The Future = Our Youth

youth_social-action_creative_productiveIt’s sad to contemplate but too many people’s attitude toward youth is to keep them “seen but not heard”. Anyone who hasn’t tried to really listen  to a young person won’t be able to see any value in encouraging youth to take a prominent role in shaping the future.

In preparation for today’s post, I first considered news items that showed programs to help youth increase their social awareness and improve their ability to be productive citizens.

An article from the Tri-County Times  in Michigan, Enforcing good behavior of students at school, looked promising but seemed to me to sound too much like the sales training classes I used to attend…

Then, there was the article from the Mercury News , Project helps Los Gatos middle school students thrive. Promising information but only about one school in the United States…

I considered doing rather complete coverage of a program, The Virtues Project  (ideas I’m preparing to use in a Junior Youth group in the community I live in), but, blogs being what they are—entities in their own right that can often “decide” what they want and abruptly change the blogger’s mind—, I continued surfing and eventually came back to a site that I’d referenced in my previous post: The FreeChild Project.

I began exploring the many links provided on programs that not only let youth be seen but also Heard. One of them led me to a page that “…showcases a collection of organizations that will provide you with a solid introduction to the world of youth leadership and community involvement.”

Now I was on to something!!

I ended up on a page from Idealist.Org that showcased the following remarkable  kids. They each have founded an organization that provides a valuable social service:

Kristen Thomas, teenager, Alexandra “Alex” Scott, 4 years old, Annie Wignall, 11 years old, Carolyn Rubenstein, 13 years old, Ilana Rothbein, 17 years old, Cody Clark, 12 years old, Craig Kielburger, 12 years old, Emily Douglas, 9 years old, Melissa Poe, 9 years old, Mischa Zimmermann, 13 years old, Jon Wagner-Holtz, 11 years old, Janine Licare Andrews and Aislin Livingstone, 9 years old and 7 years old, Ryan Hrelijac, 6 years old, Joel Holland, 15 years old, Richard Ludlow, 17 years old, Matthew Cortland and Tina Liu, 18 and 17 years old, Jennifer Corriero and Michael Furdyk, 19 and 17 years old, Brynn MacDonald, Jason Crowe, Nadia Campbell, 18 years old, Jennifer Staple, 18 years old, Kimmie Weeks, Teenager, Ocean Robbins and Ryan Eliason, 16 and 19 years old, Lindsay and Brittany Logsdon

“Seen but not Heard?” Heavens forbid!

Spiritual Quote:

“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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Greed, Violence, and Truth

dead_child_gaza

I’m going to do something that some may find insensitive or in poor taste.

As the Gaza conflict may, or may not, be winding down and as the American presidency transitions office-holders, I want to bring to sharp clarity that there are numerous political entities involved in a many wars that have killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians—possibly more than any time in human history.

As I see it, we are headed for an international transition from totally sovereign nations who can decide to initiate war to a global form of governance in which nations willingly agree to leave each other alone so their citizens can live fruitful lives. Naturally, this will only come after the violence against civilians reaches a possibly much higher level—severe pain teaching the rule of love…

Also, it’s fairly obvious that the world financial crisis came from materialistic agendas which have proven their falsity and that the greed behind such agendas is a strong inducer of violence.

Following are two videos. One being crushingly sad, the other seeming to be light comedy. I see the sad one as an unyielding Teacher and the comedy as a wise Professor—hot tears and stinging laughter being natural human responses to global disaster.

I don’t want to offend, I want to uncover the Truth…

Spiritual Quote:

“[This]…issue concerns the nature of the catastrophic events associated with this period in history. The general messages of the Guardian to the world-wide Bahá’í community make clear reference in several places to a ‘retributive calamity’ which will purify the human race and knit its components into a unified whole. One of the most detailed passages from the writings of the Guardian is the following:

‘The violent derangement of the world’s equilibrium; the trembling that will seize the limbs of mankind; the radical transformation of human society; the rolling up of the present-day Order; the fundamental changes affecting the structure of government; the weakening of the pillars of religion; the rise of dictatorships; the spread of tyranny; the fall of monarchies; the decline of ecclesiastical institutions; the increase of anarchy and chaos; the extension and consolidation of the Movement of the Left; the fanning into flame of the smouldering fire of racial strife; the development of infernal engines of war; the burning of cities; the contamination of the atmosphere of the earth—these stand out as the signs and portents that must either herald or accompany the retributive calamity which, as decreed by Him Who is the Judge and Redeemer of mankind, must, sooner or later, afflict a society which, for the most part, and for over a century, has turned a deaf ear to the Voice of God’s Messenger in this day—a calamity which must purge the human race of the dross of its age-long corruptions, and weld its component parts into a firmly-knit world-embracing Fellowship…’ (Taken from “Messages to the Bahá’í World 1950-1957″ by Shoghi Effendi, page 103)”
International Teaching Centre, 1984 Jul 01, Concerns about Retributive Calamity

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Citizen Media

mediaCalling all World Citizens!

