Erenlai - 按日期過濾項目: 週五, 01 九月 2006
週六, 02 九月 2006 05:44

Asia Needs Peacemakers

If I had a wish to formulate for Asia, it would be to witness the coming to age of a generation of peacemakers, of men and women willing and able to craft a new style of relationships between individuals or within families, as well as between ethnic groups and nations. Computer, financial or educational skills are all important for the future of Asia. Peacemaking skills may prove to be even more vital. Let us be reminded of what is at stake when it comes to relationships between Taiwan and Mainland China, North Korea and South Korea, India and Pakistan, ethnic and regional communities within Indonesia… First and foremost, Asia needs peacemakers.

"Happy the peacemakers, they shall be called children of God." (Mt 5,9) In the Biblical setting, peace is indeed a business of craftsmen, of people who mobilize their energy, their creative power, their mind, heart and imagination for the coming of a state of things - peace - that was not and is called to life. Peace appears in the heart of darkness, as light and life appear on God’s utterance, and the crafting of peace is one way through which humankind, created at God’s image and likeness, shares in the nature of its own Creator.

How can Peace be crafted, nurtured, promoted in Asia today? The sharing of a few convictions could help to enhance a culture of peace, of immense value for all those involved in such task.
- The first conviction is that it is in the very act of listening that new venues can be opened and new bridges built. At one stage or another, making peace means to be actively engaged in listening. I just pointed out that peacemakers are indeed makers, doers, craftsmen. But another aspect has to be kept in mind. Listening is the activity through which we accept to look beyond our own power of creation, through which we accept to go beyond our own dreams in order to be awakened to other people’s dreams. Listening is the only way through which a common dream finally takes shape. Peacemakers have first to reconcile in themselves the active and the passive side, and, in the act of listening, they give birth to the gift of peace, a gift that far transcends their own power - and nevertheless comes through them.
- The second conviction central to the building-up of a culture of peace is, put simply, that words matter. Leaders are too quick in trading promises or abuses. In any society, as in the international arena, the respect for the given word is the basis for dialogue and confidence. Dialogue, public discussion, honesty and clarity of language are not merely rhetorical tricks, they are the very basis on which peace and stability can be secured.
- Here is the third conviction: forgiveness shows more inner strength than revenge. Most features in Asian popular culture, especially movies, make one think than taking revenge is the ultimate proof of manhood. That men as societies need to experience forgiveness for healing and for renewal still remains an almost revolutionary message in the social and cultural context where we live.
- Fourth, inter-religious dialogue is conducive of peace. The religious riches of Asia are a wonderful asset, not an impediment, when it comes to the building-up of Peace. When religious communities learn to know and appreciate each other, they slowly develop the capacity to engineer common actions for social reform. For instance, in several countries of Asia, inter-religious contacts and appreciation are the ground on which a true environmental movement is developing. Religious dialogue provides the way to confront what might be the central question when it comes to Asia’s future: how can economic imperatives and humanist aspirations be combined into a creative social synthesis?
- Finally, peace is a creative process. Peace requires more inventiveness than war does. In the Asian context, inventiveness requires first to be able to slow down, to pause and reflect on past achievements and failures. Openly assessing one’s past is the prerequisite for inventing one’s future.

Peace and Justice are not abstract notions, their flourishing is part of a narrative that needs to be expressed and written down. Peace and Justice happen in space and time. Interpreting anew the quest for harmony typical of Asian culture, paying special attention to minorities largely deprived of their own identity, recalling countless stories of hardships, traumas, failures, survival and hopes, all of this contributes to the writing down of the narrative. Within the narrative, peace and justice take blood and flesh. Ultimately, the coming of peace and justice takes shape through little stories or events whose none knows the strength beforehand. Each of the words or of the initiatives that give meaning today to the words "justice" and "peace" in Asia are like the mustard seed in the field or the yeast in the flour. For the coming of Peace is about hope and reconciliation, sharing of goods, exchange of words, growth of fulfilling human relationships, it is about reconciling with the past, living the present at its fullest and dreaming together the future. Happy the dream-makers, one day they shall awake to see their dreams fulfilled beyond what they ever could have imagined.

