Erenlai - The Art of Peace-making 從亞洲眺望全球和平
The Art of Peace-making 從亞洲眺望全球和平

The Art of Peace-making 從亞洲眺望全球和平

 

Learn how to become a peacemaker! These materials concentrate on conflict resolution and peace building.

只要身為世界公民一天,我們就對化解衝突與創造和平的議題有著義務跟責任。

 

 

 

Thursday, 20 January 2011

他對弱勢孩子的愛,由此生根

從開設貧民醫院到建立智障兒照顧中心,葉由根神父在他近百歲的生命中,為台灣社會奉獻無數,直到人生的最後。他的大愛落在這塊土地上,不僅生了根,還開出美麗的花朵。


Wednesday, 19 January 2011

尋求內心的安寧

內心的安寧是,即使我們正經歷著猶如地獄般的情況,心中卻仍存著平靜與和諧。前提是我們對自己誠實自在,並相信我們在人生裡尚有目標要達成。維持這份安寧是人一生的功課。

 

Tuesday, 08 June 2010

You can see the tears of time

Born in 1958, Cheng Wen-Tang has extensive experience in all aspects of film-making. As an independent producer, Cheng has built a reputation in producing documentary, short films, and subsequently, expanding into feature films. All this has earned him the recognition of the local movie industry. In addition to these various talents, Cheng is also an active scriptwriter, TV series director, as well as a stage actor. His latest production in 2009 is Tears.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The Japanese textbook controversy

Roy Berman, scholar in history of education in Asia and specialist in Japanese colonial period textbooks, shares his thoughts on the great textbook controversy in which Japan is still embroiled. (Image: Cover of the history book published by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform)


Saturday, 20 June 2009

在柬埔寨,與和平締造者相遇

採訪、撰文|林炳秀 翻譯|趙靜 攝影|Philong Soven
本文為節錄,完整內容請見2009年7、8月號《人籟》論辨月刊


當今社會不可或缺又明顯不足的一個要素,正是締造和平的藝術。我們缺的並不是諸如「侵略總是難免啦」 或是 「過去的就都算了吧」等無視這時代暴力充斥,反將暴力合理化的尋常論調。這些論調既不能確保長遠的和平,也無助於改善大眾的生活。

今年四月二十一日,我踏上造訪柬埔寨的旅程,──它的土地正從戰火中復甦、它的年輕一代正在打拼、它的政府官員紛紛開起Lexus轎車、而它的美景在亞洲絕無僅有。我想在這裡找尋我心目中的 「和平締造者」,亦即呵護和平並改善周遭人群生活的人。這些人貢獻出自己的時間、精力,有時甚至犧牲自己的生命。我輾轉會見了三、五人士,其中有的年紀尚輕,有的已經有了一定的年歲,他們以許多人無法理解的方式犧牲奉獻,將締造和平提升到全新的層次。

柬埔寨的復甦緩慢,但十分明顯。這裡其實有不少和平締造者,他們有的是土生土長的本地人,有的來自國外。在經歷過赤棉政權晚近的種族屠殺造成二百萬人無辜死亡後,我們今天看到的是個分化的柬埔寨,因為貧富不均導致的分化,也扭曲了司法體制的職能和公正。這分化的鴻溝越寬,令和平失足的斷崖也就顯得越近,而當初的和平其實得來不易。但相較於和平締造者在柬國面對的課題,這一切只不過是冰山一角。

縱使赤棉對一般百姓及反對者進行的種族滅絕已然過去,現在的柬埔寨政治,依然是權力鬥爭有餘,人性關懷不足。近二十年來,柬埔寨雖然局勢承平,但司法與和解等問題仍然不見答案。儘管審判赤棉領導人的國際法庭已在籌設當中(即康克由(Kaing Guek Eav)審判案),但這絲毫不足以確保來日這種危害人類的罪行不會再犯。柬埔寨人民要的不止是結案而已,他們也在尋求一個政治的共識。近來柬埔寨的經濟和外資雖有增長,但窮人仍然無法翻身。

