[I] have seen flowers come in stony places, And kind things done by men with ugly faces, And the gold cup won by the worst horse at the races, So I trust too. Let no one be called an infidel unless he has done harm to others The future is hidden from all men and great events hang on small chances.
The Asian World again made its mark in a celebration of World Philosophical Day, Kuala Lumpor and for the second time under the leadership of Dr. Halo-N and Distinguished Outreach Professor of Islamic Thought and Philosophy of the European arm of the United Nations mandated University for Peace, Belgrade [27th November, 2019]. The 20th annual Gusi Peace Prize Awards, in Manila continued to make their mark under the charismatic Ambassador Barry Gusi who personally confers on selected outstanding individuals who have distinguished themselves in some field, the prestigious title of international Gusi Peace laureate.
In Kuala Lumpor, two themes were held in sharp focus; Eurasian Bridges for Peace and the Mind of Philosophy, both encouraging global collaboration with respect to man’s horrendous existential problems and a return to the concept of know-what and the principles of wisdom, reason and morality embedded in Greek classical philosophy. In building global bridges a new vision can evolve from which greater trust will come and hopfully miracles will emerge in a peace that passeth all comprehension. From Manila the Gusi Foundation would like to damn up all rivers of man’s despair. Its mission includes the Gusi Peace Prize, which is given the distinctive accolade of the Asian Nobel Prize. It provides opportunity to chosen international Laureates to reflect on the human condition in the hope that their voices will reverberate around the world and their work will contine with renewed vigor. On a daily basis the Gusi Foundation conducts philanthropic programs to target vulnerability in Filipine society. For 20 years now it has been working for peace at home and globally. Two of the notable Gusi Laureates of 2019 coming from the African continent are Kgalema Motlanthe former president South Africa who spent time in prison with Nelson Mandela and Bhekie Maphalala Minister Justice, Swazieland who during his acceptance speach constructively criticised the UN. Another was the young and dynamic Mayor of Manila from whom I received the key to his city who somewhat like Heracles is cleaning up the slums and deprived areas of Manila.
Today the 10th December 2019 in Jakarta, new ground is being broken by Muhammad Jesus Chrishna in a celebration of World Human Rights Day, which is a promising event for change in Indonesia, where one third of its 250 million muslim population is threateved with food scarcity and with human rights issues relating to child marriage, population health, with measles threating indiginous children and with rising diabetes and malaria and other mosquito diseases still threatening all. One hopes that the celebration in Indonesia will have positive knock-on effects that help government to tranpose promises into policy as well as to provide and alert politics to a better understanding of ongoing climate change aggravated by land clearing for plantations as forests are chopped down and forest fires devour them. It is consequently a distinct honor for me to be invited to this event with the offered support of Dr. Halo-N as well as to write some words on this important World Human Rights Day 2019 in Indonesia.
International Days of UNESCO are celebrated the year round to bring to mind the vital issues faced by mankind and to hold them in focus for a day with the hope that they will be held close to heart and mind the year round. So as you reflect on the human condition, in Jakarta, I hope that your voice reverberates around the world! Anyone not there is poorer and for that I express regret that I cannot be with you in Indonesia today at this a critical time for humanity.
The world stands at 120 symbolic seconds to midnight. It is a time when the unexpected can be awaited, when uncertainty, mindlessness and a distortion of reality, characterize our current moment in time. Copnsequently, the contemplation of the status of human rights with specific ensuing actions endorsed by the international community within the framework of “freedom from want and freedom from fear”, human security, should become a global priority.
Midnight is that awful moment when a button is pressed and weapons of mass destruction are released ending the world as we know it. Culture dies, languages fall silent, books no longer are read, radio and television fail to broadcast, museums, music halls, law courts, churches of all denominations, parliamentary houses, and libraries lie in rubble.The chimes of Big Ben will not make it to the 12th stroke. No baby cries, no cherry rippens and there is no further need for the olive branch. At that apocalyptic moment millions of years of evolution will unravel and the complexity to sustain human consciousness will disintegrate.
