Well-Woven Crises…

Global_CrisesFrom Machines Like Us: “The world faces a compounding series of crises driven by human activity, which existing governments and institutions are increasingly powerless to cope with, a group of eminent environmental scientists and economists has warned.”

And, quoting the scientists they cite in the article, they add:

“The major powers must be willing to enforce an agreement – but legitimacy will depend on acceptance by numerous and diverse countries, and non-governmental actors such as civil society and business…To address common threats and harness common opportunities, we need greater interaction amongst existing institutions, and new institutions, to help construct and maintain a global-scale social contract…”

“…a global-scale social contract…”

They also point out some of the well-woven crises: “Energy, food and water crises, climate disruption, declining fisheries, ocean acidification, emerging diseases and increasing antibiotic resistance…”

A global-scale social contract to resolve these and many other intertwined crises will take, in my opinion, a massive change of heart on the part of all the people involved…

Change of heart…

I’m going to integrate our normal, closing Spiritual Quote into the body of this post…

From the Bahá’í International Community:

“The central theme of Bahá’u’lláh’s writings is that humanity is one single race and the day has come for its unification into one global society. Through an irresistible historical process, the traditional barriers of race, class, creed, faith and nation will break down. These forces will, Bahá’u’lláh said, give birth in time to a new universal civilization. The crises now afflicting the planet face all its peoples with the need to accept their oneness and work towards the creation of a unified global society.

“Bahá’u’lláh outlined certain fundamental principles upon which this new world civilization should be founded. These include the elimination of
all forms of prejudice; full equality between the sexes; recognition of the essential oneness of the world’s great religions; the elimination of
extremes of poverty and wealth; universal education; a high standard of personal conduct; the harmony of science and religion; a sustainable
balance between nature and technology; and the establishment of a world federal system, based on collective security and the oneness of humanity.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1992, Magazine – The Bahá’ís

