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The Mystery of Evil: The Cauldron (Continued) [Part 2]

Note by the author: I have called this article The Cauldron (continued), because I see the entire wo...

Note by the author: I have called this article The Cauldron (continued), because I see the entire world with all its different wars raging, in general, and the Palestine-Israel/ Ukraine-Novorossiya crises, in particular, as one huge cauldron.

Is Harmony and Solidarity Possible in the World of Today?

United Nations Call for Harmony

On October 20, 2010, the United Nations called on people around the globe to celebrate the first week of February as World Interfaith Harmony Week to promote harmony between all religions and beliefs.

"Of course, this was not the first time that people had called for harmony between followers of different faiths. In 2007, leaders of the Islamic community wrote an open letter to leaders of the Christian community. They called for peace and understanding between Muslims and Christians and said that the foundation for this peace and understanding already exists.

"It can be found in the key principles shared by both faiths – the commands to love God and love one’s neighbour. These two principles are also basic to the Jewish faith, which forms a strong basis for all three monotheistic religions of the world to live with a mutual respect for one another." [1]
These two principles are, however, not only basic to Muslims, Christians and Jews but are also the basic principles of life, of nature, of creation and thus of the earth and the world where peoples dwell together.

We must ask ourselves today honestly the question whether there is truly and really harmony between peoples of different faiths, of different political views or ideologies and different cultures. I am almost a hundred percent certain that all of us will answer no to this question.

The disharmony and disagreements between people, governments and nations have taken on such proportion that the UN General Assembly in 2010 had to pass a resolution that instituted the first week of February of every year a "World Interfaith Harmony Week [that] celebrates the principles of tolerance and respect for the other that are deeply rooted in the world’s major religions. The observance is also a summons to solidarity in the face of those who spread misunderstanding and mistrust." [2]

Mr Ban Ki-moon must have been so disheartened by the reigning disharmony in the world that he and his Assembly had thought if faiths can work together, then people that differ on all other fronts, can also do it.

Religious Harmony

However, that achievement is not so easily attainable through religions. Why? Precisely on account of their different believes in a Supreme Being or God, which influence the culture of a people.

Although, in certain parts of the world where this Harmony Week was celebrated this year, the people that attended these celebrations were of about five different belief systems that included non-believers or atheists from out of their local community.

In my view then, if all these different believers have to seek for harmony between one another on the foundation as described above, they already fail in the first pillar, which is to love God.

And if you cannot love God as the universal God, Creator of all that is in heaven and on earth then you will fail to uphold the second pillar, which is to love your neighbour, for the simple reason that man is made in the image of God.


Why am I saying this? Take a good look at the first image above of the faces of people of different faiths gathered together. Do they look happy? No. And the people in the second and third images…better? Yes.

But, as was aptly said by the person who presented a reflection to the gathering of the different faiths in his community: “People who do not profess faith in God might still have a great commitment to do what is good. Their commandments might be summed up as ‘Love of the Good and Love of Neighbour’. So, World Interfaith Harmony Week has come to extend to all people of goodwill”.  [3] 

The Bishop continued, “Why have such a week focusing on harmony? In some ways we could see it as a reaction to the breakdown of harmony in the world. Day after day we hear of prejudice, disputes, violence, wars.

The bitter fruits are injustice, resentment, injury and death. In the face of such terrible situations, people naturally long for peace and they realise that the only way to peace is to change our hearts and our actions – prejudice must give way to understanding, disputes must give way to respectful discussion, violence must give way to kindness. Only then will war give way to peace. 
“We hear all too often of acts of violence around the world. In some cases, those who commit acts of violence claim they are doing so in the name of religion….” [or of an ideology like the neo-Nazis in Ukraine or in the name of a cultural heritage where those that do not agree with it are not in solidarity like in the Donbass and Crimea].
The good bishop continued, “In fact, this is a terrible distortion of religion. People who have a true sense of faith are moved to do all they can to promote the peace that their faith calls for. To counter the violent distortions of religion, we have the movements to foster dialogue and harmony between people of different faiths.

