The last Jesuit Congregation of Procurators discussed the problems of “globalization and the faith-justice dyad” at the end of 2003. In order to follow up the discussions, the new issue of Promotio Justitiae (No. 81) offers the views of 10 Jesuits, from all over the world, most of them present at the Congregation. The Tokyo Social Center thinks also important to monitor the globalization moves as they influence much our tasks and our lives in Japan. The following is an attempt to synthesize the opinions presented in the Debate. Going through the articles of the Debate, one can realize that Jesuits of industrial countries and those dedicated to education lean towards the positive aspects of globalization, or try to present a balanced view of both, positive and negative elements, while Jesuits of developing economies and working “with the poor” stress the negative elements of globalization. (Ando Isamu, Jesuit Social Center, Tokyo)
Introducing the debate, Fernando Franco, the Social Justice Secretariat (Rome), affirms that, “it is clear that all Jesuits do not hold the same views on globalization. It is also evident that without a sufficiently large and important Jesuit critical mass of thinking and feeling converging on a common understanding of globalization and its effects, the Society may not be capable of developing an affective and effective response to the challenge.”
In the Hague Declaration (November 2002) the Society for International Development points out that globalization has “the potential for greater human development and prosperity on the one hand, or alienation, disempowerment, impoverishment and polarization on the other.”
Together with those who have the wealth we Jesuits can readily avail ourselves of the benefits of a more borderless world. But, new borders are being erected. For instance, first world governments set more stringent regulations for the admission of asylum seekers and fix stricter border security, under the excuse of terrorism. In other words, globalization produces new divisions of rich and poor, including the information-rich and the information-poor.
Globalization is presently degrading local life at the village level, but it could enhance it. This also affects our ministry. With inter-provincial collaboration, we could do much for distance learning, bringing education into the village directly.
We are quickly transported to other universes: physically, through travel or in our imagination (digital world). These are occasions to rediscover “the same” everywhere. How can we choose, or invite others to choose, life in the midst of all this? One way might be to develop more strongly the habit of encountering the Other, both among those who are near and those who are far, and recognizing Him Who comes to the world in ever surprising ways, because he makes everything new.
Confronted with one unique world in search of common values, we need a preferential choice of action towards the poor, but not in antagonistic opposition to the rich. We must rediscover what is signified by the idea that the human person is the image of God.
In a certain way globalization evokes Christian universalism. The love of God is poured out on all humanity. Modern technology provides very efficient means to bring the unity of space that is our earth and its inhabitants.
The actual problem is that globalization is in the hands of the strong and the rich. An egoistic capitalism and consumerism threaten values, justice and human dignity. But on questions of justice or injustice the Society can and should have a prophetic role.
For the cause of evangelization we have access to fantastic cultural, relational and spiritual instruments included in globalization. Our mission is to have the poorest accede to the global culture, helping them to keep the richness of their own identity.
It is a fact that globalization has not been able to reverse the poverty of the greater part of humanity. On the opposite, the poor have notably increased and the environment has reached dangerous levels, as the result of powerful arms of mass destruction and certain types of extreme development schemes. On the other hand new opportunities and ways have emerged to pursue our mission and to struggle for the life of the poor. Now it is becoming urgent to draw up diagnoses and work plans for global problems with the help of competent teams of Jesuits and lay people to find out alternative solutions. In the Spiritual Exercises we are invited to become involved in the world with all its variety and diversity, from the point of view of the most holy Trinity: “Let us bring about the redemption of the human race.” (107)
If we are to be credible witnesses of the gospel, the social apostolate must express itself in a more radical form. We need to denounce corporations and individuals who accumulate so much wealth when thousands are dying of malnutrition and starvation. At the same time, our task is also to announce God’s kingdom. We need to build global solidarity with people of good will. The Society is a global religious order. We can make a difference if we build international networks with strong local and national basis.