During the 2019 Warsaw Fellowship program, Fellows wrote a brief article on the topic of their choosing in response to one or more of the activities/speakers during the program. Pieces written by these fellows represent their individual opinions.
Barack Obama once said “We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn’t a matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith.”
This quote illustrates what I thought about on the 19th of June when we had a chance to listen to the lectures of Dr. Mustafa Switat and Catholic theologist Zuzanna Radzik.
“If instead of believing in what the media says, people had a more critical reflection on what was written, fake news wouldn’t spread that quickly.”
It is common knowledge that religion mostly unites people. However, it is necessary to stress that it unites mostly people of the same faith. When it comes to different religions, it turns out that religion may be a flashpoint of conflict.
People who are not Christian in Poland often faced discrimination and were subjected to hate speech. Our guest Mustafa Switat said that in the last years the number of situations when members of the Arab community were treated in a disrespectful way, just because of their heritage, has increased. It might have happened because much fake news about the refugees and Muslims were published in the far-right media. One of them was the cover of Gazeta Polska with the title “Refugees brought fatal diseases.” Even though there was no scientific proof that this statement was true, many people believed in what was reported. It clearly demonstrates that there is not enough media literacy in our society. I think if instead of believing in what the media says, people had a more critical reflection on what was written, fake news wouldn’t spread that quickly. Hate speech poses a serious threat to us. In January 2019, we could see what can be the consequence of it, when the President of Gdańsk, Paweł Adamowicz was killed at a public charity event. In this particular situation, hate speech was the incitement for the crime.
“I think the Catholic church should use its power in order to fight against hate speech in Poland. As most of the Poles are Catholic, this institution has a big influence on people.”
Later on, we had a chance to listen to the perspective of Zuzanna Radzik, a famous Catholic Feminist in Poland. I can agree with most of the statements she made. She wants to see changes in the Polish Church and definitely, this institution needs to modernize. I think the Catholic church should use its power in order to fight against hate speech in Poland. As most of the Poles are Catholic, this institution has a big influence on people. Priests could show their believers that faith shouldn’t be a factor that divides people. Pope Francis is very open and people should follow his mission to be open for the other point of view.
I strongly agree with Sojourner Truth that “Religion without humanity is very poor human stuff.” We need to try to find understanding beyond the faith. In order to achieve it, we need to start from ourselves. It’s important to find the connection between people and for that we need to see another person as a human being and we should cut on labeling them as “Muslims”, “Jews” or “Catholics” because, in the end, we are all humans.
I will conclude with a very important sentence “Let us offer each other the sign of peace.” Let’s focus on what unites us, not on what divides us.
“Let us offer each other the sign of peace.” Let’s focus on what unites us, not on what divides us.