It Really Is A New World…

InternetThis post contains an extremely potent video called “Did You Know?”

Even if you’ve seen it, it certainly bears re-watching…

Also, I’m going to change my usual format. I normally end a post with a Spiritual Quote. Today, I’ll begin with two quotes; to set up a context for the video…

The first quote broadly considers the global situation the video addresses:

“It has become clear that the powers of the institution of the nation-state, once the arbiter and protector of humanity’s fortunes, have been drastically eroded. While national governments continue to play a crucial role, they must now make room for such rising centres of power as multinational corporations, United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations of every kind, and huge media conglomerates, the cooperation of all of which is vital to the success of most programmes aimed at achieving significant economic or social ends. Just as the migration of money or corporations encounters little hindrance from national borders, neither can the latter any longer exercise effective control over the dissemination of knowledge. Internet communication, which has the ability to transmit in seconds the entire contents of libraries that took centuries of study to amass, vastly enriches the intellectual life of anyone able to use it, as well as providing sophisticated training in a broad range of professional fields. The system, so prophetically foreseen sixty years ago by Shoghí Effendí, builds a sense of shared community among its users that is impatient of either geographic or cultural distances.”
Commissioned by The Universal House of Justice, Century of Light, p. 132

The second quote is what Shoghí Effendí so prophetically said over sixty years ago:

“A mechanism of world inter-communication will be devised, embracing the whole planet, freed from national hindrances and restrictions, and functioning with marvellous swiftness and perfect regularity.”
Shoghí Effendí, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 203

Enjoy the video…

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Voice Your Opinion . . .

You can select multiple answers and add your own responses:
Spiritual Quote:

2 May 1912
Talk at Hotel Plaza
Chicago, Illinois

“In this Cause consultation is of vital importance, but spiritual conference and not the mere voicing of personal views is intended. In France I was present at a session of the senate, but the experience was not impressive. Parliamentary procedure should have for its object the attainment of the light of truth upon questions presented and not furnish a battleground for opposition and self-opinion. Antagonism and contradiction are unfortunate and always destructive to truth. In the parliamentary meeting mentioned, altercation and useless quibbling were frequent; the result, mostly confusion and turmoil; even in one instance a physical encounter took place between two members. It was not consultation but comedy.

“The purpose is to emphasize the statement that consultation must have for its object the investigation of truth. He who expresses an opinion should not voice it as correct and right but set it forth as a contribution to the consensus of opinion, for the light of reality becomes apparent when two opinions coincide. A spark is produced when flint and steel come together. Man should weigh his opinions with the utmost serenity, calmness and composure. Before expressing his own views he should carefully consider the views already advanced by others. If he finds that a previously expressed opinion is more true and worthy, he should accept it immediately and not willfully hold to an opinion of his own. By this excellent method he endeavors to arrive at unity and truth. Opposition and division are deplorable. It is better then to have the opinion of a wise, sagacious man; otherwise, contradiction and altercation, in which varied and divergent views are presented, will make it necessary for a judicial body to render decision upon the question. Even a majority opinion or consensus may be incorrect. A thousand people may hold to one view and be mistaken, whereas one sagacious person may be right. Therefore, true consultation is spiritual conference in the attitude and atmosphere of love. Members must love each other in the spirit of fellowship in order that good results may be forthcoming. Love and fellowship are the foundation.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 72

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Obsession with Material Things?

materialismIt can seem, in the affluent parts of our globe, that to buy is our fortune. It could also be said that, if buying is good, more buying is better.

Of course, we’re in the middle of an economic crisis and some folks might think we need moderation in interaction with the human-created marketplace—that we not treat it as some magically powerful entity that must be worshiped with human sacrifice.

“Huh?”

I’ll get back to that human sacrifice idea in a bit…

Today on SoulPancake a discussion was started called, Are we completely obsessed with material possessions? Do they mean anything?. Here’s a representative sample of the comments:

“An iPhone to match your sneakers? Sneakers to match your vest?”

“I love clothes and dinners out with friends, and new shiny things but understand the completely vapid nature of these things.”

“They only mean something if you let it mean something. If it makes you happy then buy it.”

“Honestly, if you have the CASH to buy this stuff up front, go right ahead.”

“Few people lie on their death bed and talk about that car they should have bought or that purse that they were so close to buying”

“As someone below pointed out it does have a huge impact on making the world as we know it go round”

“…yes we are obsessed, and its not a good thing. And yes, these things are important but shouldn’t be occupying our thoughts and efforts to the extent at which it is.”