最令我驚訝的是,即使經歷過這樣的創傷和慘痛的歷史,這個民族的力量與韌性依舊健在。透過當地一位非政府組織的朋友,我有幸見到幾位柬埔寨人,他們放下痛苦的過去,為各方所需的資源奔走,遇到境遇不順遂的同胞便去拉一把,而米須‧索卡(Mech Sokha)、丹妮絲‧柯蘭(Denise Coghlan)修女、馮斯瓦‧彭修(Francois Ponchaud)神父便是其中的幾位。

您想知道米須‧索卡、丹妮絲‧柯蘭修女、馮斯瓦‧彭修神父在柬埔寨的故事嗎?更多精彩內容請見2009年7、8月號《人籟》論辨月刊。

附加的多媒體:
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Thursday, 28 May 2009

Meeting Cambodia and its Peacemakers

[dropcap cap="A"]n essential component that appears to be lacking in society today is the art of peacemaking. Rather than justify the widespread violence of our time with the common belief that "aggression is inevitable," or that “it is all in the past” is not enough to neither ensure persisting peace nor improve the lives of the masses.[/dropcap]
On the 21st of April I embarked on a trip to Cambodia- a recovering land of a struggling young generation, ministers in Lexus cars, and some of the most beautiful sceneries I had seen in Asia. I set out in search of individuals whom possess the characteristics of my definition of a peacemaker- someone who invests their energy, time and at times at their own expenses on maintaining peace and improving the lives of those around them. I wounded up meeting a handful of people, young and old whom have sacrificed in ways not many would comprehend, and taken peacemaking to a whole new level.

Cambodia is one of the places whose recovery is slow but evident, abundant in peacemakers both local and international. After the recent genocide under the Khmer Rouge Regime that left 2 million of their people dead, the Cambodia we see today is one of division- division by wealth which inevitably distorts the competency and impartiality in their judicial system. And the wider the gap becomes, the closer they are to losing the relative peace that they had finally attained, and these are but one of the many problems that peacemakers have to face in Cambodia.

The politics in the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge genocide is one of power struggle and little humanity. Throughout the last two decades or so of peace in Cambodia, the question of justice and reconciliation still remains unanswered. Although the establishment of an international tribunal for Khmer Rouge leaders is in course (i.e. Kaing Guek Eav); it is far short of ensuring such crimes against humanity will be prevented in the future. Not only do the Cambodian people seek closure, but also a measure of political consensus. Despite the recent growth in economy and foreign investment, the poor remain ever so vulnerable.

What struck me most is the strength and resilience of a people that have undergone such a traumatic and painful recent history. Through a friend working with one of the NGOs there, I was fortunate to have met Cambodians, like Mr Mech Sokha, who were willing to lay down a painful past and find the will and resources to give some of their less fortunate countrymen a lift.

I am not a photographer. My photos are not able to illustrate the power of the human spirit and the struggles that many Cambodians have to go through just to survive. But I hope that it is through the multiple videos and images I have taken, that one may elicit some of the beauty that is Cambodia and the peacemaking efforts that uphold it. In my narrative I aim to capture the essence of a renewed society of peacemaking young and old people, foreign and local, determined to construct a better and more resistant Cambodia.

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(Photos by Philong Sovan, CSC Cambodia)

Friday, 22 May 2009

Peace in Cambodia

Francois Ponchaud reveals a dark side to Cambodia’s current governance.

Attached media :
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Friday, 28 November 2008

Colombia: Full Peace Requires Full Justice

For the last 30 years, most of the news about Colombia, the country where I come from, has been negative. Drug traffic, the guerrilla or paramilitary forces which took over the drug business after the big drug cartels’ dismantling have been the dominant news stories. My generation has witnessed a history of violence punctuated with slow and inefficient attempts at justice.

