Exploitation Is Rape !, Revisited

This is a reprint of a post from Aug, 19, 2008. It’s still very appropriate…

People, traditionally suppressed in their complaint about exploitation, are rising up !

From CommonDreams.Org: Chevron Lobbyist: ‘We Can’t Let Little Countries Screw Around With Big Companies’ “Chevron Hires Lobbyists To Squeeze Ecuador in Toxic-Dumping Case”

From OneWorld.Net: Activists Applaud India Coke Plant Closure “Coca-Cola has shut down its bottling plant in Sinhachawar, India following a vigorous community-led campaign that protested the factory’s illegal occupation of land and exposed its “shocking” levels of pollution, reports a local corporate abuse watchdog.”

First men, then corporations run by men. First women, then mother earth

What supports us as a human family has been and is being raped. People with no discernable heart are walking on our hearts with filthy, greedy boots.

The little “boy”, who used to dote on his “mother” and was her pride and joy, has reached “adolescence” and is threatening to sever relations with his best support.

Thank God all this is relatively temporary: people are rising up and saying no, mother earth is showing us some tough love, corporations that used to be free of opposition are facing tough times.

I feel today’s quote will add perspective to the issue:

“A candid acknowledgement that prejudice, war and exploitation have been the expression of immature stages in a vast historical process and that the human race is today experiencing the unavoidable tumult which marks its collective coming of age is not a reason for despair but a prerequisite to undertaking the stupendous enterprise of building a peaceful world. That such an enterprise is possible, that the necessary constructive forces do exist, that unifying social structures can be erected, is the theme we urge you to examine.”
The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Oct, The Promise of World Peace, p. 1

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The Girl Effect, Revisited . . .

image credit

Both images (the same person) are from National Geographic. The one on the left taken in 1984, the right in 2002, in Afghanistan.

The woman was interviewed in 2002. Here’s an excerpt:

Had she ever felt safe?

“No. But life under the Taliban was better. At least there was peace and order.”

Had she ever seen the photograph of herself as a girl?

“No.”

She can write her name, but cannot read. She harbors the hope of education for her children. “I want my daughters to have skills,” she said. “I wanted to finish school but could not. I was sorry when I had to leave.”

Education, it is said, is the light in the eye. There is no such light for her. It is possibly too late for her 13-year-old daughter as well, Sharbat Gula said. The two younger daughters still have a chance.

This is a story repeated far too often in our world but there is strong reason for hope!

One among many reasons for hope is a site called The Girl Effect and I can’t urge you strongly enough to click that link and at least watch the really awesome video !

Here is a PDF file of their Fact Sheet and here’s an excerpt from that Fact Sheet:

The Ripple Effect

• When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.

• An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An extra year of secondary school: 15 to 25 percent.

• Research in developing countries has shown a consistent relationship between better infant and child health and higher levels of schooling among mothers.

• When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man.

Population Trends
• Today, more than 600 million girls live in the developing world.

Girls Count !

Here are two videos from their site:

Spiritual Quotes:
“The world of humanity has two wings — one is women and the other men. Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible. Not until the world of women becomes equal to the world of men in the acquisition of virtues and perfections, can success and prosperity be attained as they ought to be.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 288<

“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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Finding Bibi

finding_bibiI covered this story in two previous posts, Women, Stereotypes, and Truth and Exuberant Emancipation !!!.

Not only is it a forthcoming movie about rational rebelling but it also deals with breaking down the barriers to equality for women.

I recommend you check out one of the previous posts to watch the first trailer; then, return to watch the one in this post—they’re similar but definitely not identical.

Also, check out news about the movement forming around the film and make your voice heard…

Spiritual Quote:

“…there must be an equality of rights between men and women. Women shall receive an equal privilege of education. This will enable them to qualify and progress in all degrees of occupation and accomplishment. For the world of humanity possesses two wings: man and woman. If one wing remains incapable and defective, it will restrict the power of the other, and full flight will be impossible. Therefore, the completeness and perfection of the human world are dependent upon the equal development of these two wings.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 317

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Law and Terror

law_terrorWhat good is government?

Why do people need government?

How much government is too much government?

Take those three questions to your favorite hangout and you can guarantee at least spirited discussion, if not an actual fight…

As humanity has evolved through the stages of Family, Tribe, City-State, and Nation, various forms of government have been organized. Some worked, some didn’t. Some helped people, some oppressed people.

The United States recently elected a new head of state, Barack Hussein Obama. Many hailed his inauguration as a new force in America and the world. Many are troubled by what he stands for.

I certainly don’t envy his position of power, the problems associated with the day to day administration of a government that must deal, in some way, with terrorist groups or movements; especially for anyone with what appear to be Obama’s beliefs.

People criticize him for his stance on “engagement” rather than acting from advantage, his apparent desire to induce the unity of contending parties, his relative inexperience in the harsh world of Washington politics.

I can only hope he has some chance to make some of the changes that some of his words seem to portent. I want to see the world unified. I don’t want my grandchild to live in a squandered or terrorized world. I don’t want my grandchild’s grandchildren to have no civilization at all, no government organizations or protections.

Mr. Obama recently gave a speech to the members of the CIA. It’s rather remarkable when compared with the attitude of the last American administration. I pray he means what he says and I pray he can influence the powers that be to create what he envisions in this video:

Spiritual Quote:

“The realization of human rights does not involve only action by the government or freedom from unjust government interference or oppression; rather it requires the construction of a progressive social order from the ground level upwards. It demands a new awareness of the reality of human unity and the development among all peoples of an all inclusive notion of community that extends from the family, to villages, towns, cities and localities, to nations, and, most importantly, to the boundaries of the planet itself. Moreover, given that rights cannot exist without corresponding responsibilities, each member of a community has a responsibility to uphold the rights of the other members based on a recognition of their unity and interdependence.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1993 Feb, Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

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Worshiping with Popcorn

popcorn“Worshiping with popcorn?Has Alex run out of worthy blog topics?”

