Women Are Our Hope

From OneWorld.Net: Focus U.S. Aid Efforts on Women, Say Experts
“Yolanda Richardson, president of the Center for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA), told Hill staffers and others that implementing policies that recognize the vital role women play in poor communities is the best way to ‘improve the quality and effectiveness of our global development assistance.’ ”
“CEDPA’s Richardson agrees with those calling for a new approach to foreign aid, but is convinced that unless new policies and strategies place a special focus on women, they will fail to address the very basic issue of poverty reduction in developing countries.”

In a previous post I highlighted a wonderful project, The Girl Effect.

Check out the links above but, in brief, the post and the project have one central premise: if we want to aid the future of our global civilization, the most effective way is to aid young women.

There’s really no way around that clear truth. Women are the first educators, possibly beginning in the womb. What can a woman teach her child about how to get along in the world if the woman has multiple barriers to her own way in the world?

Barriers like:

» not enough to eat
» no personal security
» lack of money
» no opportunity to earn money
» no input to local decisions

I understand that many men suffer the same oppressive circumstances, yet the toll on our human family and its civilization is much greater when women are held back.

Imagine: a man suffers oppression and can’t contribute to society.
Imagine: a woman suffers oppression, has babies, and has no chance to help them learn the rudiments of more than a squalid existence.

Which scenario hurts all of us more?

Here are three pertinent documents you can download:
Women and Development
The Girl Child
Women and The Peace Process

“Women have equal rights with men upon earth; in religion and society they are a very important element. As long as women are prevented from attaining their highest possibilities, so long will men be unable to achieve the greatness which might be theirs.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 133

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Light In The Darkness


“The bed-rock of a strategy that can engage the world’s population in assuming responsibility for its collective destiny must be the consciousness of the oneness of humankind.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Jul 16, Realization of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights

From The New York Times: Bank Investors Redefine Bad News
“…it has now been a year since the credit crisis erupted, and, so far, the optimists have been proven wrong time and again. Skeptics say it could take years for banks to recover from the worst financial crisis since the Depression. And even when things do improve, the pessimists maintain, banks’ profits will be a fraction of what they were before.”

From Forbes: Wachovia Loss May Spell End For Bank Rally
“After reporting second-quarter earnings that fell short of expectations, American Express said it does not expect to meet or exceed long-term financial targets until the economy recovers because conditions worsened more rapidly than expected.”

So much of the world is overextended.

So many people suffer.

A few get rich as the rest get poorer . . .

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I used to work as a telemarketer (Oh, my God, Alex, how horrible !) for one of the major credit card companies. There came a point when they expanded their services into Ireland. The CEO said the Irish appeared to be overly careful in their finances—they weren’t carrying any balance on their cards. I quit the company right after I saw a quote from the CEO: “We have every confidence in the Irish market. It may be slow now but we will educate them.”

Educate them . . .

Time for class kids! Gather round. There ya go. See, this is a wall socket. Some people say its dangerous to put your finger in here but today we’re gonna learn that it’s actually fun !!

We all need education, constantly—from the bottom up and from the Top down.

Sometimes I get a little nutsey and think that the separation of Faith and State has brought ruin to both.

“…material civilization is like unto a beautiful body, and spiritual civilization is like unto the spirit of life. If that wondrous spirit of life enters this beautiful body, the body will become a channel for the distribution and development of the perfections of humanity.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 11

Things sure are headed Somewhere . . . In fact, that reminds me of an old saying, “If ya don’t know where you’re goin’, any road will take ya there.”

“…it is unrealistic to imagine that the vision of the next stage in the advancement of civilization can be formulated without a searching re-examination of the attitudes and assumptions that currently underlie approaches to social and economic development….We are being shown that, unless the development of society finds a purpose beyond the mere amelioration of material conditions, it will fail of attaining even these goals. That purpose must be sought in spiritual dimensions of life and motivation that transcend a constantly changing economic landscape and an artificially imposed division of human societies into ‘developed’ and ‘developing.’ “
Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Jul 16, Realization of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights

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Punishment and Mercy


From Reuters: Suspects on run from Yugoslav war crimes tribunal
“Radovan Karadzic, one of the world’s most wanted men, has been arrested and is facing extradition to the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague on two counts of genocide.”

From the New Zealand Herald: Bosnian Serb war crime suspect Radovan Karadzic arrested
“If Karadzic is extradited, he would be the 44th Serb suspect extradited to the tribunal. The others include former President Slobodan Milosevic, who was ousted in 2000 and died in 2006 while on trial on war crimes charges.”

Whether or not this man committed these crimes, the importance of this story is that there is an international body that can (like a local judicial department) remand individuals to trial. We can only hope the standard of justice is higher than many local and national tribunals . . .

Edmund Burke once said, “All that is needed for evil to prosper is that good men do nothing.”