Of course, dialogue is not always easy but may we come to common ground by our dialogue with one another. By speaking honestly and by listening with respect, may we come to better understand one another.
“As we focus on harmony this week, may our efforts for greater understanding flow over into continued efforts as the year goes along. May our week of harmony become a life of harmony.” [4] 
Cultural Harmony

The General Assembly of the UN adopted its resolution A/RES/65/5 on 20 October 2010 in a bid to:
“Recognize the imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people…” [5]
It’s a pity that this resolution does not extend to a need for dialogue among people of different cultures and cultural preferences to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation.

Why am I saying this? In my wanderings throughout the world I have found that nations, once having declared themselves independent with an elected government, those governments are not for long satisfied with the running of their own countries; or satisfied with their own particular culture, territory, raw materials and the reclamation and development thereof.

No, they begin to look at other cultures and countries bordering their own and, further afield, to continents where there are riches galore to rob and steal.

But, getting back to culture, I wish to mention two instances that have been lately very much in the news.

The one is, of course, Ukraine with East Ukraine and the other is Palestine with Israel. The differences in culture and religion, as part of culture, is maybe much more obvious in Israel-Palestine where the disharmony is more based upon ethnicity and creed than anything else.

Israel-Palestine

Palestine has existed as a country for well over 2,000 years. From 1917 to 1918 Palestine was liberated from the Ottoman Empire by the British when the League of Nations gave them a Mandate over the territory and land of Palestine in 1923; there was no Palestinian head of state and ultimate authority therefore lay with the British.

It was these same British who under the Zionist movement decided to establish the land of Israel within the borders of Palestine with the result that the land was invaded by Zionist Jews who established their own “democratic” state within the land of Palestine in 1948; it was these same British that has thus forced the Palestinian people to adopt what their invaders forced on them. [6]

Can you, dear reader imagine for one moment any dialogue and harmony between these two diverse groups of people, the Palestinians and the Jews; between these two religions, Islam and Judaism?

In referring back to our good friend the Bishop and what he said above, I would say religion-wise there is such a possibility because both profess to serve the same Almighty God. Therefore the Secretary General of the UN may just be proven correct in his vision of dialogue and harmony between people of different faiths.

However, sadly the problem here does not lie with religious disagreements and disharmony but is a political thing. Apart from Jewish immigrants and settlers did Zionists also arrive in great numbers to settle throughout the land while the government engaged in acts of terrorism and suppression of the Palestinian people on a huge scale.

Palestinians, an indigenous part of the land and its historical and cultural heritage, are detained and massacred on a regular basis under the slightest pretexts by Israeli defence and police forces that undertake carefully planned bombing sorties into Gaza and the West Bank, within concentration camps where settlements, agriculture, industries, cities and villages are destroyed.

And of course where people – human beings – are killed, maimed and terrorized.

Trying their best to destroy the culture and religion of these ages-old settlers of the land, they justify themselves to international outcries of genocide by their policy of ethnic purging based upon a totally unrealistic claim that Palestine is the “land God gave to their fathers” and that they are “God’s chosen race”.  In this process, what they truly are doing is dehumanizing the Palestinians.

Now dehumanization is a central component of war propaganda and by removing the humanity of individuals, by reclassifying them as anonymous “others,” it becomes easier for combatants in a war to kill them as well as to justify themselves on the international chess board of politics.

Ukraine-Novorossiya

This same concept of dehumanization is happening in eastern Ukraine where reside the 5.2 million Russian-speaking people of the industrial eastern Ukrainian region of the Donbass.

The locals have been cast by officials in the Kiev government and Nazi yokels variously as terrorists, Moskali and subhumans; civilians who choose to remain in the ‘rebel’-held territory are considered traitors by the mere fact that they choose to retain their exclusive Russian culture and language including all things Russian.

From the start of the crisis in Ukraine with the inception of the coup-formed government, the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement was presented to Western readers as a choice for Ukrainians between a civilized Europe and a barbaric, Asiatic Russia.

