Was recently involved in an interfaith discussion on the topic of Faith and Violence. The starting point was of course the usual : religious wars, terrorism, in the local and foreign context. So it was fascinating to me of course, when the discussion took an unexpected but yet very relevant turn.
My group expanded the concept of what ‘violence’ was in the course of discussion, when a participant introduced her work engaging religious leaders on the issue of marital rape, and how some people believed marital rape should not be criminalised because religious texts gave the right for spouses to demand/force sex. Another participant then shared, very emotionally, her experience of being abused physically and sexually by her ex-husband in the course of forcing her to go to church (she is a Muslim). Someone spoke from the Hindu faith and using Ghandi as an example, said that the concept of non-violence applies to the ‘strong’ — in that the ‘strong’ should refrain from retaliating against the ‘weak’. He explained that if a ‘weaker’ party did not retaliate against a ‘strong’ party, it was usually because the ‘strong’ party was bullying the weaker one —- this ‘non-violence’ would not be one of choice but simply being a victim. Everyone agreed with this view, and thought that witnesses to such bullying who were apathatic and did not help/stand up against the bully, can be considered being part of the violence as well. This stemmed from teachings of most religions to help the weak and oppressed.
The group viewed violence not in black & white terms — violence or non-violence — but as a continuum where riots/terrorism/physical violence was on the most serious extreme end. On the mildest end, the seed of violence is the belief that one is always right and others are always wrong. Along this continuum would be forced conversions, prevention of family members from practising their faith, incidents eg. AWARE, Rony Tan’s videos, fights over carpark space at places of worship, forcing people to fight in wars people did not agree with, etc
So as you can see, it was very enlightening a discussion for me
- Out of 3 pregnancies, 2 babies are born, 1 is aborted
- ¾ of women aborting babies are MARRIED — 1/3 are homemakers
- ½ of 10,000 STI cases per year – patients are between 20 – 30yrs, 1/3 – between 30-40yrs old, 5% amongst teens
- PAVe found in 2003 that out of 2,200 secondary and junior college students polled, 15 to 30 per cent had encountered family or dating violence.
Alot of women actually know if their husbands are fooling around outside and know if they are at risk for STIs (sexually transmitted infections). Doing something about it is something else altogether.
It’s hard to say Happy Chinese New Year, when this new year seems so bleak.
Honestly, despite all the gloom predicted for Singapore, and all the criticsms people might have for the rescue packages etc, I’m really confident about Singapore. Sure, there are imperfections, but hey, everyone’s human, and everyone has different views. I’m happy that we are voicing out our different views, and we(except some) do have the liberty to voice it out. And I do think that fundamentally, we are sound financially. Yes, we will suffer, some more than others, but I do believe that peace and prosperity will still be ours.
The US of A , the epicenter of this mess, is finally (hopefully) in good hands.
Israel. Palestine, Middle East, Pakistan. Well, I feel sorry for them, but this has been going on since ….. Biblical times, if you believe the Biblical accounts, and would probably go on forever and ever.
The one country that I’m REALLY VERY worried about is China
Given that it has 1/4 of the worlds’ population, and it’s the world’s 2nd largest economy, and that we, and lots of the world are dependant on China for much of our trade, I really hope for peace and prosperity within China
Looking at history though, people put up with oppressive regimes in times of prosperity — a trade of between freedom/justice and prosperity. People believe the lie that the sacrifice of human rights are necessary for prosperity. But when this prosperity disappears, what incentive is there to continue believing this lie?
Power is not something rulers take, power is something the people allow.
And when this power is no longer allowed, leaders are replaced — through elections in a free country , or through violence, when no peaceful alternative seems possible.
Remember what happened in S. E. Asia during the Asian Financial melt down of ’98?
How many oppressive regimes, though they’ve been around for decades, were brought down by the force of the people, when prosperity was suddenly taken away from them?
China has seen many power changes through the hands of violence throughout the millenia, and especially within the last couple of centuries. Given today’s level of corruption within the country, the dissatisfaction the people have for the government, the absolute disregard for human rights, the materialistic hunger the people have. And couple all those to the idea that Mao has put into their heads : That change can only be brought about by violent revolutions.
I don’t think I have to elaborate much about how the conditions are ripe in china for violent protests, and even a possible civil war, in the worst case scenerio. Every political commentary of China acknowleges that, and even their rulers at the highest level are keenly aware of this.
We really haven’t hit the bottom of this global recession. I’m afraid of how the crash might sound like for China when we do.
I really don’t know what to wish for. That the leaders can keep the peace? We all know what the price of that peace would be — further , greater oppression. That the people finally stand up and create the change that’s long overdue? We fear what the price of that change might be — bloodshed for China, and another steep fall in this white water rapids that is our global economic situation.
I read a joke yesterday, about how we can be successful.
“We can’t hope for a miracle. We must absolutely rely on a miracle”
Today, it’s not so funny anymore. I’m really nervous. I’m crossing my fingers, holding my breath, hoping for a miracle.
On the scale that someone who’s an embodiment of both Mikhail Gorbachev and Barrack Obama rising up to lead the country to positve political change while still keeping the peace.
But I do know that the Chinese people are sick and tired of looking for a savior, putting power in the hands of a single savior, and waiting for a saviour to lead them out of the misery. The want power decentralised, power in the hands of the people. A power structure that they believe the West has achieved, but somehow has always ended up with warlords and warring states in their own country.
China, Happy Spring Festival, and may Peace, Prosperity and Political freedom one day truly come to you.