Massive Change of Heart………

~~~~~~~~~

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Hear Us, Stand With Us

rapeFrom The Hub: “In 2008, political violence erupted throughout Zimbabwe as a result of highly contested national elections. Between May and July alone, local organizations estimate that state-sanctioned groups abducted, raped, tortured, and beat over 2,000 women and girls due to their political affiliations.”

From BNet: “More needs to be done to deal with an epidemic of rape in the world’s conflict zones and to help victimized women, Doctors Without Borders  said Thursday, reporting that its staffers alone treat an average of 35 cases every day.” This report was filed in 2007 and the numbers have clearly risen since then…

Among all the crises in the world, the rape of our mothers, sisters, daughters, and wives is a crime that should shame All men…

Zimbabwe is one country, the problem is global; but, you can help in Zimbabwe by signing this petition

A Video From Witness – One Very Strong Woman Tells Us About Her Rapes

Spiritual Quote:

“The Bahá’í International Community welcomes the opportunity to speak to agenda item 11 [Consideration of contemporary trends in and new challenges to the full realization of all human rights of women and men, including those of persons belonging to vulnerable groups] at this historic World Conference. We hope that comprehensive consideration of the human rights of women will continue at all future gatherings for the advancement of human rights, and we support the resolution adopted by the Commission on the Status of Women at its 1993 session urging that women’s rights and concerns be considered under all substantive items of the provisional agenda for the World Conference on Human Rights.

“The persistence and growth of violence directed against women, both personal and institutional, is largely attributable to the traditional exclusion of women from processes of development and decision-making. A profound adjustment in humanity’s collective outlook is needed, guided by the consideration of universal values and spiritual principles. Legislation is needed which lends practical expression to the equality of the sexes by dealing with the particular injustices which women face.

“Domestic violence is a fact of life for many women throughout the world, regardless of race, class, or educational background. In many societies traditional beliefs that women are a burden make them easy targets of anger. In other situations, men’s frustration is vented on women and children when economies shrink and collapse. In all parts of the world, violence against women persists because it goes unpunished.”
Bahá’í International Community Statement to the United Nations World Conference on Human Rights; Vienna, Austria 14-25 June 1993

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Prisoners of Conscience

prison

An International outcry is being heard, a globally deep concern about the fate of innocent Iranians—basic human rights denied; imprisoned, killed…

Among these abused Iranian citizens are many Bahá’ís—those who would never  protest against their government, jailed for their spiritual beliefs…

It’s one thing to demonstrate in the street against what you feel are improper elections; it’s quite another to be sitting in your home, praying for your government, and have its agents arrest you…

Recently, at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco—where the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights  was signed in 1948—an event was attended by: “Over 1000 attendees, including local dignitaries, government officials, members of the press and Bay Area Bahá’ís and their guests, gathered to support the cause of justice for the community of Iranian Bahá’ís enduring persistent persecution.”

Listen carefully, if you would understand what evils are being perpetrated, to this two-part video presentation by Dr. Farhad Sabetan, spokesperson for the Bahá’í International Community and
Lecturer of Economics at California State University:


Spiritual Quote:

“It is incumbent upon every man, in this Day, to hold fast unto whatsoever will promote the interests, and exalt the station, of all nations and just governments. Through each and every one of the verses which the Pen of the Most High hath revealed, the doors of love and unity have been unlocked and flung open to the face of men. We have erewhile declared—and Our Word is the truth—: ‘Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship’. Whatsoever hath led the children of men to shun one another, and hath caused dissensions and divisions amongst them, hath, through the revelation of these words, been nullified and abolished. From the heaven of God’s Will, and for the purpose of ennobling the world of being and of elevating the minds and souls of men, hath been sent down that which is the most effective instrument for the education of the whole human race.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 94

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Global Crisis, the MDGs, and the Earth Charter

Global_Crisis

The MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS (MDGs) are an intertwined set of priorities first promoted by the United Nations in 2000.

Here they are:
End Poverty and Hunger
Universal Education
Gender Equality
Child Health
Maternal Health
Combat HIV/AIDS
Environmental Sustainability
Global Partnership

The original “deadline” for meeting the goals was 2015.

In the highly influential Huffington Post , in an article entitled, It’s Over: The Tragedy of the Millennium Development Goals, William Easterly says, “The MDGs will go down in history as a success in global consciousness-raising, but a failure in using that consciousness for its stated objectives….Why waste any more effort on the MDGs, now that we know they will not be met?”

In the 2009 Report on the status of attainment of the goals, it says:

“Rather than retreat, now is the time to accelerate progress towards the MDGs and to strengthen the global partnership for development. If the global community responds constructively to the crisis, the goals can still be achieved.”

The statement from the Huffington Post is from an economist. The statement from the 2009 Report is from the Secretary-General of the UN.

