Archives May 2022

Asian Catholic Citizenship against ‘Fake News’ and Disinformation

Asian Catholic Citizenship against ‘Fake News’ and Disinformation

By: Dr. Paul Hwang (Director of ALL FORUM)

In the 2016 U.S. presidential election, fake news became a global phenomenon as former President Trump sparked controversy over “fake news.” It was fake news that influenced the success of Trump and Hillary in the election at that time. Fake news, which began with the curiosity of teenage students in a rural village in Macedonia, one small country in Europe little to do with the US election, served as a powerful force for the President Trump’s election.

At that time, the U.S. pointed to Russia as the epicenter of the fake news. Although Russia made headlines in the U.S. media for intervening in the U.S. presidential election to help Trump win, it had to be correctly aware of the rapidly changing reality of the global community as the epicenter was revealed after the presidential election that the genuine agent for the fake news was the teenagers not Russia.

Meanwhile, Trump accused social media operators of abusing their authority and undermining political neutrality under the Article 230 of the Communications Decency Act in EU, which granted full immunity to Internet service providers. Since then, discussions on revising Article 230 of the Act targeting platforms have continued, but it seems difficult to revise Article 230, which has become the cornerstone of the development of the U.S. Internet industry.

The teenage students who created the aforementioned fake news made a lot of money from the news, which served as a reason for the emergence of people challenging the rich YouTuber throughout the world. In Korea, the announcement of the survey that the number one job young people want to do in the future is a YouTuber is now a frequent thing to hear. Fake news is different from rumors. It is fake news to create something that is not true, produce it under the name of news, and distribute it to the public.

The impact of fake news is great because people are more interested in fake things that are made more dynamically than true. It is deceiving the public with provocative text, and causing damage to someone by spreading it. The public sees fake news that they often encounter even though they know it’s not true. However, the public doesn’t spend time verifying facts over fake and real things.

As fake things repeat, the facts drift apart, and at that moment fake news becomes real news. As the name fake news itself causes various confusion, the United Nations recommends that academia and countries around the world use the terms “disinformation” and “misinformation” instead of ambiguous terms “fake news.” In particular, in March 2018, the UN European Commission proposed using the term “disinformation” instead of fake news in a report titled “multidimensional approach to false information” involving 49 high-ranking experts, including scholars, journalists and platform operators.

False information is spreading online in various forms such as comments, Twitter, and YouTube videos as well as news, and the term fake news makes false information misunderstood as being limited to news. It also analyzed that politicians tend to shrink press freedom by calling media reports critical or unfavorable to them as fake news. The report defined disinformation as ‘false, inaccurate or misleading information designed, produced, and distributed for the purpose of harming the public or for profit’. There is another example of what happened in Asia regarding fake news.

In 2017, at least eight people were killed in India because of false information. Seven were lynched by angry crowds for false information that they had kidnapped a child and that one had eaten a sacred cow. The route through which this false information spread was a mobile messaging app most frequently used by Indians, called WhatsApp. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, an independent U.S. statistical research institute, India has the fourth highest social hostilities index due to religious conflicts in the world.

The reason why false information circulating on the Internet could be ignited by violence is political and social hostility that supports false information, not WhatsApp itself. Let’s get back to the EU Commission. The commission conducted a wide range of online consultations that could include citizens like Internet service providers, and conducted a common form of research to find out the reality of false information in 28 EU member countries.

The conclusion of the report, which a group of high-level experts put forward after months of deliberation, was not legislation. Rather, it advised, “Avoid overly simple solutions.” “Only when all stakeholders cooperate can false information be efficiently handled in a way that is consistent with freedom of expression, freedom of speech, and pluralism.” Here, freedom of expression and freedom of speech are very important issues when dealing with fake news and false information.

Therefore, it is important to note the issue of freedom of speech or regulation of fake news in a way that democracy is protected in the immediate context, not in a choice of two. If the production and distribution of false information are not only a day or two, what governments in Asia should do should start by grasping what it is rather than hastily declaring an all-out war on “fake news.” The defense of democracy and the fight against false information do not end at once. High education is not being implemented in this regard, but if any it is only a self-study class.