” Its all one big contest and a race to the finish line. Its a shame most people don’t stop and look around them more often.”

I was happy to see, at least, a range of responses in the normally affluent participants on the site.

I was very sad about a few of them: “If it makes you happy then buy it.”, “Honestly, if you have the CASH to buy this stuff up front, go right ahead.”

Here’s where the idea of materialism brings up the idea of human sacrifice.

Who suffers for the extraction of the raw materials needed to make all the fanciful things people buy?

Who receives no help in their daily lives because they happen to live where the marketeers won’t put their markets?

Who sweats away their days making the toys of the affluent?

Who can any longer ignore that We are One Human Family and what hurts one hurts all ?

Spiritual Quote:

“Whether as world-view or simple appetite, materialism’s effect is to leach out of human motivation—and even interest—the spiritual impulses that distinguish the rational soul. ‘For self-love,’ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has said, ‘is kneaded into the very clay of man, and it is not possible that, without any hope of a substantial reward, he should neglect his own present material good.’ In the absence of conviction about the spiritual nature of reality and the fulfilment it alone offers, it is not surprising to find at the very heart of the current crisis of civilization a cult of individualism that increasingly admits of no restraint and that elevates acquisition and personal advancement to the status of major cultural values. The resulting atomization of society has marked a new stage in the process of disintegration about which the writings of Shoghí Effendí speak so urgently.

“To accept willingly the rupture of one after another strand of the moral fabric that guides and disciplines individual life in any social system, is a self-defeating approach to reality. If leaders of thought were to be candid in their assessment of the evidence readily available, it is here that one would find the root cause of such apparently unrelated problems as the pollution of the environment, economic dislocation, ethnic violence, spreading public apathy, the massive increase in crime, and epidemics that ravage whole populations. However important the application of legal, sociological or technological expertise to such issues undoubtedly is, it would be unrealistic to imagine that efforts of this kind will produce any significant recovery without a fundamental change of moral consciousness and behaviour.”
Commissioned by The Universal House of Justice, Century of Light, p. 90

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Bubbles, Bailouts, and Stimulus Plans

global_economic_bubblesSo much of the shouting about this economic “downturn” centers on the United States of America. I’m no economist (thank, God!), but it seems to make sense that the epicenter of the econoquake is the USA.

Still . . .

What about other countries? Like:

China, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Taiwan (ROC), Philippines, Romania, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Brazil, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Iceland, and Australia.

One of my constant companions on the Internet Journey is Global Voices. In a recent article, they rely on their global network of bloggers to identify these issues:

“…Jamaica’s dollar-earning bauxite industry has shed hundreds of jobs already because of the downturn in US car production.”

In Bangladesh, the housing bubble is tied to remittances sent by Bangladeshis working in other countries; but, mass layoffs in the US and Europe is ending their property boom.

“Cambodia is also experiencing a property bubble. South Koreans are Cambodia’s biggest investors. Since South Korean businesses have been badly hit by the financial crisis, many of them have already pulled off their real estate investments in Cambodia.”

The Caribbean financial crisis originated, partly, from drops in methanol and real estate prices.

The Brazilian government was claiming the global crisis was having a minimal impact on their economy. But, recent reports show Brazil as the second “most affected” country.

“Bank nationalization schemes have been enforced in some countries like Iceland and Kazakhstan. Trinidad and Tobago banks were rescued not just by their government but also by governments from neighboring countries.”

Hungary is going to implement a tax reform.

“Hiring street sweepers is part of the Philippine stimulus plan.”

There are many more details on the Global Voices site…

Spiritual Quote:

“Central to the task of reconceptualizing the organization of human affairs is arriving at a proper understanding of the role of economics. The failure to place economics into the broader context of humanity’s social and spiritual existence has led to a corrosive materialism in the world’s more economically advantaged regions, and persistent conditions of deprivation among the masses of the world’s peoples. Economics should serve people’s needs; societies should not be expected to reformulate themselves to fit economic models. The ultimate function of economic systems should be to equip the peoples and institutions of the world with the means to achieve the real purpose of development: that is, the cultivation of the limitless potentialities latent in human consciousness.