Three groups have been the main protagonists of a fifteen years long undeclared civil war:
1)The guerrilla organizations, FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Colombia’s Revolutionary Armed Forces) and ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional – Nacional Liberation Army). Both started their operations more than 30 years ago. They were clearly inspired by Marxist ideology. Later on, their ideals melted and mixed with drug trafficking and with a stubborn struggle for power through violence.

2)The action of the guerrillas and the weakness of the government have led some people to take justice into their own hands, giving room to the birth of the paramilitary. The paramilitary represents a group of armies united in the purpose of defeating the guerrilla; but, with time passing, they also took over the drug business and they became extremely violent, colluding with the government’s army in several occasions.

3)The third party is the government’s army which only gained control over most of the territory during the last years, when the US started to sponsor it.
None of these three groups can claim that their hands are clean.
Alvaro Uribe, the current Colombian president, was elected with near unanimity for the main purpose to put an end to the increasing power of the guerrillas and the paramilitaries. The government efforts to size down the guerrilla have been a decisive factor for recovering the country’s confidence. Uribe’s administration took bold steps to confront the guerrilla. Among them: the liberation of the high profile people kidnapped by the guerrilla, strikes in Ecuador’s territory, and the killing in combat of several FARC’s leaders.

Uribe also offered a peace treaty to the paramilitary and, thanks to the Opposition, he has opened a Truth Commission. All the horrors caused by the paramilitary have been unraveling in front of the public. Nevertheless, when it comes to forgiveness under the condition of cooperation with justice – a frequent mechanism in Truth Commissions -, not much has been offered to the victims by Uribe’s administration.
The country is acclaiming Uribe. Colombia seems to be on the path of progress. At last the main threats to economic development do not come from the drug war, and the global economic turmoil still blows softer in Colombian soil. Uribe holds two powerful cards: the bellicose conflict seems to have been resolved and the public wallet seems safe. His level of approval is high enough for making likely the passing of a constitutional reform in order to allow him to be reelected for a third term. Some people even joke about it: for instance, there is a Facebook group that rejects the reelection because they want Uribe to be king (“Uribe Rey: No a la Reelección”). In some polls his level of approval reaches 80%.
The support he gets from the public has two consequences: first, the radicalization of Uribe supporters, and second the increasing quality of the legal opposition. It was the opposition which pushed to have the paramilitary being tried, leading to the extradition of some chiefs; it was the opposition which got the US to push for more action in justice and human rights improvement; and it was also the opposition which first presented a project of reparations for the victims. But Uribe seldom recognizes the points of those who criticize his actions.

Most of the Colombians affected by the violence have received very little attention from the international media, apart for the big wigs such as Mrs. Betancourt. But, under the action of the opposition, a law was presented before the Congress in order to organize funding and terms of reparations for the victims. The law was expected to benefit more than 3 million people over the course of 10 years. However, in one of the last debates in Congress, the government ultimately changed completely its content. It discriminates among victims from the State army and the ones from the paramilitary. Furthermore, the law establishes a limit for the reparation an individual is allowed to receive. Finally, the Government changed the legal basis of the reparations from the basic principle of government’s responsibility towards its citizens to the one of national solidarity.
The original proposal offered resources for communities’ renewal: infrastructure projects and programs for the distribution of confiscated land among the refugees. But these projects were taken out of the proposal by the governmental coalition. Another controversial point resides in the fact that the victims have to subscribe to a database in the next two years, even though the conflict is not over yet. And last month, media revealed that in several units of the regular army, poor people recruited by officers had been disappearing without explanation. Some time after, their bodies would reappear and be presented as guerilla members shot in combat. As these dead people are not declared as “victims”, their families have no right to compensation either.
At the time of this article being written the debate is still going on. However, in the absence of international pressure over Uribe’s coalition, it is most likely that Uribe’s version of the project will pass.

