Albeit the desperate need to take action on climate change, there is minimal effort to reduce climate change induced natural disasters to preserve the lands of the Indigenous communities. Often, policy makers attempt to compensate the Indigenous people who have been displaced with money or aid in relocation after the Indigenous homeland has already become inhabitable. Although policy makers might argue that it is common for people to relocate during times of globalization, a loss of homeland cannot be fully compensated or replaced by other communities. De Shalit uses the “stepfather metaphor” to provide a better understanding of the rigor of the issue of forced displacement. The loss of a biological father is irreplaceable for an individual regardless of the amount of care and love the child receives from their stepfather (de Shalit 2011, 325). Similarly, the new location and community the Indigenous refugee is put into is not a real substitute for their homeland, regardless of the quality of the living situation. To clarify, although the government can compensate and rectify the physical space that has been lost, it cannot fully rectify the loss of sense of place of the original homelands.
The current legal system does not hold the high carbon emission producers accountable and disregards the Indigenous communities’ claims to a right to their homeland. Under the current legal framework such as the Intellectual Property laws or the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the right to natural resources is separated from their cultural resources (Chen and Gilmore 2015). The current treaties and aid programs often recognize the importance of either the preservation of natural resources or the recognition of the culture, but not both. However, the preservation of unpolluted natural resources is indivisible from the Indigenous culture and sense of functioning identity.
Indigenous force mobilization is the ideal solution to forced displacement and loss of functioning identity. Increasing the level of cooperation between local individuals, especially Indigenous leaders, and international policy makers is crucial for Indigenous representation. Individuals in Indigenous communities must mobilize themselves to collaborate with international organizations that are capable of asserting influences on powerful countries with high carbon emission rates. The prevention of the loss of another Indigenous community’s homeland is only achievable with active and accurate policy changes. Individuals contain the most accurate knowledge of vulnerabilities and necessities because they directly experience injustices such as loss of habitation, forced changes in lifestyle and repeated injuries from natural disasters. Using this knowledge, Ackerly specifies the categories of actions individuals can take to guide transformation in power inequalities (Ackerly 2018, 111). One of the five ways she mentions is to “make visible the complexity of forces that create obstacles to rights enjoyment through connected action” (Ackerly 2018, 111). When Indigenous individuals cooperate to fight for their rights to live in their homeland through performing connected action, complex injustices derived from high income countries can be tackled.
An example of an Indigenous community joining forces across borders to tackle climate change injustice can be seen in the Inuits. Tsosie cites that “the Inuit have organized themselves collectively across international borders as the ICC” (Tsosie 2007, 1672) to publicize that the United States has not followed international environmental law obligations and performed activities within its territory that caused transnational harm (1672). An individual Inuit might not have the power to change the United States’ policies, but when multiple local communities joined forces, it became possible to take on large nations and substitute international policies. Therefore, Indigenous individuals should bear some responsibility to hold accountable the main contributors to high carbon emissions to fight for climate change justice and basic human rights to a home.
Furthermore, Caney places a large emphasis on the responsibility of international institutions, especially coordinating bodies. Large international institutions like “European Community and the World Trade Organization'' can use the benefits of joining the organization to “induce compliance by stipulating that those joining their organizations must honor certain environmental standards” (Caney 2014b, 139). International institutions, as the final level of coordination, should create policies for displaced Indigenous individuals because they can create policies without the national interest in consideration. In addition, Indigenous forced environmental displacement should become a more pressing matter of discourse at the international level as Indigenous communities compose a large part of history and culture in many countries.
However, it is important that local Indigenous communities not rely on international institutions entirely but keep them accountable. Too much dependence can lead to a surrender of power and loss of voice for the local communities. Hayward illustrates this point: “as international institutions create new rights -- for example, carbon emissions rights or intellectual property rights in genetic resources -- old rights, and particularly rights of territorial sovereignty, are being significantly modified” (Hayward 2009,283). When international organizations are hindered by the power structure of the high income countries, the local Indigenous leaders can mobilize forces to create a larger basis for advocacy. Self determination is not achievable on the local level if there is no representation on the international level. Therefore, local communities and international institutions should all take responsibility to cooperate and create change.
An example of a local community taking independent initiative against a national government without the help of an international organization can be seen in the case Community Mayagna (Sumo) Awas Tingni v Nicaragua (2001). Jaime Castillo Felipe, a leader of the Mayagna Awas (Sumo) Tingni Community lodged a petition against the Nicaraguan government that practiced commercial logging (ESCR-Net). Commercial logging can degrade the ecosystem functions of the natural forests, increasing the likelihood of severe fires, increasing greenhouse gas emissions and decreasing biodiversity (Sierra Forest Legacy). Supporting the advocacy of Jaime Castillo Felipe who recognized these dangers through years of direct local knowledge, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights ruled that the Nicaraguan government must adopt necessary measures to create an “effective mechanism for demarcation” (ESCR-Net). The action of one local leader was able to mitigate the detrimental effects national commercial logging has on global warming.
