For me, one of the signs of the times is the systematic abuse of security forces by those in positions of power and authority to protect themselves rather than protect the common good of their people.
Tens of thousands of people living on the edges or margins of power are killed annually as a result of human rights denied: secret executions, summary trials as a result of inhuman torture, and people killed in their homes and places of worship. Many were executed solely because of their political or religious convictions or for their colour, ethnic origin or language. What is especially damning is the attempts to cover up so much of this systematic abuse of power through enforced disappearances, suppression of impartial investigations and destruction of evidence, to mention just a few.
What can we do when faced with such a worldwide system of brutality, inequality and denial of human rights? How can we raise international awareness and confront these deplorable crimes?
As people of faith, we need to widen our tent pegs so that people of all faiths and none can come together in solidarity with each other, with those on the edges or margins of power – who are already speaking with a prophetic voice – to be the leaven of creative Divine power, in the face of inhuman destructive and authoritarian power of devastating structural inequality and profits.
On the margins of power, one does not simply find poverty and deprivation; one finds people with dignity gathering up the rejected, the exploited, the wounded, and the nobodies denied human rights, fighting to make our common home a better place for everyone. These sisters and brothers are already speaking with a prophetic voice, witnessing to God in a world of poverty, exclusion and injustice. These sisters and brothers, who see reality differently from those who occupy the centres of disempowering power and authority and structural injustice, need to be listened to attentively, learned from and be part of our tent.
As Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb said in their joint document on Human Fraternity for world peace and living together say; “This Declaration may be an appeal to every upright conscience that rejects deplorable violence and blind extremism; an appeal to those who cherish the values of tolerance and fraternity that are promoted and encouraged by religions; this Declaration may be a witness to the greatness of faith in God that unites divided hearts and elevates the human soul”.