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Thursday, 02 August 2018 23:05

Diverse Cultures United—New Alternatives Emerge

Written by Rosa Beatriz Castañeda
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Rosa Beatriz Castañeda – Guatemala Chapter, Board Member

Three years ago, Pope Francis released Laudato Si (Praise Be to You), his encyclical on “Care for Our Common Home,” to “communicate above all a sense of deep urgency and profound concern for the precarious state of our common planetary home.” [P. Francis - 1]

Nine months ago—at MAC 2017 in Guatemala—the Buen Vivir cosmovision helped us realize that we are citizens of different countries, belonging to one world that urgently needs love and care!

“The cosmovision shared by indigenous communities tells us that we are interdependent with one another. Harming any natural resource is harming us”.—Quechua, Peru Native

The Encyclical and the Conference were opportunities to realize that we have to open our eyes and change our minds and hearts to discover different alternatives from the ones we choose to repeat again and again.  This means that attitudes have to change, risks have to be taken, and we have to build bridges and break down walls that stop us from having a dialogue with people that think differently than we do. Looking for new alternatives means dialoging with diverse peoples and perspectives. Only in doing so will the distance between people begin to dissolve.

Let´s challenge ourselves to overcome the fear of being different and put our efforts into restoring the equilibrium of the whole. Let’s start carrying out actions that people will remember, that awaken them to recognize that life is sacred and that all of us are responsible to work for justice and peace. It is the only way we will celebrate creation as a whole.

“The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it.”—Chief Joseph, 1879 (Kent Nerburn, The Wisdom of the Native Americans)

Pope Francis called for immediate changes in human behavior to fight global warming and save the environment. Tragically, he said, people have grown increasingly self-obsessed, ever more distant from nature, and alarmingly preoccupied with technological novelty. Buen Vivir cosmovision expresses that to keep the equilibrium, the different should not be excluded, because in doing so, instability follows. When the different is seen as part of the whole, the balance remains.

It is not enough to simply be connected to each other. In today´s increasingly diverse societies, it is critical that we become intercultural. As expressed by Pope Francis and implicit in the meaning of Buen Vivir, we are asked to pursue opportunities to bring equilibrium to the whole through the interaction between two or more cultures acting in a horizontal and harmonious way. This means that each culture is enriched in the sharing of skills, knowledge and experiences. In this way, no one group feels above the others. A condition that favors dialogue, with respectful listening to each other, makes for a harmonious coexistence and mutual solidarity.

“Let us walk in the present with our backs toward the future and our eyes in the past.”—Aymara, Bolivia Native

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