South Sudan's Challenge

South Sudan's Challenge
Healing & Reconciliation

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)


Readings:  Sirach 27: 30 – 28:7; Romans 14: 7-9; Matthew 18: 21 - 35

Selected Passage: “Then Peter approaching asked him, "Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” (Mt. 18: 21-22)

Meditation: How many times should I forgive people who have offended me? The gospel challenge is to forgive them as often as they ask.  This is tough! But the very message of Christianity is, precisely, to love and forgive without LIMIT!  Yes, it is about forgiving one’s brother and sister who hurts us many times. For Christ, there is NO limit to forgiveness. www.badaliyya.blogspot.com

DHIKR SIMPLE METHOD

Dhikr is an Arabic word which means REMEMBRANCE.
1st step: Write the text in your heart.
2nd step: Let the text remain always in on your lips and mind - RECITING the text silently as often as possible...
3rd step:  Be attentive to the disclosure of the meaning/s of the text in your life.



Monday, September 11, 2017

Islam and the West: Encounter or Clash?

Islam and the West in Europe: Encounter or Clash?
The growing presence of Muslims in Europe raises the question of compatibility between different views in the public sphere
Javier Maria Prades López | Oasis. 07 September 2017

The latest report by the Pew Research Center offers surprising data on the evolution of religions: Christianity currently represents 31.2 percent of the world’s population and Islam 24.1 percent. It is estimated that by 2060 Christianity will reach 31.8 percent, against 31.1 percent reached by Islam. The statistics predict that by mid-century the two religions will have roughly the same number of followers as well as that, together, they will comprise nearly 63 percent of the world’s population.

The evolution of each of the two religions and their mutual relationship is therefore of great interest for the social debate in the West. In fact, Islam preaches a form of monotheism that intends to reform and overcome the Jewish-Christian monotheism, besides also claiming to be a universal truth, differently from the religions of the Far East, for instance. For this reason, the growing presence of Muslims in Europe opens once again the question of the compatibility between different worldviews in the public sphere. Is an encounter between the West and Islam truly possible, or are they condemned to clash?

European societies struggle in dealing with this delicate situation, with obvious internal differences that cannot be dealt with here. In general terms, popular culture has undermined universal anthropological claims, especially those of the religion lived out in the West: Christianity. Following the Reformation, the cultural and political unity of the medieval faith broke into parties that fought wars with devastating effects on social life. For this reason, modern philosophy was born – among other things – with the intention of overcoming confessional divisions and maintaining some form of universal reference point that would guarantee coexistence.

At the end of the process, the universal value of Christian faith was challenged, while alternative forms of secularized universality started to appear. Thus, Reason, Science, State, History, Race and Market took God’s place. Nevertheless, there is often talk of “unsatisfied modernity”: the unquestionable technological and scientific progress of Western Europe, its very high level of economic and social development (which many envy) has not been accompanied by a comparable progress as far as questions on the meaning of life and God are concerned. The two atrocious wars of the twentieth century and totalitarianisms spread a dark shadow over Europe.

Even Islamic culture, however, is struggling to be an appropriate interlocutor. Recent years’ “revolutions” rose indeed from the fact that in these societies the need for freedom and other economic and social rights emerged. Uprisings were born in conditions of severe poverty and the lack of opportunities, particularly in terms of jobs. This demand for effective, concrete freedom can be perceived as a threat to religious universality, which is bound to the social order to the point that religion can appear to be a form of belief subordinate to that order. Islam will have to face this demand for freedom, and especially religious freedom, which is asking to thoroughly examine the understanding of human dignity. By claiming greater civil participation, the question raised will be about the kind of man who can be at the center of the third millennium. And this question is crucial in the West as well.

Right now, there are more questions than answers, both in the Western and Islamic world. The Muslim presence in Europe reveals that we do not share an answer about the universal value of anthropology and, in particular, of religion.

Starting from the inalienable social and legal achievements of recent centuries, it is necessary to revise the model that has been in force so far, since it is unable to meet the challenges posed by the growing Muslim presence. And vice versa, the long journey of the West can offer very precious elements to the Muslim world. A kind of Christianity that is alive represents an exceptional opportunity for Islam and, in turn, Islamic universalism forces us to rethink the reasons behind the anthropological and cultural crisis that the West with its Christian tradition is living.