Democracy, in which citizens are main agent, develops the ability to think reasonably and independently. In order to grow into a conscious citizen, proper media education and a sense of citizenship that does not waver even if fake news is rampant are needed. Saying that both the protection of victims and “freedom of speech” by “fake news” are equally important without considering the specific context only obscures the seriousness of the problem and does not help solve the problem at all. It seems fair and democratic to treat both equally, but priorities must be clarified to make democracy a sustainable system.

Overview of Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences (FABC) and the work of Maktaba-e-Anaveem Pakistan for the promotion of FABC in Pakistan.

By: Alishbah Javed Akhtar (Directress-MAP)

I am feeling great honor to write an article on Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences (FABC). I am very thankful to Fr. Emmanuel Asi, Chairperson, Maktaba-e-Anaveem Pakistan (MAP) who supported and guided me to write on FABC. Through this, I would like to share with the readers an overview of FABC and work of Maktaba-e-Anaveem Pakistan for the promotion of FABC in Pakistan.

FOUNDATION

Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences was founded in December 1970, on the occasion of Pope Paul VI’s visit to Manila. The Asian Bishops came together for the first time. From that meeting flowed the desire to strengthen the collegiality among them and a need to define and articulate what it means to be ‘Church in Asia’ in the spirit of Vatican II. This gave birth to the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference (FABC).

MEMBERS

FABC has nineteen (19) Bishops’ Conferences from the following countries: Bangladesh,       India- CBCI, India – Syro-Malabar, India – Syro– Malankara, India – Latin Rite, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Laos-Cambodia , Malaysia- Singapore-Brunei, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan – ROC, Thailand, Timor Leste, Vietnam.

FABC has eight (8) association members, namely: Hong Kong, Macau, Mongolia, Nepal, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.

STRUCTURE

FABC function through a hierarchy of structure consisting of Plenary Assembly, the central committee the Standing Committee and Central Secretariat

The Plenary Assembly

The supreme body of FABC, is composed of all president of member-conference of their officially designated episcopal alternates, Bishop-delegates elected by the member-conferences, associate members and members of Standing Committee. The Plenary Assembly meets in ordinary session every four years.

The Central Committee

Composed of the presidents of member-conferences or their officially designated episcopal alternates, oversees the implementations and instruction of Plenary Assembly. This committee meets every two years.

The Standing Committee

Composed of five Bishops elected from different parts of Asia, implements the resolutions and instructions of the Central Committee. It provides direct guidance and support to the Central Committee. It provides direct guidance and support to Central Secretariat and other organs of FABC.

The Central Secretariat

The Central Secretariat is the principal service agency and an instrument of coordination within the FABC and with outside offices and agencies. To assist the Central Secretariat are the following Offices each handling specialized ministry / area of concern: Office of Human Development, Office of Social Communication, Office of Laity and Family, Office of Theological Concerns, Office of Education and Faith Formation, Office of Educational and Interreligious Affaires, Office of Evangelization, Office of Clergy, and Office of Consecrated life.

The Central Secretariat is the principal service agency of FABC and an instrument of co-ordination both within FABC and with outside offices and agencies.

The Functions of the Central Secretariat will include the following:

  • To serve an organ of continuing contact and collaboration among the member conferences;
  • To be an organ of exchange of information and experience;
  • To promote studies and research on problems common to member conferences, especially in the fields of evangelization, cultural, adaptation, justice and peace, and other aspects of total human developments;
  • To establish Liason with related pontifical organizations and international studies;
  • To sponsor conferences, consultation and seminars on relevant issues;
  • To sponsor dialogue with other Christians, followers of the great religions of Asia, and of all men and women of good will, in pursuance of mutual understanding and truth vis-à-vis the common problem of Asia.

FABC IMPORTANT INSTITUTES

BISA : Bishops Institute for Social Action

BILA: Bishops Institute for Lay Apostolate

BIMA : Bishops Institute for Missionary Apostolate

BIRA : Bishops Institute for Interreligious Affairs

Theological Advisory Commission (TAC)

Office of Theological Concern (OTC)

PLENARY ASSEMBLIES

FABC Evangelization in Modern Day Asia (Threefold Dialogue), in 1974 at Taipei, Taiwan.

FABC Prayer – The Life of the Church of Asia, in 1978 at Calcutta, India.

FABC The Church– The Community of Faith in Asia, in 1982 at Samphran, Thailand.

FABC The Vocation and Mission of Laity in the Church and in the World of Asia, in 1986 at Tokyo, Japan.

