Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The "National Unity" dressed in cassock

The philosophy owes much to the religion even if at times there have been differences. And this is a way "soft" to put things. As with any human institution, when a group of people travels the world convinced that is the side of reason and has the power to impose religion in institutional form, so as a church in the case of Christianity, can be extremely intolerant. The Catholic Church is no exception to this pattern in its history. But a theologian who I admire a lot and who like to read, whenever I can, is Thomas Aquinas. He lived in the thirteenth century and his work is one of the most memorable moments of the evolution of philosophical thought. There are several things I admire in Aquino. For now, I like the way he appropriated the philosophy of Aristotle (whose philosophy in the early years of life of Thomas Aquinas, was harassed by the Catholic Church), developed it and made it relevant even for the Catholic Church itself. I also like the distinction he made between knowledge revealed (the Bible) and the natural knowledge (within reason), the latter essential condition of dialogue between people who believe in different gods. This distinction is for me one of the greatest statements of the importance of the debate on the basis of the merits of the issues. I like also, and this is important for thought, what he said in relation to consciousness. According to Aquinas we are not always obliged to obey our conscience. Interestingly, he concedes that disobeying the conscience is wrong, but not every act that results from obedience to conscience is correct. I think this phenomenal mind and in line line with its use of ethical thinking of Aristotle insisted that virtue as a guarantor of a life that is worth living.
I make this brief review to indicate, as of now, the beacons of my disagreement with the recent intervention of the Episcopal Conference of Mozambique. In a curious document published on February 26 with the strange title (and I'll explain why) "Message of the Permanent Council of the CEM, (sic) to the Christian communities, (sic) and to all Mozambicans of good will (sic) on the current challenges of national unity "Mozambican Bishops launch an appeal in defense of national unity which they consider to be under threat by (a) the exploitation of the discourse of national unity by certain groups for their own benefit, (b) the politicization of institutions the State which makes it difficult to pursue important objectives of the Constitution and, finally, (c) the reluctance to promote an inclusive dialogue with all the forces of society. Is more than clear who the target in all this, particularly the idea of ​​Frelimo which has in the country, an all-powerful Frelimo responsible for all the evils of a political community in formation. The "message" is, to me, extremely poor intellectual point of view, based on a populist analysis of the political situation in the country and is the tone and shape, very unfortunate and untimely. I'll explain why. But first I want to explain why I consider the strange title.
I do not understand why a message that is addressed to the "Christian community" not the urges to do this or that, but speaks of third parties (politicians) are not doing. In the case of a private institution if it sends a message to its members she has to put the responsibilities of members in the center of his proclamation. This means analyzing a given situation based on moral precepts that they share and urge them to adopt the type of conduct that will make the change (or improvement) possible (that's how Thomas Aquinas did and got to inspire Vladimir Lenin! ). That's what I would do if, for example, was the chief of a pool. Analyze the situation and appeal to members to commit further to the principles that our association advocates. Would not in any way limit all my analysis to the description of what I think that non-members are not doing well and that should change. Even assuming that some of the ruling party members to be Christians also my message as a private association, would be directed to their conscience as Christians.
Also do not understand why the message is limited "to Mozambicans of goodwill." I know it comes from a rhetorical device, but in a context that highlights the misconduct of some would be important to begin by clarifying what is a Mozambican willingly. The one who believes in God? It is one that respects the constitution? The one who cares about the others? And if it is, because an institution claiming the right to speak to the conscience of the people do not want to drive to Mozambican grudgingly? Why in the name of national unity fosters divisiveness ...? If the message criticizes are grudgingly because they should listen to what the CEM has to say? By the way, I do not agree with the message'm Mozambican grudgingly? I think the strange title.