Most of Colombian people -, including me! - would like to look ahead and close the book. We recognize that Uribe has changed the outlook of the war and that the government has taken back control of the country. But there is a pervasive feeling that justice is only for the rich and the powerful, which will continue to shape social interaction. As long as this is the case, we will still perceive the history of our country under the twin stars of injustice and violence.


Monday, 10 November 2008

Taiwan : l'heure de vérité

During the last month the economic crisis has deepened its roots: the economy in the US fell 0.3% in the third quarter, the general indexes of stock markets have fallen all around the world from the developed countries to the emerging markets, consumer confidence is hitting record lows and articles about the financial crisis and the end of this period of capitalism are abundant. Critics on how the incentives system has deteriorated the world wealth distribution in favor of bankers and managers are leading the political debates in several countries.

The crisis exists and it is imperative to have a close look on how governments react locally and in concert with multilateral institutions. But this is also the right moment to check our definitions of social justice before launching ourselves into the criticism wave. Economic growth has been widespread during the last decade and, although there can be some improvements in the way the wealth is distributed, few periods of history have distributed it as successfully as the economic growth in the first decade of this century. Since 2002, East Asia – not including Japan - has grown at an outstanding 8% yearly; Central Asia has an average of 9.33%; Latam has an average of 4.22%; and even Africa has kept a growing trend with 5.1% yearly in average (Source: Swivel Preview. GDP Growth rates by country and region 2007).

If we combine the economic growth with the trends in employment growth on emerging markets we can tell how the reallocation of resources has reached the most remote people. In most of the emerging economies, unemployment has fallen or has remained steady during the last 5 years to climb recently as the credit crunch let these economies feel its effects.

Despite the absence of any proper estimate, we can say that we are now living the period of history when people have left poverty at the fastest rate. This rate might be even faster than in England during the Industrial Revolution. Some estimates mention that in China 50-70million people escape poverty yearly, and their estimations are not taking into account economic growth in other places.

Those facts are hard to admit when media is bombing with gloomy news, and the feeling of slowdown is overspread. In fact, we do not pretend to deny the crisis, but we would like to be advocates for a system that has allowed improved living standards in a vast population despite its many imperfections.

The harshest critics come from sectors that are heavily exposed to the changes globalization is causing in their societies. The noisiest examples are in the unions of the developed world, which face strong competitions from labor forces in other countries. They talk about a depletion of jobs in their countries as “sweat-shops” have mushroomed. Such a depletion of jobs proves false as the unemployment rates of the first world have kept low during most of the last 5Y period and only have started to climb along with the downturn trumpets. In the US, unemployment was 6% in 2003, and it was 6.1% in August, 2008. Germany reached 9% in 2003 and stands at 7.5% currently. I still ask myself: where did all the unemployed go?

I would like to close this article with asking ourselves to establish longer links than those the media suggests. Regulation is needed, but we should be jealous of the extent of the governmental intervention regardless of the country, and especially if the country has a corrupt record. Globalization might cause unemployment but it is not fully proved in the short term, and no link exists in the longer term; on the other hand, opportunities have been opened for millions of people that had never even dreamt about them. To keep them opened might be our responsibility.
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Read another article by Felipe L. on the crisis

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Thursday, 28 August 2008

泰-柬边界争议

撰文│杨昊 国立中正大学政治学研究所 国际关系组博士候选人

就在7月8日,Preah Vihear神庙正式被纳入联合国世界遗产的名单里,这也预告了泰-柬边界的政治争议将越演越烈。没隔几天,泰国外长Noppadon Pattama提出辞呈,从官方声明稿的内容中可以很清楚地发现,Noppadon的离职与领土争议的难以化解脱不了关系。随后,泰、柬之间环绕在Preah Vihear神庙与领地争端上的紧张关系,随著双方派遣军队驻守边境因而逐渐恶化。