Are you letting the rest of our human family know what’s really going on where you live?

Well, actually, I’m only able to call on all English-speaking  World Citizens. It’s a shame I can only afford a blog platform that costs nothing and, therefore, can’t install translation software…

I included a post about the problems of World Citizens having clear communications in my recent series, Path Toward Peace , but I trust there are those of you reading this who can translate for other World Citizens you know…

I was prompted to write this post today by the following news story:

From OneWorld.Net: Obama Urged to Reform Media, Protect Internet
“As President-elect Barack Obama prepares to name a new leader of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and a chief technology officer at the White House, more than 100 advocates of a free and open media — including some of the most well-known musicians, bloggers, and policy analysts in the country — are urging him to remain true to campaign pledges to diversify media ownership; renew public media; and promote fast, affordable, and open Internet access.”

I felt this story, about a newly-elected President of the United States who’s received such acclaim world-wide, was a good lead-in to a series of papers I discovered recently that assess the state of Citizen Media and its interaction with the mainstream sources of what’s actually happening in our world.

That video is from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University  and they’ve published twelve fascinating papers on the topic of Digital Media.

I’ve uploaded (so you can download ) the Adobe .pdf of the Overview: News and Information as Digital Media Come of Age.

You may feel you can’t take on the task of reporting events to the world but one example I can cite is this blogger, me , who’s on a small military pension, living in a small apartment, only able to use software that’s free, yet, still sending this report out to the world…

Also, CNN has recently started a site where they say, “…the stories submitted by users are not edited, fact-checked or screened before they post.”

Then, there are the many other efforts to aid Citizen Journalists as represented in this search page from Google.

Plus, there’s the beginner’s tutorial on Global Citizen Media (available in three other languages besides English) from RisingVoices.

We often feel we can only take care of our own lives in this crisis-ridden world, yet, telling the rest of the world about your struggles to live your life would be a fine beginning as a Citizen Journalist!

Spiritual Quote :

“People need to think of themselves as world citizens and understand their personal responsibility… Campaigns to raise public awareness of the challenges of world citizenship must make use of the full range of media and the arts, including television, video, film, radio, electronic networks, books, magazines, posters, flyers, theater and music. These campaigns should enlist the advertising and entertainment industries, the media—both traditional and non-traditional—the entire UN system, all member states, NGOs, and popular personalities. They should reach out to the home, the work place, public areas and schools.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1993 Jun 14, World Citizenship: A Global Ethic for Sustainable Development

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Being Nice To Our Mother…

climate_changeDo you like to breathe? Would you rather not be poisoned by your drinking water? Will your great-grandchildren still be able to see the Sun?

Humans are amazing!  Give them a world to play in and they’ll work as hard as they can to make it unliveable…

Some recent news clips:

From The New York Times:: Amid a Hopeful Mood, U.N. Talks Set Countries on Path Toward a Global Climate Treaty

From The Daily Telegraph, UK: Climate summit ends in acrimony

From OneWorld.Net: Activists Demand ‘Change’ at Climate Conference

From BBC News: Australians condemn climate plan

O.K., so the Big-Rollers are worried because they’re having problems continuing to milk the moderately-affluent. The poor are getting poorer. Human slaughter is rampant. Corruption is eating us alive…

So, imagine all those problems are resolved to everybody’s satisfaction—I know, it would take a huge change of a massive number of hearts but just imagine it:

Rich and poor are equalizing their holdings, no one is murdering thousands, and politicians are learning trustworthiness…

And… most of us are dying from the backlash of a ferociously mad Mother Earth…

Here’s some sobering information ( from GreenFacts ):

What are the likely consequences of climate change?

And, some fascinating videos about how bad it really is…

Spiritual Quote :

“A little over a hundred years ago, in a series of letters to the world leaders of the day, Bahá’u’lláh spoke of humankind as entering on a period of history that would entail the radical restructuring of the life of the planet. Challenges never before contemplated would, He said, soon overwhelm the resources of even the most advanced nations. They could be addressed only by a world federal system whose central organ would be a representative world parliament empowered to create a code of universally agreed upon and enforceable international law. ‘The earth is but one country,’ Bahá’u’lláh asserted, ‘and mankind its citizens’.

“As the magnitude, complexity, and urgency of environmental problems have gradually forced themselves on public attention, the logic of this prescription has become daily more apparent. The available international legislative machinery and processes are proving inadequate, primarily because they are based on laws governing nation-states. To the Bahá’í International Community it seems clear that, unless creative new steps in the restructuring of the international order can be taken, environmental degradation alone, and its long-term implications for social and economic development, will lead inexorably to a disaster of appalling dimension.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1991 Aug 13, International Legislation for Environment Development

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Who Is Writing The Future ? – Part Four

writing_the_future-who_is_writing
Parts One through Three of this series have introduced Bahá’u’lláh, sketched out His major conceptions of human nature and the development of humanity, then presented collective endeavors, all from the twentieth century, that have set our human family on a course toward global maturity and peace.