But worse than the title is the message itself, and here I will explain my disagreement. Return to Thomas Aquinas and what he says about obedience to conscience to better contextualize my disagreement. There is no doubt that with this message CEM as a moral authority which it judges to be (at least for believers), obeys his conscience when he speaks of what is evil and wrong. It would be a great failure not obey their conscience when it requires the Church to speak and place it next to those who need your support. The problem, however, is that the Church's intervention is above all a political intervention. When she accuses a small group to monopolize the national unity of partidarizar the State and to refuse dialogue (and makes clear that is the talk of the party in power) it does more than simply listen and respond to their conscience. It produces a political interpretation that detract from the neutrality that should be followed to keep your moral stance status. This is particularly problematic as the analysis that does is deficient. A cursory analysis of the situation in Mozambique shows naturally that is instrumentalized national unity, which partidarizam state institutions and that there is a lack of dialogue. But the question is not just state this. It is also trying to understand what conditions contribute to making it so. And such considerations can show that the distribution of faults is not so linear as the CEM supposed. When he uses a rhetorical device worn as "for those who have eyes to see" (ie when speaking of the injustices in the country, says they are evident to anyone who has eyes to see) reveals, in my opinion, the superficial nature of their approach. The country's situation does not require those who "have eyes to see." Requires a deeper analysis that the "message" does not. The wake-up call made by Aquino is important: not everyone who obeys his conscience is right. Personally, I think the message is a paradigmatic example of that.
The other thing I want to mention has to do with the concept of politics that CEM has, moreover, with the absence of a policy concept in their thinking. This begins with the use he makes of the notion of "national unity". First I need to clarify that I have personally asked with regard to this concept because of its roots in a totalitarian political discourse. A Christian institution should be sensitive to this, just by looking at your own history and see how high certain doctrinal values ​​led to intolerance. The EMF would have been happier talking about "healthy living" or something. "National Unity" is not worse when a message published in February this year to deplore it is threatened not say anything, nothing at all, on those who threatened to divide the country! Anyway.
The CEM featuring the "national unity" as a common good and explains (and I quote; the original is underlined): "In fact, it is hard to achieve well and, therefore, requires a capacity of total renunciation of interests merely selfish and the constant search for the other's well-being as if it were itself. The "national unity", so every day is built with the participation of all Mozambicans: men and women, children and old people, young and old, without excluding anyone. " That is, at best, confusion and at worst, the most trivial conversation there. A common good that needs "total renunciation of purely selfish interests" to be achieved can hardly serve as a value with practical use for political action. This is the naive discourse of the development industry and professionalized civil society. The challenge in Mozambique is not achieving the resignation of "purely selfish interests", but the creation of conditions within which the pursuit of these interests does not prevent others from doing the same, or at least does not imply that others remain to lose . This is the policy object and can be reached not only with moral appeals, but, and above all, with social struggles (in the positive sense of the word "fight") and political action that takes into account the various interests make our society. In this sense, the CEM missed an excellent opportunity to appeal to the conscience of the opposition to engage even more with the political game, the only guarantee of conditions that will reduce the harmful effects of "purely selfish interests."
Resultado de imagem para conselho episcopal moçambiqueSo what is built every day is not the "national unity", but the terms of healthy coexistence. It's like saying Ernst Renan: the nation is a plebiscite of every day. I who am not a politician, nor have I committed to any political program in particular can say here and now that I see the maintenance of the territorial integrity of Mozambique for all time to a value that deserves my special investment. In principle, and although regrettable that there secessionist speeches, I see no problem parts of Mozambique to establish themselves as new countries from the time that the process leading to this situation is respectful of the precepts that sustain healthy coexistence. If the will of a duly legitimized majority to get away from life that makes us as a nation, who am I to wish otherwise? Who is the CEM to wish otherwise? Who are we to want the opposite? Insist on it as politically useful value is to reveal the totalitarian political stance which is the basis of a good part of the problems we have as a political community. 
But it would be surprising that soon an institutionalized religion were able to see this inconsistency ...
At a time when the country needs more voices that appeal to the importance of political action within the framework defined by the spirit and letter of the democratic constitution appears we have a group of men dressed in robes with an absolutist moral discourse that promotes, rather than delete, just the sort of attitude that creates the problems. It is at least strange. I find strange and I do not understand, honestly, because some people find this useful and timely intervention. But that's why we're here. Let's discuss. (Elyseo Macamo in facebook)

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