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The world needs another Reformation

The world needs another Reformation

Five hundred years ago, a friar named Martin Luther published his Questioning the power and efficacy of indulgences, which is considered the beginning of the great religious and cultural reform -the Reformation , by antonomasia- that gave origin to a new way of to understand the world . Now, the Hay Festival -a meeting of writers and thinkers that is taking place throughout the year in several cities, from the Colombian Cartagena de Indias to Segovia, through the Mexican Querétaro, the Danish Aarhus or Hay -on-Wye, the Welsh town where it all began-has decided to commemorate the Lutheran feat by summoning thirty intellectuals from various disciplines to ask them what great reforms the world needs today. In the field of religion as then, but also in aspects such as the environment the indigenous cultures economic organization , the development of the cities or even the gene . What follows is a synthesis of proposals launched to the debate in the days held in November in the Peruvian cities of Arequipa and Cuzco.


More power to the cities

Deyan Sudjic (London, 1952) has just publish The language of the cities (Ariel). Expert in design and urban development, advocates two things: more political power for cities and radically apply new technologies to urban structures. "A city is like a work of art never finished," he explains, "it changes constantly but it should have only one objective: to offer well-being to its inhabitants. It is only worth keeping those that do, and should not be directed only by politicians. We are forced to rethink the cities, as China has done, using technology to transform them: there are cities with all their electric public transport and water their crops with desalinated water from the sea. They are the cities of the future. " And why grant more political power to the big cities? Because, according to Sudjic, they are depositaries "of tolerance and freedom. They offer the possibility of anonymity. In them, difference and tolerance flourish. Being from an ethnic, religious or sexual minority in a small rural community is impossible. A city allows you the freedom to self-discover. " London "existed before England," the thinker recalls. A populist nationalism, opposed by the cities, now emerges in Europe. London wanted to stay in Europe, but the rest of the country has punished him. Is it fair that London leaves the EU against its will? "


The time of cryptocurrencies

Despite the controversy surrounding the current bitcoin bubble, the Argentine writer Luisa Valenzuela (Buenos Aires, 1938) sees in the cryptocurrency a hope for the future. "I suggest reforming the God of our world, Money," he says. In his thesis number 27, Luther already refers to the tinkling of coins and warns, in number 28, against profit and greed. I am afraid that greed and compulsive waste is leading to a global disaster. Money, which is a means to achieve certain ends, has become an end in itself. " Since, in 1971, the gold standard ceased to exist "there is no longer any reference to give it substance and it has become a total abstraction". Thus, "capital, in its speculative form, lives from the purchase and sale of paper, not from consumption or production, the positive things that previously stimulated money. Money was created as an exchange value, it was not made to generate more money, we have perverted it. "

What proposals does Valenzuela launch? He asks to look at France, where "so-called complementary local currencies circulate, with which members of the same structure exchange goods and services", as in Toulouse. Globally, it proposes to analyze in depth the cryptocurrencies -although not the bitcoin, object of a brutal speculation- for its positive values: "They are universal and digital, they do not depend on the control of regulators. They represent the only possible way out "and cites the Argentine Wealth Observatory, which has launched the PAR, a social virtual currency, under whose umbrella a mechanism of" voluntary and transparent exchange of goods and services has been born. The work is encouraged, offering it in exchange for a currency that is accepted by several businesses. " This currency "is created at the time of the transaction", only serves the real economy, is not useful for hoarding. "The cryptocurrencies that interest me are impossible to falsify and neither can they be hidden, there is no black crypto-money". "Governments are already thinking of setting up their own national cryptocurrency, as Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz asks, and that would be dangerous because in the end the big banks would direct them." "It is not a utopia to think of a world with cryptocurrencies," he concludes. "It is a practical solution. I am not talking about suppressing the other money, at least at the beginning, it is essential that taxes continue to be paid. "


An optimistic paradigm

The British Gabrielle Walker, PhD in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge, states that climate change is already "transforming our planet irreversibly, with droughts, floods, forest fires and hurricanes of extreme violence, as we have clearly seen in this fateful 2017." However, "pessimism is a luxury that I can not afford," says the author of books such as Antarctica or climate cataclysm. It asks "to change the way we have to measure growth and success. Now we measure the success of countries for money, but we need other parameters such as happiness or well-being. "

