Saturday, October 06, 2012

[HELP-Matrix Blog] 2001 “Global Ethic in the Face of Global Threat” ~ Hans Küng: Twelve reflections

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Peter S. Lopez AKA @Peta_de_Aztlan
Sacramento, California

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Subject: [HELP-Matrix Blog] 2001 "Global Ethic in the Face of Global Threat" ~ Hans Küng: Twelve reflections

Texts written by Hans Küng

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"Global Ethic in the Face of Global Threat"
Hans Küng: Twelve reflections

November 2001: In connection with the terror attacks in the USA and their aftermath, events presenting a sad example for Prof. Küng's call for a rapprochement of the world religions, Küng has formulated the following 12 theses for an ethic of peace.

The 12 reflections on "A Global Ethic in the Face of Global Threat" in response to terrorism were published under the titel "So wird Frieden möglich" in the November issue of the german periodical Chrismon.

1. Solidarity?
In the face of this monstrous outrage, not only the victims and their relations but also the whole American nation, deserve our unrestricted sympathy and our active solidarity. This solidarity however has its limits when the response takes the form of military action which, as in the case of the earlier rocket attack on the Sudan, is either unjustified or, as in the present case of Afghanistan, threatens to be waged with inappropriate means. A "war" with land, sea and air forces, may be suitable initially to help the Afghan opposition liberate the land from the Taliban regime, but it is inappropriate when it comes to ridding the world of a terrorist network and it involves very high risks of uncontrolled expansion and anti-western mobilization. These dangers increase as more and more victims are counted among civilians and they will further increase when casualties among American and allied force begin to be counted.
2. Punishment?
The vast majority of Muslims in Germany and in the world are shocked by the terrorist attacks. Those guilty of them should be identified and be brought to justice, and, when their guilt is proven in due process, should be appropriately punished. The use of force to apprehend them cannot be excluded. At the same time, to be credible, the USA (and Israel) should give up their opposition to the creation of an international criminal tribunal in The Hague.
3. Revenge?
Pure acts of revenge are prohibited by the law of nations. Against the "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" of the Hebrew Bible, one can sin by taking two eyes or two teeth or when one turns tanks, helicopters and rockets against stone-throwing youths and their innocent compatriots. Against the Christian prohibition of revenge, according to which evil is not to be answered by evil, one can sin by claiming that in a "crusade" every sort of military means is justified to punish a nation that harbors terrorists – the so-called "human collateral damages". Happily, Washington quickly gave up the idea of a "massive strike" (against Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria) in favor of a diplomatic anti-terror alliance. The history of Europe and other regions of the world shows that "revenge" – the response to one injustice by a greater injustice – has brought enormous suffering to the innocent. Indiscriminate bombardment has no pacifying effect, but only generates greater hatred. Terror must not be answered with terror, but only with the legitimate measures of the constitutional state.
4. Infinite Justice?
To speak of "unlimited justice" is not correct. "Infinite justice" like "infinite mercy" is an attribute of God to which human beings have no claim. "Fiat iustitia, pereat mundus" ("Let justice be done, the world be damned") would be a murderous principle of world politics. The ancient principle "Summum ius – summa iniuria" ("ultimate right – ultimate injustice") warns against absolutizing claims to justice after the fashion of Michael Kohlhaas, resorting to manslaughter and murder, injustice and inhumanity to pursue them. The struggle against terrorism in our day is not an apocalyptic struggle between good (our side) and evil (the others). Happily, the US government has replaced the original titel "infinite justice" by "enduring freedom".
5. Clash of Civilizations?
Samuel Huntington's theory of a "clash of civilizations" is unsuited to the present situation and serves only to justify prejudices. The attacks of the Islamistic terrorists were not directed against symbols of Christianity but rather against symbols of the American imperium, namely against the economic and military nerve-centers of the USA. This is not a general confrontation between "Islam" and the "West", but is instead a murderous attack by a very small but intelligent group of individual Muslims, who by reason of their commitment to death are most dangerous but who, despite their religious motives, pursue essentially political goals.
6. The causes?
Every monocausal explanation falls short of the full reality. The following factors must be taken seriously:
a) the resentment of the Arabs against the West: the scars of European colonialism and imperialism are by no means healed. For more than one hundred years, almost the whole Islamic world lay under the military, economic, and political hegemony of England, France, Russia and the Netherlands.
b) the resentment against the presence of the USA in the Persian Gulf region: the attack against the Islamic brothers in Iraq and the massive presence of American troops on "holy Arab ground" near Mekka and Medina were the deciding factors that turned fanatics like Bin Laden, originally allied with and armed by the Americans, against America. American support for undemocratic regimes, for instance in Kuwait after the Golf War, has further strengthened anti-Americanism. The ongoing presence of tens of thousands of American soldiers in the Golf region since the Golf War is perceived by many Muslims as a humiliation and a demonstration of American hegemony.
c) the resentment against Israel as an American bridgehead in the Arabian part of the world: more than fifty years of partisan "mediation politics" of the USA in favor of Israel (Shimon Peres: "For 52 years, the USA has never turned down an Israeli wish") has caused the Palestinians in particular, whose situation has only grown worse in this time, to lose faith in the honest brokership of the USA in the interest of peace. At heart, the Near East conflict is not a problem of terrorism but rather a territorial conflict. If, after these 50 years, peaceful, neighborly relations between Israel and a viable Palestinian state are not achieved, we can expect continuing terrorist attacks both within and without the region. Peace requires concessions on both sides, but particularly on the side of the mightier, and that means Israel, which with American support is the strongest military power in the Near East.