这项双边争议的发酵,适逢第41届东协外长会议期间,在20日晚上,各国外长就泰-柬边界紧张关系进行对话与讨论。藉著东协外长之间的对话,柬埔寨与泰国均同意将高度自我约束并恪守国际规范,透过「友好且温和」(amicably)的方式来化解争端。更重要的是,与会外长以及东协秘书长Surin Pitsuwan均表示,只要柬埔寨与泰国愿意,东协将会提供各种及早化解争端的协助。对于东协而言,成员国间的领土争端所引起的安全危机,势必会影响区域安全共同体的建构进程。今年年底,东协将正式提出「东协安全体蓝图」,这也使得各国外长特别关切泰-柬冲突的后续走势。

尽管东协外长会议并未就泰-柬紧张关系的后续处理提供实质的解决办法,但是在外长会议里的实质讨论依旧发挥了影响力。就在7月28日,泰国新任外长Tej Bunnag与柬国副总理兼外长Hor Namhong终于在暹粒讨论了双方和平解决边界争议的方式。其中,高度自制并且降低武装冲突是目前最重要的承诺,这意味著双方将会从边境撤军,同时将更坚守和平解决争端的东协原则。目前双方同意依循既存双边途径来讨论边界争议,其中主要透过泰柬土地划界联合委员会(JBC)以及即将建立的特别工作小组,就相关议题交换意见并进行后续协商讨论。

很明显地,如果这场领土争端要彻底解决,泰、柬两国必须得更明智、务实地面对此一政治争议与其后续影响;另一方面,双方还是得回到制度面进行协商,无论是寻求多边制度(东协)或透过双边机制(委员会或工作小组),唯有建立起更具制度化的常设沟通与合作模式,才能避免因人为因素干扰或政治意识型态影响所造成的误解与冲突,如此才能从功能层面切入,有效处理因领土争议所引起的各种危机。

时至今日,泰-柬边境因军队驻守所引起的紧张氛围持续存在,尽管双方同意部队后撤,但并未完全撤兵。Preah Vihear神庙遗址上依旧飘扬著柬埔寨的国旗,对于泰国边境的民众而言,不啻是在伤口上洒盐。在8月1日,柬埔寨总理夫人Bun Rany在Preah Vihear神庙举办了一场盛大的宗教仪式,她公开祈祷天佑柬国能从这场政治纷争中胜出。这场仪式适逢日蚀,因而引起了许多泰国民众的不安,认为此举将会为泰国带来厄运。很明显地,神庙的争端已不再是单纯的领土争议,在宗教的加持下,将引起基层社会更多的不安。

附加的多媒体:
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Friday, 15 August 2008

泰-柬邊界爭議

撰文│楊昊 國立中正大學政治學研究所 國際關係組博士候選人

就在7月8日,Preah Vihear神廟正式被納入聯合國世界遺產的名單裡,這也預告了泰-柬邊界的政治爭議將越演越烈。沒隔幾天,泰國外長Noppadon Pattama提出辭呈,從官方聲明稿的內容中可以很清楚地發現,Noppadon的離職與領土爭議的難以化解脫不了關係。隨後,泰、柬之間環繞在Preah Vihear神廟與領地爭端上的緊張關係,隨著雙方派遣軍隊駐守邊境因而逐漸惡化。

這項雙邊爭議的發酵,適逢第41屆東協外長會議期間,在20日晚上,各國外長就泰-柬邊界緊張關係進行對話與討論。藉著東協外長之間的對話,柬埔寨與泰國均同意將高度自我約束並恪守國際規範,透過「友好且溫和」(amicably)的方式來化解爭端。更重要的是,與會外長以及東協秘書長Surin Pitsuwan均表示,只要柬埔寨與泰國願意,東協將會提供各種及早化解爭端的協助。對於東協而言,成員國間的領土爭端所引起的安全危機,勢必會影響區域安全共同體的建構進程。今年年底,東協將正式提出「東協安全體藍圖」,這也使得各國外長特別關切泰-柬衝突的後續走勢。

