Saturday, September 26, 2015

Peace and Protection for People and the Planet: Pope Francis

The missionary of mercy is here in the US. People from all religious backgrounds are appreciative of what he says and yet people from all religious backgrounds question what he says! There are people who see God in him and there are people who think he is the holder of 666, which is a sign of satan according to Holy Bible. He does not hesitate in expressing his genuine opinions on the most contentious issues and still challenges everybody to look at the common good among all the disagreements. He urges us to be true to our conscience. He reminds us serving the poor and oppressed is serving God. He requests us to pray for him. His message is simple and if heeded can change the world!

If you're wondering, I am not a catholic but I am a recipient of mercy and so the message of mercy resonates with me. I have fallen in my life a few times and I have been lifted up every single time by the mercy of God and His people. I believe we must show mercy to those who are suffering because we too have received mercy in our lives.

This is a great time for his visit to the US. As the presidential campaign is gearing up, the country seems to be more and more divided based on religious and moral issues. He addressed the joint session of the US Congress, where his words were received with great respect by both sides of the aisle. His presence had a uniting effect on the members of congress, whether or not it will be long-lasting is yet to be seen. Everybody applauded as he reminded them this land was of the free and the brave. Right upfront, he made the case for the immigrants and their role in building of this nation. He invited Americans to have a dialogue. For a change, the conversation was not about the differences but of the common duty to uplift those who are in situations of greater vulnerability.  He talked about just legislation for thousands of men and women who work hard everyday for their families, the elderly, the sick, those in the prison, those who are homeless and those who are marginalised. He talked about conviction of conscience and we saw one impact the very next day in the resignation of the house speaker, John Boehner's. It seems the house speaker was struggling with his next steps but clearly pope's address helped him to be one with his conscience. We all deep down are for peace not for divisiveness but the problem is that many times we are too busy to search our deepest desires.

He talked about a variety of issues that touched upon security, protection and well-being. And then he asked the congressmen, "Is it not what we want for our children?" He said a crisis is not fully understood merely by numbers but by the faces of those who are suffering and by listening to their stories. He emphasised on responding in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal. Wow, the most respected leader in the world reminded us of the universality of the human race and that we are all part of one big family. Something that we so often, so conveniently forget! He rightly reminded some of the most influential people in the most powerful country of the golden rule, 'Do unto others as you will have them do unto you'.

This is also the time when the United Nations General Assembly is taking place where world leaders have come together to discuss global issues. A time where millions of people are homeless, many defined as refugees and many as migrants. Migrants leave their homes for better opportunities mostly in terms of work and it is hardly an easy path. Refugees, on the other hand, are forced to leave their homes because of threat to life. You can read some more about refugees in my earlier post by clicking here. So much needs to be done and much needs to be done differently. Differently, in a way where people are treated with dignity no matter what their status is. Differently, in a way where policies are grounded on compassion. Differently, where actions are carried out in a humane way. By the way, the responsibility is not only on the resource rich countries but also on the resource poor countries. Call for action to protect is not only on countries of destination but very much also on the home countries. There is no excuse for any government for not fulling their responsibilities towards their citizens.

During these very difficult times that nations are facing today, he spoke to the largest assembly of world leaders in the history of the UN. This is the platform where his message becomes critical because it is about inclusion, acceptance, sharing with poor, compassion, love and hope. And for none of these invaluable virtuous actions, one needs a lot of money. This message is important for individuals as well as for the States who establish and implement laws and policies. 

He encouraged the UN to take actions so that all countries, without any exception, have access to the decision making process. He also reminded the states of their responsibility of protecting the environment and getting rid of the culture of waste. He said, harm to environment is harm to human beings.  He talked about inclusion of all including the people with disability. He advocated for action against sexual exploitation of boys and girls, slave labor and organised crime. He talked like a true community mobiliser when he instructed the world leaders to allow the poor to become dignified agents for their own development in harmony with other fellow human beings. As a woman, I am thankful, every time he emphasises on educational opportunities for girls around the world. 


http://www.wallpapersground.com/pope-francis-quotes-wallpapers.html
In so many words, he reminded UN of its role in mediation and arbitration in wars. He reminded us that true peace is attained through justice. I so hope that his words give more power to 'Responsibility to Protect' and hopefully it won't be only used when it is convenient to the UN Security Council but it is implemented every time any state, regardless of who is their ally, fails to protect their people from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. This is also a time when the UN adopted 2030 sustainable development goals for people and planet. Unfortunately, the way current trends are, it is almost impossible to achieve any of this goals by 2030. For more information, please read this article (http://devpolicy.org/can-the-sdgs-be-achieved-by-2030-20150924/). Hopefully, his presence at the UN and the energy he brings with him will help the leaders to reflect on where they are leading this world to. 

For me, his message is about self-development in harmony with fellow human beings and the environment. Even though he is the biggest religious authority, he is not about putting boundaries or building walls. He is about inclusion and acceptance. He is a true ambassador of God, who he believes is love. He says, God had so much love in him that he couldn't hold it in him. That is why He created the world so that he could share His overflowing love with others. What a divine thought! If this world was created to be loved, how much it must hurt the creator to witness the moments and places where hatred brings suffering to the people and destruction to the planet. People of this world, let us feel and accept God's immense love for us and let it overflow so that it touches everyone and everything around us! 

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