In the aftermath of the brutal murder of a Catholic priest at a church near Normandy in France on Tuesday, Pope Francis in a spirit of mercy has gone beyond individual indoctrination or some mental imbalance to analyze the root causes of terrorism. Speaking to reporters on the plane which carried him to the World Youth Congress at Krakow in Poland, Pope Francis said what was happening was virtually a world war but not a war between religions. Instead it was a war, mainly by the younger generation against the inetquitable distribution of money, property and resources and the domination of the impoverished and marginalised people by the rich and ruling elite in most parts of the world.
While United States’ leaders and leaders to be -- including Hilary Clinton who is likely to be the first female President of the world’s most powerful country -- were discussing how to militarily and politically defeat terrorism mainly by ISIS, they need to reflect deeply on the Pope’s prophetic vision of how to tackle the root causes.
Most philosophers and social analysts agree that in today’s world there are not four but five major religions -- Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and what is the fifth? It is the deity of money, modern replay on a mega scale of the golden calf story. Knowingly or unknowingly hundreds of millions if not billions of people are worshipping this golden calf of money.
The gap in recent decades, specially after the wholesale marketing of the globalised crony capitalistic economic system, has reached monstrous proportions. The dreaded one per cent comprising the rich and the ruling elite are known to be owning or controlling as much as 99 percent of the world’s wealth and resources, the social justice movement Oxfam put it in more disturbing terms -- 62 of the world’s super billionaires own more money and wealth than half the world’s population comprising more than 3,500 million people. O! Justice what crimes are committed in thy name.
The other root cause is the domination of the impoverished, enslaved and marginalised people by the rich and ruling elite. We see this happening not only in dictatorial or one party states but also in so-called vibrant democracies. In the US this year we saw the social democratic crusader Bernie Sanders posing a major challenge to the democratic party’s favourite candidate Hilary Clinton by mobilizing the support and votes of tens of millions of young people mainly on the issues of a more equitable distribution of money, wealth and resources. Mr. Sanders perhaps lost the race because he went to the extremes of threatening to bring down Wall Street and corporate America with many analysts saying if he had proposed a more practical and gradual way of doing this, as proposed by the Pope he might have got the nomination at the party convention which ended last night.
In Sri Lanka also President Maithripala Sirisena and some other leaders of the national government are reiterating the pledge that they are working towards a sustainable, eco-friendly and all inclusive economic development strategy for the next five years. President Sirisena after his historic victory on January 8 last year spoke to the nation from the hallowed Dalada Maligawa and pledged he had no idea of being a king or a dictator but would be a servant leader of the people.
To put this into practice he assured he would enter into a simple and humble lifestyle or ‘Alpechchathawaya’ and would do everything possible to stop wasteful expenditure, luxuries and extravagance. The intention was to save more and thereby share more with the impoverished people. Even if we have seen President Sirisena and some other leaders practising this to some extent, the same cannot be said about sections of the national government with some in high places not only living a high life but continuing the curse of corruption and fraud. We hope the coming months and years will see a transformation where political leaders will come forward -- not to grab from our country but to GIVE.