儘管東協外長會議並未就泰-柬緊張關係的後續處理提供實質的解決辦法,但是在外長會議裡的實質討論依舊發揮了影響力。就在7月28日,泰國新任外長Tej Bunnag與柬國副總理兼外長Hor Namhong終於在暹粒討論了雙方和平解決邊界爭議的方式。其中,高度自制並且降低武裝衝突是目前最重要的承諾,這意味著雙方將會從邊境撤軍,同時將更堅守和平解決爭端的東協原則。目前雙方同意依循既存雙邊途徑來討論邊界爭議,其中主要透過泰柬土地劃界聯合委員會(JBC)以及即將建立的特別工作小組,就相關議題交換意見並進行後續協商討論。

很明顯地,如果這場領土爭端要徹底解決,泰、柬兩國必須得更明智、務實地面對此一政治爭議與其後續影響;另一方面,雙方還是得回到制度面進行協商,無論是尋求多邊制度(東協)或透過雙邊機制(委員會或工作小組),唯有建立起更具制度化的常設溝通與合作模式,才能避免因人為因素干擾或政治意識型態影響所造成的誤解與衝突,如此才能從功能層面切入,有效處理因領土爭議所引起的各種危機。

時至今日,泰-柬邊境因軍隊駐守所引起的緊張氛圍持續存在,儘管雙方同意部隊後撤,但並未完全撤兵。Preah Vihear神廟遺址上依舊飄揚著柬埔寨的國旗,對於泰國邊境的民眾而言,不啻是在傷口上灑鹽。在8月1日,柬埔寨總理夫人Bun Rany在Preah Vihear神廟舉辦了一場盛大的宗教儀式,她公開祈禱天佑柬國能從這場政治紛爭中勝出。這場儀式適逢日蝕,因而引起了許多泰國民眾的不安,認為此舉將會為泰國帶來厄運。很明顯地,神廟的爭端已不再是單純的領土爭議,在宗教的加持下,將引起基層社會更多的不安。

附加的多媒體:
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Monday, 11 August 2008

Do I really have to pray for my enemies?

I feel sorry for God. In any war the believers on both sides flood his ears begging for victory. God either has to please the side who wins and disappoint the side that loses or come up with some way that they both can win. What would happen if instead of praying for their side and against the other side both sides began to pray for each other? Praying for your enemy doesn’t mean praying that he will win but that he will no longer be your enemy, that there will be some peaceful solution without bloodshed or injustice.

Even the terrorists who are plaguing the world are men who pray, but their prayer seems to be for the annihilation of their enemies. If we too pray for their annihilation, there is sure to be bloodshed. Far better to pray for a change of heart, so the aim will no longer be injury and death, but some settlement that will bring us together in peace and toleration.

That would be a good beginning. But there won’t be real peace until we can all sit, stand or kneel and pray together, even if each one prays in his or her own words and gestures. The problem is that often our Gods themselves are enemies or they are the same God but with different names envisioned and reverenced quite differently. If we don’t have tolerance for one another’s Gods, how can we ever have peace and tolerance with one another?

Here is a fable I wrote about what happened on one particular World Prayer Day.
The World Prayer Day

Once upon a time there was a big international event. Its slogan was “the world that prays together stays together.” It was called “World Prayer Day” and at a single signal heard around the world, every citizen of the world began to pray.

Some people as a sign of reverence removed their shoes or hats. Others put on robes or covered their heads. Some knelt. Others prostrated themselves. Some stood motionless. Others rocked back and forth. Some extended or raised their arms. Others folded their arms or beat their breasts. Some closed their eyes. Others opened them wide. Some were perfectly silent. Others cried aloud. Some sang. Others wept. Some made petitions. Others dared say nothing. Some prayed for everybody. Others prayed only for themselves or prayed only for others. Some prayed that their enemies would live in peace. Others prayed that their enemies would die in defeat.

Thus, this act of common prayer that was intended to signify unity, in a sense, mocked unity by revealing all the practices and beliefs that keep men apart.

