Jealousy, a major obstacle on the road to peace

The first murder in human history was caused by jealousy. Cain killed his brother. The word “sin” appears here for the first time in the Bible! This is significant! “Original sin” is not the sin of Adam and Eve. The first sin was between human beings. The first sin was to allow violence born of jealousy and a refusal to accept differences to thrive.

The villain in a comic book I read as a child kept grumbling: “I want to be a vizier instead of a vizier!” And imagining a whole series of methods to achieve it. On a less dramatic note, a confrere said: “I had to wait 27 years before being appointed parish priest, whereas he…” Yes, so what? Yes, but so what? Why is he called to study, and I’m not? All too often, our prolific imagination leads us down the wrong path. We don’t always have the correct elements to judge decisions by those in charge or God! 

Cain and Abel are two brothers, though very different. When the time came to offer God the first fruits of their labours, the first of their produce, a tragedy occurred: God accepted Abel’s offering but rejected that of Cain. God did not reject Cain, only the offering he made. Cain experienced inequality and reacted strongly: his jealousy gave rise to anger.

God tells Cain to pull himself together. But Cain is jealous of Abel without trying to understand; he does not ask God to explain his choice but sees that his brother has received something he does not have. And this is when jealousy is born: desiring what the other has – possessions, recognition, success, talents – feeling sorry for them, and harbouring envy and even hatred towards them, a hatred that can lead to violence. According to the author of Genesis, this violence stems from the fact that man cannot tolerate difference, which he sees as inequality and injustice, for which God himself is responsible.

In one of his Teachings in 2017, the Pope emphasised that the enmities between us all begin with something tiny, but then they grow, and we see life only from this perspective. So much so that our lives revolve around it, destroying the bond of brotherhood. What happened to Cain can happen to all of us,” he says. That’s why the process must be stopped immediately. “Many rifts begin this way even in our presbyteries,” he continues, “in our episcopal conferences”. And in our Society?

The source of jealousy

The jealous person experiences all forms of sharing as unfair and, above all, as immensely frustrating. They desire nothing but everything, especially what has been given to others. They have no particular desire to receive but to possess. He does not believe in what he has received because the other is always an obstacle to his joy.

They refuse to accept the life given to them. They want what is given to the other. Since they are unaware of this, they see themselves as “rejected”. He is not aware that he is refusing life. He justifies his refusal by rejecting the other person and himself. It’s an “all or nothing” question for the jealous person. If the other person is alive, then I am excluded from life. It’s either him or me.

A culture of peace requires a good understanding of Jealousy

Our human relationships are marked by jealousy. We are all affected by this feeling, though at different levels. And the first thing to do if we want to deal with it more effectively is to be aware of it. We can do nothing about the jealousy born in our hearts, this “mimetic desire” (the desire to be like the other person, in a way denying our differences), which unfortunately comes to us despite us. However, we can always “lift our heads” like God told Cain to do; in other words, we can take a step back from what we possess and what others possess, whether in terms of possessions, qualities, talents, or history.

Allow me to share a personal experience with you. During a session on jealousy at Le Chatelard, I recognised a deadly jealousy in me that made me reconsider certain attitudes from my past. I understood the origin of certain sadness, influenced by a strong imagination. Little by little, I recognised the point where the evil tended to get the better of me: “Careful, Georges, you’re stepping out of reality. You’re imagining things, and you’re getting jealous! To break away from this, I voluntarily tried to favour the person I was jealous of: “Vade retro, Satanas!

The world forces us to compare and, very often, trapped by a destructive imagination, to move away from reality. I need to return to the reality of the humanity of the other person I was jealous of. He’s a man with gifts but also with weaknesses. I am also called upon to discover my riches and what makes me come alive so that the other person does not stop me from living.

Many conflicts between states, brothers or confreres arise from an unmanaged jealousy fuelled by our destructive imagination. To escape this impasse, we must leave behind the imaginary relationship of “him or me” and integrate “him and me”. The way out of jealousy is alterity. It’s “him and me”. You have the right to be happy. I have the right to be happy in the positive appreciation of our differences.

