Saturday, 20 February 2016

Values Of The Heart


Dear Reader,

The growing gap between the ultra-rich and the rest of us has made headline news with the release of Oxfam’s latest set of damning inequality statistics, which make an irrefutable case for sharing the world’s wealth and power more equitably.

There are many ways in which this emerging call for sharing is already being expressed across the globe – including the ongoing advocacy for tax justice, the emergent focus on ‘de-growth’ as a catch-all framing for the great transition that lies ahead, and the urgent need to protect the basic human rights of desperate refugees in order to let “peace and love flow without borders”. 

A diverse group of the world’s largest NGOs and other progressive organisations have responded to this mounting injustice by forming a global alliance to fight inequality, in a bid to gather the momentum needed to achieve their stated objective of tackling the systemic causes of inequality.  

Meanwhile, the evidence suggests that 2016 will witness an unprecedented escalation in popular protest in both the Global North and South – a trend that is likely to persist for as long as governments ignore the real solutions needed to address pressing crises, such as the devastating impacts of extreme poverty and climate change.*

The Share The World's Resources website refers to the United Nations' "World Day for Social Justice 2016" and highlights the affect on the poorest.

Where the benefits of growth have reached the poor ... it is often in spite of market mechanisms. Government reforms – such as socialised health care, state education and minimum-wage legislation – have allowed greater access to the benefits of growth, along with political pressure from parties and unions that won these reforms. However, as government regulation has been relaxed, inequality has again increased.

Agitations such as those reported here are to be welcomed, in my view, but so much needs to be done to spread a deeper sense of true Human Values, especially to those who are in the "have" rather than "have not" category.

Karen Armstrong (a famed writer on religions) has made her own point about this:
Each world tradition has developed its own version of what has been called the Golden Rule – always treat all others as you would wish to be treated yourself – and insisted that this is the core of faith and the test of true religion, taking precedence over all other beliefs and practices; they have also insisted that we cannot confine our benevolence to those we find congenial. ...
Yet even those in the West who are not mega-rich seem to have the view that their own hurt is greater than others, even though we inwardly should know that we are all the same - we all breathe, we all feel, we all love, we all have hopes ... we all die.

Ms. Armstrong continues:
After the terrorist activities on the 13 November in Paris, Europe was – naturally – plunged into mourning.Yet the day before the Paris atrocities, some forty people had been killed by IS in Beirut and the Lebanese noted wryly how quickly their tragedy was forgotten. Nobody thought to fly the Lebanese flag alongside the tricolour. Some two weeks before the Paris shootings in January this year, 145 Pakistani children were killed by the Taliban; shortly afterwards, 2,000 men, women, children and the elderly were slaughtered by Boko Haram in Nigeria.Yet compared with the Charlie Hebdo tragedy, these atrocities received meagre coverage. Compassion is not an emotional feeling of goodwill; it does not mean pity; it is rather the principled determination to put ourselves into the place of the other. For many of the Syrian refugees who are desperately seeking asylum in Europe, the horrors of 13 November would have been an almost daily occurrence – yet the talk focuses all too often about how we can keep them out.
This myopia does not go unnoticed in the Muslim world. If we live according to the Golden Rule and pride ourselves on our humanity in the West, we cannot confine our sympathies to our own compatriots. If we want a peaceful world and to win the battle for hearts and minds, we have to learn that we are not the only people who suffer at the hands of extremism and reach out to our global neighbours with true empathy – and not just with bombs.
Read more: Karen Armstrong

I feel there's no need to say more. We all have to do better and not so quick to elect political representatives to ensure that we are OK. For example, please think carefully about the EU referendum question: leaving the EU could throw us back into a modern form of the dark ages.

* The opening four paragraphs are taken directly from an e-mail notification I received from the STWR organisation. I have done so as they exactly encapsulate what I intended to say.

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