Sri Lanka, crazy, useless, crime.

Buddha as far as I know is a kindly spirit, Allah too, so is Christ an influence for love and self respect.  What then are the so-called extremist Muslims about?

‘Love one another’, straight from the Koran, the bible too. ¬†These guys are crazed thugs hijacked from a loving faith by evil doers who somehow have learned to hate their fellow beings.

We hope they learn that they achieve nothing, repent to their human and religious spirit and learn that love beats hate every moment, even to eternity.

Easter – don’t let’s lose it.

I was brought up in the Christian tradition and I still treasure the values that form its core. Like many I have become agnostic about the core principals of God made man. However, I often ask myself if these two attitudes can comfortably co-exist.

There is no question in my mind that the tenet of ‘love they neighbour as thyself’ seems undeniably a marvellous aspiration though it’s one that is seldom if ever attained. Nevertheless this is the central idea that makes me stay anchored to the Christian idea.

I see too, that the Christ figure who certainly existed and was executed most cruelly by the political state, was indeed a true revolutionary. Driven by extreme views, impossibly virtuous views which the state found impossible to live with.

Since the foundation of the Christian faith, those tenets of unselfishness, purity and virtue still hold good, though some see the teaching as narrow and virtuous to the point of impossibility. Others see the Christian ideas as out of date and to some extent fear some of the implicit associated ideas, especially related to family relationships.

It seems to me, however, that if we keep in mind the idea, ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’ alive then the world will be a better place. Easter is a time to renew our determination to stick to that idea however difficult it turns out to be. Let’s not loose it.

Tragedies and tragedies!

Everyone of sound mind is saddened by the destruction of Notre Dame one of the world’s great religious monuments. The cathedral was more even than that to the people of France. The centre of Paris in many ways, a vision of grace and grandeur so close to the French heart. Billionaires are queuing up to offer hundreds of millions of dollars to help with the rebuilding of this international icon. There is a coming together of secular and religious folk in a grand unity of purpose, to rebuild the wonder that is Notre Dame. That is a ray of hope about which we should rejoice.

I cannot, however, quite understand why our response to this tragedy is so immediate and generous, when other tragedies such as Yemen or Myanmar, all of immense human persecution and misery attract so little comparative reaction.

It’s as if that which is in our sight is more important than that which is not. The icons of the West are relatively more valuable than the lives of the persecuted and starved.

The billions that will be required to rebuild Notre Dame are not resented, they are wholeheartedly supported, but why? oh why? do we as human beings chose the Cathedral over the human suffering of so many.

I wish I knew.

Relative merits.

Having spent the last three months travelling to the far east I have been astonished by the good will that abounds amongst ordinary citizens.  Without exception everyone seems to be fed up with their political leaders be they Australians, Vietnamese, Amirican or indeed British.

This is an astounding contrast that even in the less developed world there remains a distrust of the political classes be they totalitarian socialist or liberal democrats.  Despite the rule, of who are in effect dictators, such as Erdogan,  Putin or Xi the distrust remains at most levels of society.  Where ever we look we see the seeds of distrust even where there is relatively a low level of corruption.  The world seems to be dividing into populism or totalitarianism.

The European experiment to augment and nurture liberal democracy is teetering on the brink of collapse not only because of Brexit, but because of the national tribal desire to return to the nation state which is alive and kicking in at least ten member states. This is an expression of populism that panders to the right wing and is precisely the opposite of the European dream.

Vietnam, now ruled with a rod of flexible iron by the single party, so called, socialist democracy is a merger of 50 + tribes from North and Southern Vietnam unified by the redoubtable Ho Chi Min.  Ho Chi Min, now seen as the avuncular unifier of the republic, was without doubt an obsessive man of almost unbelievable strength of will.  Not avuncular in his lifetime in any way except his undying idea of a unified Vietnam. Here is a microcosm of the struggle of all nation states; leadership.

Now the General Secretary of the politburo Nguyen Phu Trong rules the country as the secretive and complex government stutters away from Marxism/Leninism towards a Social democracy.  Inevitably those close to the Government do well and those who ever opposed the thinking or purpose of Ho Chi Min are kept in their place.  Usually, a poor place. Confusion and angst are becoming more tangible, Saigon (HCMC) still is more prosperous than Hanoi, and is a hot bed of resentment.  Six million scooters and half a million luxury cars just about sum up the distribution of wealth.  The Politburo has a tough task ahead keeping the lid on economic change and wealth distribution.

In a way the EU and Vietnam have a good deal in common.  Jacques Delors and Ho Chi Min dreamed great dreams but the implementation of those dreams are poles apart. Perhaps Europe is a hundred years ahead of Vietnam, but the same dilemmas exist. Progress, prosperity and peace, how to bring this about without polarising power to the few and avoiding populism and corruption on the way.

What seems unavoidable is that capitalism and liberal democracies are facing enormous challenges, maybe they may merge toward social democracies. The choices are stark but the solutions as yet unresolved.

How to hear the voices of all the lovely people, that is the question.