When God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful in Genesis, the land was still virgin and undefiled. Adherents of the three major monotheistic faiths have since taken this commandment literally, populating the earth and multiplying descendants, as with other peoples on this blue planet.
Today, the earth is on the verge of destruction. To be more precise, it’s fast becoming a place that may no longer be habitable to many of us and other creatures because of environmental pollution and global warming. The planet will stay, but those who claim to know it and give meanings may be no longer.
Talks of wars, conflicts, terrorism occupy the minds of many, and graphic Biblical images of Daniel and Revelation capture the minds of the Christian faithful. Perhaps, however, we have overlooked the most prominent and imminent danger of our age – Human greed and carelessness leading to the wanton destruction of the environment.
As citizens of the planet earth, let us be mindful of what and how we use and consume, let us till the land and manage it well, doing it ourselves and encourage those around us to do likewise, so that we can be at Peace with the earth.
Adapted from the transcript of my Reflections on Peace on RTHK Radio 4 in 2016. The above photo shows the then growing rift in Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica.
Before the Holocaust there was the Merchant of Venice, before the Merchant of Venice there was the Spanish Inquisition, before the Spanish Inquisition there was the Simon of Trent, and before the Simon of Trent there was the Black Death, before the Black Death there were the Crusaders…
The book Trent 1475 documents the proceedings of a blood libel case in Trento, Italy in the year 1475. A Christian boy was found dead and his Jewish neighbours were framed for it. This child, Simon, was once considered a martyr being killed in a ritual murder. His case contributed to anti-Semitism in the European history, which reached its apex in the Holocaust – six million Jews were murdered in that horrific genocide. Eventually, in 1965, Pope Paul VI removed Simon from the Roman Martyrology.
History doesn’t exist in a vacuum. We do not exist in a vacuum. To understand the present we have to consult the past. And history is not just ink printed on dead trees, it is about real living human beings and all that surround them. Nor it just one subject in the school curriculum, for it may lend itself to the betterment of us as individuals and as a species, if we are to pay attention. Paraphrasing George Santayana, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
The question is, have we started learning?
Jointly organised by the Catholic Diocesan Ecumenical Commission and the Hong Kong Christian Council, the annual Ecumenical Unity Service was held at the Kowloon Union Church on Jan-18, marking the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
To celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the liturgy was prepared by the churches in Germany, focusing on the theme Reconciliation.
My first try in videography, a short video of clips filmed last Saturday.
If things go as planned, my reflections on peace will be broadcast on RTHK 4 during 14~18-March, the second last week of Lent.
Special thanks to Rev. Maggie Mathieson for the invitation, and to Rev. Judy Chan for editing the scripts.