Everyone can see that the coexistence between Christians and Muslims has been very complex and sometimes even extremely violent. Christians and Muslims are still suspicious of each other. Pope Francis’ historic visit to Egypt pushes us to decide whether we want to perpetuate this mutual exclusion or if we are willing to favor a culture of the encounter, supporting the “process of hybridization of civilization and culture” (Angelo Scola), starting with experiences of real relationships, however conflicting they might be, which already exist in Europe and the Near East.

The challenge goes beyond the essential safety and security measures. It requires personal implication. It is not even enough to simply provide humanitarian assistance; it is necessary to learn how to mutually accompany, listen, and explain, through patient dialogue and education, as the Pope suggests: “Education indeed becomes wisdom for life if it is capable of ‘drawing out’ of men and women the very best of themselves, in contact with the One who transcends them and with the world around them, fostering a sense of identity that is open and not self-enclosed.”1

The Pope’s gesture does not allow us Christians to be disinterested in the present moment. It is up to us to witness to everyone, and in the first place to all Muslims, that universal truth and freedom are bound together. They will either stand or fall together. Their most perfect relationship is that of love: “Nothing conquers except truth; the victory of truth is charity” (St. Augustine). The Pope’s journey calls into question the crystallized aspects of our conventional form of living the faith in our society, and urges us to start a process of encounter and education. Each encounter worthy of this name changes its interlocutors. Will change be possible so that this open identity will contribute to the good life of all? Many of our Christian brothers in the East and the West, and many Muslims, are waiting for this.

[This article was published on the Spanish newspaper ABC on Monday, June 12, 2017 - page 3].

1His Holiness Pope Francis, Address to the participants in the International Peace Conference, al-Azhar Conference Center, Cairo, 28 April 2017

Friday, September 8, 2017

Words Matter....

By Liza Clifford
(UK-based journalist and documentary filmmaker specialising in international justice issues.)


5 September 2017
“South Sudan terrorists need to be killed in order for peace to reign. Lawful killing has been practised by states since time immemorial.”
These are the words of Gordon Buay, deputy chief of mission at South Sudan’s Washington embassy, as posted on his Facebook page. Buay claims he’s simply defending his government, but some of those working for peace in South Sudan call it hate speech and accuse Buay and other prominent figures in the diaspora of fuelling the terrible conflict in this newborn nation.
But how much influence does angry writing on social media thousands of kilometres away from the fighting actually have in a country with limited internet and mobile phone penetration? About 21 percent of South Sudanese have phones and around 17 percent can get online – but these people are mostly those in towns, leaving rural communities largely excluded from tweeting, liking, and sharing.
Theo Dolan, director of PeaceTech Lab Africa, which works to reduce violent conflict using technology, media, and data, believes words do matter. He says PeaceTech’s research has shown that online hate speech – mainly coming from South Sudan’s diaspora in the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia – is contributing to the violence.

“The guys on the ground in Greater Upper Nile [one of the conflict’s front lines] may not have Facebook, but they have large family networks,” said Dolan. “They use their phones but also interact with their peers in person. They can spread the [hate speech] regardless of whether they have access to internet or not.”
Achol Jok from the #defyhatenow project, which works to counter online hate speech, agrees that the diaspora’s influence on the conflict is strong and says its writing is being passed on by word of mouth and phone calls.
There is the perception if you live in the West you are educated and better informed,” she said. “When they write something or say something it is difficult for people to differentiate between what is true and what is not.”

Born to rule

A famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan caused by the civil war, which began in 2013 when President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, accused then vice-president Riek Machar, a Nuer, of plotting to overthrow him.
The Dinka and the Nuer are the country’s two largest ethnic groups. Their leaders are accused of having “born-to-rule” mentalities that not only discriminate against other communities but have also led to atrocities being committed by their soldiers and allied militias on the basis of ethnic targeting.

South Sudan has splintered into ethnic fiefdoms. The UN office coordinating humanitarian aid estimatesmore than 3.86 million people – one in every five South Sudanese – have fled their homes, including 1.89 million internally displaced people.

Dolan says Facebook, WhatsApp, and to a lesser extent YouTube and Twitter, are all popular with those in the diaspora who are spreading messages of hate.

