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We live in a world in which there is much noise and turbulence. Although there are loud voices, they fall on deaf ears. There are screams that pierce the skies and reach the courts of heaven. Yet, human beings do not hear them, or, rather, they block their callous ears. They listen only to what pleases them or to those who are of their clique.

It is remarkable how people can pounce upon the weaknesses and foibles of others and yet ignore the glaring scandals in their backyard. History is replete with stories of people who promoted all that is good and loving. Their activity was very welcome. But when they dared to confront the misdeeds of others, they were silenced.

We are supposed to be a Christian people. Our burial observances say that much. Indeed, they are an essential part of our culture. Our Funeral booklets speak of "celebration of the life" of so and so. Yet, we show so little regard for most of our people while they are alive.

In his book, 'Jesus Before Christianity', Albert Nolan informs us that "Jesus was not busy with a religious revival; he was busy with a revolution, in politics and in everything." The ministry of Jesus presents us with a new vision of society, which even the Church has been slow to embrace. We often place drug addicts, drunkards, lepers, prostitutes, people with disabilities, the poor and helpless, on the margin of society. Such people were at the very centre of the life of Jesus. We need to listen to the silent voices of the socially disadvantaged.

Today, the notion of human solidarity is being trumpeted. And that is very good. Thanks to the communications media, the world is brought to our doorstep. We are able to share the agony and passion of people all over the world who are in distress. Their grief becomes our own.

However, we often seem to take one step forward and another step backward. The message of the unity of mankind is still far to find a home in our hearts. We still turn a deaf ear to loud voices that ring out even in our neighbourhood.

There are some basic problems that we never seem to address even while we promote lofty ideals. The problem is that all our fine principles are riddled with reservations and there are often flagrant inconsistencies. Martin Neimoller, writing of the Adolf Hitler regime, put it brilliantly:

In Germany, they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.

There is the great need to build a society which is based on solid values. Prominent among these values is the rule of law. Everyone must be seen to be equal before the law. Every form of redress must be available to everyone. Everyone has the right to be respected by all—even those who are in authority. There ought to be a great respect for human life from the womb to the tomb. This should be embedded in our culture. Political victimization must cease. Its death is long overdue. The voices of children cry out to biological fathers who ignore their offspring.

More attention must be given to the voices of our youth, even when they have difficulty in identifying their real needs. Particularly in these days of technological development, counsellors ought to be available to young people, particularly in the schools. From very early, certain virtues must be impressed upon the minds of our youth by exemplary adults. They are the "vigorous virtues": self-reliance, diligence, trustworthiness, initiative.

Everyone must be able to take his rightful place under the sun. When this is done, the road to peace and happiness is properly paved. Everyone is then open to the blessings of society, and the voices of everyone will find a welcome home.


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