Rome (AsiaNews) – We are still amid sorrow and prayer over the execution of Saddam Hussein. But we cannot fail to denounce the hypocrisy of the many champions against the death penalty that the former Iraqi dictator managed to gather around him before and after his hanging. How is it that these “professionals” about the scandal of a death sentence handed down to a man who admired – and followed – Hitler, should complain so little about other death sentences and violence? Did any Chinese bishop who vanished and was killed in a lager ever find so much solidarity? Have Hindus, Christians and Muslims imprisoned in Saudi or Iranian prisons ever benefited from so much international disdain and personal and public support?
The tears falling from one eye of many personalities and organizations are a sign not only of suffocating ideological vision but also of profound relativism. Relativism is a danger to peace like terrorism is. This attitude so widespread in the west, which seeks to shake off any certainty and framework of values, which raises up tyrants and hides the persecuted, which speaks in a vague way about everything because it is interested in nothing, was highlighted by Pope Benedict XVI as one of the true dangers to peace in his message for the World Day of Peace 2007.
So far we have always believed that militarism, wars, tanks, atomic and nuclear bombs were the killers of peace. And they are. All offensive weapons are the fruit of ideologies that view suppression of the other as an indispensable condition to the triumph of one’s ideas. But in this year’s message, the pontiff pointed a finger at those relativistic concepts of the person that deprive human rights and the value of the human being of their universal meaning.
For years, in the UN, European parliament and other international organizations, there has been a push towards a vision of this type, which does not hold the rights of a Chinese or man as equal to those of a European or American. The result – recorded frequently by AsiaNews – is always of indifference about the fate of millions of people who are killed, tortured and suffocated in their expression while the boat of national and economic interests sails over calm waters. Some months ago, in the lead-up to talks between China and Europe, Antti Kuosmanen, the Finish ambassador to Beijing, said candidly that “human rights” were not a “dominant point” of the report.
If we consider that the same organizations – the UN, European parliament – are fighting a war for “freedom” of gender definitions (male, female, lesbian, gay, and so on), of de facto couples, of abortion as a “reproductive right”, of the manipulation of embryos, then we understand that this relativism is none other than a serious form of schizophrenia. We saw it in action with the death of Saddam Hussein too.
Like a wise and merciful doctor, Benedict XVI tracks down other forms of this disease. Among them is a distorted way of tackling ecological problems. In his message, the pope calls on all to move towards a “social ecology” that includes attention for man and the destiny of peoples. Thus the commitment against water pollution, to safeguard species of fauna from extinction and the search for alternative energy supplies must not forget that at the centre of everything (and not as a problem to be eliminated) are human beings. The energy devoted to defending whales or to crying over the white dolphin of the Yangtze must be redistributed to help people identify the means of sustainable development with dignity, which include treatment of diseases and the right to drinking water.
And if human rights are for all, there is the need to call for religious freedom not only (and this is right) for Muslims in Europe but also for Christians living in the Muslim world.
This indifference to the “person” factor in global ecological and diplomatic pacifism is part of an even more radical disease, namely pessimism about man and his value and his ability to live up to his duties and obligations. Thus, instead of appealing to his responsibilities, drastic means are chosen like power, war, elimination, slavery or the violence of indifference.
In his message, the pope suggests treatment too: to put man at the centre of peace, then God must be placed at the heart of the life of man. Benedict XVI puts forward two fundamental tracks: affirming the right to life as a “gift which is not completely at the disposal of the subject” and the affirmation of the right to religious freedom that “places the human being in a relationship with a transcendent principle which withdraws him from human caprice”.
Without these two indicators, relativism and schizophrenia will lead us only to euthanasia and dictatorship, to war and a culture of death.