Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Catholic Afternoon and Ubuntu
Catholic afternoon indeed. Sunday sunny and warm - a last day of Indian summer in Antwerp. Immediately after a wedding this caretaker was sweeping away flower petals and the two gentlemen walked talking slowly in Flemish. This quaint, provincial, male dominated picture reminded me of my convoluted mental relationship with the church. In all honesty I should say religion as it encompasses all forms of organized worship. I have come to abhor it. Not for what it does but for what it pretends it should. I am yet to decide if I fear more the effects of its successes or its failures.
In the midst of yet another scandal related to the C Church’s policy of cover-up of sex crimes (see BBC website) one has to really think of what religion really represents today? In a world of rampant religious motivated hatred and religion based ideology of division I fear there is little left for any humanitarian values. Obliterated by other sides of the dogma they are replaced by complacency and conservatism of the worse kind. Or maybe I am completely wrong, unable to discern the trends because of my total lack of contact with organized religion. In the same veneer I find the attitude of republicans in the US Senate (no coincidence here) towards the same topic mentioned earlier highly relevant. Nothing wrong in lying about topics that pertain to the essence of people’s belief as long as a status quo rests in place and certain people benefit immensely. I have met directly or via readings and was thoroughly fascinated by so many of the religious figures that managed to bless the mankind with incredible dedication and trust in its future and ability to do good. I am yet to extend the same feeling towards religion in general. People and their deeds with their successes and failures are indeed more attractive to me then “saints” of any other kind.
I recently read a speech by South African Archbishop Tutu and felt the uninhibited urge to smile at his use of the African Zulu concept of Ubuntu. He was in fact complaining about the failure of SA to live up to the promise brought about by the fall of the apartheid regime. Mostly he was unnerved by the total loss of respect for human life and contempt for the scared value of it. In the Bantu language Ubuntu is something like the linkage that makes as The humanity. It’s a substantive, verb and a adjective in the same time. One has ubuntu and it can share it, one is part of it and generates it. It is not a religious term but a humanity centered concept. Then Clinton used it in London in a speech centered on the ways we can repair the world, the relationships between us and the environment, between different religions and countries etc. Without an ideology to push for it Ubuntu remains a nice concept a bit like the warm fall. More focus on this and less on crazed zealotry might be what we need to fight today’s wars of al kind. Fully aware of the pathetic nature of this feeling I cannot stop it. I my feel my ubuntu diminished if would do otherwise …