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December 8, 2015

Responding To: Reflections on the Future of Global Governance

Role of Religion in Peace Conversion Efforts

Emmanuel Foro

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks on Global Governance remind me immediately of Pope Benedict XVI’s view on the overall condition to do justice: personal love and social love. This “extraordinary force” as he argues founds human options for engagement towards justice and peace. Remembering also our discussion about how interests (particular and national) determine social relations, I wonder how we can get to the “root causes of vulnerability, conflict and disaster.”

The UN has been fostering solidarity and human dignity through the discourse and operations of Human Rights. The new plans presented by the Secretary-General seem to strengthen the Common Good. My fundamental question remains on the issue of Subsidiarity. The deep question of Jeremiah still echoes loudly today: “The human heart is tortuous beyond remedy, who can understand it?”

The dynamics of globalization pose a mighty challenge to local communities as Michael Amalados and many other thinkers have demonstrated. What are the most humane resources of the UN to address that tortuous human heart? Let me illustrate from the three points given by Mr. Ban Ki-moon: (1) the structures of strong institutions could constitute a source of cultural discontentment. (2) The imposition of ‘artificial equality’ keeps making victims on traditional grounds. (3) As Prussian Emperor Bismarck once said, “You cannot govern the world with Beatitudes,” Human Rights Rhetoric is still fictional for those who live below reasonable standards of human dignity. The discourse appears occasionally to the potentates of the world as the rights of predation.

With inward appreciation of many points made, I most celebrate Ban Ki-moon’s commitment “to deepen our interaction with regional organizations;” and the idea of “widening the circle of partnership with civil society, academia, the private sector.” This, I interpret as an application of Subsidiarity: the concept stipulating that involvement of the smallest social unit in making human communities prosperous and harmonious is the best work of the whole global community. The foundational unit of all local entities is nothing but that very interesting human heart - which the Secretary General indeed intends to help “cope, adapt and recover from complex shocks.” Will that heart stop wanting to ‘retaliate for losses’ on people simply different? I hope that the UN considers indeed obtaining mandate – through very high diplomatic skills – for religious leaders without exception, to positively integrate sensitive global awareness in their training and catechetical curriculum.

Emmanuel Foro, S.J., is the dean at Hekima College in Nairobi, Kenya, where he also teaches fundamental theology, ecclesiology, and Ignatian spirituality.

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