-->


But not everyone sees the link between social media and the violence of the civil war.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Nietzse's Understanding of History

On Geopolitics
A Nietzschean Lesson on the Use and Abuse of History
By Reva Goujon
VP of Global Analysis, Stratfor

 Friedrich Nietzsche's observations about the misuse of history to sow chaos in the present hold as true today as they did in the 19th century when he wrote them.(Stratfor)

A lot of history is being casually tossed around these days. We see it from energized segments of the "alt-right" throwing up Nazi salutes, calling for a "revolution" against "the Bolsheviks" and marching to chants like "Jews will not replace us." We see it from their anti-fascist adversaries on the left, branding themselves antifa, a movement that draws its roots from the Antifaschistische Aktion resistance from 1930s Germany. We see it from world leaders when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan brazenly calls his German and Dutch counterparts Nazis and fascists and when U.S. President Donald Trump ardently defends Confederate statues as symbols of "heritage not hate." We see it from jihadist groups like the Islamic State when a member of the Barcelona attack cell calling himself Abu Lais of Cordoba spookily reminds Spanish Christians to remember "the Muslim blood spilled" during the Spanish Inquisition as the group fights to reincorporate "Al Andalus" into a revived caliphate.

The Third Reich. The Bolshevik Revolution. The American Civil War. The Spanish Inquisition.  This is heavy, heavy history. Yet in the words of some actors, some of the darkest days of our historical memory seem to take on a weightless form in today's angst-ridden political discourse. While jarring to observe, this kind of historical levity is to be expected whenever the world moves through a major inflection point. When more wretched periods of history lie just beyond the horizon of the current generation, they become fuzzy, impersonal anecdotes rather than visceral memories that impress upon everyday lives. And when the future looks especially bleak to that same generation, a raucous few can capture the minds of many by plunging deep into the depths of a blemished history to conjure up leaders and legends that, with a bit of polishing and dusting off, can serve as the unadulterated icons of a new world order.

Today's antifa movement models itself after Germany's anti-fascists in the 1930s.
Today's antifa movement in the United States models itself after Germany's anti-fascists in the 1930s.

The reasoning behind the tactic is fairly simple. Leaders and movements that try to implement a revisionist agenda in the world crave two things: credibility and power. If the masses can be seduced by a narrative with historical legs (however flimsy those legs may be), then power will presumably follow. And if credibility does not come naturally, then the amassing of state power enables the distortion of facts and silencing of critics. After all, mimicking history is a far easier strategy to pursue than trying to understand and innovate yourself out of the deeper problems of the present.

At the same time, history is just as important to internalize in tense times like these. How else will current and future generations learn from and avoid the mistakes of their past?

Tackling the Dilemma of History
It is this very dilemma of how to responsibly treat history that German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche tried to tackle in an essay titled "On the Use and Abuse of History for Life" as part of his Untimely Meditations series. When Nietzsche published this work in 1873, just two years following German reunification led by Otto Von Bismarck, he described himself as "out of touch with the times." While most everyone around him was celebrating the music of Richard Wagner and erecting monuments to the heroes of the Franco-Prussian War in the act of knitting together a unified German state, Nietzsche was a bit of a wreck thinking about all the ways this exercise in German nationalism could go terribly awry. His musings on the role history should play in audacious political times are particularly apt in today's "historical fever."

Nietzsche argues that the fundamental purpose of history should be for life. And as we live, we must understand our past without becoming enslaved to it. To underscore the importance of living in the present, he describes with envy the "unhistorical" beast, grazing among a herd in a valley with finite horizons on all sides, living in an eternal state of forgetfulness. In contrast to the human, ever-burdened by the past, the honest beast lives blissfully, as a child does, freeing the mind to think and achieve great things. "The person who cannot set himself down on the crest of the moment, forgetting everything from the past, who is not capable of standing on a single point, like a goddess of victory, without dizziness or fear, will never know what happiness is. … And no artist would achieve his picture, no field marshal his victory, and no people its freedom, without previously having desired and striven for them in that sort of unhistorical condition."

The opposite of the unhistorical mind is the superhistorical being, one who takes history much too seriously and thus feels little point to living in the present. In between these two minds are the more even-minded and optimistic historical beings — those who use history to serve the living. They look to the past with reverence to understand the present and to frame a vision for the future.

