News Archives

World Bank advisor advocates multilateral way to peace

9/17/2003

This story is a sidebar to UMNS #422

HERNDON, Va. (UMNS) - The search for common security ultimately boils down to a choice of multilateralism, unilateralism or chaos, a senior adviser to the World Bank told members of the United Methodist agency concerned with social advocacy and action.

"Where do Christians fit in all this?" asked Alfredo Sfeir-Younis, who said he spoke out of his decades of international experience, not as a representative of any organization. He answered his own question to voting members of the denomination's Board of Church and Society by suggesting that Christians offer vision, values and space for human self-realization.

Much attention has been given to globalization's financial and economic aspects without considering its social, spiritual and human dimensions, he observed. He advised avoiding getting hooked by materialism and instead urged focusing on values.

"Use your power for the betterment of humanity and the improvement of the system," he urged. "Talk to your government about voting for the values you want," he advised the group, which includes members from Africa and Europe.

Equity and social justice are more important than world power and globalization, declared Sfeir-Younis.

Literacy has increased, and life expectancy has improved, but 600,000 women die each year because they lack access to health care during pregnancy, he said. He lamented "the way we are destroying the environment."

"Fifty percent of the world population has never heard a phone ringing," he said, noting the contrasts between people in technologically advanced communities and those whose lives are still lived under the most primitive conditions.

Sfeir-Younis, who grew up in Chile, is trained as an agricultural economist. He considers himself a Utopian, he said, and believes in a world at peace that is free of crime and where people are healthy. Health care, as currently practiced in much of the world, fails to promote health, instead creating adaptation to disease, he complained.

The world has22 million security guards, and the number is growing, he observed.

For a better world, Sfeir-Younis advocates what he calls a 200 percent society - one that is materially and spiritually rich-and recommends spiritual formation. "Don't leave it to governments alone," he advised.

The more individuals and governments debilitate the multilateral system - however imperfect - the more it is at risk of destruction, he warned. And, he said powerful forces are at work to bring that destruction for their own purposes.

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