Some folks, living on a byway of the pacifist movement, feel we shouldn’t have criminal courts. What they propose we do with inveterate abusers of human rights can vary widely from individual to individual.

Here’s what Wikipedia gives as varieties of pacifism:
“Pacifism covers a spectrum of views ranging from the belief that international disputes can and should be peacefully resolved; to calls for the abolition of the institutions of the military and war; to opposition to any organization of society through governmental force (anarchist or libertarian pacifism); to rejection of the use of physical violence to obtain political, economic or social goals; to the condemnation of force except in cases where it is absolutely necessary to advance the cause of peace (pacificism); to opposition to violence under any circumstance, including defense of self and others.”

Obviously, some forms of pacifism can tolerate judicial proceedings.

My best analogy for why such institutions are needed is straight from child-rearing.

If a child killed a cat, should the parents just be really extra nice to the kid and refrain from punishing him?

Well, if parents want to protect the cat community, not to mention other humans (there are teens who’ve been sent to prison for murder), it may be the highest form of mercy to use caring but strict punishment…

Do we just look the other way if a human is suspected of murdering thousands of our fellow humans or do we put that individual on trial and, if they’re found guilty, punish them for the sake of the Human Community?

“It is perhaps a truism to say that the exercise of unfettered national sovereignty is a major obstacle to the safeguarding of the human rights of all peoples… Despite the establishment of international standards for human rights, many nations cling to the view that respect for those rights should be granted or withheld at the discretion of national governments.
“A second obstacle is the lack of adequate mechanisms to enforce adherence to the provisions of the Conventions. International human rights standards are not legally binding on all governments, and compliance, even by those states that have ratified specific conventions, is voluntary… In addition, international criminal jurisdiction for crimes against humanity and for flagrant violations of internationally recognized human rights should also be invested in a permanent body.”

Bahá’í International Community, 1993, Jun 09, Obstacles to Progress in Human Rights

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Can Youth Save Our World ?


Today I want to honor the youth of the world by introducing a youth from China.

From OneWorld and Mercy Corps: The World’s Youngest Principal – 17-year-old Zhang Yong
“Before the earthquake, he was a student at one of the schools here in Jin Hua. That changed immediately in the disaster’s aftermath: he was asked by displaced families to help create a temporary school. He gathered 15 volunteers, 13-17 years old, to get started.”
“‘Our goal is to keep these kids safe and on a routine, so they don’t forget their studies or what life was like before the earthquake.’ Zhang Yong said.”
“We’re proud to work with determined, energetic individuals like Zhang Yong — local leaders who are full of resolve to not only rebuild, but also care for their communities when it’s needed most.”

What were you doing to help your fellow humans when you were 17?

I was trying to figure out the difference between my minister father and God and that challenge made everything else a total confusion.

When did it dawn on you that helping others is one of the most spiritual things you can do?

It took me over 60 years to get the idea from my head to my heart.

Can you imagine adolescents doing things that most folk think are just for adults?

I can because I’ve known a few.

How do you think youth can be helped best to understand the world?

How do you think adults can be educated to accept the power and creativity of youth?

“A spring wells up at the foot of the mountain:
The image of YOUTH.
Thus the superior man fosters his character
By thoroughness in all that he does.

“A spring succeeds in flowing on and escapes stagnation by filling up all the hollow places in its path. In the same way character is developed by thoroughness that skips nothing but, like water, gradually and steadily fills up all gaps and so flows onward.”
I Ching

“The cause of universal education deserves the utmost support, for no nation can achieve success unless education is accorded all its citizens. Such an education should promote the consciousness of both the oneness of humanity and the integral connection between humankind and the world of nature. By nurturing a sense of world citizenship, education can prepare the youth of the world for the organic changes in the structure of society which the principle of oneness implies.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1992 June 06, Earth Charter

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Money To Burn


CNN: Zimbabwe introduces $100 billion banknotes
Each bill “…can buy only four oranges. The new note is equal to just one U.S. dollar.”
“…the official inflation rate now at 2.2 million percent.”
“The new bills are actually bearer checks and have an expiration date of December 31.”

BBC: Zimbabwe introduces Z$100bn note
“Zimbabwe’s meltdown has left at least 80% of the population in poverty, facing mass shortages of basic goods.”
From a resident: “So Z$100 billion can’t do anything because for me to go home I need Z$250 billion, so this [note] is worthless.”
“Zimbabwe was once one of the richest countries in Africa.”

Stunning in its sadness and surrealism . . .

What causes such gross failure?

Why does it seem the haves could care less about the have-nots?

What does it take for people to realize that we’re all people?

Ever wonder how long the masses are going to take these sinister lies they’re being told?

Of course, making people starve is a very old technique used by oppressors. The oppressors don’t even have to live in the same country as the sufferers, especially in our global home.

Makes me want to cry . . .