FABC The Emerging Challenges to the Church in Asia in the 1990s: A call to Respond, A New Way of Being Church, in 1990 at Bandung, Indonesia.

FABC (25 Anniversary) Christian Discipleship in Asia Today: Service to Life (Five Pastoral Priorities: Family, Women and Girl, Youth, Ecology, Displaced Persons) in 1995 at Manila, Philippines.

FABC A Renewed Church in Asia: Mission of Love and Service, in 2000 at Samphran, Thailand.

FABC The Asian Family Toward a Culture of Integral Life, in 2004 at Daejeon, S. Korea.

FABC Living the Eucharist in Asia, in 2009 at Manila, Philippines.

FABC at Fort Years: Responding to the Challenges of Asia– A New Evangelization Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

FABC The Catholic Family in Asia: Domestic Church of the Poor on a Mission of Mercy, in 2016 at Colombo, Sri Lanka.

FABC 50 Journeying Together as people of Asia “And they went a different way” (Mt 2:12).

FUNCTIONS OF FABC

The functions of FABC shall be:

  • To study ways and means of promoting the apostolate, especially in the light of Vatican II and post-conciliar official documents, according to the needs of Asia.
  • To work for end to intensify the dynamic presence of the Church in total development of the peoples of Asia.
  • To help in the study of problems of common interest to the Church in Asia and to investigate possibilities of solutions and coordinated action.
  • To promote inter-communication and cooperation among local Churches and bishops of Asia.
  • To render service to episcopal conferences of Asia in order to help them meet better the of people of God.
  • To foster a more ordered development of organization and movements in the Church at the international level.
  • To foster ecumenical and interreligious communication and collaboration.

MAJOR THEMES

Non-doctrinal character. These are concerns, orientations and guidelines. These are sharing of experiences and learning process, awareness. The major emphasis is on the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the Churches in Asia. The major themes are Mission, Ministries, Dialogue, Communion and Evangelization.

MINISTRY AND MINISTRIES

  • Ministries demanded by the earthly realities and demands of Mission in Asia
  • Gifts of the Holy Spirit, Charism
  • Services and Ministries
  • Ministries of Lay People (13)
  • Formation for Ministries of Lay People
  • Increasing involvement of Lay People (Women, Youth…etc.) in the Church
  • Formation: Priests, Seminaries, Religious
  • On-Going Formation and Renewal
  • Consecrated Life in the Church of Con temporary Asia

CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY

The Local Church

Focus of Evangelization in Asia today is The Building up of the Local Church

The Local Church must be Incarnate, Indigenous, A Church of the people.

Laity the “Marginalized Majority in the Church

The Role of Women in the Church

Youth- The Struggle for life

A liberative way of being Church in Asia

Integral Human Development

Signs of hope in our Communities in Asia

Signs of presence of the Spirit and renewed power of the Word of God

Participation and Co-Responsibility (Collegiality) as Principle

MEDIA AND MASS COMMUNICATION

Proclamation of the Gospel in Asia

BASIC THEOLOGICAL ASSUMPTIONS

a. The Universality of Grace

b. The Jesus of the Gospel and the Cosmic Christ

c. The Final Stage of the History of Salvation is now underway

d. The “relatively” of the Church

PUBLICATION

FABC publications are suitable for pastoral workers but also researchers who would like to know FABC’s stances on issues pertaining to religion, faith, cultures, and societies in Asia.

This listing has nine sections:

  • FABC in general
  • Social Communication
  • Evangelization
  • Interreligious Dialogue
  • Human Development (Justice of Peace)
  • Laity and Family
  • Education and Faith Formation
  • Theological Concerns
  • Clergy

FABC also publishes FABC PAPERS to bring to wider audience critical analyses of problems facing the Church in Asia.

Maktaba-e-Anaveem Pakistan (MAP) is a fruit of FABC and working in Pakistan since 1989 for the empowerment of Laity. Maktaba-e-Anaveem Pakistan (MAP) is peoples’ forum for contextual Theologies in Pakistan. Since its birth in February 1989, Maktaba-e-Anaveem Pakistan (MAP) has been committed to empower laity in the Church by providing them training and opportunities for appropriate theological formation through seminars, consultations, training programs, and workshops.