Nope, this may just be one of my best yet…

The country is Brazil. The protagonist is 36-year-old Valdir Novaki—used to be an itinerant farm laborer, a newsagent, then a car park driver. Now he’s a
Popcorn Entrepreneur.

Hey, Alex, what about the “worshiping”?

Worshiping?

Oh, yeah, in just a second…

On the site I discovered him, GlobalVoices, they say:

“Despite the fact that Valdir only had the opportunity to finish elementary school, he now coaches students and business people of all ranks. For just over a year, Valdir has travelled around Brazil giving motivational lectures, entrepreneurship tips, and maybe some inspiration.”

Vladir even has a website, PipocadoValdir. Check it out! This is no mere popcorn man. He even gives his customers a “hygiene kit” with a napkin, a toothpick and a mint candy.
hygiene_kit
You can also watch the five news videos about his business by clicking the Valdir na Mídia link; and, the real kicker is the slowmotion video of popcorn popping!!

Here’s my favorite quote from Valdir:

“Oh, every day I’m in a good mood. And the key thing is to look back in hindsight. If we look back in hindsight, you will see that there are people [living in] much worse [conditions] than us. I’m healthy, I’m working, my family is not in need… So, it is only joy! Thus we overcome difficulties! I have always a smile on my face because, as I always say, the smile is the shortest distance between two people. And for me to be a popcorn seller, I have to be happy.”

O.K., Alex, he’s a great guy who’s conquered many obstacles in life and maintained a happy attitude, he’s an innovative entrepreneur and respects his larger social responsibilities… What about “Worshiping”?!

Oh, right. Check out this quote…

Spiritual Quote:

“The man who makes a piece of notepaper to the best of his ability, conscientiously, concentrating all his forces on perfecting it, is giving praise to God. Briefly, all effort and exertion put forth by man from the fullness of his heart is worship, if it is prompted by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity. This is worship: to serve mankind and to minister to the needs of the people. Service is prayer. A physician ministering to the sick, gently, tenderly, free from prejudice and believing in the solidarity of the human race, he is giving praise.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 176

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Religion and Wildlife

animalIn a story from OneWorld, Eco-Islam: Malaysia’s Imams to preach against poaching, it says: “Muslim preachers in Malaysia are using teachings from the Koran to raise awareness and help preserve endangered species, many of which reside in the Southeast Asian island nation.”

This is an extremely hopeful sign in a prevailing culture that most often sees the natural world as a mere Resource, ripe for exploitation.

Malaysia is also one of the 18 countries considered to be MegaDiverse; in other words, “countries that harbor the majority of the earth’s species and are therefore considered extremely biodiverse.”

On the World Wildlife Fund site (where you can check all the MegaDiverse countries) they say something very powerful. You may already know this but, I feel, it bears near constant repetition:

“The Earth is at a critical point where the decisions and actions taken by one species—ours—will determine the future of all life.”

For me, as a Bahá’í, religion supporting conservation of animal species is a no-brainer; but, I’d rather quote folks more eloquent then me…

Spiritual Quote:

“Among the principles guiding the Bahá’í approach to conservation and sustainable development, the following are of particular importance:

» nature reflects the qualities and attributes of God and should, therefore, be greatly respected and cherished;

» all things are interconnected and flourish according to the law of reciprocity; and

» the oneness of humanity is the fundamental spiritual and social truth shaping our age.

“Bahá’í Scriptures describe nature as an emanation of God’s will:

“Nature in its essence is the embodiment of My Name, the Maker, the Creator. Its manifestations are diversified by varying causes, and in this diversity there are signs for men of discernment. Nature is God’s Will and is its expression in and through the contingent world. It is a dispensation of Providence ordained by the Ordainer, the All-Wise.”
The Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Apr 06, Conservation and Sustainable Development in the Bahá’í Faith

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Women, Stereotypes, and Truth

bita_haidarianThis is Bita Haidarian, Iranian/American Filmmaker.

She’s creating an amazing new film called Finding Bibi.

Here are just a few of the places you can become excited about this film:

Mideast Youth – Thinking Ahead, where you’ll find a podcast with Bita talking about why she’s making the film.

MySpace, where they give you a hint of the issues in the film:
“Bita takes her youthful irreverence and unique vantage point as a woman of both east and west and looks at bizarre variations on pornography in the Middle East, the Ecstasy “Rave” parties in Tehran, the lone female rickshaw driver in Delhi, as well as interview such notables as Anousheh Ansari (first female space explorer), Pakistani Super Model Amna Haq, and human rights activist Mukhtaran Bibi in Pakistan.”

FaceBook, where Bita keeps us up to date on her progress.

And, the Finding Bibi WebSite, where you can get involved with the Movement gathering around this film!

Here’s the captivating trailer:

Spiritual Quote:

“When all mankind shall receive the same opportunity of education and the equality of men and women be realized, the foundations of war will be utterly destroyed. Without equality this will be impossible because all differences and distinction are conducive to discord and strife. Equality between men and women is conducive to the abolition of warfare for the reason that women will never be willing to sanction it. Mothers will not give their sons as sacrifices upon the battlefield after twenty years of anxiety and loving devotion in rearing them from infancy, no matter what cause they are called upon to defend. There is no doubt that when women obtain equality of rights, war will entirely cease among mankind.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 175

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