By Jean H Charles
At the dawn of the New Year, it is fit to go back to the basics to find out where we came from, how we get where we are now and what we can do to lead a better life for ourselves and for each nation in this world.
At the beginning, it was not Adam and Eve, it was instead Abraham, receiving from God the command to leave Mesopotamia (Iraq) and its culture of idolatry to travel to Judea, (Israel and Jordan) where, 2,000 years later, Jesus the God made man will be born to teach to humanity that life is worth living not only on this earth but a life well worth will have eternal life in the kingdom of his Father in heaven.
Before Abraham, it was the chaos, men oppressing other men, with a king or a ruler setting himself as God. In fact, Herod the king of the Jews upon Jesus’ birth had so much power and disdain for human life that he ordered the killing of all baby boys less than two-years-old to ensure that Jesus, the prophesized new king of Judea, would not remain alive.
The only exception to a world where the barbarian rule was the norm was in Mesopotamia, where King Hammurabi established in his kingdom certain principles (the Hammurabi Code) that strangely resemble the Ten Commandments prescribed later to Moses by God.
The culture of hospitality of man to man was spread by the tribe led by Abraham as it travelled to Jordan to establish a new nation that would become Israel today. A succession of Jewish prophets and men illuminated with knowledge distilled by God’s inspiration tried to inspire the culture of charity, of love and moderation. They had little luck until Jesus had to come to earth himself, not deliver Judea from the yoke of the Roman Empire but to teach each one of us “that the plan God has for us is to prosper and not to harm us but to give hope and a future to each one”. Romans 12.2
It was written and in fact it happened, man’s perverted heart facilitated the crucifixion of Jesus in one of the most atrocious methods of killing practiced by the Roman to give a lesson of submission to the revolutionaries.
Yet 2,000 years later, the teachings of Jesus could not be suppressed. Some two billion out of the seven billion people that inhabit this earth practice his teachings. The Roman Empire that started the persecution of his disciples transmuted itself later into a vehicle that stamped the Christian doctrine wherever the sun sets on the globe.
As a Catholic and universal church, it became an oppressor just as the Roman Empire, dressed with all the failings of the human mind. The dissenting voices of Martin Luther and Henry VIII created religious institutions that, still inspired by the earlier teachings of Jesus, continue to contribute to a world meant to house happy people as it was set by God’s plan for man.
Come to Rome today and a successor of Peter, the leader chosen by Jesus to perpetuate his church, named Francis I professes that charity and love and hospitality for all should be the hallmark of the church designed by Jesus as the halfway house until one goes to his father’s home.
Hospitality for all was also the doctrine preached by Ernst Renan, the very religious/atheist philosopher, who taught around 1888 that there is a difference between nation and state. A state is, by comparison, the way the earth was governed before Abraham, while a nation is the way of life after the coming of Jesus.
A state has no obligation to or can pretend that it is caring for his people. A state can be compared to the situation where, during the Roman Empire, the adjutant rulers were like Herod. Fearful of the reprisals of Rome, the chiefs of state would maintain their people in semi bondage.
A nation, by comparison, glorifies the ancestors while urging the children to work together to consolidate, embellish and enjoy the patrimony bequeathed by the founders.
The countries at war within themselves, the failed states of the world have not understood the Renan principle that a nation is a continuous creation and a permanent solidification of a patrimony handed down by those who fought to create that country.
The United Nations, the leading countries of the world such as the United States, the European Union, China, Japan and Russia have no other mission than to help create nations out of the countries in conflict. They have failed to or have refused to engage in that mode that would bring peace and prosperity much faster to a world in crisis.
Extrapolating the Renan principle into the family, we can say, with confidence, a family is a nation in miniature. The children are the beneficiaries and trustees of the heritage built by their parents. They have the obligation to join together to glorify their ancestors, while pledging to work together to enrich, embellish and enjoy the inherited patrimony that will be transmitted again to the next generation.
These are the principles that I offer at the beginning of this New Year to abide by and urge the rulers to enact, as such peace and prosperity will come earlier in this world, in our time.