By Fr Giorgio Licini
In his first letter to the Corinthians, read today in Catholic churches, St Paul reminds the divisive leadership of the community that “one body does not consist of one member but of many”. Indeed this also applies to a nation; especially when as large and diverse as Papua New Guinea.
We may think that the destiny of a country lies on its basic law and the institutions of the state. Actually it lies on personal responsibility and what each member (citizen) is willing to contribute to the common good. Taking care of each other cannot be enforced by law. Many countries that achieved independence from foreign masters soon descended into a vicious circle of internal strife and civil war which brought upon them more misery than centuries of colonization.
Papua New Guinea was spared that horrific fate, but we frequently point at a few weaknesses which are still keeping us slave almost forty years after the mild Australian colonization came to an end. They are easily mentioned: corruption, sorcery, family violence and alcoholism. These ancestral weaknesses seem to have been aggravated by the difficult cultural transition brought about by the world becoming one interconnected reality. Back we do not go; forward only with the new generations achieving a deeper degree of moral and spiritual independence.
We can only suppose that the widow of Nain, whose story is also read today in Catholic churches, was carrying to the cemetery the young victim of sickness or something even more evil. How many young victims of alcohol, drugs, neglect, violence, sorcery and poverty are we still carrying each year to our own Nine Mile cemetery in Port Moresby and elsewhere in the country?
In his short life Jesus refused to violently attack the colonizing Romans. He preferred to point at the change of heart as the condition of true and lasting freedom. The same did the people of Papua New Guinea with the Germans, the British and the Australians. Independence came about in a peaceful, orderly and constructive manner in 1975. Our fathers and grandfathers thought us to have only friends and no enemies; to dialogue rather than to kill.
What a responsibility for today’s generation to eventually defeat at the roots the internal and local causes of slavery and poverty! For a second and lasting independence struggle! (16 September 2014)