It’s relatively easy to see why the chief officer of the United Nations would implore hope and significantly puzzling why an economist would preach defeat before the deadline…

Of course there are many other views as well as many other initiatives to improve the miserable lot of most of the members of our human family…

One particularly important initiative is the Earth Charter—drafted during a six-year worldwide consultation process (1994-2000).

In 1991, the Bahá’í International Community offered suggestions for the proposed Earth Charter and presented them to the Preparatory Committee of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.

This blog always offers a spiritual quote along with its commentary since I believe the solutions to cultural and global crises lie in applied spirituality. I believe the BIC’s suggestions to the UNCED are noteworthy because they give the underlying spiritual prerequisites without which any proposed political or economic solution will fail. Here are those suggestions…

Spiritual Quote:

Geneva
5 April 1991

* * * * *

“The Bahá’í International Community applauds the proposal of the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) that an Earth Charter be one of six principal components to be addressed at UNCED in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 1992. Indeed, agreement on the ‘principles to govern the relationships of peoples and nations with each other and with the earth’ will be essential ‘to ensure our common future in both environmental and developmental terms’. We, therefore, welcome this opportunity to share our views on elements to be considered for inclusion in this proposed Charter.

“It is our conviction that any call to global action for environment and development must be rooted in universally accepted values and principles. Similarly, the search for solutions to the world’s grave environmental and developmental problems must go beyond technical-utilitarian proposals and address the underlying causes of the crisis. Genuine solutions, in the Bahá’í view, will require a globally accepted vision for the future, based on unity and willing cooperation among the nations, races, creeds, and classes of the human family. Commitment to a higher moral standard, equality between the sexes, and the development of consultative skills for the effective functioning of groups at all levels of society will be essential.

“There are many environmental declarations to which the UNCED Earth Charter could refer and on which it might draw, including the Stockholm Declaration on the Human Environment (1972), the Nairobi Declaration (1982), the World Charter for Nature (1982), and more recent documents such as the Universal Code of Environmental Conduct (Bangkok, October 1990).

“Clearly, an UNCED declaration or Earth Charter would profit from the widest possible consultation with governments and non-governmental organizations. The Bahá’í International Community is, therefore, pleased to offer the following elements for possible inclusion in such a declaration of principles.

“In order to reorient individuals and societies toward a sustainable future, we must recognize the following.

– Unity is essential if diverse peoples are to work toward a common future. The Earth Charter might well identify those aspects of unity which are prerequisites for the achievement of sustainable development. In the Bahá’í view, ‘The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established’.

– The unrestrained exploitation of natural resources is merely a symptom of an overall sickness of the human spirit. Any solutions to the environment/development crisis must, therefore, be rooted in an approach which fosters spiritual balance and harmony within the individual, between individuals, and with the environment as a whole. Material development must serve not only the body, but the mind and spirit as well.

– The changes required to reorient the world toward a sustainable future imply degrees of sacrifice, social integration, selfless action, and unity of purpose rarely achieved in human history. These qualities have reached their highest degree of development through the power of religion. Therefore, the world’s religious communities have a major role to play in inspiring these qualities in their members, releasing latent capacities of the human spirit and empowering individuals to act on behalf of the planet, its peoples, and future generations.

– Nothing short of a world federal system, guided by universally agreed upon and enforceable laws, will allow nation states to manage cooperatively an increasingly interdependent and rapidly changing world, thereby ensuring peace and social and economic justice for all the world’s peoples.

– Development must be decentralized in order to involve communities in formulating and implementing the decisions and programs that affect their lives. Such a decentralization need not conflict with a global system and strategy, but would in fact ensure that developmental processes are adapted to the planet’s rich cultural, geographic, and ecological diversity.

– Consultation must replace confrontation and domination in order to gain the cooperation of the family of nations in devising and implementing measures that will preserve the earth’s ecological balance.

– Only as women are welcomed into full partnership in all fields of human endeavor, including environment and development, will the moral and psychological climate be created in which a peaceful, harmonious, and sustainable civilization can emerge and flourish.

– 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.

“The Bahá’í International Community stands ready to contribute to the further elaboration and promotion of an Earth Charter in consultation with other interested bodies.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1992 June 06, Earth Charter

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An Anthem for Iranians

An Anthem for Human Rights in Iran
from The Freedom Glory Project


Spiritual Quote:

“The source of human rights is the endowment of qualities, virtues and powers which God has bestowed upon mankind without discrimination of sex, race, creed or nation. To fulfill the possibilities of this divine endowment is the purpose of human existence.