By: Georges Jacques, M.Afr.

When the righteous multiply, the people rejoice

Context

We are experiencing significant upheavals that affect all aspects of life in society because, as they say, social facts are total and global; for example, an economic crisis can destabilise the educational and security structure and compromise integral development, the foundation of peace. We, therefore, need to understand that talking about education and the culture of peace is analysing the education system hic et nunc and effectively integrating it into the formation of consciences concerning human rights, the promotion of values that guarantee justice for all peoples, and the creation of a stable economic environment for all. In short, to ensure integral development and prevent crises that could undermine peace initiatives.

We want to mention a few educational programmes such as Human Rights and Citizenship Education (EDHC) implemented in Ivory Coast to facilitate the transition towards a culture of peace; the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up in 1996 by Nelson Mandela to promote National Unity and Reconciliation in South Africa; The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CVR), set up to promote peace and reconciliation during the inter-Congolese dialogue in April 2002; El Centro de Justicia para la Paz y el Desarrollo (CEPAD), set up in 2006 in Mexico (Jalisco) to ensure access to truth, justice and support for victims of torture and families of missing persons. These educational programmes have, without doubt, contributed significantly to the promotion of peace and social integration. However, their scope has often been limited by political and economic constraints.

The culture of peace at risk

The rise of tensions in the world is worrying and raises questions. Is education equipped to meet the challenges of promoting a culture of peace? Education is, first and foremost, a process of laying the foundations for coexistence, justice for all, opportunities for all, and conflict resolution to guarantee harmony in societies. Education, along with truth, enables openness to the realities of the world and an authentic social praxis. Unfortunately, education is akin to a culture of information without constructive criticism. In other words, it is reduced to training professionals for the job market to the detriment of different values of social integration. We are confronted with an education focusing on production, which becomes the yardstick of success. Such an education, whose main objective is to make money, has yet to contribute to the integral development and protection of the culture of peace.

Another factor that undermines the culture of peace is the economic crisis. The lack of resources and financial independence puts many communities at risk of destabilisation and implosion, as in the case of networks of kidnappers. The media bring us daily news of families whose members are in the hands of kidnappers. This is a growing problem in the context of our mission and many other parts of the world. The proliferation of kidnappers is a consequence of the economic crisis, social frustration and friction. In short, structures of injustice are often at the root of this breakdown, making it challenging to promote a culture of peace.

There is also the migration crisis. Mexico is a corridor that many migrants use to enter the United States. Thousands of refugees from Latin America and Haiti travel on foot and by train, pushing the limits of human effort to the very limit to reach the border between Mexico and the United States. It’s a dangerous crossing, sometimes without success. These refugees, crushed by misery, are often victims of drug cartels and other criminal organisations for economic gain or mass recruitment.

Building a culture of peace

Having described the context, followed by an analysis of some of the facts that undermine efforts to promote a culture of peace, we will now look at some of the actions undertaken by the local Church through committed religious and lay people. Our two communities in Mexico have small cells where we welcome people who want to talk, offering them a place to listen. Many people want to speak to us. We direct our candidates to help in this area, along with some religious and lay people involved in refugee reception structures. The involvement of our candidates is part of the academic curriculum for the formation of human values such as voluntary service, helping people in difficult situations, respect for human life and so on. Once a year, the Justice and Peace Commission organises a march in which confreres participate as a form of solidarity for true peace and justice for all.

We launch missionary calendars in several parishes in the diocese from October to January, with a message that incarnates a missionary approach centred on interculturality as an expression of the desire to live together. It should be emphasised that peace is a universal culture that needs people to pass it on from one generation to the next through a selfless education based on the deep-rooted values of truth, freedom, justice for all, and so on. “When the righteous multiply, the people rejoice; but when the wicked prevail, the people groan” (Prov. 29:2). Despite the complexity of the structures that give rise to refugee movements, inter-community conflicts and social upheavals, we must remain hopeful, because the action of people of goodwill through holistic training is like a tiny seed of hope. The main challenges of the future are respect for human rights and peace.

By: Raphaël Muteba, M.Afr.