Therefore, Indigenous communities must utilize the decades of local knowledge they acquired about natural resources to promote the creation and modification of climate change policies on the national and international levels. Local knowledge is extremely valuable for policy makers to design “apposite adaptation and mitigation strategies to address the challenges of climate change” (Rahman and Alam 2016). If Indigenous individuals mobilize forces to hold the main drivers of climate change accountable, the prevention of further forced displacement of other Indigenous communities will be achievable.
“Case of the Mayagna (SUMO) AWAS Tingni Community v. Nicaragua [Eng].” ESCR, https://www.escr-net.org/caselaw/2006/case-mayagna-sumo-awas-tingni-community-v-nicaragua-eng.
“Logging Impacts.” Logging Impacts - Sierra Forest Legacy, https://www.sierraforestlegacy.org/FC_FireForestEcology/FFE_LoggingImpacts.php.
Ackerly, Brooke A. 2018. "Responsibility for Climate Justice: A Human Rights Approach to Global Responsibility for Environmental Change and Impact." In Human Rights and Justice: Philosophical, Economic, and Social Perspectives, ed. Melissa Labonte and Kurt Mills. New York, NY: Routledge, 102-122.
Caney, Simon. 2014b. "Climate Change, Intergenerational Equity and the Social Discount Rate." Politics, Philosophy & Economics 13, 4: 320-342.
Chen, Cher Weixia, and Michael Gilmore. “Biocultural Rights: A New Paradigm for Protecting Natural and Cultural Resources of Indigenous Communities.” International Indigenous Policy Journal, vol. 6, no. 3, 2015, https://doi.org/10.18584/iipj.2015.6.3.3.
de-Shalit, Avner. 2011. "Climate Change Refugees, Compensation and Rectification." The Monist 94, 3: 310-328.
Hayward, Tim. 2009. "International Political Theory and the Global Environment: Some Critical Questions for Liberal Cosmopolitans." Journal of Social Philosophy 40, 2: 276-295.
Rahman, Md. Habibur, and Khurshed Alam. “Forest Dependent Indigenous Communities’ Perception and Adaptation to Climate Change through Local
Tsosie, Rebecca. 2007. "Indigenous People and Environmental Justice- the Impact of Climate Change." University of Colorado Law Review 78: 1625-1677.
Always, and this past week especially, the Catholic Church’s controversial sexual abuse scandals have been leaving giant footprints on the Church’s reputation. In addition, the Pennsylvania Sexual Abuse Scandal has been the biggest Catholic Church scandal in U.S. history. The grand jury report announces six out of the eight dioceses of Pennsylvania as guilty of sexual abuse. More than 300 predator priests and 1000 victims are involved in this tragedy. Victims range from 18-month old toddlers to high school students going through puberty. The event dates back to 1947, in Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton. Even after the Church’s unjust secrecy of the event for decades, the Church is delaying their process in revealing the predator priests’ identifications. Now, most instances of abuse have become too old to charge. However, the victims’ terrible memories of their past impacted their lives in the most brutal ways. For example, a priest in Scranton already having served jail time for sexualy abusing minors tested HIV-positive. In Harrisburg, a priest abused five sisters from the same family and collected samples of their urine, pubic hair and menstrual blood. In addition, an 83-year-old man said he couldn't show any affection to his wife and children as a result of the abuse he suffered.
The pain victims had to go through is unimaginable and should never be justified. The Catholic Church’s false promise to revise protocol and to execute predator priests have been, once again, proven fruitless. The leaders of the Church lost the members’ trusts due to the temptation of sin. Now, everyone is in danger of sexual abuse, everywhere. However, the entire Catholic Church should never be solely defined by the evil. There is more to the Church than just the disgusting sexual predators. It is necessary to execute all predators and bystanders from the Catholic Church, no matter how important their positions are.
God’s Church cannot be fully comprehended with the human intellect. Although I’ve been raised Catholic, the word Church is vague and mysterious. However, a lecture given by my theology teacher has filled up the gap between my knowledges about what the Church is. During the lecture, I was introduced to Avery Cardinal Dulles, who wrote the Models of the Church. Dulles provides five different models of the Church that come together to help Christians understand the Church more deeply.
First of all, the Church as an Institution focuses on its visible structures as a tangible community rather than the Spiritual aspect of the Church. For example, the Church contains a hierarchical structure such as the Pope, Deacon, Bishop and the Priests. Although this model is useful in focusing on the organization and unity of the Church, it loses sight of the spiritual, and mystical communion.