Maktaba-e-Anaveem Pakistan (MAP) also publishes books in Urdu (the national language of Pakistan) around the Themes of Third World Contextual Theologies, local spiritualities, history and culture, social teachings of the church and global human issues.

Maktaba-e-Anaveem Pakistan’s (MAP) publications also include Pakistani reflection on struggle for liberation, reports of seminars and consultations organized by Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians (EATWOT), Asian Theological Conferences (ATC), Federation of Asia Bishops (FABC) and Maktaba-e-Anaveem Pakistan (MAP).

Maktaba-e-Anaveem Pakistan (MAP) follows and inspired by the teachings of Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences and Vatican Council II. MAP has keen interest to introduce church teachings to the lay person. It gives them voice to think about the church perspective in broader way.

Revisiting Teachings of Federation of Asian Bishop’s Conferences (FABC)

Maktaba-e-Anaveem Pakistan (MAP) launched a four years (2018-2021) program a series of seminar in different catholic dioceses of Pakistan. The following heads covers the required topics for seminars in different diocese. The FABC papers introduced by Clergy, lay women and men. Solemn opening was held at Theological Institute for Laity by Archbishop Joseph Arshad.

Dioceses Dates

Solemn Inauguration-At TIL, Sadhoki 19-21 April,2018

Archdiocese of Karachi 22-26 August,2018

Diocese of Quetta 22-26 May,2019

Diocese of Hyderabad 07-11 November, 2019

Diocese of Faisalabad 23-27 April,2020

Diocese of Multan 05-90 November,2020

Archdiocese of Lahore 22-27 April,2021

Diocese of Rawalpindi-Islamabad 23-27 September,2021

Solemn Closing-at TIL, Sadhoke 11-14 November,2021

 

Following topics were discussed during four years project:

  • Theological Concerns (Christology, Ecclesiology)
  • Evangelization and Mission
  • Education and Faith formation
  • Inter Religious Dialogue
  • Laity and Family
  • Human Development (Justice and Peace Issues
  • Social Communication

MAP celebrated Golden Jubilee of Vatican Council II 1962-2012. It was a four years project for seven dioceses of Pakistan.

MAP is one of the institutes in Pakistan who is working to introduce teachings of Vatican council II and documents of FABC in Pakistan. MAP has a plan to celebrate 60 year (1962-2022) of Vatican Council II in October,2022 at Theological Institute for Laity.

ALL Forum and MAP both are working for the empowerment of Laity and working in collaboration since many years. May God bless both institutes for their fruitful journey for the empowerment of laity.

Asian Sacred Wisdom (ASW) Organizes Webinar on “Towards Indigenous higher Education? The Decolonial Potential of Intercultural Universities in Mexico

Asian Sacred Wisdom (ASW) Organizes Webinar

Asian sacred wisdom had organised a lecture on the “Towards Indigenous higher Education? The Decolonial Potential of Intercultural Universities in Mexico” on the 24th of April, where around 15 participants from across Asia had joined. This interesting lecture was lead by Dr.Gunther Dietz. Gunther Dietz grew up in southern Chile and in northern Germany.

Asian Sacred Wisdom (ASW) Organizes Webinar

He studied anthropology, philosophy and philology in the Universities of Göttingen and Hamburg. He holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Hamburg University. He has been teaching at the Universities of Hamburg, Granada (Spain), Ghent (Belgium), Aalborg (Denmark), Veracruz (Mexico) and Deusto (Spain).

Asian Sacred Wisdom (ASW) Organizes Webinar

Currently he is a research professor in Intercultural Studies at Universidad Veracruzana in Xalapa (Mexico), where he works on multiculturalism, ethnicity, interculturality and intercultural / inter-religious education. His current project “Indigeneity and Pathways through Higher Education in Mexico” is carried out jointly by the University of Bath (UK), by UNAM and Universidad Veracruzana.

The Lecture elaborated on the problems faced by indigenous youth due to the practices/structures of the education system in Mexico and the efforts of Universidad Veracruzana along with local & regional NGOs and Social Movements in developing ‘Intercultural Universities’ for the upliftment and development of IP’s in Mexico. Lets look forward for the recording of this interesting session to be uploaded so that we can revisit and learn to adopt such projects in our own regions where need be.

