EDITORIAL: Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You

A Message from Abubakar Kabwogi, Secretary General of the GNRC Fourth ForumThe continual exercise of human power on the planet seems to be moving us all towards a zenith of oppression, discrimination and poverty. The comprehensiveness of this phenomenon affects even our most private discourses and personal affairs and as you prepare to come to Dar es Salaam I feel overwhelmed to address this issue with you. As a religious person, I should remind us that this phenomenon has both immediate and transcendent aspects. In particular am concerned about the correlation between social and political systems of those with everything and the spiritual well-being of those with little or nothing at all.The best of human experience i.e. heartfelt and good conscience can overcome this negative human manifestation of oppression and poverty. The most fundamental and unique right of human beings is the right to live a decent life yet it becomes the very thing taken away from us by systematic oppression and poverty.

When one cannot exercise the basic right of being a human being, how does that affect one’s concept of self? My religion may be described as a system of ‘engaged surrender’ but as a religious person it is me who often actively engages with the world to bring about the order of peace and harmony as ordained by God.

What happens to our engaged surrender after experiences of prolonged poverty that violates human dignity?
What happens when you know what is right and just, fair and honorable but are helpless to make any difference without dire consequences?
What happens to your sense of self?
What treasures do you pass on to your children and what joys do you share with your neighbours?
What well-spring of strength do you draw on when your very strength is that which must be broken in order
to live under terms of extensive humiliation?

When it comes to poverty, a simple and fundamental rule of ethical behaviour is to judge and treats “others” as if they are equal in worth to ourselves as stated in the words of the great traditions: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” – a true sign of faith.

As I continue to grapple with the notion of equity, I notice that whenever someone’s fundamental humanity becomes a means to another’s end rather than being an end for themselves then the gates of poverty and oppression are opened — yet the noblest acts do not require extensive funds but an expansive heart! Therefore, each of us must assume an active responsibility in monitoring unjust practices so as to inspire.

One reason why so many infractions occur is because we are not raising humanity in a mode of collective global responsibility; otherwise such a shift could greatly change the world.

In my guess, most of our current mindsets work like this: If I had enough food for eight meal portions, I would be tempted to save the extra seven for the coming days whereas on the contrary, if the emphasis was on responsibility towards others then the extra seven portions would be distributed to seven others in need and the same would be reciprocated by someone someday when I am the one in need. Unfortunately, such notions seem hopelessly idealistic because most human beings operate on the basis of self-preservation. Our well-being is not restricted to the immediate hence everything we acquire is already delegated towards fulfilling one present or future personal need. Such is the result of individualism and selfishness.

Dear Fourth Forum participant and friend of GNRC; remember the global problem of poverty requires a different notion about ethical participation — one that approaches problems collectively and incrementally, little by little, step by step, strategy by strategy, contribution by contribution we set up a movement to save our future generation. We must not lose hope over the inability to be effective immediately! The goal should not just be immediate success but the whole process of ethical change and in this way, each of us will have something to offer; offers that fit in the circle of life hence making many more things possible in future and enhancing the quality of soulful living. Let us all be part of saving the future generation.

See you soon here in Dar es Salaam!

March 2012

Mr. Abubakari F. Kabwogi is the Secretary General of the GNRC Fourth Forum. He has 15 years’ experience working in inter-religious cooperation, and has served as Special envoy of the WCRP Secretary General in Africa, and as the Founding Secretary General of the African Council of Religious Leaders in 2002 – 2007. Currently he is the Special Envoy of the Secretary General of RFP to OIC and ICESCO.

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