In this vein then has the Ukrainian-American academic, Alexander Motyl, called the people of the Donbas “the most retrograde part of Ukraine’s population”[7]

What we have here is a Ukrainian crisis that is the ongoing struggle between nationalists, who want to create a mono-cultural, Ukrainian-speaking nation within Ukraine’s current boundaries and pluralists, who want a state which reflects different cultural and linguistic traditions, particularly the Russian culture and language.

Moscow has responded with measures designed to protect its strategic interests, including those interests in the Crimea peninsula and has provided moral, humanitarian and strategic support for the anti-Kiev population and military forces in eastern Ukraine.

The forces in Novorossiya are referred to as pro-Russia, Russian-backed or simply Russian by the Kiev illegal government.

This implies that they have no agency of their own because they don’t tap into the so-called legitimacy or policies of the authorities in Kiev and therefore can they play no part in resolving the crisis.

The present government in Kiev has refused to talk directly to rebel leaders, relying instead on back-channels and intermediaries.

The population of Novorossiya and their interim government’s demand are relatively modest such as a certain degree of autonomy, formal recognition of the Russian language and, as conflict accelerated, amnesty for their militia.

After President Yanukovych was forced to flee Kiev, the interim government of Novorossia refused to accept the coup-instituted neo-Nazi government of Kiev.

The civil war in Donbass has been caused by genuine grievances, anxieties and problems among people who speak Russian and some of whom most have cultural affinities with Russia but who also, for the most part were happy to be part of Ukraine, until its democratically elected government was forcibly removed.

Continuing to ignore their existence and their concerns can only prolong the conflict and disharmony.

Their fears concerning the legitimacy of the Kiev government  proved not to be unfounded for soon after the coup happened, has the international world shown its hand by making statements that Russia is responsible for promotion of ethnic tensions in the Baltic and in particular Ukraine with her non-proven military presence in Eastern Ukraine.

Statements from both Washington and London, in particular, demonise Vladimir Putin but pointedly ignore the grievances of the people in eastern Ukraine and gloss over the origins and character of the regime in Kiev.

Reports in the main stream media, with very few exceptions, echo the same themes while there is little emphasis on the scale of human tragedy engulfing south eastern Ukraine or how it could have been prevented.

In contrast with the West has the official Russian-backed media refrained from engaging in any dehumanizing rhetoric toward the people of the entire Ukraine although they have used terms like Nazis, fascists and Banderists to describe the government in Kiev - a very important distinction.

Indeed, in the Russian worldview and discourse, the Ukrainian people are seen as either a deeply kindred people or an extension of a greater East Slavic whole, along with Russia and Belarus. Furthermore, a larger partition of Ukraine, which will  certainly involve more conflict, would decidedly not be in Russia’s interests.

In the Russian narrative the people of Ukraine are often presented as being naive or duped by Western policies such as statements made by the American Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, that the US government spent $5 billion on encouraging ‘regime change’ in Kiev.

A leaked tape revealed that she discussed the composition of the new Kiev government, before it was formed.   

These efforts for regime change by meddling US neocons pushes the Ukraine crisis into a wider geopolitical tug of war between Russia and the West, that has taken place since the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Recently it involved an attempt to bring Ukraine into the orbit of the EU and, by implication, Atlantic security arrangements, financing and support of regime change in Kiev as well as the installation of a government based on models of state approved by the EU.

The Ukraine conflict, including the economic sanctions against Russia and a widespread breakdown in relationships, is one result of the decay of contemporary diplomacy and dialogue.

It is important to note that most of the international world fails to understand that the US and its allies assume for themselves the unique right to subvert governments they don’t like and do all they can in the most “dirty” ways possible to replace them with something more amenable.

Resultantly, every country that does not support the US/EU view of geo-politics is demonised.

One example of this is the way by which Washington and Brussels pour billions of pounds into anti-Russian civil society groups in countries that have cultural, linguistic and historical links to Russia – a watertight proof of this can be seen in recent anti-Russian disclosures made by countries such as Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.