“The dragon, symbol of heaven, comes to fight the false dragon that symbolized the inflation of the earth principle.”
I Ching

“Nations, though exhausted and disillusioned, have seemingly begun to cherish anew the spirit of revenge, of domination, and strife. Peoples, convulsed by economic upheavals, are slowly drifting into two great opposing camps with all their menace of social chaos, class hatreds, and worldwide ruin. Races, alienated more than ever before, are filled with mistrust, humiliation and fear, and seem to prepare themselves for a fresh and fateful encounter. Creeds and religions, caught in this whirlpool of conflict and passion, appear to gaze with impotence and despair at this spectacle of unceasing turmoil.”
Shoghí Effendí, Bahá’í Administration, p. 67

“Today, the agency on whom has devolved the task of creating this framework and of liberating the promotion of human rights from those who would exploit it is the system of international institutions born out of the tragedies of two ruinous world wars and the experience of worldwide economic breakdown. Significantly, the term ‘human rights’ has come into general use only since the promulgation of the United Nations Charter in 1945 and the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights three years later. In these history-making documents, formal recognition has been given to respect for social justice as a correlative of the establishment of world peace. The fact that the Declaration passed without a dissenting vote in the General Assembly conferred on it from the outset an authority that has grown steadily in the intervening years.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Mar 03, The Prosperity of Humankind

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Our Ruined Earth

My focus today is what’s wrong in Our Family’s Home . . .

From the Environment Section of AlterNet:

Why Our Food Waste May Be Our Greatest Asset
Composting is key to reducing waste costs, cutting global warming emissions, and increasing urban food security.

Time to Face the Hard Realities of a Global Energy Crisis
America needs a comprehensive plan to deal with post-peak oil — and that is going to involve some serious long-term thinking.

Get Ready for the Post-SUV World!
SUVs and big pickups are waddling off into the sunset, leaving Americans with no more excuses for the nation’s profligate oil use.

Global Warming’s Twin Evil: Wildfires and Drought
The 850 fires burning in California alone should be a wake up call that we’re unprepared for rapid climate change.

All this and much more on AlterNet’s Site . . .

And, absorb this wonderful, educational, and surprising video: “Solving” climate change from David Keith.

What’s driven our Family to this Crisis?

What can we actually do?

How much of the Crisis is manageable?

What needs to occur in political circles to make change actually happen?

Why in the world, considering that the environmental problem was already a concern in the 1950’s, have we let it get this bad?

Will prayer help?

Will war help? ( That’s a trick question. Just seeing if you’re paying attention… 😉 )

What in the World can We DO !?!

I’d Love to see your thoughts and feelings in the comments . . .

Today’s quote is from ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT: Statement to the first substantive session of the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED):

“The principle of the unity of mankind naturally implies the need for world peace and security. The World Commission on Environment and Development observed in its report that world peace and security are central to sustainable development. The Bahá’í International Community agrees that as long as the specter of war continues to dominate international relations, the well-being of the human race and the environment will continue to erode. It is the Bahá’í view that the root cause of all war and injustice is the failure to recognize the fundamental oneness of the human race. Acceptance of the principle of oneness will induce the willingness to uncover and permanently resolve all other causes for conflict. Indeed, it must be the foundation for any serious attempt to find ways of living in harmony with our environment and each other.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1990 Aug 06, Environment Development

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No Peace Without Justice

ROTTERDAM, Jul 15 (IPS) – “Human rights organisations all over the world will celebrate the tenth anniversary Jul. 17 of the adoption of the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC is the first and only permanent international criminal tribunal to prosecute individuals accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

Interview with human rights promoter Dorota Gierycz: “…I believe that yes, there is a very difficult initial period when there is this kind of tension between justice and peace, but in the long run there can be no peace without justice, and if we just keep pushing things under the rug there will be no room for genuine understanding and consolidation of the society and democracy.”

Pushing things under the rug is an age-old activity of humans when they wish to commit a crime or when they feel they just need a break from moral responsibility.

Holding things high in the full light of the sun can be painful. Making the effort to use tact and diplomacy while still pursuing rigorous truth is hard work. It seems mere humans can’t regularly accomplish these desirable goals.

Well, I’m here to say that humans can’t accomplish peace and justice if what they depend upon is just their human powers.

We have more than animal bodies for a reason. Our bodies (and our minds and hearts subjugated to the body) will always vote for the easy path, even if it leads to war—war between nations, members of a family, neighbors…

So, where’s the “instruction book” so many people claim we don’t have?

“The Heavenly Books, the Bible, the Qur’án, and the other Holy Writings have been given by God as guides into the paths of Divine virtue, love, justice and peace.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 61

“The fundamental spiritual truth of our age is the oneness of humanity. Universal acceptance of this principle — with its implications for social and economic justice, universal participation in non-adversarial decision-making, peace and collective security, equality of the sexes, and universal education — will make possible the reorganization and administration of the world as one country, the home of humankind.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1993 Apr 01, Sustainable Development and the Human Spirit

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