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Papal Pomp, Millions' Misery

Global homeless cannot afford opiate: religion

Carolyn Bennett

Human beings are not naturally predisposed to opiate: religion. They are pushed. The masses of human beings hunt for distraction because they have been made to believe that, as human beings, they are worthless, hopeless, helpless vessels in need of messiahs crafted in a variety of shapes, shades and shams by self-righteous men.

Distraction surrounds us. Information and image producers, television propagandists, popes and priests and their pomp, mind-altering agents and agencies: warmongers and suicide bomber coaches, pharmaceutical companies and physician carriers, liquor makers and merchants, dope dealers and street hustlers, they're all the same. They exist to distract and destroy, whichever comes first, human mind/spirit and its potential.

We know this because we the masses would rather bend the knee than stretch the mind (Someone smarter than I originated that line). We don't solve problems; we pray or cross our fingers-methods equally ineffective in solving problems. We seem to have been proselytized that way.

If popes and priests and rabbis and imams had ever been seriously interested in ending global misery of the masses, ending war and violence, they would have done so long ago. Lord knows they are big enough and powerful enough and peopled enough, and they have siphoned off enough money from people of all economic strata and circumstances to have created world prosperity. But instead they have existed on creating misery. They are the leeches on world societies. They write the books, religious texts etched in stone, blessing the poor while fleecing them into wandering destabilized upheavaled desperate homelessness.

The spectacle of a government leader this week kissing the ring of a religious man was disgusting (there ought to be a law against it) and a glaring image and illustration of WHY women remain among the oppressed in a misery sanctioned and sanctified for an eternity. Who bought that robe and ring and shining chariot of distraction? The masses.

Americans may soothe themselves with papal distraction. But there are suffering people in the world who suffer because of that opiate: religion. Among them are the world's refugees and displaced millions.

Twenty-six million (and counting) is the estimated number of people displaced within their countries by armed conflicts and violence. At the end of 2007 the figure was the highest global total in a decade, according to a Norwegian Refugee Council report.

In Asia, Africa and South America people fled their homes mainly to escape long-standing internal conflicts. By the end of 2007 the numbers of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) were staggering and still growing with "no breakthrough in reducing their number or measurably improving their situation":

5.8 million in Sudan Up to 4 million in Colombia Almost 2.5 million in Iraq 1.4 million in the Democratic Republic of the Congo 1 million in Somalia

In more than 50 countries-particularly among women and children-people were often "victims of the gravest human rights abuses." Along with being continually attacked the people suffered "hunger, disease and the effects of inadequate shelter."

Norwegian Refugee Council Secretary-General Elisabeth Rasmusson in releasing the report raised the alarm saying the international community had failed to address challenges and obstacles "coherently through diplomatic engagement, humanitarian assistance and development programmes. Our knowledge of, interest in and response to people trapped in protracted displacement situations," she warned, "is far from impressive."

Also in Geneva this week the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees met in conference highlighting Humanitarian Needs of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons inside Iraq and in Neighboring Countries.

Speaking before international representatives High Commissioner António Guterres called Iraq's wandering homeless "the most significant displacement in the Middle East since the dramatic events of 1948." What happened in 1948 was western powers ignored Arab opposition and established an Israeli State on Palestinian land. War broke out between Arabs and Israelis. Palestinians lost their homes and their means of making a living. Today, Guterres continued, "one in eight Iraqis have been driven from their homes"; some 1.9 million of them "are currently displaced inside the country and up to 2 million others have fled abroad." Last year "Iraqis became the largest group of asylum-seekers in industrialized countries, a position they last occupied in 2002."

Non-Iraqi refugees inside Iraq are also in dire straits. "Palestinians in particular have been targeted amid the violence, with over 600 victims so far and over 15,000 unable to escape."

This humanitarian wandering crisis of homelessness and upheaval-from all parts of society: rich and poor, elderly and children, hopeful professionals and struggling widows-borne mainly by the Iraqis also is being borne by neighboring states, Guterres said. The suffering of the displaced grows by the day. And "host communities are straining under this extraordinary burden."

Without any meaningful help from outside, Guterres reported, the Syrian Arab Republic and Jordan have provided most of the protection and humanitarian assistance. More than a million Iraqis have sought safety in Syria, up to 750,000 in Jordan. Refugees have crossed into Egypt, Lebanon, Iran and Turkey and the arrivals have had an overwhelming impact on economies, society and infrastructures.

Somehow a papal "love of immigrants" strikes hollow in this context of man-made suffering. In the presence of such suffering, a pageantry of praying and laying on of hands and crossing fingers-not to mention the monetary waste-is no less than criminal.

Guterres concluded his opening speech to the conference with a call to constructive action:

These refugees fled widespread violence-not a State policy of persecution. The humanitarian dimension of the problem can no longer be overlooked. We have no other agenda than the people-the people who suffer and need protection, assistance and a solution to their plight. We know that humanitarian problems are symptoms of a disease whose cure can only be political [that is: not surges or continued violence]. All of us-representatives of governments, international organizations and civil society-are now compelled to act.

Will the rabbis and preachers, priests and popes, imams and "religious" government leaders act differently this time? Or will they continue handing out "blessings" on the poor they create enriching themselves "saving" them?

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

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