Challenges to Humanity

Frei Betto, OP

The recent manifestations in Hong Kong against the protectionist policy of the World Trade Organization confirms that an unipolar world hegemonized by the economic, military and ideological power of the United States, represents a serious threat for the future of humanity. Of six thousand three hundred million persons who inhabit the planet, according to the United Nations, four thousand million live below the poverty line, with a monthly per capita income less than $60.00

The phenomenon of globalization is, in fact, a global colonization, or rather, the imposition of an Anglo-Saxon model of society for the rest of the countries of the world. All this asymmetry is aggravated by the increasing imbalance of the environment and by the wrongful search for peace through the imposition of arms and not through the promotion of justice, as the prophet Isaiah suggested eight centuries before Christ.

The challenges presented to humanity today can be summed up in eight points.

1. The reduction of hunger, of poverty and of social inequality that are the authentic “arms of massive destruction”, that sacrifice, according to the FAO, at least 24 thousand lives each day. Among the factors of premature death, hunger surpasses illnesses (cancer, Aids…), traffic and work accidents, and violence (wars, terrorism, assassinations). Nevertheless, the planet produces alimentation sufficient for 11 billion mouths. The problem then is neither an excess of mouths nor the lack of foods but a problem of justice, above all a problem of sharing the goods of the earth and the fruits of human work.

2. Respect for the sovereignty and self-determination of peoples. The multilateral organisms ought to avoid their manipulation by the great powers. Behind the treaties supposedly oriented toward interchanges among nations there are cruel mechanisms of neocolonialism. No one is capable of imagining a Cuban base on the Californian coast, as this would provoke a great outcry from the communication media. Nevertheless there is a North American base on the coast of Cuba, Guantánamo that does not cause an indignant reaction in the international media. A nation like Puerto Rico remains since 1898 under the North American guidance. North American military bases are scattered through the world in a flagrant interference of the internal security of the host countries and of their neighbors.

3. Reinforcement of citizenry and of democracy. The whole population has the right to organize by interest groups, to defend itself and to vindicate its rights. The citizenry ought to base itself on full recognition of the dignity of each human being, independently of their sexual, ethnic, religious and social condition. It is urgent that we secure alimentation, health, education, work, culture and recreation, housing and the right to happiness for all. Democracy will achieve its fullness when it joins political liberty with social justice, in way in which all have an income sufficient to guarantee quality of life and full conditions of human development.

4. Protection of the environment: The planet is on the eve of exhausting its energy potential, becomes a great threat to its biodiversity, climactic conditions change from year to year. Without a new paradigm of relation between humanity and nature, the progressive degradation of the environment will continue increasing the cases of illnesses that will contribute to the ecological imbalance, harming the sources of production of drinkable water and of food.

5. Respect for religious pluralism, for the diversity of political models and the end of sexual and ethnic discrimination. Religious intolerance could multiply typical reactions of fundamentalist attitudes. From this comes the importance of favoring inter -religious dialogue. The models of political organization in our societies ought to respect the idiosyncrasy of each country. New sexual roles need to be faced with respect and ethnic differences as an enriching factor for living together.

6. Solidarity among nations. We are all passengers of this spatial ship called the planet Earth. Resources are limited and ought to be distributed with justice and used with moderation. For the same reason, there is need of erasing competition, oppression and colonialism, which greatly harm the living together among nations. As a result it is urgent that we strengthen in new generations the understanding that we are just one human family and that the singularity of each nation ought not to constitute a factor of prejudice, of discrimination, of aggression or of the imposition of outside models on its history and on its individuality.

7. To overcome the economy of insufficiency that affects today two-thirds of humanity obliged to survive in inhuman conditions, just as the economy of abundance, which permits a few rich countries the illegal and exaggerated appropriation of riches and resources that, in principal, belong to the whole of humanity. The economy of sufficiency ought to assure each person and each nation conditions worthy of life and the full realization of potential.

8. Strengthening the culture that identifies the sacred nature of each person, his or her irreducible dignity and inalienable right to a happy life. Each one of us is the center of the Universe, and the gift of life is the supreme value that ought to be preserved, perfected and nourished in a manner that avoids the total making commonplace of existence, just as the factors that contribute a threaten it, to destroy it or devalue it.

We will be truly human when happiness surpasses the material conditions of life and reaches its vocation of transcendence, elevating the human spirit to the heights of infinity, already previously announced en art, in religious mystique and above all in love.

Fray Betto is a writer, author of “The Artist´s Work , a holistic vision of the Universe” among other books.

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