The region is still struggling with aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and the Japanese government and nuclear industry have not resolved the socio-political challenges brought about by the accident. More worrying, special interests are being placed ahead of the interest, aggravating the challenges and depleting public trust.
No longer should we ask for whom the bell tolls? Now it is tolling for humanity and everyone on the planet should hear it and respond to the best of their abilities. While the leper’s bell told the oncomer to get out of the way now the tolling bell encourages all of us to get in the way of climate change in the best possible way. Although we do not know how bad climate change will be for humanity in terms of temperatures, storms, hurricanes, flooding, forest fires, heat waves, water shortages, and desertification, I do want to believe that the political world and its electorate when better informed, will choose the less risky path of acting now and respecting nature, rather than delaying and courting disaster.
On World Human Rights Day 2019 in Indonesia, a great opportunity is provided to reconsider all human rights. But classical philosopy teaches us that there are no rights without duties, as there are no duties without rights. So, beyond human rights we should remember and reconsider our human and civil duties and responsabilities to family, society, to humanity as a whole, and to the environment and Nature as a whole; individual and institutional. The clock must be turned back for deterence based on the quantity of nuclear warheads in no fail safe for conflagration and climate change must be reversed for its denial cannot save our planet.
In Jakarta, under the leadership of Muhammad Jesus Chrishna you can reflect on the consequences to life and living when fundamental rights and duties that protect and enable the fulfillment of every person’s potential according to Greek classical philosophy, are denied as a result of inequality to many in Indonesia and around the globe. You can dig deeply into the right of freedom of expression not as an absolute right as usurped by authoritaranism but as one conditional on behaviour and good and democratic actions as a means to examine identity and to maintain human dignity.
According to Thakur S. Powdyel a writor and educator from Butan, the Jewel of the Himalayas and an International Gusi Peace Prize, 2011, freedom of expression means, the right of an individual to be, to have and to do, within the bounds of propriety without harm to others or to interfere with another’s rights. He regards freedom of expression as a moral act and an article of faith, which when conducted well solves problems, uplifts and inspires. Today of course, there are far too many not to be’s and have nots who are unable to do, above and beyond eeking out a pittance that does not even cover the basic of needs. So children work in dangerous conditions, shackled if they have psychosocial problems go hungry, fall sick and are unable to learn. There are children at danger on the migration and refugee highways victims of profiteers and death by suffocation and by drowning.
Our highest level goal in Asia and in Europe and other continents of the planet is to preserve our humanity by reinforcing human rights and exerting our civic duties and responsability as Earth citizens and through policy provision for our children and our children’s children, the means to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives as citizens of a less hostile earth within the framework of the golden mean. We must not forget that the winning slogan of less government and less democratic goverment in health, education, social services has been foisted on our world by commercial interests to drive globalisation, bring unethical profits and augment social dementia. Not less but a more appropriate and a better, reasonable governance!
This can only be done, only by ridding the world of nuclear weapons and by placing a strong brake on climate change, reducing poverty and inequality, curbing racism and ensuring civic education for all tempered by the wisdom and morality embedded in Greek Classical Philosophy. Philosophy can be a powerful tool and the instrument to counter the denial of truth and in the support of human rights and duties. Consequently, I am happy that the World Phiosophical Forum founded in Greece will be represented in Indonesia by its President & CEO Dr. Igor Kondrashin.
We must however remain focused and have trust. lt calls for a vast fostering of global citizenship, civil education and equality and the flourishing of all, of humanity in health with a safe and secure environment, freedom of expression for all peoples and a sound ecological niche for all life and plant forms that share mother Earth.
Happy human rights day wherever it is celebrated. May all the religions of the world pray for and praise UNESCO and its cooperation with the WPF and may all science support their common activity. Good luck to Muhammad Jesus Chrishna, the Head of WPF National branch in Indonesia, who by celebrating this event of worldwide importance gives one more chance to Humanity to rethink its future fate and to choose the proper way of its further development.