Consequently is NATO expanding aggressively into former Soviet territories, aspires to advance into historic Russian heartlands right along the borders of the current Russian Federation and well within its sphere of cultural and linguistic influence.

Its aim is to surround and contain Russia and this poses a direct security threat to Moscow as well as an existential threat to Russian speakers and Russian culture. [8]

Conclusion

What is happening in Ukraine-Novorossiya is a repeat of the same pattern found in Palestine-Israel. Such characterizations and stereotypes imply a superiority of one people, culture or civilization over another and allude to destructive racial ideologies from the darker chapters of the 20th century.

The implicit message here is one of exclusion and separation, not cooperation or engagement and because of that it means death for all who do not agree with the laid down norms. [9]

Spilling the blood of one’s enemy is a common occurrence in any war and containing that throughout the world today is, therefore, an internationally shared responsibility.

It’s likely to be stopped only by a genuine spirit of partnership exercised by way of diplomacy, dialogue and détente between countries and their allies as well as their enemies, encouraging compromise between the warring sides.

If this does not happen the state of affairs will definitely become much worse with the introduction of new technologies, weapons and continued abuse of historical truths by politicians demonising either party by way of propaganda in their mainstream media.

The key to ending any war or conflict is to first and foremost stop the senseless dehumanizing and malicious rhetoric. Dialogue becomes possible when people begin to realize their common humanity – that which they share.

Consequently, instead of talking in exclusionary terms of Europe vs. Eurasia or West vs. East or US vs Russia, we should be reflecting collectively in terms of cooperation among all peoples on this vast Earth that we as human beings have received as a gift from God. Only then can there be true peace, harmony and solidarity.

What we must ask ourselves then is whether we want to see the joy-filled smiling faces of all peoples and, children in particular, always or do we want to be always horrified with scenes of children mutilated, bleeding and shocked into parodies of their former selves.

Scenes such as these in Gaza:


Or these in Donbass:


Let us now come back to the appeal made by UN’s Secretary General, for the institution of a perpetual annual week during which it is expected of rational and civilized people of the world to forge ties for future tolerance and respect for human life, as well as for solidarity in the face of those who spread misunderstanding and distrust.

Let us also come back to the commonly accepted observance that solidarity, tolerance and respect are principles found among faithful of the major monotheistic religions of the world and see it as the only way by which final peace and harmony can and will be achieved.

With this remark I am not saying that all have to run back to church or become an adherent of any of these religions but what I’m saying is that the same God that these religions are supposed to profess is the One we call Source of all that is.

He alone can and will through us who confess to believe in his might and power, wrought joy, peace and harmony in this world for us and for the earth. In this way alone will evil no longer be a mystery, for that which is hidden will have been exposed.

Let all of us then, whether we be soldiers on the battlefield, politicians, statesmen or just plain armchair internet warriors, think, write, tweet and act in a spirit of goodwill towards our fellow warriors.

Let us with this attitude make of the world a field of flowers [10] like as the Australian people had done for those who had died during the siege in Sydney.

By Caeli Francisco, HumansAreFree.com; | References:

[1] Interfaith Flag Raising Ceremony February 5, 2015 – Bishop P. B. Bird
[2] Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Message for World Interfaith Harmony Week http://www.un.org/en/events/interfaithharmonyweek/
[3] Interfaith Flag Raising Ceremony, February 5, 2015 – Bishop P B Bird
[4] Ibid
[5] http://www.un.org/en/events/interfaithharmonyweek/
[6] http://www.bruceonpolitics.com/2014/09/12/the-true-history-of-the-country-of-palestine/
[7] http://reconsideringrussia.org/category/donbas/
[8] Chekov, Demonising Russia wont stop bloodshed in the Ukraine
http://threethousandversts.blogspot.com/; http://reconsideringrussia.org/category/donbas/
[9] http://www.bruceonpolitics.com/2014/09/12/the-true-history-of-the-country-of-palestine/
[10] Interfaith Flag Raising Ceremony February 5, 2015 – Bishop P. B. Bird

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