|Challenges to Humanity
Frei Betto, OP
The recent manifestations in Hong Kong against
the protectionist policy of the World Trade Organization confirms
that an unipolar world hegemonized by the economic, military and
ideological power of the United States, represents a serious threat
for the future of humanity. Of six thousand three hundred million
persons who inhabit the planet, according to the United Nations,
four thousand million live below the poverty line, with a monthly
per capita income less than $60.00
The phenomenon of globalization is, in fact, a
global colonization, or rather, the imposition of an Anglo-Saxon
model of society for the rest of the countries of the world. All
this asymmetry is aggravated by the increasing imbalance of the
environment and by the wrongful search for peace through the imposition
of arms and not through the promotion of justice, as the prophet
Isaiah suggested eight centuries before Christ.
The challenges presented to humanity today can
be summed up in eight points.
1. The reduction of hunger, of
poverty and of social inequality that are the authentic “arms
of massive destruction”, that sacrifice, according to the
FAO, at least 24 thousand lives each day. Among the factors of
premature death, hunger surpasses illnesses (cancer, Aids…),
traffic and work accidents, and violence (wars, terrorism, assassinations).
Nevertheless, the planet produces alimentation sufficient for
11 billion mouths. The problem then is neither an excess of mouths
nor the lack of foods but a problem of justice, above all a problem
of sharing the goods of the earth and the fruits of human work.
2. Respect for the sovereignty and self-determination
of peoples. The multilateral organisms ought to avoid
their manipulation by the great powers. Behind the treaties supposedly
oriented toward interchanges among nations there are cruel mechanisms
of neocolonialism. No one is capable of imagining a Cuban base
on the Californian coast, as this would provoke a great outcry
from the communication media. Nevertheless there is a North American
base on the coast of Cuba, Guantánamo that does not cause
an indignant reaction in the international media. A nation like
Puerto Rico remains since 1898 under the North American guidance.
North American military bases are scattered through the world
in a flagrant interference of the internal security of the host
countries and of their neighbors.
3. Reinforcement of citizenry and of democracy.
The whole population has the right to organize by interest
groups, to defend itself and to vindicate its rights. The citizenry
ought to base itself on full recognition of the dignity of each
human being, independently of their sexual, ethnic, religious
and social condition. It is urgent that we secure alimentation,
health, education, work, culture and recreation, housing and the
right to happiness for all. Democracy will achieve its fullness
when it joins political liberty with social justice, in way in
which all have an income sufficient to guarantee quality of life
and full conditions of human development.
4. Protection of the environment:
The planet is on the eve of exhausting its energy potential, becomes
a great threat to its biodiversity, climactic conditions change
from year to year. Without a new paradigm of relation between
humanity and nature, the progressive degradation of the environment
will continue increasing the cases of illnesses that will contribute
to the ecological imbalance, harming the sources of production
of drinkable water and of food.
5. Respect for religious pluralism, for the diversity
of political models and the end of sexual and ethnic discrimination.
Religious intolerance could multiply typical reactions of fundamentalist
attitudes. From this comes the importance of favoring inter -religious
dialogue. The models of political organization in our societies
ought to respect the idiosyncrasy of each country. New sexual
roles need to be faced with respect and ethnic differences as
an enriching factor for living together.
6. Solidarity among nations. We
are all passengers of this spatial ship called the planet Earth.
Resources are limited and ought to be distributed with justice
and used with moderation. For the same reason, there is need of
erasing competition, oppression and colonialism, which greatly
harm the living together among nations. As a result it is urgent
that we strengthen in new generations the understanding that we
are just one human family and that the singularity of each nation
ought not to constitute a factor of prejudice, of discrimination,
of aggression or of the imposition of outside models on its history
and on its individuality.
7. To overcome the economy of insufficiency
that affects today two-thirds of humanity obliged to survive in
inhuman conditions, just as the economy of abundance, which permits
a few rich countries the illegal and exaggerated appropriation
of riches and resources that, in principal, belong to the whole
of humanity. The economy of sufficiency ought to assure each person
and each nation conditions worthy of life and the full realization
8. Strengthening the culture that identifies the sacred
nature of each person, his or her irreducible dignity
and inalienable right to a happy life. Each one of us is the center
of the Universe, and the gift of life is the supreme value that
ought to be preserved, perfected and nourished in a manner that
avoids the total making commonplace of existence, just as the
factors that contribute a threaten it, to destroy it or devalue
We will be truly human when happiness surpasses the material conditions
of life and reaches its vocation of transcendence, elevating the
human spirit to the heights of infinity, already previously announced
en art, in religious mystique and above all in love.
Fray Betto is a writer, author of “The Artist´s Work
, a holistic vision of the Universe” among other books.