“Society must develop new economic models shaped by insights that arise from a sympathetic understanding of shared experience, from viewing human beings in relation one to another, and from a recognition of the central role that family and community play in social and spiritual well-being. Within institutions and organizations, priorities must be reassessed. Resources must be directed away from those agencies and programs that are damaging to the individual, societies and the environment, and directed toward those most germane to furthering a dynamic, just and thriving social order. Such economic systems will be strongly altruistic and cooperative in nature; they will provide meaningful employment and will help to eradicate poverty in the world.”
Bahá’í International Community: 1998 Feb 18, Valuing Spirituality in Development

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Food, Crisis, and The Human Spirit

food_crisis

FOOD = “to tend, keep, pasture, to protect, to guard, to feed”

CRISIS = “to separate, decide, judge, discriminate, distinguish, to sift”

SPIRIT = “animating or vital principle, soul, courage, vigor, breath”

It’s estimated that one billion people on the earth are starving and many are farmers. Farmers starving? How in the hell…

Take a typical independent farmer, let them do what they know how to do—use their human spirit to relate to the good earth—and they’re the best fed people on the planet. The crisis—what we need to separate out and make decisions about—is caused by not letting them do what they know how to do—letting multinational corporations that specialize in industrial agriculture supplant their efforts—provide food that’s of less nutritional value but is much cheaper than what the farmer can raise on their own. Also make sure that various multinationals control the seeds the farmer can get their hands on, making sure the seeds can only be used for one crop then have to be bought again—see Monsanto: Seed Police, The Bad Seed, and Harvest of Fear. The farmer can’t afford to buy new seed and they risk legal entanglement if they reuse the seed. And, if they try to use their own non-genetically-modified seed they’re pressured so much they can’t sell their healthy food and they can’t even grow it to feed themselves. If you doubt that a small town or village farmer can be pressured into not growing food from healthy seed just think about those multinationals and all the money they have. Do you think they mind paying some of those farmers to spy on other farmers?

So, the farmers are starving unless they buckle-under to the pressure from agri-business that seems to not use the human spirit in their mix of business factors. Then, the people who used to eat the healthy food the farmers grew have to settle for genetically-modified and less nutritious food—if  the farmer used the “approved” seed or if  the particular government lets food aid (also less than wholly nutritious) actually arrive at their table (if they even have a table…).

If you’ve gotten this far in the post and you’re starting to get bored about the one billion fellow human beings who are being starved by corporate greed, I suggest you review your commitment to the basics of the human spirit—love, harmony, sympathy, service, and compassion—as well as catching up on the concept of the Oneness of Humanity—the fact that what hurts one, hurts all… sooner or later…

Thankfully, there are some companies that do all in their power to resist the pressure from the spiritless corporations, grow fully nutritious food, and not only make it available to affluent people but install procedures that implement microfranchising so the poor can benefit as well. Check out Nuriche as one example.

Then, there are organizations like Yes!  that do everything in their power to help us all  build a more sustainable world.

Look into their special Spring 2009 theme: Food for Everyone: How to Grow A Local Food Revolution. Plenty of advice that ordinary people can use to make a major contribution to the global food crisis.

So…

FOOD = something we all need in a form that supplies us with the nutrition we must have to function effectively.

CRISIS = a time to make decisions, separate out the truth from the propaganda, and make a personal judgement to take some kind of positive action.

SPIRIT = what we all have and some  need to dust off and shine up so our human family can get back on its feet and live in peace and tranquility…

Spiritual Quote:

“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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Our Human Family ~ Unity In Diversity

human_family1
First, a few news items about our Human Family:

From the Washington Times: Film casts a chill on family’s future “Already, 90 countries or localities have subpar fertility rates (i.e., below the 2.1 children per woman replacement level), according to the CIA’s World Factbook. Thirty-six have rates less than 1.5.”

From Business World: The free market and morality “…the economic inequality between the north and the south had become more and more an inner threat to the cohesion of the human family, ‘a danger that was no less real than that proceeding from the weapons arsenals with which the East and the West oppose one another’.”

From the Guardsman: Inauguration 2009: ‘Remaking America’ “We need to recognize that the human family isn’t about differences or trying to make everyone be the same, but about just trying again to be more positive. ”

From the Mindanao Examiner: Inter-generational by Fr Roy Cimagala “We cannot help but deepen our respective generational specializations of interest, in all their social and cultural varieties. I suppose this is how things go. We even have to foster the legitimate differences. But we need to learn how to form one organic whole, since in the end we all are one human family.”

If the photo that leads this post “offended” you or made you “uncomfortable” you have a long road to travel toward the realization that our Human Family truly is  an organic whole.

This single realization—the Oneness of Humanity—is the golden key to the resolution of all our global ills. Trace the causes of any of the increasingly menacing crises in our world and you will find one or another form of prejudice by one part of the human family against another part of that same family.

