“We are not alone in this struggle to build a better world”

16 02 2009

by Xavier Jeyaraj SJ

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An experience of the Pre-Forum and the WSF that many of my 28 companions from South Asia and I keep reminiscing about is our encounter and interaction with the indigenous people of Amazon. During the Pre-Forum inauguration we had mentioned that the call “Indigenous People Unite” was our purpose for coming to Belém, and this was fulfilled to a large extent. It was a unique experience not only to recognize and share the similarities of culture and values that exist between the indigenous people of South Asia and Amazon and mutually enrich one another, but also to look at the problems faced by both groups despite their geographical separation. The chord that held us together as one body was not merely the similarity of culture, not merely the struggle for life, but also faith – faith in a God who calls for the defence of the life of the marginalized, particularly the indigenous; it is a faith that calls for a deeper social commitment, networking and political action. Sharing the common mission and purpose with Jesuits and others involved all over the world has made us feel that we are not alone in this struggle to build a better world.

Before coming to Belém, I personally critiqued the WSF itself, wondering whether this was turning out to be a world forum of cultural extravaganza. In the light of the so-called economic crisis (though I prefer to call it the collapse of the capitalist model of development) I was puzzled about how the WSF would respond. Would WSF continue to remain a mere platform for exchange of ideas and sharing of experiences or would it change the ‘Crisis’ into an ‘Opportunity’ for evolving an alternative? Though the inaugural march was more like a carnival, I am glad that the WSF in Belém has come out of its shell and has, for the first time, taken certain concrete political stands to seize the opportunity for political action. The plans for campaigns, awareness raising, mobilization and demonstration against the world’s political powers and institutions in the coming months gives us a hope that WSF is no longer only a cultural extravaganza but a real political force to reckon with. It is indeed a joy that we have been part of this process.

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