Reflection on how the “Vanua” is being broken in the world

There are three by which I see “vanua” being destroyed in the world today. To begin with my statement above, I would like to explain brieflywhat “vanua” is. It refers to many tangible and intangible things in life of Fiji Islands such as land, water, oceans, environment, trees, animals, cultures, customs and people.

The first is the relationship between human beings and nature being destroyed by mankind. Human life is indispensable to nature. Nature is the environment for human existence and development. However, the unconscious human actions have been destroying the natural environment. Every action harms nature, that is, people are harming themselves because everything in this universe is interconnected and reciprocal one way or another. We can see this very clearly through deforestation; companies and factories discharge toxic wastes and gases into the environment, polluting the air and water. I see this very clearly in the cities in Vietnam, especially in the big cities. Most people have to wear masks to protect their health from air pollution when they go out. When passing through the canals in the big cities, you can smell the stench of polluted water. In 2016, hundreds of tons of fish died along the coast of Vietnam, caused by pollutant wastes exceeding the allowed level from companies. This disaster has a great impact on the life of fishermen and tourism. It is clear that when people harm nature, they are harming themselves.

The second is that people are breaking the relationship between people. Every day we read, watch or listen to news on the TV, the Internet or the newspapers, we cansee many sad things happening around us and around the world: brothers and sisters in a family fight each other, even take each other’s lives; one family fights with another family; one tribe wars with another tribe, one group fights with another; one country invades another; Terrorism and killing occur daily. It is clear that humans are slaughtering each other in different ways.

The third is that man is breaking the relationship with the Creator. It happens when humans break the good relationship with nature and with themselves because God is the One who creates everything and He loves His creation. Breaking these relationships, people automatically leave Him.

 From these points, we see that “vanua” is being broken and seems to be worsening. However, with optimistic thinking into the future, I think we can change the way we are dealing with nature, with our fellow humans and with God if we pursue the common good to build up the harmony between the human community and other creatures.

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Peter Minh Duc Nguyen (SDB), is a student of Theology at The Pacific Regional Seminary (PRS), Suva, Fiji Islands.