Walker demands to break the dynamics of good and bad. "Today there are basically two narratives about it, and both are lies: one, that of Jonathan Franzen and others, says that the problem is capitalism, that everything is a disaster and nobody is doing anything and that we have to stop doing things that we like and be unhappy to save ourselves. The other erroneous view is that climate change does not exist, because it is a conspiracy or exaggeration of the leftists. Much time has been lost in the struggle between these two visions, equally false. We are all in the same boat and we all need to use our creativity and strength to get out of this. It is not a question of rich against poor, it is not from left to right, from women to men, we all live on this planet and if we lose this battle we will all die. " For her, "we are the generation that decides: we can turn this around and fix things … still". About the US exit of the Paris agreements on climate change, says that "Trump is isolated internationally, only Syria wants to get out too, and in his own country there are hundreds of mayors, governors and very large companies that are going to follow the Paris agreements." "It is said that political leaders are not doing anything, and that is not true," he concludes. You already know what is happening and are doing important things to change the situation. It is not fast enough, but you already know it. "


Common to the three monotheisms

Those responsible for launching their proposals to reformulate religion in the 21st century were the Dutch theologian Bruno van der Maat and Peruvian essayist and philosopher Pablo Quintanilla, doctor of Philosophy from the University of Virginia and master's degree from King's College London. For Van der Maat, "talking about religion today is like talking about the devil, has a bad reputation, with a Catholicism involved in scandals, Islamic terrorism and an aggressive Zionism. The question is: is it better to think about a new religion or better forget about it? " Quintanilla responded: "In the religious phenomenon, as old as man, something valuable beats. It can add depth to human life. Give meaning to life, as Wittgenstein said. It is looking at things with an attitude of reverence before everything that exists and with a feeling of solidarity towards other human beings. " The theme is that "religious discourse is thought for other times. Many things in Catholic discourse are absurd, and people believe that nonsense is religion. " Thus, both propose to understand the religion of the XXI century as "a space of critical openness, a conversation, a free and plural dialogue", and to put the emphasis on the common aspects of the three monotheisms: "That life has a meaning, that It is born valuable. And that religion is an instrument of social transformation because human pain overwhelms us and drives us to act ". "I see no reason," Quintanilla maintains, "to prioritize one religious form over another, ecumenism must be the basis for the Reformation, focus on the shared, stripping the religion of atavisms and superstitions." For example? "That idea that many people have that God speaks directly to them is harmful. If you talk to God, you are praying but if he answers you, you are psychotic. The well understood religion includes a dose of agnosticism, because only God knows its features and designs ". Another pathology would be "moral arrogance, which comes to the denial of the human, the body, pleasure and life. Suffering is not the end to which we should aspire, quite the opposite. " Likewise, "it took the Catholic Church twenty centuries to accept freedom of conscience, other religions still do not accept it and should do so."


Integrate indigenous knowledge in the university

The essayist Lee Maracle ( Vancouver, 1950) proposes a reform of university education to integrate the knowledge of indigenous peoples in the curricula. That is, in fact, her job as an advisor to several Canadian universities. "The Europeans arrived," he explains, "and they called us 'dirty savages,' but it was us who bathed every day." In the practical field, his proposal affects the educational method: "We want students to find their own truth, not obedience to the teacher. If the students repeat what they are told, the professors may have a PhD, but they will not be thinkers. It's not okay for doctors to go to class to give a lecture. I sit on the floor with the students around me, and I learn as much from them as they from me. " "At 4 years old -continued- they had to operate on me, we would not have known how to do it. Our people know, however, how to advise me better in the diet, I would not be poisoned with sugar mixed with water. Western culture prepares people to work, that's what they do best. Sugar moved the economy, you had to increase your consumption, the companies invested in plantations, they killed indigenous people and you poisoned them. " Integrating the two worlds, "we would get rid of diseases, obesity, heart diseases … There is also appropriation of indigenous knowledge, 90% of medicine is based on it. It must be taught where that knowledge comes from, as the University of Oxford does. "


What is the limit?

Spanish Miguel Pita, doctor in genetics and cell biology and author of The Dictator DNA (Ariel), calls for a global debate to establish what genetic interventions can be done and which can not. "We have the gene variant that, for example, makes us more promiscuous or more faithful, more aggressive or less. Now we can not, legally, take the gene of a human and graft it to another, but the tools are already there. Just two months ago, a gene was extracted, the damaged variant that would have produced an embryo sudden death, and put a healthy copy. After the birth was not completed, for legal reasons. It has been recently done with two other diseases. That will be able to do with the people who are about to be born, for a volume ratio, with individuals that are one or two cells, because we would need at least 20 billion repairs to touch the gene of each cell ". It asks, then, that politicians "pay attention to scientific advances, so that they do not go faster than legislation".