Nietzsche then goes on to describe the three approaches to history: Monumentalism, Antiquarianism and Criticism. No single approach is the right one; each can be used in combination and at an appropriate time and context. If misused, however, "destructive weeds" will sprout and pull society down into chaos.

The Monumentalists are on a historical search for glory. This can be a dangerous exercise, for if the past is viewed as something that can be imitated and reinterpreted into something more beautiful, then it can easily fall into a trap of "free poeticizing" by people serving up mythic fictions to "weakly cultured nations" craving hope and direction. In a prophetic peering into the Third Reich, Nietzsche warns that the Monumentalists are most dangerous as superhistorical people when they are not anchored to a particular place. When saturated in a myth of cultural superiority and lacking in geopolitical boundaries, "less favored races and people" roam around, "looking for something better in foreign places," and competition and warfare ensures. While such thinking in the past has fueled foreign adventurism and destructive wars, the Monumentalists today are more concerned about a nativist agenda on their home turf. Chants by the alt-right like "our blood, our soil" and campaigns against "cultural Marxism" taking over the world stem from a stubbornly anchored place and people who believe their white, European-derived race is being diluted by "the other," who belong on the other side of the fence.

The Antiquarian, like the Monumentalist, tends to look at history through rose-colored glasses, but wants to preserve the past in a traditionalist, literalist sense rather than use history to generate life. "Man envelopes himself in a moldy smell" and steeps himself so deeply in the past that he will take little interest in what lies beyond the horizon. The modern jihadist drawn to the Islamic State banner can be seen through this lens, believing that a return to a seventh-century Islamic way way of life will restore virtue in man and glory to the Islamic world.
The third approach to history that Nietzsche describes is the critical one. He writes that a person must have the power to break with the past in order to live. This, he argues, can be done by "dragging the past before a court of justice" to look at history with a critical eye. In describing a "first and second nature," he describes how a generation that looks at its past and can recognize its ills alongside its virtues sets the stage for the next generation to study its past with a healthier, more critical view of history, and thus society is better off in the long run. In this thought, Nietzsche may have been a tad idealistic. In reality, as we can see today, several decades is long enough to wear down the critical eye and blur our historical memory for the worse.

The Limitations of the Critical Approach
The critical method may appear like the most pragmatic and reasoned approach to history, but here, too, we must be careful. To make the point that we can never fully internalize the time, place and conditions of our past to perfectly understand it, Nietzsche dramatically asserts that "objectivity and justice have nothing to do with each other." One can "interpret the past only on the basis of the highest power of the present."

This lesson in critical history is an important one for the modern-day globalist fighting to extinguish resurgent flames of nationalism. While the 20th century horrors of unhinged nationalism need to be represented in starkly honest terms to prevent a repeat of the past, it is just as important to remember the economic, social and security conditions that give rise to those ideological currents in the first place. Nationalism is a natural product of the human condition and need not be blanketly vilified in all forms. While some German integrationists want to remain committed to a docile existence in the European Union, German students may tire of history books that overly fixate on the catastrophe of the Third Reich. While the message "Never forget!" matters, there comes a time when rational people looking for purpose and seeing problems with the current order want a fuller historical understanding of their past to comprehend who they are and where they come from instead of drowning themselves in guilt.

Nietzsche also warns against taking science and a purely empirical approach to life too far. The German thinker, best known for the declaration "God is dead," was of course speaking at a time in European history when rationalism and scientific thought were celebrated by philosophers as the great escape from religion's straitjacket. The nuance to Nietzsche's argument is often lost, however. Nietzsche himself was an atheist, but he warned that if we went too far down the critical path and didn't leave any room for the Antiquarian memory, then we would strip society of religion, art and other enigmatic instincts that humans need to make sense of the inexplicable. As he put it, "all living things need an atmosphere around them, a secret circle of darkness" or else European culture would face a catastrophe in suffering the perils of nihilism. If Nietzsche were alive today, he would probably argue that overzealous technologists intent on erasing borders in an ever-globalizing world were setting it up for a violent clash.

Heeding Nietzsche's Warning
Nietzsche would also see the jumbled historical references feeding into today's political discourse as a gross abuse of history warning of much bigger problems ahead. In every camp of Monumentalists and superhistorians, there are some whose egos and visions are so big that they believe that the entire passage of history is to serve their modern agenda. Nietzsche saw this type in his day as well:

"Arrogant European of the nineteenth century, you are raving! Your knowledge does not complete nature, but only kills your own. For once, measure your height as a knower against your depth as a person who can do something. Of course, you clamber on the solar ray of knowledge upward towards heaven, but you also climb downward to chaos."

