– Carlos M. Frota

We live in a world of contrasts and fractures. We don’t have to be an expert at all to know it: just following the news on television we feel it.

Recent news, for example, tells us how deep these divisions can be within societies that cannot be resolved by even the highest state institutions.  They are deep in the historical memory of the communities.

For example, India’s Supreme Court ruled recently in favor of Hindus, in a centuries-old dispute with  Muslims over a place of worship in northern India that has been a focus of tension between the two communities.

The Supreme Court said the disputed land will be handed over to a Hindu group to build a temple, while Muslims will receive a separate parcel of land.  A Muslim group lawyer said the decision was disappointing and the group must file a review petition.

What is the history of the conflict?

In 1992, a Hindu mob destroyed the 16th century Babri Mosque on the site in the northern city of Ayodhya, causing riots in which nearly 2,000 people were killed.

Millions of Hindus believe that the Ayodhya Mosque was built at the birthplace of Lord Ram, one of their most revered deities, considered a physical incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu.

Hindus say the place is one of the holiest places – as holy as Mecca for Muslims.

Muslims say Islamic prayers have been offered on site since 1528, when the Babri Mosque was first built during the rule of Islamic Mughals.


Another place, another division, this time in the Brazilian social body. Between the conservative right and the left that celebrates the temporary release of Lula, the undisputed leader of a popular movement that saw its chances of securing victory in the last presidential election undermined, the  result of a judicial  manipulation that made impossible  for him to run.

Here again we see a society deeply divided between sections of the population with different views on what to expect from political power.

Power for the rich, under the pretext that they and their companies are the engines of the economy? Power for the poor, or whoever represents them, to fight glaring inequalities?

In the broader context of Latin America, the denunciation of the neo-liberal model that president Bolsonaro endorses is confronted by a moderate leftist project which is the agenda of the so-called Puebla Group.

With Alberto Fernandez, also former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff attended the opening of the Puebla Group meeting at the Emperador Hotel in Buenos Aires, Argentina, yesterday, November 9th.

Fernandez, considered a moderate Peronist, maintained close ties with some of the region’s left and center left leaders, including Mexican President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, whom he met last week on his first overseas trip as president-elect.  .

“We are going to defend Latin America with all of you,” Fernandez said at the opening of the meeting, adding that the region had a difficult time as a result of “conservatism.”

Fernandez and the other participants at the meeting celebrated the release on Friday of former Brazilian leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a strong rival of Brazilian right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro, whom Fernandez openly fought.  Lula sent a recorded greeting to the summit.

Fernandez won the victory over conservative Mauricio Macri in the October 27 presidential election with the help of voters, particularly those in poverty, who favor the leftist policies and social spending of former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, deputy  President of Fernandez.

The Puebla Group meeting, which proposes alternative policies to neoliberalism, was attended by over 30 leaders and former leaders, including former left-wing president Dilma Rousseff, former Uruguayan President José Mujica and former Prime Minister Spanish Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva sent a video greeting, not current President Bolsonaro.


Religious fractures. Ideological fractures. Economic fractures.  We live in a world of contrasts and ruptures .  Again: we don’t have to be an expert at all to know it: just follow the news on television to feel it.

Societies are divided, since social and political systems, especially in the prosperous West, have failed to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, the very rich and the very poor.

The rise in the level of wealth produced does not correspond by far the same tendency to its equitable distribution.And instead of expanding the neighborhoods of people who live reasonably well, they expand the peripheries where one definitely lives badly.

Analysts, realizing … the obvious, conclude that wars today occur much more between social groups within countries than between countries.

I am not sure that we should congratulate ourselves on this, because if we do not live in a state of widespread war, we live in widespread … rotten peace.


I learned a few days ago something  that filled me with hope, but I soon became suspicious.  The news is that there is now a growing movement of companies whose philosophy tends to privilege their social function far more than the pure earnings of shareholders. Is it so?

On what superior inspiration will investors accept that their profits will be diluted in a kind of corporate philanthropy that is not their vocation to exercise?

Other, even more recent, reports that the number of multimillionaires has declined slightly in the world since 2015 to just under 750. Good, I thought … but how did the rest of the population profit?


What is happening in the Middle East, Lebanon and Iraq, however, has other ingredients. Much more explosive, by the way.  It is that the lines of fracture are also of religious type.  Or exploited as such by those who advocate power and influence that they don’t want to give up.

Believing in the spontaneity of the protests, as an expression of the degree of dissatisfaction of the young Lebanese and Iraqis, I cannot help but fear that they may fall prey to rival geopolitical interests thinking more about the number of armies they send to the arteries of cities than doctors to hospitals or  teachers to schools.  It’s all a matter of priorities, as you know.


What are the remedies to cure so many wounds?

We, Christians, we have the answers, even if historically we often failed to deal with events in accordance with our principles. Remember Jesus’s teachings: about religious tolerance and about respect for social justice through economic fairness. And above all, how to use power to reach those goals.

The most distinctive of Jesus lessons were about power as service. Thinking about this …  we easily conclude how it can change the world.