Coming shortly after the festive season and the pandemic which has made us make changes in the way we live; this International Day of Human Fraternity is very timely and has never been more relevant.
A fraternity is a sisterhood or brotherhood of people, formed typically around common goals or aspirations, networking and supporting each other. On this day we are thinking about all of us as human beings. How can we work and support each other around the world, whether it is climate issues and the impact on crops and food and hunger, or employment or education or health?
To encourage human fraternity, we should also be thinking about peace, ending violence and promoting tolerance, particularly religious and cultural tolerance.
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 4 February as the International Day of Human Fraternity, with its resolution 75/200. The resolution talks about;
- Underlining the importance of raising awareness about different cultures, religions or beliefs and the importance of education in the promotion of tolerance, respect for religious and cultural diversity.
- Encouraging activities aimed at promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue in order to enhance peace and social stability, respect for diversity and mutual respect.
- Acknowledging that tolerance, pluralistic tradition, mutual respect and the diversity of religions and beliefs promote human fraternity.
In early January I was listening to the BBC Radio 4 series, Rethink Population. Japan has the highest elderly population in the world, with a quarter of the population over the age of 65. Discussion during the programme went on the say that the over 60’s and under 25’s in society are the loneliest and this has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Society is becoming more individualistic, less and less are we hearing about we/our/us and more about me/myself/I. Surely that can’t be good for encouraging fraternity and wellbeing.
Continuing with the theme of older people, the programme highlighted that Japan has seen increasing numbers of people over 65 committing minor offences so they can go to jail where they will be cared for and have a sense of community. In this technologically advance time, we are seeing the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) and will, in all likelihood, see the development of robot carers for older people. Will that make us a less caring global society as we leave it to robots? Only time will tell.
In 2020 the United Nations reported that globally, there were 727 million people aged 65 years or over and over the next three decades, the number of older people worldwide is projected to more than double, reaching over 1.5 billion in 2050. Since on average women live longer than men, they comprise the majority of older people, especially at advanced ages.
It makes me thankful that I am a Soroptimist, part of a sisterhood where we all work together to support all women, whatever age, race or religion, where-ever we are in the world. Do encourage other women to join us. Happy and peaceful International Day of Human Fraternity.