How Do You Feed A Whole World ?


Quite often, the global drama strikes me as a group of children fighting over who gets to go first. Actually, I’ve been feeling a bit adolescent lately so it’s not much of a stretch to see the world’s leaders as misbehaving children.

From the International Herald Tribune: Negotiators acknowledge World Trade Organization process needs to change

From the New York Times: After 7 Years, Talks Collapse on World Trade

From the New York Times/World Business: China’s Shift on Food Was Key to Trade Impasse

From Reuters: EU points at U.S. for WTO collapse

From The WIP: How to Solve the Food Crisis: Cut trade barriers and start a Green Revolution in Africa, says Jeffrey Sachs
“The only silver lining in this (crisis) is – I even hate the idea of using that – is that it has made more people aware of the things that can be done, like the green revolution. I am not a believer in waiting for crises to get things done. I think it’s an absolutely ridiculous part of our character, but when we do have the crisis, at least it’s true that there is more discussion about agriculture the last months than there was in eight years!”

Hundreds of people, seemingly knowledgable in their field, sit down over a seven-year period and can’t come to an agreement; even though people are starving, and banks are tottering, and simple, sincere people (the world over) are losing hope . . .

What’s missing?

One thing that needs to be adjusted in the equation is to strike out the terms referring to Third World. Far as I can figure out, we have one world.

Next, terms need to be incorporated so the job of production becomes integrated globally—not the “us”/”them” situation we have. This will free enormous creative resources for solving our other crises.

“Economic development strategies employed by the United Nations, the World Bank and a number of governments during the last fifty years, however sincerely conceived and executed, have fallen far short of aspirations. In much of the world, the gap between the “haves” and “have-nots” has widened and is accelerating with the persistent disparity in income levels. Social problems have not subsided. In fact, crime and disease are not just on the rise; they are also becoming endemic and more difficult to combat.

“These failures can be traced to a number of factors. They include a misplaced focus on large-scale projects and bureaucratic over-centralization, unjust terms of international trade, a pervasive corruption that has been allowed to flourish throughout the system, the exclusion of women from the decision-making processes at all levels, a general inability to ensure that resources reach the poor, and the diversion of development resources into military hardware.

“A dispassionate examination of these factors betrays a common systematic and fundamental flaw in the current paradigm for economic development: material needs are often addressed without taking into account the spiritual factors and their motivating power….

“Because of the spiritually damaging nature of dependency, schemes which focus solely on redistributing material wealth are doomed to failure in the long run. Distribution of wealth must be approached in an efficient and equitable manner. In fact, it must be intimately integrated with the process of wealth creation.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Oct, Turning Point For All Nations

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A Little Help Can Go A Long Way

Not much of my own comment in this particular post. I’ll let the news sources and websites inform you about this Wonderful concept. As always, though, there will be a spiritual quote at the end…

From OneWorld.Net: Microloans Pay Off for Planet, Investors
“Mohammed Yunus, an economics professor from Bangladesh, is considered the father of microfinance. In 1983, Yunus founded the Grameen Bank to make small loans to impoverished entrepreneurs. Grameen Bank now has over 7 million borrowers. Yunus and the Bank received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.”

From Wikipedia: Microcredit “Microcredit is the extension of very small loans (microloans) to the unemployed, to poor entrepreneurs and to others living in poverty who are not considered bankable….Microcredit is a part of microfinance, which is the provision of a wider range of financial services to the very poor.”

From Business Week: Micro Loans, Solid Returns “With about $200 of his own money and a $1,500 loan, Vahid Hujdur rented space in the old section of Sarajevo and started repairing, then reselling discarded industrial sewing machines. Eight years and several loans later, Hujdur now has 10 employees building, installing, and fixing industrial machinery.”

From the KIVA website: We Let You Loan to the Working Poor “Kiva is the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world. The people you see on Kiva’s site are real individuals in need of funding – not marketing material. When you browse entrepreneurs’ profiles on the site, choose someone to lend to, and then make a loan, you are helping a real person make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their family, and their community. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates and track repayments. Then, when you get your loan money back, you can relend to someone else in need.”

“The increasing disparity between the rich and the poor is a major destabilizing influence in the world. It produces or exacerbates regional and national conflicts, environmental degradation, crime and violence, and the increasing use of illicit drugs. These consequences of extreme poverty affect all individuals and nations. Increasingly we are becoming aware that we are all members of a single human family. In a family the suffering of any member is felt by all, and until that suffering is alleviated, no member of the family can be fully happy or at ease. Few are able to look at starvation and extreme poverty without feeling a sense of failure….

“A new economic order can be founded only on an unshakable conviction of the oneness of mankind. Discussions aimed at solving problems related to extreme poverty based on the premise that we are one human family rapidly expand beyond the current vocabulary of economics. They demand a wider context, one which anticipates the emergence of a global system of relationships resting on the principles of equity and justice.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1993 Feb 12, Human Rights And Extreme Poverty

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Money and Value

Money doesn’t always equal value.