“Human rights can be established in terms of social status when members of the community realize that the gift of life and conscious being obligates them to meet responsibilities owed to God, to society and to self. Mutual recognition by members of the community of the truth that their lives emanate from one and the same universal Source enables them to maintain ordered relationships in a common social body.

“The social body does not create essential human rights. Its office is that of trustee under appointment to act for the community in the preservation of the relationships which represent the moral achievement of the members, and to cherish and protect that unity of spirit which is their highest mutual obligation.

“No social body, whatever its form, has power to maintain essential human rights for persons who have repudiated their moral obligation and abandoned the divine endowment distinguishing man from beast. Civil definitions of political and economic status, if devoid of moral value and influence, are not equivalent to essential human rights but express the expedients of partisan policy. An ordered society can only be maintained by moral beings.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1947 Feb, A Bahá’í Declaration of Human Obligations and Rights

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Climate Change and Social Justice

climate_changeIn a recent survey on this blog, Climate Change was considered one of the most important concerns we humans have.

There are many ways to perceive possible solutions to this global crisis.

Two particular perspectives that I’ve recently come across show promise for lending great support to any possible solutions.

The first is on smartMeme and is best summed up in their own words:

“You’ve probably heard about last week’s official report from the Whitehouse, confirming that climate change is serious, and that ‘changes are unavoidable’. So, we’re wondering, ‘What kind of changes are we talking about’?

“Will we keep blasting the Appalachian mountains for the sake of “clean coal”? Will we privatize water in order to “preserve” it? Will climate change stand in as an excuse for lax labor practices and corporate greenwashing?”

Here’s the way smartMeme works: “Organizing – at the heart of it – has always been about building relationships through telling our stories. What smartMeme is doing is upgrading methods for the information age, and cutting through the clutter of the modern media climate with clear calls for justice that spread as viral memes.”

In case you’re not familiar with the term, a Meme, from Wikipedia, is:
“…a postulated unit or element of cultural ideas, symbols or practices, and is transmitted from one mind to another through speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena.”

The second perspective is called The Transition Initiative. Rather than being a way to induce more action to stem the tide of climate change, The Transition Initiative  is a way for communities to prepare for sustanability even if, as seems likely, governments and corporations don’t take swift enough action.

I feel their methods were spawned by the consideration that there are already enough changes in the environment that even a full-out program to reverse changes cannot keep up with change already induced…

You can find out about The Transition Initiative  at the site, Transition Culture. I do recommend, though, that you also read the fine essay at Orion Magazine to gain a deep understanding of why such an Initiative  is necessary…

Spiritual Quote:

“The current process for creating international environmental legislation, which addresses only one problem at a time, is fragmented and unsystematic. Conventions, treaties, and protocols, have been adopted on such diverse issues as the protection of the ozone layer and control of international traffic in hazardous wastes. Other conventions are being negotiated on climate change and on biological diversity. Still others have been suggested on such subjects as land-based sources of marine pollution. No one body is responsible for drafting international environmental legislation. Nor have the nations of the world agreed on a set of principles upon which environmental legislation can be based. Moreover, the countries signing the various legislative instruments are rarely identical. Thus, it is almost impossible to harmonize or combine agreements.

“The international legislative process is well known to be slow, cumbersome, and expensive. Once a problem is identified, meetings of experts are called to prepare a draft agreement. The agreement is negotiated by interested governments and signed at a plenipotentiary meeting. After what is often a lengthy period of ratification and accessions, the legislation comes into force, but only in those states which have signed it. A secretariat is generally established to facilitate and monitor the convention’s implementation. If legislation has to be modified, as in the case of the Montreal Protocol, where increased ozone deterioration outstripped the protocol’s provisions, updating can be as slow as adoption. Many countries with limited numbers of diplomats and experts cannot cope with such time-consuming and expensive procedures, particularly as the number of negotiations is increasing to respond to pressing global environmental problems.

“The present ad hoc process for environmental legislation can only become more unmanageable. Numerous proposals have been offered to provide global mechanisms to create and support a sustainable pattern of development. Some experts advise strengthening the existing UN system by upgrading the mandates of agencies such as the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), reconfiguring the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), or using the Trusteeship Council to administer certain global resources. Others suggest creating new bodies such as an environmental security council, a World Court of environmental justice, or an international environmental negotiating body to prepare, adopt, and revise international legislation on issues requiring global action.