“The Disability of Church Without the Disabled” Webinar by Woori Theological Institute (WTI)

Webinar by Woori Theological Institute (WTI)

This is the voice of Na Jong-cheon, who has been blind for more than 60 years, at an online seminar by Woori Theology Institute (WTI) on April 19. Although it may be due to my lack of knowledge of the pastoral area, I have never heard of such a clear and extraordinary pick-up of the present of the church’s ministry for the disabled people.

It was surprising, indeed, to hear what he said by melting his arduous life and faith into the Bible and Catholic Social Teachings while listening to the lecture of him. It was as if he wrote “a well-organized laity theology on the disabled.” The same was true of coherent words from him such as “Rights for Church Life”, “Mutual Evangelization”, “Spiritual Disability”, and “Disability of the Church without Presence of the disabled.”

In addition, it should be considered one of the “voices of the periphery” which the synod of People of God is to listen to. Although we have discussed and planed to have a series of online seminars in the first half of this year with “discrimination” as the main topic, Na Jong-cheon’s
story was more precise than expected demanding more concentration.

One of them is the term “Rights to Faith Life.” The Church life that has been taken for granted
to many church goers but not to Na who has seen a right to be restored which would galvanize many faithfuls for sure. Indeed, it was amazing to have approached Church life as one of the important rights and struggled to realize it.

What he wants to convey is broad, but the central message is not complicated. “The disabled live proudly in the region with ordinary believers and furthermore with residents in the same region, not in quarantine”, he pointed out. Therefore, he stressed out that it is wrong to create a separate parish for the audiovisual disabled or the deaf. This judgment seems to have originated from his experience rather than any theory.

In 1979, he established the “Catholic Blind Mission of Korea” and worked hard to expand it to each parish and nationwide. And 12 years ago, he carried out welfare activities for the blind based on the parish near his home. As a result, in 2019, it was possible to establish a disabled apostolic organization. His emphasis on “Disabled Ministry” rather than “a Devotional Group” is deeply related to his suggestion of “mutual Evangelization” between physically disabled people and ordinary people who may have mental or spiritual problems. In short, the visually impaired are not the object of benefits, but the subject of evangelization.

Therefore, the meaning of learning and practicing with each other as equal partners in the realization of the Reign of God in his speech is permeated in a mild but indomitable manner. Now he proposes a Theological Institute for Disabled. This is because in order to establish a realistic and reasonable pastoral policy, it is urgent to transfuse new blood to the Korean church, which is barren of theology and pastoral backups for disabled people.

Indigenous Peoples’ Cosmology: God-Human-World Relationship

Indigenous Peoples’ Cosmology: God-Human-World Relationship

By: Rev. Yangkahao Vashum

The fact that indigenous people see themselves as interrelated in all their life totality to the whole creation can be seen from the creation myth and other practices and beliefs. I have identified three tribal traditions of the Northeast India for our purpose. The first one is a Tangkhul Naga creation myth which tells the story of the great assembly of all the creatures. It goes like this.

The great assembly of all creatures was convened by Kasa Akhava (God) to determine the duration of day and night. Kasa Akhava invited the opinions of the creatures. After a spell of silence the mole came out with a suggestion that day and night should each be one year in length. This suggestion was rejected by all due to its impracticality. The discussion continued, but no acceptable proposal was forthcoming. The rooster was then left with the responsibility to determine the length of day and night. The rooster should crow when he is exhausted and needed rest. This would signal the end of the day. Again the rooster should crow after he had sufficiently rested by night, heralding the dawning of the day.

The rooster, hence became the timekeeper for the world. Soon a scene was created by a hungry flying fox who disturbed the peaceful sleep of his fellow creatures at night. He was seated on a tree enjoying a walnut. By mistake the walnut fell from his hands and hit the crab lying below. The crab, filled with fury, destroyed the nest of the giant ants, who in turn stung a sleeping wild boar. The agonized bear went wild and destroyed a banana tree. This disturbed the tiny bat sleeping peacefully on a banana leaf. The angry bat sped about wildly and landed in the nostrils of a sleeping elephant.

