‘ Procession of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Secular Power ‘

Abounding complexities underpinning our modern world may be approaching the point of global conflagration as the geo-political hegemony of the West, is challenged by indigenous regional people’s seeking self-determination, elected government and frequently seeking separation from western influences: 

The unfolding political facts on the ground in target countries, the “Arab spring” presently overwhelming the Middle East and North Africa are classic examples of proliferating violence. A compelling argument can be made that virtually all regions of the world are experiencing turmoil of one sort or another… Beyond the myriad influences that inform and animate this calamitous international environment of conflicting nation states and insurgent forces, is a religious dimension which is virulent, ancient and ignominious. Religion has often played a distinct role in the subtext of military and imperialistic undertakings by secular governments throughout history. Specifically, the juxtaposition and popular narrative between Judaism, Christianity and Islam continues to convince their respective adherents of their incompatibility with others. Although the concept of “religious tolerance” continues to be promoted broadly over the centuries, engaging it has proven to be utterly insufficient. Unfortunately the quality and scope of “tolerance” can be undermined by the invisible energy of arrogance as these ideas may be organically connected. Perhaps the concept of “religious tolerance” can be replaced with the concept of “religious appreciation,” going forward. The appreciation of another person’s religion or other differences does not suggest acceptance of the others beliefs or values. Religious appreciation implies acknowledgement, respect, mutual co-existence, and religious appreciation embodies ecumenism, that noble quality in human beings.

With religious juxtapositions in the popular imagination as a context, local governments as well as geo-political players and insurgents vociferously engage their political, economic and military objectives. Although the religious juxtapositions are individually challenged within their respective institutions by sectarian strife, their internal challenges are generally ignored in favour of pointing an accusatory finger at another religion… None of the three religions of Abraham, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, can tout their theological purity. Accordingly, contemporary expressions and observances of these three great religions are based on revisionist histories which have caused schisms in each religion along sectarian lines.

Currently the only unequivocal connection that these religions have is a shared past in their collective assertion that the prophet Abraham is the patriarch of these religions. Therefore the historical testaments of the three monotheist religions is a familial relationship by way of their acknowledged patriarch. Moreover, the theology of monotheism asserts that all of humanity is children of God: The Genesis narrative observed and articulated offers a familial account regarding the advent of humanity. Thus the essence of disagreements among the three Faiths can be viewed in the framework of family dynamics… Clearly, much was lost in translating the historical procession of the religions of Abraham, from Judaism, to Christianity to Islam. The political facts on the ground in regions impacted by these conflicts are rooted in popular revisionist renditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Religious hyperbole associated with these conflagrations maybe better understood by examining the historical procession of the Abrahamic religions and generating a broader appreciation and understanding of the dynamic factors that currently account for these human affairs/events in the world…

The earliest historical records of human society indicate an inclination (if not proclivity) in the human imagination toward a higher and invisible spiritual power… Peoples in all regions of the world in the earliest times organized their communities around the place of worship. The local place of worship and its priesthood became the center of early societies and communities. Consequently, religious leaders often became the organic rulers of fledgling communities and thriving societies until the advent of the “king” and secular power, authority and government. The initial rivalry between priest and king morphed into a precarious courtship, and frequently “marriage” between the “church” and “state.” The church and state relationship remained in place for millennia, until the advent of the America and federalism, which proclaimed the separation of church and state. The separation of church and state idea was a product of The Age of Enlightenment composed in the Protestant Reformation, the rise of objective science and reason, and the age of discovery in the western world… The Protestant Reformation bifurcated Christianity into Catholics and Protestants, while the industrial development in the western world generated enormous economic wealth in Europe and America. Ultimately, secular power in the context of the military and economic component eclipsed influences of the church and religion in the material world. It could be argued that the church still enjoys a clear monopoly of the spiritual concerns. Nevertheless, the relationship between church and state remains a dynamic and intriguing enterprise as they modulate the status quo from respective vantage points… Secular public and private powers in the course of achieving relative military victories, territory, resources and raw material often proposes a religious context to their geo-political objectives. In ancient Rome at the advent of Roman Catholicism in the 4th century Emperor Constantine utilized the “Faith” as a theme for his numerous military forays and conquests of the known world. The emperor’s military campaigns were done in the name of advancing Christendom throughout the world. The Christian Crusades authorized by the papacy during the 12th century established the Knights Templar, a military wing of Christendom, mandated to reclaim the holy land that fell to Islam in the 8th century. Interestingly enough President George W. Bush, in 2003 initially dubbed his intervention into Iraq, as a “crusade” which resurrected memories of that historical west vs. east military confrontation between Christianity and Islam. More recently, in the wake of the “Arab Spring” which began in Tunisia with a popular “revolution,” North Africa and the Middle East became active theatres of military conflict, unconventional and asymmetrical warfare, highlighting the ancient Christian and Muslim juxtaposition. The adversarial nature characterizing the current relationship between Judaism, Christianity and Islam thus has its origins in antiquity. This religious dichotomy continues to find its way into the popular narrative and backdrop of the competing geo-political objectives in target countries and regions.

