English Trialog: EU Enlargement and NGDOs

Lecture on "The Enlargement of EU and the NGDOs" conference (18-20 Nov, 1998, Palace Auersperg, Wien)

Not aid only, but Sustainable Civilisation

(Gyula SIMONYI, Hungary, BOCS Foundation)

1. The Bokor movement: half a century history of a Hungarian NGDO

1945: The Red Army occupied Hungary. The Christians knew that persecution came as in the Soviet Union. Small Catholic communities started and prepared themselves to survive underground way, as the Early Church. They studied Bible and emphasised non-violence, non-material richness and solidarity. This is the Bokor movement, network of communities. (The Bokor means bush, refers to the burning bush in the Bible.) 1952: Community leaders were sentenced for 7-15 years, Gyorgy Bulanyi Sch.P. was sentenced for life because of their youth work. 1956: Prisons and borders were open for a short while, but P. Bulanyi decided to remain in Hungary. 1961: He was released. 1968: Third World project started (among other issues) in the Bokor. Members donated usually 10% of all income, and 75% of the common money had to go to the Third World (and 20% for other charity work). We supported Christian aid organisations in Latin-America, Africa, Asia. It was against of the strict communist law on hard currencies that time, so it was dangerous, we had to find tricky ways to send the money. Nationalists said Hungary is poor, it's a sin to send the money out. Church leaders also said: we are a poor church supported by the West, it's nonsense to support others. But in 1981 the first small church action happened towards Mother Teresa. 1976: We concentrated our support to a Christian school network in India. Recently in 90 schools 20.000 poor children are studying there. 1986: Cedric Prakash SJ, director of this school network, visited us. He wanted to see this unique case, that money was coming year after year from behind the iron curtain. 1993: His second visit in Hungary. As the political changes happened, we established an issue-oriented legal body, the Third World Foundation for this aim. The BOCS Foundation is not so issue-oriented: it is dealing with peace, environment, justice, religions, civil society, development education issues. 1996: One of us visited them in India. 1997: We invited Cedric Prakash SJ to take part on the II. European Ecumenical Assembly in Graz (what we reported daily on the Internet). We made a website for their school network.

2. NGDOs in the world crisis: to develop sustainable civilisation in the North!

We have a double strategy: not only support the Third World, but struggle against the structures which always make the powerful more rich and the weak more poor. The result of the over-consumption and over-population is growing poverty, environment destruction, violence. We support appropriate education (e.g. this school network in India has a "Small family - happy family" program too). But the other root of the world crisis - the over-consumerism - is here in the North! So we help to develop a sustainable civilisation in Hungary, in East-Europe. We have to learn a lot from the well-organised western NGDOs, but also we (and the South) have something what we can offer to learn for the West. The keyword of this knowledge is LifeHarmony. It means life quality instead of life standard, non-material richness instead of material consumerism. It means "to be and not to have" happiness (E. Fromm) instead of production-consumption-pollution slavery under the pressure of credits and advertisements. It means less money but more time. It means more spiritual and intellectual treasures and "luxury of personal relationships" (phrase of Saint-Exupery): friendship, community, solidarity, voluntary work, love and sexual love, play, artwork, nature, silence, peace, joy and many other meaningful values. There is an animation on our website: an E fall down onto the LifeHarmony and makes LifeHarMONEY, where the money try to occupy the whole life, but the life resist and kick out the E, defend the Harmony. The LifeHarmony needs lower life standard but more time, because happiness comes from non-material richness. So the LifeHarmony makes possible a sustainable civilisation, less production-consumption-pollution, less violence, more justice, better integrity of Creation. The network of small communities is ideal place to live in LifeHarmony and to teach it. These educational community life makes its members more happy and more wise. It helps them not to be slaves of credits and advertisements. So they have time for life and money for the poor. The NGDO not only ask (money and voluntary work) from them, but gives LifeHarmony, better life quality to them. So the role of NGDOs is much more than collecting money for the poor. They can and should develop a sustainable civilisation, which is much better even for the rich. NGDOs can and should be not only educators but even frames of LifeHarmony.

3. Welcome on our website: http://bocs.hu

Recently there are about 1200 texts in 13 languages (mainly English, Hungarian and German), half a thousand pictures, 50 Mbytes. Special parts on Development Education, Environment, Peace, Justice, Religions. Guests as Kairos Europa, Church & Peace, Balaton Group, Budapest Club, Christian Solidarity International, appropriate TV-programs, etc. The BOCS is acronym of Bokor Environmental Group. The Bocs as Hungarian word has two meanings: a short friendly "forgive me" (refers to peace work), and "bear-cub" (ecology). Our logo is a panda (the only "vegetarian" bear), playing on the fields: "The cow and the bear eat together, their kids play together, no one harms, destroy any more..." (Isaiah 11,3)