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

Reflection on a trip to Europe

2 weeks of promoting HOPE Cape Town are coming to an end and I am sitting at Frankfurt airport waiting for my flight back home to South Africa. Time was flying as usual and sitting here and waiting gives some time to reflect on all what was happening in the last 14 days.
Faces of students are crossing my mind whom I met while giving a talk in one of the more rural schools in the northern part of Germany. People, who have never seen a HIV positive person were subjected to a talk about the danger of HIV. And not only that: how to bring the South African reality of crime, corruption and toi-toi to those who never experienced anything else than the orderly running of day-to-day life. Filling the gap, this is what HOPE Cape Town is doing in the fields of HIV and AIDS when it comes to government involvement, filling the gaps applies also when bridging the well-protected realities of a student attending school in rural Germany and those living in Manenberg or Wallecedene.
Press conference in Dresden in preparation of the HOPE Gala – another crowd of people, journalists, wanting to know the progress of HOPE Cape Town’s work in the Western Cape and how money is spend in a responsible way. Pre-recording for a German radio broadcaster – HOPE Cape Town’s story and some private talk included – the moderator wants to know the person behind the project including the seemingly ever hot topic of church and HIV and the famous “c” question…Bridging worlds means also knowing different people – a wedding in France was another highlight on this trip to Europe – diving into the world of stars and VIP’s and playing a small little role in the romance of two people. It’s more on the private side but also serves some networking for HOPE Cape Town on a very different scale.
So from the small town student to the previous chancellor of Germany – the scale of people I met was quite amazing and so have been the interactions and chats in between. Being able to touch the lives of so different people in so many different ways – this is the beauty and the blessing of the work, I am allowed to do. And so remains gratefulness as the essence of the reflection I was able to do before Cape Town and HOPE Cape Town and all the others waiting for me demand again all my time and energy. Life is good.

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Gala Dresden, Networking, Reflection, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

22.10.2009 Berlin ice-cold…

It is freezing cold when I arrive in Berlin, thanks the “Deutsche Bundesbahn” with a delay. A Korean taxi driver with a typical “Berlin accent” is driving me to the hotel, through all the construction sides – I feel like Cape Town or Johannesburg…

A first “hello” at the hotel by a friend of mine who happens to be the HR manager of this hotel. In the afternoon then a first meeting with an employee of the German Bundestag. I know her since a long time and we have to catch up a lot as we have not seen us for a while. But also we explore possibilities how to engage with the new government, specially in the health sector and I am confident that I am able to meet the right people next time I am in Berlin.

A talk with a representative of the Lutheran Chuch in the representation of the EKD for the German Government  – also here a briefing and some discussions on future cooperation in some fields.  Back to the hotel and then meeting a journalist: preparation for a trip to Cape Town, a visit to HOPE Cape Town and a report for radio about our work.

This evening I will meet a MP for dinner – also here it will be an exchange of ideas and possible cooperation. But at the same time I can say that all people I met today are people I know since a longer time. There is trust and the will to assist – and after such long time, there is this feeling of a growing friendship, which I appreciate a lot. One knows each other, one trusts each other – a fine way of working together in an appreciative surrounding.

It will be late before I will be back at the hotel, a short night, as I have a breakfast meeting tomorrow morning with some people – again planing on quite a substantive level to bridge the realities of South Africa with Germany, but even more:  to bridge realities on several continents, amongst them one reality,in which more than 30 mil people can tell a separate tale, where thousands of people are called to higher services every day and end their life premature, where hope and future are theoretical terms with no real value.

Last but not least: a feedback from Rome and the papal council shows me that our visit at the beginning of the week was appreciated.

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, Networking, Politics and Society, , , , , , , , , , ,

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