The escalating conflict in the Middle East is perhaps a classic example of what happens when artificial and arbitrary boundaries are imposed on regions as they begin to unravel… While western powers continue to entertain strategic and tactical operations to contain the advances of indigenous Islamic military forces, others assert that the western powers can only forestall that which is inevitable… The Middle East as we know it, in terms of national boundaries of their respective people’s of the region, came about 100 years ago based on political and economical design by the British and the French foreign ministries. This scenario was the outcome of the exploits of “Lawrence of Arabia,” Napoleon and the French Foreign Legion. The British and French segmentation of the region was codified following WWI, when the authority for countries comprising the Middle East was divided between Briton and France. Now these artificial boundaries are deteriorating, strongman rule enabled by western powers has waned under the force of organic and indigenous uprisings, and the overall influence that the western developed countries enjoyed with “strongman” regional leaders may no longer be relevant.

Both secular and religious leadership can be cited for engaging in the diabolical and abominable behaviour over the centuries… But justice is anticipated in the secular as well as the spiritual world. It was Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who posited that the moral arch of the universe is long but it bends toward justice. The question whether there will be appropriate accountability remains an open question. Based on end time eschatology, accountability and ultimate justice will prevail… Increasing public opinion argues that world events as they are currently unfolding have profound biblical implications going forward…

Gary’s Consulting News 

Ace News Room 

#ace-news-room, #christianity, #islam, #judaism

Gender Disparity: ‘ South Asian Women Fight On ‘

In recent years, the South Asia region has made some progress towards gender equality. The ratio of female-to-male life expectancy in South Asia, while behind East Asia, is now ahead of sub-Saharan Africa.

Indian Women Paving Paths

There is still a long way to go in about bringing the much-needed positive change towards the existing patterns of patriarchy that afford men privileges over women’s minds, souls and bodies. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that millions are still stuck in the dinosaur age, suffering acute Neanderthal syndromes.

A development organization, IFAD through its Gender and Development Division has decades spanning contribution in making head-ways to counter patriarchy and gender gaps.

Through their work, IFAD reports following noteworthy progresses and areas of concern: 

1.South Asia has also seen women’s increased political involvement, with their parliamentary participation rates higher than those in East Asia.

2.The 2012 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) shows that South Asia raised its position from the lowest ranked region in 2009 to the fourth ranked region in 2012 in overall discrimination against women.

3. However, the report also notes that the changes in ranking between 2009 and 2012 should be interpreted with caution and that better quality data − rather than an improvement in discriminatory social institutions − could also contribute to an improved score.

4. This culturally diverse region has typically lagged behind on gender equality issues. Boys still outnumber girls in primary school enrollment in Afghanistan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Furthermore, across the region, girls are more likely than boys to drop out of school and almost half of all adult women are illiterate. In 2005, 48 per cent of young women were married before the age of 18.