Second of all, the Church as a Mystical Communion focuses on the spiritual community: those bound together in Christ. As opposition to the Church as an Institution, its main focus is on common prayer and the spiritual community. Although this model is useful in portraying that the Church is united under strong beliefs, it loses sight of authority and guidance.
Third of all, the Church as a Herald portrays the Church as someone who receives an official message. Every day interactions with the Gospels such as theology classes and sermons provide an example of this model. A strength of this model is that it is rooted from a reliable source- the Gospels, however it ignores the tradition and practices that were delivered by the early Christians.
Fourth of all, The Church as a servant portrays that the Church exists to serve others, especially those in need. For example, the corporal works of mercy and various service organization the Church provides exist to serve others. Although this model glorifies getting good work done and the inclusion of all people, it loses track of the spiritual aspects of the Church.
Fifth of all, the Church as a Sacrament portrays the Church as a visible sign of invisible reality. For example, it is common that Catholics hold hands to pray the Our Father at a mass. This model helps us connect with God in a spiritual manner, however contains little presence of Scripture and loses sight of serving others.
All five of the models have its strength and weaknesses in defining the Church. The Church is so complex that even all five of the models together do not fully explain its meaning. However, each model helps us to understand the others more deeply and provides an overview on what the Church is.
On September 26th, Saudi Arabia announced a new law allowing women to drive. Until then, it remained the only country to repress women from driving, and activists constantly protested against the rule. For example, in several occasions from 1990 to 2011, Saudi women illegally drove out to the streets, and as a consequence were persecuted and fired. The biggest supporter of this activist movement, Muhammad bin Salman, wanted to loosen the Kingdom’s social repression in order to change Saudi Arabia’s repressed society.
Saudi Arabia’s repression is especially extreme because of its Islamic influences. For example, Sharia; the Islamic law demands male guardianship for all women. Sharia allows a female’s related male companion such as her father, brother, son or husband to make critical decisions for her. Adult women under the law of Sharia are required to obtain permission from a male guardian to perform basic necessities such as renting an apartment and filing legal claims. Furthermore, women are not allowed to freely access health care, travel, marry or exit prison. The inequality of Sharia can easily lead to abuse of women in the household.
Although victories such as earning the right to drive and the right to vote for municipal elections are significant victories, the fundamental problem is yet to be solved. Furthermore, with women’s inability to perform basic necessities, Saudi Arabia’s Vision2030 program seems impossible. Saudi Vision2030 acquires to put Saudi Arabia at “the heart of the Arab and Islamic worlds, the investment powerhouse and the hub connecting three continents.” When the country’s reliable source of oil expires, Saudi Arabia will need the entire population to keep up its economy. Saudi women are intelligent and educated, therefore with the allowance of women to participate in the economy, the government can truly benefit. Not only in Saudi Arabia, but equality of genders in all countries are a priority.
To non-Catholics, the importance of the Pope can be ambiguous. The formal definition of the Pope is “the bishop of Rome as head of the Roman Catholic Church.” As a critical successor of St.Peter, the Pope guides the Catholic Church from the Vatican City. Most recently, after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on February 28th, 2013, the Papal Conclave 2013 gathered to elect Archbishop of Buenos Aires as the new Pope.
The Archbishop took the name of Francis and started his reign on March 12th, 2013. The name Francis inherited its holy meaning from St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis of Assisi was born under a silk merchant and a noblewoman in France. He enjoyed a prosper life during his youth with wealthy friends and entertaining leisure activities. However, his benevolence remained even when he was helping his father at the market sell clothes. One instance is when suddenly a beggar appeared and asked for alm. At the end of the deal, St. Francis of Assisi provided an act of charity and gave the beggar everything he had. Unfortunately, St.Francis of Assisi was scolded by his parents and friends for his kindness. Later in his life, he joined the military and was held captive for a year. During his captivation, he saw visions of biblical scenes and the conversion gradually took a bigger impact in his life. Later, he wanted to spread the Gospel to more people. Although some of his expeditions such as the one to Morocco failed, he succeeded to land in Egypt and spread the word of God. Now, he is infamous as the patron saint of animals and the poor.
Ever since his inauguration, the new Pope has been truly controversial. According to Cnn.com, “He urged priests around the world to be more accepting of gays and lesbians, divorced Catholics and other people living in what the church considers "irregular" situations.” Without changing the traditional doctrine of the Church, Pope Francis has opened the doors to more people in the community than his predecessors. Along with his acceptance, the Pope is famous for his adaptation to technology. The newly elected Pope Francis is on Twitter as @Pontifex. With 17.9M followers, the Pope’s account is filled with inspirational quotes. His famous quotes include but are not limited to,
“For those who are with Jesus, evil is just a provocation to love even more.”