In fact, chaos is exactly what many modern-day radical Monumentalists are seeking. If one assumes an apocalyptic view of the world, as many among the alt-right and some within a rapidly thinning camp of ultranationalists in the White House have openly espoused, then their energy and focus will be on tearing down the current order at whatever cost to energize the masses to engage in their so-called revolution. To complete this aim, enemies need to be invented, the intelligentsia needs to be condemned and history needs to be revised. And whether they know it or not, the motto of the modern-day Monumentalist, in Nietzsche's words, will be the following: "Let the dead bury the living."
On Geopolitics
A Nietzschean Lesson on the Use and Abuse of History
By Reva Goujon
VP of Global Analysis, Stratfor

 Friedrich Nietzsche's observations about the misuse of history to sow chaos in the present hold as true today as they did in the 19th century when he wrote them.(Stratfor)

A lot of history is being casually tossed around these days. We see it from energized segments of the "alt-right" throwing up Nazi salutes, calling for a "revolution" against "the Bolsheviks" and marching to chants like "Jews will not replace us." We see it from their anti-fascist adversaries on the left, branding themselves antifa, a movement that draws its roots from the Antifaschistische Aktion resistance from 1930s Germany. We see it from world leaders when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan brazenly calls his German and Dutch counterparts Nazis and fascists and when U.S. President Donald Trump ardently defends Confederate statues as symbols of "heritage not hate." We see it from jihadist groups like the Islamic State when a member of the Barcelona attack cell calling himself Abu Lais of Cordoba spookily reminds Spanish Christians to remember "the Muslim blood spilled" during the Spanish Inquisition as the group fights to reincorporate "Al Andalus" into a revived caliphate.

The Third Reich. The Bolshevik Revolution. The American Civil War. The Spanish Inquisition.  This is heavy, heavy history. Yet in the words of some actors, some of the darkest days of our historical memory seem to take on a weightless form in today's angst-ridden political discourse. While jarring to observe, this kind of historical levity is to be expected whenever the world moves through a major inflection point. When more wretched periods of history lie just beyond the horizon of the current generation, they become fuzzy, impersonal anecdotes rather than visceral memories that impress upon everyday lives. And when the future looks especially bleak to that same generation, a raucous few can capture the minds of many by plunging deep into the depths of a blemished history to conjure up leaders and legends that, with a bit of polishing and dusting off, can serve as the unadulterated icons of a new world order.

Today's antifa movement models itself after Germany's anti-fascists in the 1930s.
Today's antifa movement in the United States models itself after Germany's anti-fascists in the 1930s.

The reasoning behind the tactic is fairly simple. Leaders and movements that try to implement a revisionist agenda in the world crave two things: credibility and power. If the masses can be seduced by a narrative with historical legs (however flimsy those legs may be), then power will presumably follow. And if credibility does not come naturally, then the amassing of state power enables the distortion of facts and silencing of critics. After all, mimicking history is a far easier strategy to pursue than trying to understand and innovate yourself out of the deeper problems of the present.

At the same time, history is just as important to internalize in tense times like these. How else will current and future generations learn from and avoid the mistakes of their past?

Tackling the Dilemma of History
It is this very dilemma of how to responsibly treat history that German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche tried to tackle in an essay titled "On the Use and Abuse of History for Life" as part of his Untimely Meditations series. When Nietzsche published this work in 1873, just two years following German reunification led by Otto Von Bismarck, he described himself as "out of touch with the times." While most everyone around him was celebrating the music of Richard Wagner and erecting monuments to the heroes of the Franco-Prussian War in the act of knitting together a unified German state, Nietzsche was a bit of a wreck thinking about all the ways this exercise in German nationalism could go terribly awry. His musings on the role history should play in audacious political times are particularly apt in today's "historical fever."