5. Out of the nine countries in South Asia, only Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka have laws that prohibit domestic violence.

Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto record on women rights, debatable

6. The region is confronted by skewed gender ratios owing to the continued preference for boys in society, at least in part because of the dowry system. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, patriarchal norms isolate women in their homes by placing restrictions on their mobility and prohibiting contact with the opposite sex, especially in rural areas. This has significant implications for their employment, voice and representation in public life.

Despite challenging circumstances, IFAD and its many partners working in South Asia have made significant strides in improving the lives of women and girls in the region, as shown in the stories that follow.

Economic empowerment: South Asia has one of the lowest rates in the world of women’s participation in the labour force. Women earn less than men and have limited economic opportunities, often toiling as self-employed labourers across all sectors.

 Voice and participation: Inequities cannot be addressed until there are more women in decision-making roles in the public and private domains. It is true that some countries such as Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have had women heads of government. Others have used affirmative action, such as quotas, to boost women’s participation in decision-making bodies and change the focus of development agendas. However, there is often a large gap between representation and voice.

In Pakistan, for example, women are virtually absent from water user associations even though they own some agricultural land. And if they do attend meetings, they have little influence over decisions.

Women’s decision-making power in the household is also low compared with other Asian regions, but it does increase with wealth and economic empowerment.

Workloads and benefits: In South Asia, the widespread disparities can be observed from the most insignificant to most significant important issues, women work longer hours on domestic chores in comparison to men. Their work overall is benefited by men, most agricultural laborers and workers are women but they earn less and have no decision-making power over their limited incomes and its uses.

Srilankan women in workforce

South Asian patriarchy continues to feed into the cycle of keeping women poor and in vulnerable conditions, so that they can be controlled within the heinous societal roles set out for them.

IFAD’s on-ground work has also resulted into many outcomes that can help to continue addressing women’s inclusion and empowerment within the region.

LESSONS LEARNED AND GOOD PRACTICES

IFAD’s Asia and Pacific Division has implemented projects that address gender equality and women’s empowerment in different ways. Some of the lessons learned and good practices implemented in South Asia include:

  • Self-help groups. Self-help groups are an effective way to strengthen the decision-making and economic power of women in South Asia’s patriarchal societies.
  • Women-specific value chains. Supporting women-specific value chains by providing micro-credit coupled with technical and social training has improved household-level gender relations. It has helped increase women’s mobility and their participation in family decision-making, and brought them greater control over their profits.

-National gender coordinators. Country-level gender coordinators, such as in India, have improved gender outcomes by providing direct support to project design and supervision.

The region is known world-wide for its non-friendly attitudes and traditions that continue to threaten women’s lives. At the center of the rotting core — South Asian women themselves and  have taken it to task to work on improving their lives and continue to display their positive interest and enthusiasm  progressing towards their rightful places in the societies. 

Posted in Gender and Women Issues

South East Asia News 

Ace News Room 

#benazir, #domestic-violence, #economic-empowerment-of-women, #ifad, #nepal, #patriarchy, #the-missing-girls-of-india, #womens-political-participation

Agents of Change |My Dream For Every Little Girl

The Girls’education progress has remained marginalized in the political and general discourse of Pakistan. There is no denying the very fact that there are parts of the country that have the lowest literacy rates in the world, this fact constantly pinches me with passing times.

As a nation, we are falling and failing behind due to two main issues POVERTY and EDUCATION.  

The time has come to stop denying the very fact that education lifts whole communities out of poverty forever. Inside turbulent Pakistan, Oxfam is doing whatever it takes to get more children into class by lobbying with governments, training teachers and also building schools in rural areas, which will provide little children and girls opportunity to attend school. Watch this sensitive video on girl’s education, this is my dream for every little girl and let’s work towards making it a reality.

After-all, educated women are agents of change and Pakistan is in dire need of a social change that empowers its women.

Posted in Gender and Women Issues

South East Asia News

Ace News Room  

#education-2, #girls, #poverty