End Nuclear Weapons!

By Neilan D’souza

The discovery of Nuclear energy was one of the greatest discoveries of mankind. Being able to produce so much energy from such a small source was truly a break through discovery. But as time went by and newer discoveries being made on how to maximize the effect of this energy along with the World War situation the whole notion of Nuclear energy shifted from being a clean source of energy generation for Earth to a Weapon of mass destruction.

Everyone knows about the Hiroshima and Nagasaki incident which took place around 77 years ago on August 6th and 9th, 1945; where more than 200,000 people in Hiroshima and more than 140,000 in Nagasaki died a very tragic and suffering death. We cannot imagine the pain of those thousands of people who experienced that death or being vaporized in seconds due to the blast of the atomic bomb dropped on them by the USA during WW2.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombing/Photo:Historia Daily

UN research says that today around 12,705 nuclear weapons remain. The Countries which possess such weapons have well-funded, long-term plans to modernize their nuclear arsenals. Even shocking is that more than half of the world’s population still lives in these countries that either have such weapons or are members of nuclear alliances. While the number of deployed nuclear weapons has appreciably declined since the height of the Cold War, not one nuclear weapon has been physically destroyed pursuant to a treaty. In addition, no nuclear disarmament negotiations are currently underway.

If just 2 atomic bombs are capable of such destruction with the technology back in 1945 imagine how much more worse it can be in this era. With the ongoing Russia Ukaraine war, China – Taiwan tensions, India – Pakistan, North and South Korea, Israel – Palestine conflicts there are just a few countries who are also strong Nuclear Powers pose very dangerous situations ahead to people living here.

Achieving global nuclear disarmament is one of the oldest goals of the United Nations. It was the subject of the General Assembly’s first resolution in 1946, which established the Atomic Energy Commission (dissolved in 1952), with a mandate to make specific proposals for the control of nuclear energy and the elimination of atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction.

Rusia and Ukraine War/Photo:CNN

The United Nations has been at the forefront of many major diplomatic efforts to advance nuclear disarmament since. Even Pope Francis on his visit to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2019 condemned the use and possession of nuclear weapons by any state as “immoral”, and urged support for “the principal international legal instruments of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, including the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons”. He said that international peace cannot rest on a balance of military power, but must be based on mutual trust, and that a world without nuclear weapons is “possible and necessary”. Therefore as we commemorate the International day for total elimination of Nuclear Weapons on the 26th of September as a Church lets us stand together, united with our neighbour religions and every citizen to oppose the National interests in our countries which praise Nuclear Weaponry, Nuclear Research and Nuclear power generation, so that we can put an end to re-occurrence of Nuclear disasters.*

Youth Today, Leader Tomorrow!

By Neilan Sylvester D’souza

We all know that the 12th of August is celebrated as International Youth Day; around this time we also come across many slogans which shout that “Youth of today are leaders tomorrow”, “Youth are the face of Change”, “Young and active citizens of the country will take us to great heights”, “Youth voices and ideas must be heard” and many more on a similar note. On 13th of August everything goes back to normal, the celebrated ‘Youth’ become secondary citizens, and there is barely any importance given to their thoughts and ideas in most decision making areas; youth often get looked down for being inexperienced, disinterested and irrelevant. The celebration of International Youth Day in most cases lives and dies on the same day, we could also relate this to other commemorative days, regardless.

Pause for a moment, take time and observe the Youth today. As a youth myself, I can proudly say that youth today are not the same, they are better aware, more knowledgeable, better skilled and hard working, but also under a lot of stress and pressure. Let me put my observations into context. Last month ALL Forum spent time with Indonesian Youth by facilitating our program called Moving School in Bogor; we had around 36 participants mainly Indonesian Youth from catholic youth movements and also an Islamic minority group – Ahamadiyya Muslims.

Moving School Indonesia 2022

Even for ALL Forum it was a first, to bring together so many Christian and Muslim participants together in one place for a week long physical program since the past two years due to the pandemic. Our learning’s were enriched ever more because of the interreligious interactions which the youth were having. Never have I seen collaboration like this among strangers looking to learn and work together. We must pause, take time and recognise that among today’s youth there exists a pluralistic culture; mutual respect for sensitive religious practices; zeal to learn, understand as well as collaborate for matters of justice and peace; strong emotion and care towards the environment; and determination towards common good; against corruption and intolerant towards hate.

From this International Youth day on, let us not reduce today’s youths’ determination for change and care for creation and climate only as a viral trend, but instead, let us bridge the gaps, join hands, become inclusive and collaborate on every level so that we can form them as leaders for tomorrow.

Understanding ‘Family’ Beyond Blood Lines and Marriage

By Neilan D’Souza

Family is often defined as a group or a unit in society consisting of parents and children implying on blood relations and marriage. When we look further we can see that families are structured and can be of various types such as extended family, joint family, nuclear family, single parent family, step family, grandparent family, childless family and same-sex family. Depending on the society and cultures we belong to, different types of families are considered as ‘Normal’ and ‘Abnormal’. Regardless of any type of family or its key members we must note that there are 3 components which are very important for any kind family to exist.

The first component of a family is ‘CLUSTER’, a family no matter how small can never be an individual and this is the beauty of it. To be considered a family there has to be more than one person involved who shares a deep and intimate bond of care, consideration and nourishment with another. This brings us to the second closely connected component that is ‘CONNECTION’. A family cannot exist without a connection, mainly to say a connection of belonging and relationship is needed to enrich and assure closeness of the cluster. This connection need not always be of blood or marriage but can be of friendship and interest.

Illustration a Happy Family/Net

Connection unites us and enriches the cluster helping us to look beyond our differences and value the qualities of a person. And finally the third important component ‘PLACE’, a family exists physically; it is grounded in reality which means to say that it lives and forms a part of society, but it must not be confused with or limited to a home. A home could be called a place where a family lives but this is the boundary which needs to break because it has limited us in many ways to only care for those who are in our home.

Then, as mentioned above is the common notion of categorizing different types of families as ‘Normal’ and ‘Abnormal’. This has been reason to cause all sorts of conflict in both religious and social communities. This applies to the range of families from same-sex families, polygamous and polyamorous families to all other non-monogamous families. Although each type family is different and differently understood both from religious and cultural point of views, we must instead of categorizing them as ‘Normal’ and ‘Abnormal’ families, understand that every type family is unique and deserves acceptance because all families are Clusters, having Connection and Living.

Rather than terming Families as ‘Abnormal’ we must work towards solving the many problems which arise within a family such as distrust, hatred, abuse of all kinds and more. This can only come about when we accept those beyond our own boundary as part of the family and seek help in learning, understanding, sharing and care. Let us try to understand the importance of family beyond blood lines and marriage so that we create a peaceful and cooperative world today.

No Food No Life : Crisis in Sri Lanka, Sprouting allover Asia

By Neilan D’Souza

How is it possible that today’s modern world still struggles to successfully practice and implement one of the oldest occupations ever known to humankind – Agriculture. And at the same time we are able to easily ignore the fact that it is also responsible for the highest number of deaths in the world – Hunger. No disease/disaster what so ever has come close to claim lives in such figures. No this not another variant of any virus but a mere consequence of a human developed economic system – Capitalism.

According to UN, each day, 25,000 people (around 9 million people every year), including more than 10,000 children, die from hunger and related causes. Some 854 million people worldwide are estimated to be undernourished, and high food prices may drive another 100 million into poverty and hunger. Hunger and under-nutrition are the greatest threats to public health, killing more people than HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. And this is not because the world is not able to produce enough food to feed 7.5 billion people but it is simply because most of the food is wasted or not consumed on time.

Image: https://news.cgtn.com

1.5 billion tons of food is wasted every year, we clearly do not have a problem of supply and demand what we have is a problem of production and distribution. Food insecurity is not a natural result of population growth but a man made crisis caused by a failing inhumane system as with many other basic human necessities under a capitalist system which regards food as a commodity which has to be traded in order to make a profit.

The more food we make and sell the more money there is to be made. And so under the disguise of creating a system which produces food for all we have developed a modern intensive farming method which aim to produce greater quantities to be sold, in contrast has brought down the quality of food and also caused immense environmental damage. It is only now in the recent decade that we have began to witness its catastrophic effects in our daily lives.

This vicious cycle of a capital lead economy has to go away because the new normal of Climate Change, Food Insecurity, Consumerism and Throw-away Culture simply cannot sustain the World anymore. An eye opening example is the present economic crisis which the common people in Sri Lanka are suffering from. The present government’s move to suddenly ban chemical fertilizers overnight led to drastic crop failure at the same time when the country was slowly reviving itself from the damages caused by the pandemic.

https://news.un.org

Today this has escalated the cost of food so much that most of the people in Sri Lanka can only afford one meal a day. It is impossible to imagine the struggle of a country where almost 30% of the population are engaged in agriculture but cannot afford even three meals a day.

Without food there is no life – and if the intention of food production is catered towards earning capital and not life we need to stop and undo such systems which requires involvement from each one of us. We all can begin from denying the popular throw-away culture, cutting down on consuming more food than we actually require and without neglect we must atleast share food with those who do not have or fall in short of.

If there is one thing that we Christians must learn from the teachings of the Bible is that from the Bible’s beginning all the way to the end, there’s a clear picture of God’s compassion for the poor. God is passionate about caring for the needs of the vulnerable, and also promises to champion their cause-even when the rest of the world neglects them.

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.

Pluralism in Asia

By Neilan D’Souza

The month of April is very important for us Christians as we celebrate the feast of Easter. The significance of Easter as we all know lies in the miracle of the resurrection of Jesus on the third day from the dead. His resurrection is the most important miracle of the Christian faith. Easter also marks the beginning of a liturgical new year. With this message of newness that ‘Christ is risen’ and a renewed spirit of the new church year, how should we Christians introspect our own faith?

One simple way of introspecting our own faith is to recognise the religious diversity of a society (where we live) or country, promoting freedom of religion; in other words practicing ‘Pluralism’. Asian society today has become extremely polarised religiously due to the prevailing political situations. Harmonious and peaceful religious teachings are being fundamentalised in order to provoke hatred, leading to drastic attacks in our own societies.

Many such examples can be observed today, be it the misunderstanding & mistreatment of Muslims in Korea by the majority (Buddhists, Confucians & Christians), Hindus & Christians in Pakistan by major Islam, Christians & Muslims in India by major Hindus, Intolerance against Christians and between Buddhists and Muslims in Sri Lanka, Disputes between Christian and Islamic communities in Indonesia; all which has broadly been used to instigate fear in minority communities leaving them vulnerable.

When we observe such events taking place in our communities, we must not refrain ourselves from helping the oppressed communities because it does not involve our faith or religion, but rather support, protect or become a voice for the suffering communities. This engagement is very important because it strengthens our faith and helps develop ties between religious communities in our society and largely in Asia.

On the 24th of April as we commemorate the The International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace, we as Christians must practice ‘Pluralism’ which in many ways aids the world in developing multilateral relationships including diplomacy for peace.

An Antidote for Discrimination

By: Neilan D’Souza

Dear readers, what a horrific point of time it is to be living in this world. Unimaginable, inhumane acts are taking place across the world. Discrimination has diversified itself on the basis Caste, Race, Class, Ethnicity, Language, Nationality, Gender, Age, Religion, Sex, Sexual Orientation, Disability and continues to grow ever more. When will all forms of discrimination end?

With the outbreak of war between Russia and Ukraine we are witnessing immense suffering faced by Ukrainian inhabitants. The war has led them to flee and even during these difficult times the neighbouring countries who are welcoming refugees are prioritising safety only to Ukrainians and not other inhabitants. Many ethnic and racial minorities are being held back from receiving equal and adequate support for one or the other reason at the border. It is saddening and unfortunate to observe such discrimination despite the brutal war.

In this month we observe two important annual commemorations. Firstly, 8th of March is observed as International Women’s Day (IWD) commemorating the cultural, political, and socio-economic achievements of women. IWD originated from labour movements in North America and Europe during the early 20th century. Spurred on by the universal female suffrage movement and after many demonstration and commemorations from 1909 in various parts of the world, IWD was made a national holiday on March 8, 1917 After women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia.

Secondly, we observe the 21st of March as The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The United Nations General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination on this day in 1966 commemorating the Sharpeville Massacare which took place back in 1960 when police opened fire at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid pass laws; killing 69 people, and injuring around 180 more.

Dear readers we must recognise the fact that discrimination is not a natural phenomena but a ruthless invention of mankind and a ruthless sin . We have created discrimination and we solely hold the responsibility to heal the world from it. As we begin the Lenten season this year, remembering the sufferings of Christ Jesus, reflecting on ourselves and repenting for our sins, let us also pledge to become an antidote for discrimination by first – recognising all acts and forms of discrimination as wrongful acts and sin; second – deny and desist its practice and implication in society; and most importantly third – clarify, resolve and settle all impairments caused by discrimination. Therefore denouncing and actively putting an end to all discriminatory practices.

Towards Human Fraternity

By Neilan D’souza

Dear Readers, in commemoration of the International Day of Human Fraternity and World Day of Social Justice ALL Forum intends to publish this issue of E-Newsletter by strongly emphasising that Human Fraternity is crucial to establish peace, harmony and justice throughout the world.

This New Year 2022 already seems to be headed down a path of jeopardy. Serious political tensions arising around the world involving super powers aligning troops on the brink of war between Russia and Ukraine, North Korea resuming testing of Nuclear missiles and advancement of destructive machines, Uyghur crisis, China – Taiwan conflict, Myanmar Military crisis and numerous conflicts taking place elsewhere.

Alongside these tensions we are also living our daily lives with growing gaps between people of various faiths mainly due to political propaganda, fundamentalism and religious extremism, all polluting good teachings of every religion and its pluralistic ways of living in harmony. It is very sad that in modern times where knowledge, communication, technology and infrastructure has advanced to its highest point than ever before we have regressed to selfish and fundamentailstic practices, being concerned only about ourself and those who belong to our own faith.

We need to ask ourself how we could come out of this and move towards achieving Human Fraternity. How we must learn to respect and accept our neighbours the way Christ has taught us and how we must build a fraternal society by bringing together believers of all faiths and practice the core teachings which is to: care for creation, being inclusive, spreading harmony, being restorative and practicing peace.

As we commemorate the International Day of Human Fraternity, let us commit to do more to promote cultural and religious tolerance, understanding and dialogue.”

António Guterres
UN Secretary-General

Peace is Possible

By: Neilan D’Souza

Dear Readers, Firstly i would like to wish you all warm regards and best compliments of the season. The past year has been a very difficult year for each one of us. Amid the Coronavirus pandemic a lot of suffering, abuse, discrimination and oppression took place. Millions of innocent people lost their lives either due to illness, natural calamity or catastrophic political/social systems.

We dedicate this month to remind ourselves of all the losses which we have bared, of all the issues and problems which we have strived through, caused or remained silent about; and mainly of all the people whom we have lost.

We also dedicate this time to reflect upon the injust military coup situation in Myanmar, Uyghur genocide in China, the Extra Judicial Killings in Philippines, the injustices against people of HongKong and Taiwan, nuclear armament and war threats in the Korean Peninsula, migrant distress, radical fundamentalism, bilological degradation due to aggressive industrialisation and all forms of oppression across the world and demand for PEACE!

We begin this New Year with great hope to strengthen and spread a strong message of Peace, inspired and motivated by the definition of ‘Ubuntu’ quoted by the very famous belated Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu “I am because We are”. And therefore ALL Forum invites you the readers to enlighten ourselves and worktogether in our own ways because we truly believe that Peace is Possible.

Justice in Daily Christian Life

Justice in Daily Christian Life

By: Neilan Dsouza

As we begin the month of November, continuing the theme of justice in the world for the second time, it is crucial for us to understand the term Justice more deeply and in connection with our daily christian lives. 

The Church received three very important teachings from Jesus Christ himself: 1) The mission of preaching the Gospel message, 2) Universal kinship and 3) A consequent demand for justice in the world. Out of which the Church tirelessly practices only the mission of preaching the Gospel, while the latter two are usually neglected. We as Lay faithful, often only follow the duties of attending Sunday mass regularly, joining in prayer services, participating in charitable and voluntary works lead by the church but never practice our faith beyond these matters mainly because we are not aware that it is our Christian responsibility to do so.

Paragraph 38 of ‘Justice in the World’ informs us that “The members of the Church, as members of society, have the same right and duty to promote the common good as do other citizens. Christians ought to fulfill their temporal obligations with fidelity and competence. They should act as a leaven in the world, in their family, professional, social, cultural and political life. They must accept their responsibilities in this entire area under the influence of the Gospel and the teaching of the Church. In this way they testify to the power of the Holy Spirit through their action in the service of people in those things which are decisive for the existence and the future of humanity.”

Therefore we cannot simply neglect Jesus’ teachings of Universal Kinship and A consequent demand for justice in the world because, it altogether forms the core identity of being a true follower of Christ. As mentioned in the paragraph above we must act as a leaven (transforming influence) in our own little ways, accepting that achieving Universal Kinship (being inclusive and finding relation with one another as one family) and striving for justice through action inspired by love and right is our Christian responsibility.