and healing in a just framework and creating tools and language, which overcome the perspective of the past without ignoring it.
If this realization is the result of the events of the last days and taken as a challenge for our society – then these events might turn into a blessing for South Africa

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

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