“However well motivated and helpful such proposals are, it seems apparent to the Bahá’í International Community that the establishment of a sustainable pattern of development is a complex task with widespread ramifications. It will clearly require a new level of commitment to solving major problems not exclusively associated with the environment. These problems include militarization, the inordinate disparity of wealth between and within nations, racism, lack of access to education, unrestrained nationalism, and the lack of equality between women and men. Rather than a piecemeal approach conceived in response to the needs of the nation-states, it seems clearly preferable to adopt an umbrella agreement under which specific international codes could be promulgated.

“Long-term solutions will require a new and comprehensive vision of a global society, supported by new values. In the view of the Bahá’í International Community, acceptance of the oneness of humanity is the first fundamental prerequisite for this reorganization and administration of the world as one country, the home of humankind. Recognition of this principle does not imply abandonment of legitimate loyalties, the suppression of cultural diversity, or the abolition of national autonomy. It calls for a wider loyalty, for a far higher aspiration than has so far animated human efforts. It clearly requires the subordination of national impulses and interests to the imperative claims of a unified world. It is inconsistent not only with any attempt to impose uniformity, but with any tendency towards excessive centralization. Its goal is well captured in the concept of ‘unity in diversity’.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1991 Aug 13, International Legislation for Environment Development

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What Should We Pay Attention To…?

NatureA friend of mine, living in Mexico, sent me notice of a WebSite called THE PACHAMAMA ALLIANCE.

For many people living in affluent countries who rarely think about the importance of every single member of our Human Family, this site would be one they just wouldn’t care for—couldn’t  actually care for if they wanted to maintain their way of living, even if that way of living is a way of dying…

Here’s a smidgen of information from that site’s About page:

“The Pachamama Alliance believes that our ability to meet the challenges that face humanity as we make the transition to the next millennium, depends on our ability to successfully combine the best elements of…two worldviews into a single global vision, an alloy that blends the intellectual and scientific prowess of the modern world, with the deep and ancient wisdom of traditional cultures.”

I can hear those affluent folk saying (if they ever got around to paying attention), “Why should I concern myself with what a bunch of primitives have to say?” Well, one reason would be because they’re on the right track and you’re not. Another would be because what they have to say can save your skins, or your affluent children’s skins…

Here are a few of the front page news items from the site:

Pachamama Stands in Solidarity with Indigenous Groups Over Strike in Peru

Awakening The Dreamer Continues International Expansion

Paul Hawken’s ‘Unforgettable Commencement Address’, in which he says: “you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation… but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement. Basically, the earth needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades.”

The Century of The Rights of Mother Earth

Spiritual Quote:

“In order to reorient individuals and societies toward a sustainable future, we must recognize the following.

– Unity is essential if diverse peoples are to work toward a common future. The Earth Charter might well identify those aspects of unity which are prerequisites for the achievement of sustainable development. In the Bahá’í view, ‘The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established’.

– The unrestrained exploitation of natural resources is merely a symptom of an overall sickness of the human spirit. Any solutions to the environment/development crisis must, therefore, be rooted in an approach which fosters spiritual balance and harmony within the individual, between individuals, and with the environment as a whole. Material development must serve not only the body, but the mind and spirit as well.

– The changes required to reorient the world toward a sustainable future imply degrees of sacrifice, social integration, selfless action, and unity of purpose rarely achieved in human history. These qualities have reached their highest degree of development through the power of religion. Therefore, the world’s religious communities have a major role to play in inspiring these qualities in their members, releasing latent capacities of the human spirit and empowering individuals to act on behalf of the planet, its peoples, and future generations.

– Nothing short of a world federal system, guided by universally agreed upon and enforceable laws, will allow nation states to manage cooperatively an increasingly interdependent and rapidly changing world, thereby ensuring peace and social and economic justice for all the world’s peoples.

– Development must be decentralized in order to involve communities in formulating and implementing the decisions and programs that affect their lives. Such a decentralization need not conflict with a global system and strategy, but would in fact ensure that developmental processes are adapted to the planet’s rich cultural, geographic, and ecological diversity.

– Consultation must replace confrontation and domination in order to gain the cooperation of the family of nations in devising and implementing measures that will preserve the earth’s ecological balance.

– Only as women are welcomed into full partnership in all fields of human endeavor, including environment and development, will the moral and psychological climate be created in which a peaceful, harmonious, and sustainable civilization can emerge and flourish.

– 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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