The agitated elephant then went wild resulting in the death of a man. Kasa Akhava called all the creatures for an explanation and found that the flying fox was responsible for the unruly scene which ended in the death of a man. The flying fox was punished by having one of his legs amputated and given to the magpie, who was considered to be the eldest among the creatures. (1*)

The second story comes from the Khasis of Meghalaya. The Khasis believed that their ancestors descended from heaven/sky world. According to the Khasi origin story, God created sixteen families in heaven and allowed them to live with Him in heaven.(2*) God also gave them the freedom to move between heaven and earth through a golden ladder. On one such occasion, seven families decided to settle down on earth leaving behind the nine families in heaven. “These seven families came to be known as Ki Hynniew Ha Tbin (The Seven Below) and those who remained in heaven as Ki Khyndai Ha jrong (The Nine Above).”(3*)

The Khasis claim they are the descendents of these seven families. Then there is the log-drum of the Wanchos of Tirap district of Arunachal Pradesh. Log-drum constitutes as one of the finest symbols of the Wancho people’s culture. It is a drum curved out of a huge tree. In the past, log-drum is used for a number of purposes and occasions ranging from organizing defense mechanism, announcing natural calamities to heralding the beginning of community festivities and celebrations.

A number of different beats symbolized different meanings to the villagers. Construction of such huge drums involves series of sacred and secular activities. But when this is dragged to the village from the distant forest the Wanchos sang songs through which they beg pardon from each and every creature of the forest expressing how inevitable that tree was to them for which they had to cut and disturb their habitat. (4*)

All these stories speak for themselves. The creation myth explicitly brings out all that is concerned with our lives, our human relationship with Kasa Akhava and with non-human creation. Kasa Akhava is in the profoundest way asserted as the creator and sustainer of the universe. The Kasa Akhava is seen as respecting the creations and their roles in shaping and caring the created world.

Indigenous PeoplesThe whole creation is depicted as a family with Kasa Akhava as its head. In tribal society one most prominent practice is that important decisions are taken by the family sitting around the hearth-fire. This is indicative of the universal family which requires the participation and cooperation of all family members in decision making and carrying out the given responsibilities. The whole creation is depicted as co-workers – responsible partners – in caring for Kasa Akhava’s created world.

While the second story unravels how from the very beginning God and human family are connected to each other, the third story brings out how human and nature maintain their interdependent living relationship, especially humans towards the nature. The tribals have a sober view of anthropology. There is no myth, legend or belief which teaches that human beings are superior to other created beings.

Human beings are seen as co-workers with other creatures. Hence, the human relationship with the whole creation is characterized by mutual respect and mutual dependence. Further, their relationship is accentuated by the common responsibility they share in caring for God’s created world.


Ref:

1) R. Luikham, Folktales and Tales of the Nagas (Delhi: Immanuel publishers, 1983), 77ff; Cf. Yangkahao Vashum, “A Tangkhul Creation Myth: Implication for a Holistic View of Human Rights,” in The Tribal Worldview and Ecology, Tribal Study Series no.2, eds. A. Wati Longchar and Yangkahao Vashum (Jorhat: Tribal Study Centre, 1998), 34-40.

2) R. Tokin Roy Rymbai, “Evolution of Modern Khasi Society (Babu Jeebon Roy),” in J. N. Chowdhury, ed. The Khasi Canvas: A Cultural and Political History (Shillong: Srimati Jaya Chowdhury, 1978), 415.

3) Ibid.

4) Sarit K. Chauduri, “Folk Belief and Resource Conservations: Reflections from Arunachal Pradesh,” in Indian Folklife: A Quarterly Newsletter from National Folklore Support Centre, Serial No. 28, January 2008, 5. Of course, log-drum is not unique to the Wanchos alone; it is a cultural symbol of most the tribals in the region.

A Theology of the World

Theology of The World

By: Fr.Michael Amaladoss, S.J

Two of the challenges that theology faces today are the problem of secularization and ecological destruction. An Asian theology of the world can offer a different perspective in these areas. Secularization is the growing dichotomy and distance between the sacred and the secular. This is facilitated by the autonomous growth of science and technology, on the one hand, and the creationist gap between the Creator and the creature. In a mechanistic theory of creation, an autonomously functioning machine does not depend on its maker to explain its functioning.

The Asian religious traditions keep a link between God and the world through the common theme of life and continuing inter-dependence. This view is not pantheistic, as it 1s often alleged, but adual or advaitic. What is wrong is not the world, but our attachment to it. Our salvation/liberation can be achieved only by our life in the world. The development of the world is an integral dimension of the development of the humans. So it has to be positivel valued and promoted.