Nietzsche argues that the fundamental purpose of history should be for life. And as we live, we must understand our past without becoming enslaved to it. To underscore the importance of living in the present, he describes with envy the "unhistorical" beast, grazing among a herd in a valley with finite horizons on all sides, living in an eternal state of forgetfulness. In contrast to the human, ever-burdened by the past, the honest beast lives blissfully, as a child does, freeing the mind to think and achieve great things. "The person who cannot set himself down on the crest of the moment, forgetting everything from the past, who is not capable of standing on a single point, like a goddess of victory, without dizziness or fear, will never know what happiness is. … And no artist would achieve his picture, no field marshal his victory, and no people its freedom, without previously having desired and striven for them in that sort of unhistorical condition."

The opposite of the unhistorical mind is the superhistorical being, one who takes history much too seriously and thus feels little point to living in the present. In between these two minds are the more even-minded and optimistic historical beings — those who use history to serve the living. They look to the past with reverence to understand the present and to frame a vision for the future.

Nietzsche then goes on to describe the three approaches to history: Monumentalism, Antiquarianism and Criticism. No single approach is the right one; each can be used in combination and at an appropriate time and context. If misused, however, "destructive weeds" will sprout and pull society down into chaos.

The Monumentalists are on a historical search for glory. This can be a dangerous exercise, for if the past is viewed as something that can be imitated and reinterpreted into something more beautiful, then it can easily fall into a trap of "free poeticizing" by people serving up mythic fictions to "weakly cultured nations" craving hope and direction. In a prophetic peering into the Third Reich, Nietzsche warns that the Monumentalists are most dangerous as superhistorical people when they are not anchored to a particular place. When saturated in a myth of cultural superiority and lacking in geopolitical boundaries, "less favored races and people" roam around, "looking for something better in foreign places," and competition and warfare ensures. While such thinking in the past has fueled foreign adventurism and destructive wars, the Monumentalists today are more concerned about a nativist agenda on their home turf. Chants by the alt-right like "our blood, our soil" and campaigns against "cultural Marxism" taking over the world stem from a stubbornly anchored place and people who believe their white, European-derived race is being diluted by "the other," who belong on the other side of the fence.

The Antiquarian, like the Monumentalist, tends to look at history through rose-colored glasses, but wants to preserve the past in a traditionalist, literalist sense rather than use history to generate life. "Man envelopes himself in a moldy smell" and steeps himself so deeply in the past that he will take little interest in what lies beyond the horizon. The modern jihadist drawn to the Islamic State banner can be seen through this lens, believing that a return to a seventh-century Islamic way way of life will restore virtue in man and glory to the Islamic world.
The third approach to history that Nietzsche describes is the critical one. He writes that a person must have the power to break with the past in order to live. This, he argues, can be done by "dragging the past before a court of justice" to look at history with a critical eye. In describing a "first and second nature," he describes how a generation that looks at its past and can recognize its ills alongside its virtues sets the stage for the next generation to study its past with a healthier, more critical view of history, and thus society is better off in the long run. In this thought, Nietzsche may have been a tad idealistic. In reality, as we can see today, several decades is long enough to wear down the critical eye and blur our historical memory for the worse.

The Limitations of the Critical Approach
The critical method may appear like the most pragmatic and reasoned approach to history, but here, too, we must be careful. To make the point that we can never fully internalize the time, place and conditions of our past to perfectly understand it, Nietzsche dramatically asserts that "objectivity and justice have nothing to do with each other." One can "interpret the past only on the basis of the highest power of the present."

This lesson in critical history is an important one for the modern-day globalist fighting to extinguish resurgent flames of nationalism. While the 20th century horrors of unhinged nationalism need to be represented in starkly honest terms to prevent a repeat of the past, it is just as important to remember the economic, social and security conditions that give rise to those ideological currents in the first place. Nationalism is a natural product of the human condition and need not be blanketly vilified in all forms. While some German integrationists want to remain committed to a docile existence in the European Union, German students may tire of history books that overly fixate on the catastrophe of the Third Reich. While the message "Never forget!" matters, there comes a time when rational people looking for purpose and seeing problems with the current order want a fuller historical understanding of their past to comprehend who they are and where they come from instead of drowning themselves in guilt.