“Seek the Lord in prayer: He is the one who has called you.”
On Fairy Stories by J.R.R Tolkien is the single most inspiring article I have recently read. His logic can seem somewhat offensive at first, however it later persuades the readers to correlate the Resurrection story of Jesus and fairytales. The similarities provide a deeper understanding of the nature of the Resurrection story; Jesus died for our sins on the cross, and ascended into heaven on the third day. Tolkien makes three major points to explain his logic.
First of all, fairytales are not just for children. The modern society assumes that there are special connections between children and fairytales. However, the two were connected through domestic history. Fairytales were put in nursery rooms, because the adults did not care for their misuse. The truth is, some adults, and some children are innate with the taste for fairytales, and are naturally attracted to them.
Human beings are especially attracted to fairytales because it provides an "Escape from Death." The utopian settings in fairytales provide an escape from the fear of death and the end of life on Earth. Apart from the fugitive escape, fairytales possess the "Consolation of an Happy Ending." No matter how adventurous, or dangerous the tragedy, plots take a sudden joyous turn after the tragedy happens. Tolkien refers to this turn as the Eucatastrophe. Eucatastrophe is a sudden turn towards the good, which happens after a dire situation, and most importantly the good always wins.
Last but not least, all stories have an “Inner Consistency of Reality.” All authors sub create a world that derives from, or flows into reality. The incredible, or unrealistic joys in fairytales are “A Sudden Glimpse of Underlying Reality or Truth.” The world characters live in are not completely random, or irrelevant, but a continuation of the reality we live in.
The Resurrection story of Jesus is a larger kind of story which embraces all the essence of fairytales mentioned above. The Resurrection is the Eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. After the crucifixion, Christians are dire, however the ascension of Jesus is the sudden turn towards the good. In addition, it contains a happy ending, and the “Inner Consistency of Reality.” In God’s kingdom the greatest does not oppress the weak. Forgiven, or salvaged man is still man, and stories still go on. As Tolkien mentioned in the Resurrection story, “legend and history have met and fused.”
Although the story of Jesus and fairytales are not entirely the same, personally, the correlation makes it easier for me to approach the gospels. At first, the word Bible seems difficult to approach, however the applied sense of friendliness in fairy tales captivates my attention. It is easier to decipher the true meanings of the Resurrection through the categories of audience, Eucatastrophe and reality.
Tolkien, J. R. R. Poems and Stories. Houghton Mifflin, 1994.
Dress Codes and Appropriate Clothing
Inspired by the book of Samuel P. Huntington, the Clash of Civilizations, I researched about appropriate clothing to wear to a religious event. Huntington’s book states on page 29, “Differences in culture and religion create differences over policy issues, ranging from human rights to immigration to trade and commerce to the environment(page. 29). This reminded me that, it would be ideal if we learned all the differences and understood each other’s religious traits, there would be less conflicts due to misunderstanding. The next few paragraphs are different dress codes categorized by religion. Religions were selected out of a list created by www.theregister.co.uk, in which they had listed the religions with the biggest populations.
First of all, I focused on the Catholic Christians, and the Protestant Christians. When attending the Vatican in Rome, people are recommended to bring hats, sunscreen and water in the summer, as Rome gets very hot in the summer. Accepted clothing would be, for men, long pants and at least short sleeves, and for women, knees covered, and at least short sleeves. Now, that is the traditional dress code for papal audiences, and the dress code at your neighborhood church and chapel might be different. Next, for Protestant Christians, traditionally, all members and missionaries were to not wear, short sleeves, short skirts, split skirts or hats with flowers or feathers. It is ideal to dress modest in God’s presence.
Second of all, I focused on the Islamic dress code. In the Quran, it states that reverent clothing is the best type of clothing. One must also cover your cleavage. Now, most Islamic women are seen with a hijab, which means a barrier or veil. A hijab is highly recommended within the culture, and even for tourists. However, within the family, relaxed dress code is okay.
Last but not least I focused on Hinduism. The Hindus have different dress codes when in public and in private. In private, comfortable clothing is okay, however this may vary by family and tradition. In public it is safe to cover your cleavage in front of a crowd. One of the traditional customs of Hinduism is Bindi, a red dot worn in the centre of your forehead between the eyebrows. It represents concealed wisdom, and acts as the third eye. Another traditional clothing is a sari, or saree. A Sari is a drape from 5 to 9 yards and is worn as a female garmet. It is usually wrapped around the waist and one side drapes on the shoulder. It is usually worn over a petticoat with an upper garmet called blouse.
Each religion and culture have its differences, however they are all unique and special to someone. A genuine curiosity might offend someone, and cause conflicts. Therefore, appreciate all cultures like your own.