These news items are about the United States but what’s happening there is impacting the global economy . . .

From The New York Times: Worried Banks Sharply Reduce Business Loans “Banks struggling to recover from multibillion-dollar losses on real estate are curtailing loans to American businesses, depriving even healthy companies of money for expansion and hiring.”

From the Economist: Inflation or deflation? “The markets have become incredibly volatile as investors vacillate between these outcomes.”

From the BBC: Record deficit for next president “The next US president is expected to face a record federal budget deficit of almost half a trillion dollars.”

Economics used to seem as opaque as metaphysics to me. Then, as I hit the middle of middle-age, it became apparent I was studying the economics that businesses use, that nations use, that politicians manipulate.

The economics that has squandered vast quantities of non-renewable resources.

The economics that keeps certain people away from creativity, away from a decent livelihood.

The economics that spawns wars and utterly brutal treatment of innocent civilians !

I don’t want to start ranting so here are some spiritual quotes to ponder:

“The repudiation of national right and power to make war represents the first step toward mutual wealth and sound economy. Short of a world economy mankind will not achieve the fruits of civilization.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1947 Feb, A Bahá’í Declaration of Human Obligations and Rights

“Widespread uncertainty about the condition of the economy indicates a deep disorder in the management of the material affairs of the planet, a condition which can only exacerbate the sense of frustration and futility affecting the political realm.”
The Universal House of Justice, A Wider Horizon, Selected Letters 1983-1992, p. 102

“…participants in the informal sector of the economy, women in particular, must be involved in reconceptualizing economics altogether, both theory and practice. If women have a unique approach to economic activity, it would most likely be apparent in the largely unstructured informal sector of the economy. For example, preliminary findings in an on-going study of women industrial sub-contractors in Malaysia, show that the business objectives of the majority of women sub-contractors are defined not so much in monetary terms as in terms of values.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Aug 26, Women in the Informal Sector in Malaysia

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Sharing in a Community

Blogging about communication today. Most of my regular visitors are bloggers but the message I hope to convey goes far beyond blogging . . .

From The Inquisitr (that’s exactly how it’s spelled): The Changing Blogosphere and Blogging 2.0 “It’s easy to be sentimental about ‘the good old days’ of blogging, and I could wax lyrical about the community spirit that has seemingly been lost as blogging has grown up. Without being able to quote empirical evidence, take it as a given that the collective sense of community once shared by all bloggers in no longer.”

From RIZZN: I’m at the Edge of a Eureka Moment “Darren Rowse [of ProBlogger] says that the blogosphere just doesn’t get along with each other anymore. He obviously hasn’t read a political blog in a while. It’s mostly just for-profit tech bloggers that hate each other, and only a couple of them participate in that foolishness.”

From ProBlogger: Has Blogging Lost Its Relational Focus? “The blogosphere is a different place now in many ways. For starters there are a lot more blogs. There is almost a bigger focus upon blogging as a business tool and the idea of making money online in general.”

From ReadWriteWeb: Mixed Messages in The Blogging Landscape “While ultimately professional blogging is reliant on social media, if it becomes too reliant on the ‘social’ part then it implodes. We’ve seen a lot of the symptoms over the past year: burnt out bloggers, ‘bitchmemes’ (when lots of bloggers complain loudly about something usually inconsequential), hints of corruption as bloggers write about things they’ve invested in or have an interest in, stirring up controversy as a business tactic. We’ve even seen a kind of mafia mentality emerge – vendettas, ring-kissing, sychophants surrounding power bloggers, etc.”

That last writer brought out the materialistic side of blogging but further on they positively glowed about “personal” blogs.

Actually, I’ve seen personal blogs that have that “mafia mentality”.

It all boils down to communication and the heart and spirit of the communicator.

But, what does “communication” really mean?