Nietzsche also warns against taking science and a purely empirical approach to life too far. The German thinker, best known for the declaration "God is dead," was of course speaking at a time in European history when rationalism and scientific thought were celebrated by philosophers as the great escape from religion's straitjacket. The nuance to Nietzsche's argument is often lost, however. Nietzsche himself was an atheist, but he warned that if we went too far down the critical path and didn't leave any room for the Antiquarian memory, then we would strip society of religion, art and other enigmatic instincts that humans need to make sense of the inexplicable. As he put it, "all living things need an atmosphere around them, a secret circle of darkness" or else European culture would face a catastrophe in suffering the perils of nihilism. If Nietzsche were alive today, he would probably argue that overzealous technologists intent on erasing borders in an ever-globalizing world were setting it up for a violent clash.

Heeding Nietzsche's Warning
Nietzsche would also see the jumbled historical references feeding into today's political discourse as a gross abuse of history warning of much bigger problems ahead. In every camp of Monumentalists and superhistorians, there are some whose egos and visions are so big that they believe that the entire passage of history is to serve their modern agenda. Nietzsche saw this type in his day as well:

"Arrogant European of the nineteenth century, you are raving! Your knowledge does not complete nature, but only kills your own. For once, measure your height as a knower against your depth as a person who can do something. Of course, you clamber on the solar ray of knowledge upward towards heaven, but you also climb downward to chaos."

In fact, chaos is exactly what many modern-day radical Monumentalists are seeking. If one assumes an apocalyptic view of the world, as many among the alt-right and some within a rapidly thinning camp of ultranationalists in the White House have openly espoused, then their energy and focus will be on tearing down the current order at whatever cost to energize the masses to engage in their so-called revolution. To complete this aim, enemies need to be invented, the intelligentsia needs to be condemned and history needs to be revised. And whether they know it or not, the motto of the modern-day Monumentalist, in Nietzsche's words, will be the following: "Let the dead bury the living."

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew Joint Message

Pope Francis’ and Patriarch Bartholomew’s Message
The story of creation presents us with a panoramic view of the world. Scripture reveals that, “in the beginning”, God intended humanity to cooperate in the preservation and protection of the natural environment.
At first, as we read in Genesis, “no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up – for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground” (2:5).
The earth was entrusted to us as a sublime gift and legacy, for which all of us share responsibility until, “in the end”, all things in heaven and on earth will be restored in Christ (cf. Eph 1:10).
Our human dignity and welfare are deeply connected to our care for the whole of creation. However, “in the meantime”, the history of the world presents a very different context. It reveals a morally decaying scenario where our attitude and behaviour towards creation obscures our calling as God’s co-operators.
Our propensity to interrupt the world’s delicate and balanced ecosystems, our insatiable desire to manipulate and control the planet’s limited resources, and our greed for limitless profit in markets – all these have alienated us from the original purpose of creation.
We no longer respect nature as a shared gift; instead, we regard it as a private possession. We no longer associate with nature in order to sustain it; instead, we lord over it to support our own constructs. The consequences of this alternative worldview are tragic and lasting.
The human environment and the natural environment are deteriorating together, and this deterioration of the planet weighs upon the most vulnerable of its people. The impact of climate change affects, first and foremost, those who live in poverty in every corner of the globe.
Our obligation to use the earth’s goods responsibly implies the recognition of and respect for all people and all living creatures. The urgent call and challenge to care for creation are an invitation for all of humanity to work towards sustainable and integral development.
Therefore, united by the same concern for God’s creation and acknowledging the earth as a shared good, we fervently invite all people of goodwill to dedicate a time of prayer for the environment on 1 September.
On this occasion, we wish to offer thanks to the loving Creator for the noble gift of creation and to pledge commitment to its care and preservation for the sake of future generations. After all, we know that we labour in vain if the Lord is not by our side (cf. Ps 126-127), if prayer is not at the centre of our reflection and celebration.
Indeed, an objective of our prayer is to change the way we perceive the world in order to change the way we relate to the world. The goal of our promise is to be courageous in embracing greater simplicity and solidarity in our lives.
We urgently appeal to those in positions of social and economic, as well as political and cultural, responsibility to hear the cry of the earth and to attend to the needs of the marginalized, but above all to respond to the plea of millions and support the consensus of the world for the healing of our wounded creation.
We are convinced that there can be no sincere and enduring resolution to the challenge of the ecological crisis and climate change unless the response is concerted and collective, unless the responsibility is shared and accountable, unless we give priority to solidarity and service.
From the Vatican and from the Phanar, 1 September 2017
Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew