Interview With Professor of University of Valencia
VALENCIA, Spain, 28 AUG. 2006 (ZENIT)
Christianity is a religion of
peace, says Jesús Ballesteros, author of the recently published
The professor of philosophy of law and political philosophy at the
University of Valencia is an expert in human rights and intercultural
In this interview with ZENIT, he comments on how world peace can be
Q: You link family disintegration with the increase of violence. Is the
world at war because the family has disintegrated?
Ballesteros: The uprooting of the family with the consequent loss of
emotional bonds is the best breeding ground for the development of
violence in its different forms, in as much as it eliminates the moral
conscience, the conviction of obligations of life vis-à-vis others, and
facilitates the manipulation of different fanaticisms.
That is why all totalitarian ideologies have tried to reduce or do away
with the family, insofar as ambit of formation of the personality.
However, we must take into account that the causes that lead to wars are
related above all to the desire to control natural resources, to the
profit motive and to eagerness for power.
Q: How do you replace the concept of "national security" with that of
"human security" which you propose?
Ballesteros: We must be aware that by increasing our arms alone we don't
produce a more secure society, given that the determinant factor for
peace is the exclusion of hatred and of indifference to suffering of our
It is a question of understanding that the problem of peace goes far
beyond the demands of military defense.
It requires above all exertion to extend worthy conditions of life for
all, eradicating poverty and protecting the environment.
Q: Is peace the way, as Gandhi suggested, or must we think of it as a
Ballesteros: As Gandhi himself said, we cannot separate the means
("ahimsa," non-violence) from the end ("sathyagraha," strength of
truth), given that "the means are like the seed and the end like the
Peace must be in the means and the ends. Good ends, such as greater
recognition of rights, can be perverted if there is recourse to violence
to obtain them; on the other hand, peace cannot be attained by any
means, for example, by paying a political price, denying legality,
negotiating politically with terrorists, showing contempt for victims.
This would not be peace but abandonment of one's principles. And as
Gandhi also said the coward is further away from true peace than the
Q: There still are conflicts which arise from misunderstandings between
Christians, let us think of Northern Ireland. In what sense can
Christianity eradicate the causes of violence?
Ballesteros: In general after the appearance of religious conflicts,
conflicts are hidden which are based on economic and social
inequalities, given that in principle religions are rather a factor of
peace, in as much as they try to present the importance of trust in God
and understanding of one's neighbor.
It is true that profound differences exist between religions. There are
closed religions, which make every effort to achieve exclusively the
internal solidarity of the group through social pressure, projecting
guilt toward the exterior through recourse to scapegoats, always
external to the group.
There are open religions, which propose universal love, without
space-time limitations, as an exigency. Christianity is, undoubtedly,
the paradigm of the open religion, given that it consists in the
imitation of Christ, who takes on everyone's guilt, and forgives all.
Christianity therefore is perfect peace, total negation of violence.
Another matter is the fact that, unfortunately, at times it has been
lived ignoring its basic exigency.
Q: You criticize Islamic "Jihadism" and the excesses of the so-called
"war on terrorism." How can this spiral of violence be counteracted
which seems to be established in the world?
Ballesteros: The spiral of violence can only be stopped with the
universal recognition of rights, which excludes in all cases the death
Human rights must be considered as something that has validity beyond
the different cultures. It in turn must not be confused with
Institutions that arose in the West, such as the state of law, the
distinction between religion and politics and representative democracy
are important elements in the defense of those rights, but that does not
mean that there are not also aspects to be corrected in the West, such
as the lack of respect for human beings in their initial and final
stage, and the indifference to conditions of poverty of millions of
The dialogue of cultures is indispensable, governed by the principle of
reciprocity. It is all very well that mosques are built in the West, but
one must demand that also in countries of Muslim majority, churches and
cathedrals be opened. ZE06082802