7. Terrorism an Islamic phenomenon?
The terrorist attacks on the USA were condemned as being un-Islamic by the vast majority of Muslims in the world. Individual or state-sponsored terrorism is viewed by Muslims generally as being a perversion of Islam. According to the Koran, evil is to be answered with good or to be warded off (Sure 13:22). People should be advised with wisdom "to deal with opponents in the optimal manner", and that means obviously: not with force, but with peaceful means. A central expression of the Koran is the principle frequently cited by Muslims: "No coercion in religion" (2:256).
8. "Jihad" in the Koran?
Like the Hebrew Bible, the Koran includes statements in favor of fighting and warfare. The early history of the Muslim community explains why participation in war is enjoined as a duty by the Koran and by the legal texts. "Jihad" does not as such mean "holy war" but rather "effort / exertion" in a moral sense, a "struggle on the pathways of God". Moderate Muslims today generally interpret the word in this sense. Nevertheless, one should not make light of the fact that "jihad" in the original sources of Islam also is understood in the sense of warlike struggle. And such texts can today easily be misused by political fanatics. Here Muslims are confronted with the fundamental question of the interpretation of the Koran ("Koran hermeneutics"), a question parallel to the difficult question of biblical hermeneutics which we Christians and Jews are called to deal with. Islam must honestly face up to the challenge of modernity.
9. Global political reorientation?
In the face of the deterioration of the political atmosphere since the inaugerations of Israel's President Sharon and US President Bush, the urgent need for an in-depth re-consideration of political options is increasingly coming to consciousness among the Western industrial nations:
• instead of further tightening the spiral of violence, serious efforts at de-escalation;
• instead of detached complacency in the face of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, serious assumption of responsibility for seeking solutions;
• instead of typically western partisanship for the one side, honest brokership between both sides;
• instead of doctoring mere outer symptoms, causal therapy of the social and political roots of terrorism.
This means concretely that when everywhere billions are now being made available for military and police measures, corresponding sums should be devoted to improving the social situation of the masses, who are the losers in the process of globalization and who thus take refuge in fundamentalist groups.
10. Global ethic?
Due to the tragedy in the USA, many people have grasped for the first time the urgency of the Project Global Ethic: no peace among the nations without peace among the religions, no peace among the religions without dialog among the religions. When this dialog does not take place or when it is broken off, violence is the alternative: when people no longer converse with one another, it is not long before they start shooting at each other. Not only in Islam, but also in Judaism and Christianity and indeed in the Asiatic religions as well, there is the real danger of instrumentalizing religion for political goals. When this happens, a highly explosive mixture of religion and politics takes form. Fanatical religion becomes a danger for world peace. As the enormous dust-clouds generated by the terrorist attacks begin to settle, we must enter into a new and more intensive dialog with each other. Happily, one sees that interest in interreligious dialog and global ethic is now spreading in circles that previously held themselves aloof.
11. Muslims too for a global ethic?
Already the Declaration on Global Ethic promulgated by the Parlament of World Religions in Chicago, 1993, was signed by Muslim representatives. And, particularly in Germany, this project has found a positive echo among Muslims here. On the international scene, prominent Muslims like Prince Hassan of Transjordan have spoken out for common ethical standards and against terrorism. Moreover, it was the Iranian President Khatami, who, in the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1998, was responsible for putting the "dialog of the civilizations" – in direct antithesis to the "clash of the civilizations" – on the UN agenda. Together with the former German Bundespresident Richard von Weizsäcker, I belong to a twenty member "Group of Eminent Persons" which was created to report to UN General Secretary Kofi Annan on a new paradigm for international relations. On November 8/9 in New York this report was presented publicly to the General Secretary and the General Assembly, where it was debated and then formulated in a resolution passed by the Assembly. In this way, the ideas of the Project Global Ethic have reached the highest levels of the United Nations.
12. A new paradigm of international relations?
In the place of the typically modern politics of pursuing national interests, power and prestige, we need a politics of regional reconciliation, understanding and association. What, after two world wars, has proven possible within the EU and the OECD, must, after so many regional wars, also become possible in the Near East and the other conflict areas of the world: instead of the prevailing confrontation, aggression and revanchism, now cooperation, compromise and integration. Naturely, politics in the new paradigm does not become easier; it will remain "the art of the possible", albeit now the non-violent possible. If it is to function properly, it is not enough to found such a politics on "postmodern" anything-you-please pluralism. On the contrary, it presupposes a social consensus about distinct fundamental values, rights and duties. This elementary global ethic must be supported by all the groups within society, by believers and non-believers, by members of all the different religions, philosophies and ideologies found around the world.

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Posted By @Peta_de_Aztlan to HELP-Matrix Blog at 10/06/2012 10:09:00 AM

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