A positive view of the world – creation – also opposes its exploitation to satisfy selfish consumer needs. The goal of ecology is not only to improve the quality of life. We have to respect the world and live in harmony with it. Creation is for the whole community of the humans, present and future. It has to be used in a spirit of justice and equality. Living in. harmony with creation the humans also live a holistic life in their bodies. Asian methods of sadhana like the yoga celebrate human life in the body. The body is our mediation to creation and to other humans. The Buddha recommended the middle path between consumerism and deprivation.

The dichotomy between the sacred and the secular withdraws the humans from the world and directs them vertically to the Absolute. Life centres round sacraments and rituals, not other humans and the world in which we all live. Jesus’ new commandment was not a repeat of the old commandment to love God above all things. It was rather to love one another as he loved us. It is in the other that we love God as John explains in his letters. Jesus’ criterion of judgement is not how many rituals we have celebrated, but whether we fed the hungry and clothed the naked humans.

All this should lead us to find God in the world. We have to secularize the sacred. Our concern should be life in the world, not the rituals and their ministers. The rituals should be symbolic celebrations of life. Without life they would have no meaning. Life without sacraments can still be meaningful. Sacraments without life will be empty. I am reminded of the Mahayana Buddhist aphorism: Nirvana is Samsara. It is not self-evident, but an object of realization.

From this point of view we may have to revisit our theologies of liberation. Often inspired by Marxist theory they focus on economics and politics and speak a language of revolution, even justifying violence. Life is more than economics and politics. It also includes persons, society, culture and religion. An integral analysis of society must take into account all these elements.

Our goal is to establish a free and just community of equals. Our option for the poor may lead us to dialogue with the non-poor who are often the real change makers. Non-violent dialogue may be a more effective change maker than revolutionary rhetoric. Liberation theologies, operating in a conflictual mode, have no place for forgiveness, reconciliation and community building. They tend to narrow their context to their experience of oppression. The Buddhist notion of inter-being and compassion may help us to develop a more Asian perspective on liberation.

Misinformation in The World Today

Misinformation in This World

By: Neilan Sylvester D’souza

Information and knowledge have always been crucial for human civilizations in the world since ancient times. Ever since the invention of knowledge; its generation, justification and conservation as truth has always been debated because it cannot be easily agreed on by all.

It is generally assumed that knowledge is more valuable than mere true belief. But In epistemology (the branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge) a formulation of the value problem first occurs in Plato’s Meno. Socrates points out to Meno that a man who knew the way to Larissa could lead others there correctly. But so, too, could a man who had true beliefs about how to get there, even if he had not gone there or had any knowledge of Larissa.

Socrates says that it seems that both knowledge and true opinion can guide action. Meno then wonders why knowledge is valued more than true belief and why knowledge and true belief are different. Socrates responds that knowledge is more valuable than mere true belief because it is tethered or justified. Justification, or working out the reason for a true belief, locks down true belief (Five Dialogues, 2002). Keeping this in mind how do we access or learn to create knowledge which is justified in a world of misinformation or fake news.

The main reason why fake news and misinformation has found popularity in these times is because majority of the people today simply do not have the time to critically analyze the information that they are being exposed to; adding to the boom of information resources and numerous means of accessing information (Information Age – mid 20th Century onwards) including the pace at which information is being produced and consumed leaves very little space and time for people to fully understand or critically analyze information. Thus, this drawback is what has easily helped fake news or misinformation to gain prominence.

We do not have to look far for examples, lets focus on the ongoing corona virus pandemic itself; when medical professionals and associated international institutions like the WHO raised serious alarms about the dangers of contracting the rapidly spreading virus and urged people to follow safety guidelines including vaccinations to stop/reduce the severity of the virus, great numbers of people refused to believe in this matter and rather agreed to misinformation popularized by unreliable sources that this virus isn’t so dangerous as it seems and is just a common flu; also that vaccines are only a commercial push; and heard immunity itself can weaken the virus. Such instances itself proved very catastrophic for all of us.

One way through which misinformation and fake news can be condemned is when we the people take time to verify the information which we come across by referring and cross referring its sources by ourselves and calling out when we find faults. Through this we may be able to curb the spread of misinformation and make way to build responsible and rightly informed communities.

Although it is impossible to engage in this process for all the information which exists, let us begin with the information which we are most interested in, so that at least those whom we engage with on any particular knowledge are not influenced by the prevailing misinformation and fake news.