From the Online Etymology Dictionary:to impart, to share, to make common

So whether you’re a CEO, a line worker, a blogger (professional or personal), a door-to-door salesperson, a mother, a friend, or a just-plain-folk, no matter who you are, if you open your mouth or put pen to paper or harness electrons with your computer, communication is ultimately doomed if you don’t come from a place of sharing, imparting, making common—contributing to your commun-ity

~~~~~~~~~

“Human nature is fundamentally spiritual. Communities are unlikely, therefore, to prove prosperous and sustainable unless they take into account the spiritual dimension of human reality and seek to foster a culture in which the moral, ethical, emotional and intellectual development of the individual are of primary concern. It is in such a milieu that the individual is likely to become a constructively engaged, service-oriented citizen, working for the material and spiritual well-being of the community, and that a common vision and a shared sense of purpose can be effectively developed.

“It follows that the material aspects of community development—environmental, economic and social policies; production, distribution, communication and transportation systems; and political, legal and scientific processes—must be driven by spiritual principles and priorities. Today, however, the substance and direction of community development are largely determined by material considerations.

“Our challenge, therefore, is to redesign and develop our communities around those universal principles—including love, honesty, moderation, humility, hospitality, justice and unity—which promote social cohesion, and without which no community, no matter how economically prosperous, intellectually endowed or technologically advanced, can long endure.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1996 Jun 07, Sustainable Communities in an Integrating World

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Spirit of the Age

That’s Arun Gandhi in the image, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. He’ll be at the Festival of Spirituality and Peace in Edinburgh, Scotland from August 3-24.

I’m all for spirituality and I’m all for peace. You may be, too. Yet, I bet you’ve known people who, if you brought up those subjects, would argue with you till the cows came home.

These two ideas—key elements to human unity—cause, at times, violent arguments.

Two things I feel make this happen are the relationship between unity and peace and the relationship between religion and spirituality.

Here’s a short compilation exploring the relationship between unity and peace.

The relationship between religion and spirituality is possibly the most volatile topic on the planet !

I started a discussion in an online forum about religion/spirituality that ran from June 15 to July 24. Even though it’s a public forum, I edited out all names and handles except mine—Alex and amzolt. I left mine because I don’t mind being identified and I was the “moderator” of the discussion. I deleted the other names and emails to give them relative privacy… Check it out: Religion ?vs? Spirituality

~~~~~~~~~

“The mass of the people are occupied with self and worldly desire, are immersed in the ocean of the nether world and are captives of the world of nature, save those souls who have been freed from the chains and fetters of the material world and, like unto swift-flying birds, are soaring in this unbounded realm. They are awake and vigilant, they shun the obscurity of the world of nature, their highest wish centereth on the eradication from among men of the struggle for existence, the shining forth of the spirituality and the love of the realm on high, the exercise of utmost kindness among peoples, the realization of an intimate and close connection between religions and the practice of the ideal of self-sacrifice.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 281

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Wordless Post

I had a major shock today and can’t get my brain wrapped around the blog…

Tomorrow truly is another day, eh?

Here’s a picture to fall into . . .

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Where’s The Party ?

Today I’ll look at the mechanics of the American presidential election but also elections, in general, from the global perspective.

From OneWorld.Net: Amnesty Int’l Focuses on Americans’ Voting Rights
“Under Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to participate in government and open elections…”
“Amnesty and other groups taking part in the voter registration drive fear that millions of Americans may not be able to cast their ballots in the presidential polls if certain shortcomings in the current electoral system are not addressed before the presidential polls in November.”

From The Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
Article 21.
(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

From About.com-US Government Info: The Electoral College System
“When you vote for a presidential candidate you are really voting to instruct the electors from your state to cast their votes for the same candidate.”
“Each elector gets one vote.”
“While the state electors are ‘pledged’ to vote for the candidate of the party that chose them, nothing in the Constitution requires them to do so.”
“Critics of the Electoral College system, of which there are more than a few, point out that the system allows the possibility of a candidate actually losing the nationwide popular vote, but being elected president by the electoral vote. Can that happen? Yes, and it has.”

Hmmm… Government of, by, and for the People? The U.S. population is a bit over 301 million people; the Electoral College system has 538 people . . .

It could be argued that the United States election process is the best possible system. It could also be argued that the moon is made of green cheese.

My Faith counsels us to “…obey the government under which [we] live…”, it also counsels that people should “under no circumstances suffer their inner religious beliefs and convictions to be violated and transgressed by any authority whatever.”

Tough call, eh? No matter what I think about the government and its procedures, I should obey it, yet never abandon my inner convictions.

It may sound totally ridiculous yet, in my opinion, it’s based on the principle that not resisting the wrong will make it stand out all the more. If we argue and contend, we muddy the issues. If the issues are muddy, how can we clearly decide what will actually work. If we obey a wrong decision we can aid a process that will make it utterly, clearly wrong. Then, clear corrections can happen.

Some may say, “Who me suffer, just to aid some distant, just decision?”

Well… What if the distant, just decision aids your children or grandchildren?

Unbelievably, that’s a tough call for some folk . . .

“…we are concerned at the lack of leadership over a wide spectrum of human affairs. At national, regional, and international levels, within communities and in international organizations, in governments and in non-governmental bodies, the world needs credible and sustained leadership.
‘It needs leadership that is proactive, not simply reactive, that is inspired, not simply functional, that looks to the longer term and future generations for whom the present is held in trust. It needs leaders made strong by vision, sustained by ethics, and revealed by political courage that looks beyond the next election.’
“This cannot be leadership confined within domestic walls. It must reach beyond country, race, religion, culture, language, life-style. It must embrace a wider human constituency, be infused with a sense of caring for others, a sense of responsibility to the global neighborhood.”

Report of the Commission on Global Governance, Our Global Neighborhood. (New York: Oxford University Press. 1995.) p.353.
Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Oct, Turning Point For All Nations

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