Who would willingly sit down at their family meal and forcibly restrain their children from eating the food, over time watching them starve to death?

This is happening in our global family…

Who would go out and earn a lucrative livelihood then come home and refuse to spend any of that money on certain members of their family?

This is happening in our global family…

Who would bring a dangerous means of producing energy into their home, placing it in an area where they never go but other members of the family must go?

This is happening in our global family…

Who would have children then make sure they receive no education?

This is happening in our global family…

I could go on with examples that seem horrific when considering a single family yet are not being sufficiently protested against or dealt with (even being hidden) by the most affluent members of our Human Family; but, I won’t go on to construct a laundry list of ills—I’ll instead utter a cry for a thorough washing of the Laundry…

Spiritual Quote:

“…when this human body-politic reaches a state of absolute unity, the effulgence of the eternal Sun will make its fullest light and heat manifest. Therefore we must not make distinctions between individual members of the human family. We must not consider any soul as barren or deprived. Our duty lies in educating souls so that the Sun of the bestowals of God shall become resplendent in them, and this is possible through the power of the oneness of humanity. The more love is expressed among mankind and the stronger the power of unity, the greater will be this reflection and revelation, for the greatest bestowal of God is love. Love is the source of all the bestowals of God. Until love takes possession of the heart no other divine bounty can be revealed in it.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 218

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Why Can’t The “Experts” Fix The Economy ?

economic_meltdownDid a quick search of Google News for the words “economic meltdown ” and this story jumped out at me:

Women must be included in solving global economic meltdown, UN says
UN News Centre – Feb 6, 2009
“Governments must give women a key role in making decisions aimed at resolving the current global economic crisis…”

A link at the bottom of that article led to:

Women hold key to breaking out of global food crisis “Not only do women suffer the most from global problems, such as the current crisis arising from the surge in food prices, but they can also contribute the most to its solutions, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said…”

Together, these articles seem to point toward a solution to multiple global crises  that’s being avoided: Bottom-up and woman-centric

I did a search on the word “Davos “, where a privileged group of mostly males recently admitted their inability to see a solution for the global crisis, and I found an op-ed that also pointed toward women:
From the New York Times: Mistresses of the Universe “Banks around the world desperately want bailouts of billions of dollars, but they also have another need they’re unaware of: women, women and women.”

I’ll leave it to the people with more stamina than I have to work out the details necessary to achieve gender equality in the arena of dealing with global crises…

What I can and will do is to consider women, consult with women, and work with women; and, while doing that, stay as open as possible to learning more about sensitivity, intuition, and compassion.

There are Great Problems that have infected our human family and even with Great Solutions being applied we will still see much more unrest and possibly even Great Revolutions before Peace and Tranquility become the Norm:

Spiritual Quotes:

“Regarding the economic prejudice, it is apparent that whenever the ties between nations become strengthened and the exchange of commodities accelerated, and any economic principle is established in one country, it will ultimately affect the other countries and universal benefits will result. Then why this prejudice?”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 288

“Bahá’u’lláh set forth principles of guidance and teaching for economic readjustment. Regulations were revealed by Him which insure the welfare of the commonwealth. As the rich man enjoys his life surrounded by ease and luxuries, so the poor man must likewise have a home and be provided with sustenance and comforts commensurate with his needs. This readjustment of the social economic is of the greatest importance inasmuch as it insures the stability of the world of humanity; and until it is effected, happiness and prosperity are impossible.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 240

“The rich will enjoy the privilege of this new economic condition as well as the poor, for owing to certain provisions and restrictions they will not be able to accumulate so much as to be burdened by its management, while the poor will be relieved from the stress of want and misery. The rich will enjoy his palace, and the poor will have his comfortable cottage.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 132

“Strive, therefore, to create love in the hearts in order that they may become glowing and radiant. When that love is shining, it will permeate other hearts even as this electric light illumines its surroundings. When the love of God is established, everything else will be realized. This is the true foundation of all economics. Reflect upon it. Endeavor to become the cause of the attraction of souls rather than to enforce minds. Manifest true economics to the people. Show what love is, what kindness is, what true severance is and generosity. This is the important thing for you to do. Act in accordance with the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh…. Now is the time for you to live in accordance with His words. Let your deeds be the real translation of their meaning. Economic questions will not attract hearts. The love of God alone will attract them. Economic questions are most interesting; but the power which moves, controls and attracts the hearts of men is the love of God.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 239

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