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週六, 02 九月 2006 05:39

What about Men?...

This section of Renlai is consecrated to women and the way they try to identify new models for thinking about their gender identity and their role in family and society. But… what about men? Do they not suffer from a similar identity crisis? In some respect, one can even think that the crisis they meet with is even more severe. Old masculine roles are now deprived of cultural legitimacy, even when they survive in practice. Cow-boys are definitely not a dominant role model any more; successful businessmen do not convey a feeling of strong personal fulfillment; “metrosexual” males, mostly preoccupied with their well-being and appearance, are not appealing to everybody…

Problems might be even more pressing for young and middle-age fathers. Between work and family imperatives, the equilibrium is not easy to find. Fathers do not know whether they have to be an authority figure or a surrogate mother. In Germany, a 2005 study has shown that 25 percent of men were seeing themselves in the “traditional” way, 20 per cent in a “modern” way, while more than half of them were uncertain about their role and identity. The problem starts already in boyhood: in school days, boys might be finally less protected, less taught about what they are and what they can legitimately expect to be than girls are, at least in developed societies.

Another German saying might well capture the reality experienced by many men today, whatever the country considered. Men, the saying goes, are “experts” when it comes to social life: their competence is rarely challenged in their jobs or in politics for instance; men are “guests” in the family: the mother takes most of the practical responsibilities… and the family greets kindly the father when he happens to be there - still, the father does not know whether he is truly “at home” or if his presence is just tolerated… Finally, men are “foreigners’ to themselves: they are often alien to their own feelings and emotions, they do not possess much expertise in self-analysis neither do they enjoy the emotional intelligence quotient displayed by many women. Therefore, many psychologists say, the most pressing challenge is to lead men on an inner journey that helps them to consider their life anew and to dare to share with other men about their values, their lifestyle and their feelings. Quite an arduous task indeed, and that might be the topic for another section of Renlai!

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週六, 02 九月 2006 05:37

New Models for Asian Women?

Is it easier to be a woman today than was the case before? In Taiwan, in urban China as in many countries, the answer is in many respects affirmative. The principle of equality between genders has gained ground, a new social culture has been in the making for quite a long time, tolerance towards women’s assertiveness, educational opportunities as well as the range of job openings have grown markedly. Obviously, this is not to say that everything is perfect! Women are still paid less on average than men for the same job; domestic tasks are shared unequally; a number of subtle social discriminations are still to be observed day after day. And women’s destiny varies a lot according to social classes and educational background. Besides, what has been just said is only valid for a limited number of countries, while women from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or Africa for instance still suffer from the most basic forms of discrimination.

In Asian context, the change in social and cultural models is often met with disarray. What does it mean to be a woman today? Between the traditional mother, the executive woman, the Buddhist nun, the entertainment idol or the lonely woman artist, which model to choose or promote? Of course, there is not one single way of being a woman, and that diversity is at the root of an healthy social atmosphere. However, a society needs a few models, a few references to offer to his or her citizens in order to facilitate the formation of identities (including gender identities) and to forge a consensus on moral and cultural issues.

Today, this consensus is lacking. Some people will argue that changes have been going too far, and that we need to esteem more the traditional motherly tasks attributed to women, especially in societies that suffer from a very low fertility rate. Other will try to conciliate successful career opportunities and family duties, sometimes at the risk of being burnt out. Still other women will plead for even greater opportunities in the field of economy and politics. Differences of behavior and style between men and women will be emphasized by some as an asset for women promotion, while other people suspect in this stress on gender specificities a flavor of sexism and discrimination. Young women are often hesitant to identify models of older women whom they admire and truly want to imitate. In religious organizations, in companies, in politics, the role of women and the way they should play it remain something of a burning issue.

Renlai wants to initiate the conversation. The section 'Women in Asia' offers a variety of answers, a number of testimonies on the way Asian women currently see their status, their challenges, the way they confront their identity problem. We also try to integrate men into this conversation. For men contribute in defining women’s roles, as women expectation help men to challenge the roles they are expected to play. Ultimately, gender roles can be only defined through dialogue, introspection, mutual respect and collective creativity.


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