And yet the very diversities occurring simultaneously side by side in a moment of cooperative effort were the most powerful sign that there is really only one mankind and one divinity, a single humanity of a thousand tongues and a thousand cultures worshipping a single god of a billion sides and a billion faces.

There was no end to the variety of opinions voiced about the Prayer Day.

“For one day at least,” proclaimed one commentator, “the world is not talking about wars or violence or poverty or epidemics or even sports or the weather. But what does it all mean?”

“See,” someone said with a tone of despair, “how hopeless it is to expect peace when we can’t even agree on a common name for God.”

“See,” said others with a tone of triumph, “what hope there is since for five minutes at least even the bitterest of enemies were able to put down their arms to join their foes in a common effort.”

“God wins,” screamed one headline. “The event shows that nearly everyone believes in some sort of super-human, supernatural power that we revere as divine.”

“God loses,” claimed another. “What is left to believe? How can one God be so many things to so many people? There seem to be as many gods as there are individuals on earth. If every person is god, there is no god.”

“How wonderful,” declared others. “God is so infinite and omnipotent, no one can see the whole of him or her. Everyone sees only what is visible from his or her perspective.”

“There is no universal God who created mankind,” some complained. “Today’s exercise only showed that is we who create God to justify our existence or give us hope. The event shows that god is no more than a self-portrait of what we imagine we would look like if we had the qualities we are attributing to him or her. We either give God glorified quantities of the characteristics we most esteem in ourselves or we imagine what it would be like to enjoy the attributes we wish we had but know we don’t.”

“What nonsense,” someone else retorted, “If I had created myself, I would surely have done a better job.”

“You have it all wrong,” came the response, “If it was God who created you, He would certainly have done a better job.”

“No,” someone said in defense, “that just means that in God’s eyes, you are better than you think you are. If God created you the way you are, then things must not be as bad as they seem and there is a bright future for you after all, if you try your best to live as you believe He wants you to live.”

“It all just goes to show that we cannot understand God,” someone added. “This is a blessing, because if we could thoroughly understand God with our limited brain power, then God would be a pretty far from perfect creature.”

“Poor God,” some commiserated. “Today He had to listen to billions of people making billions of petitions, so many of which are impossible to grant. They request contradictory solutions to the same problems or for solutions that would not be good in the long run or solutions that infringe on the rights or welfare of others.”

“Poor mankind,” some commiserated. “They want God to be only what they want Him to be, afraid to look around the corner to see His other sides. God is in the calm and God is in the storm. God is in the fire. He is in the smoke that identifies the fire. He is in the water that extinguishes the fire. There is a time for justice and a time for mercy, a time for punishment and a time for pardon, time for hurting and a time for healing.”

There are lessons hidden here.

So long as everyone creates his or her own image of God,
there will be conflicts in the name of God.

So long as everyone wants God to do only what they themselves want,
there will be disappointment and ingratitude.

So long as everyone wants everyone else to be like himself or herself,
there will never be peace.

If you believe your religion is true,
then you needn’t be afraid to explore what others may see in it.

If God is omnipotent and infinite and provident and wise,
then there must be more to God and religion than meets your eyes.

“One flock and one shepherd” is a vision of hope for the future
only if it means we will one day all be united in one faith
that recognizes and respects the reality
that God created each one as a unique reflection of the divine.

Heaven is the ultimate adventure that takes us on a journey
to the sides of God now hidden from our eyes.
Heaven is the place where we will finally embrace and accept
the visions of God seen by others.

In the meantime, if men and women are to live in harmony,
there must be harmony between their gods.

If ever we can come to see the oneness of all gods,
then we will not have to renounce our own god.
We just need to see God reflected in the images of others.

It isn’t necessary to pray with the same words or bow the same way
in order to homage the one god of a billion sides and a billion faces.

God doesn’t require us to be men and women identical to each other,
only to be men and women united for each other.


(Photo: Liang Zhun)
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