I said “on a course toward” because we’re at the beginning of Eons of Light after Millennial Darkness…

Certainly, humanity has produced an abundance of light-giving conditions; it’s just that the darkness of the animal side of our nature has held us back from the full splendor we’re capable of reflecting.

The document that inspired this series of posts, Who Is Writing the Future? Reflections on the Twentieth Century,  is a landmark of rational spirituality, a call to awareness of the full potential of our human family when we live and act within a unity of consciousness.

The section of Who Is Writing The Future?  that this post is focusing on is short but the actual words are very high-minded, while displaying a practicality that’s sorely needed by our global community. I can’t match the document for its poetic yet reasonable presentation, so, here is the original:

“To appreciate the transformations brought about by the period of history now ending [the twentieth century] is not to deny the accompanying darkness that throws the achievements into sharp relief: the deliberate extermination of millions of helpless human beings, the invention and use of new weapons of destruction capable of annihilating whole populations, the rise of ideologies that suffocated the spiritual and intellectual life of entire nations, damage to the physical environment of the planet on a scale so massive that it may take centuries to heal, and the incalculably greater damage done to generations of children taught to believe that violence, indecency, and selfishness are triumphs of personal liberty. Such are only the more obvious of a catalogue of evils, unmatched in history, whose lessons our era will leave for the education of the chastened generations who will follow us.

“Darkness, however, is not a phenomenon endowed with some form of existence, much less autonomy. It does not extinguish light nor diminish it, but marks out those areas that light has not reached or adequately illumined. So will twentieth century civilization no doubt be assessed by the historians of a more mature and dispassionate age. The ferocities of animal nature, which raged out of control through these critical years and seemed at times to threaten society’s very survival, did not in fact prevent the steady unfoldment of the creative potentialities which human consciousness possesses. On the contrary. As the century advanced, growing numbers of people awakened to how empty were the allegiances and how insubstantial the fears that had held them captive only short years before.

“‘Peerless is this Day’, Bahá’u’lláh insists, ‘for it is as the eye to past ages and centuries, and as a light unto the darkness of the times.’ In this perspective, the issue is not the darkness that slowed and obscured the progress achieved in the extraordinary hundred years now ending. It is, rather, how much more suffering and ruin must be experienced by our race before we wholeheartedly accept the spiritual nature that makes us a single people, and gather the courage to plan our future in the light of what has been so painfully learned.”

If you’d like a copy of the full document as a download, here are a Word .doc and an Adobe .pdf file.

Spiritual Quote :

“Man is like unto this lamp, … but spiritual splendors are like unto the light within the glass. No matter how translucent the glass may be, as long as there is no light within, it remains dark. Likewise, man, no matter how much he advances in material accomplishments, will remain like the glass without light if he is deprived of the spiritual virtues. Material virtues are like unto a perfect body, but this body is in need of the spirit. No matter how handsome and perfect the body may be, if it is deprived of the spirit and its animus, it is dead. But when that same body is affiliated with the spirit and expressing life, perfection and virtue become realized in it.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 303

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Who Is Writing The Future ? – Part Three

writing_the_future-who_is
Parts One and Two of this series introduced a major Figure in world history, Bahá’u’lláh. They indicated His major conceptions of human nature as well as the idea of progressive spiritual evolution—not just of individuals but of the entire human family—stages of infancy, youth, adolescence, and adulthood—showing that humanity is now leaving its turbulent adolescence and entering the inevitable stage of maturity.

As hard as it may be to grasp the idea that humanity is approaching a sane, mature, rational, and peaceful consummation of its often tragic and certainly painful growing-up, the document that spawned these posts, Who Is Writing the Future? Reflections on the Twentieth Century,  gives compelling evidence of a new direction, a new mandate in human affairs. The fact that most of the evidence of this growth into human maturity occurred in the twentieth century—an evolutionarily short time—is as significant as each of the signs of impending global sanity and the much prophesied peace and tranquillity of all peoples.

I think it’s extremely important to focus on what has  been accomplished by humanity in its suffering struggle to establish a mature, peaceful world. Certainly, this attitude of positivity will do far more to help the process than the quite common attempt to belittle efforts that haven’t yet blossomed into efficient operation—like slapping a child who’s learning to walk when it falls down because it isn’t doing it right yet . . .

The major learning of humanity in this phase of its growth is Unity.

Some say that we won’t have unity till we have peace. Bahá’u’lláh makes it indelibly clear that peace will not be possible until unity is established. Here are two quotes from the document:

“The central spiritual issue facing all people, Bahá’u’lláh says, whatever their nation, religion, or ethnic origin, is that of laying the foundations of a global society that can reflect the oneness of human nature.”

“The unification of the earth’s inhabitants is neither a remote utopian vision nor, ultimately, a matter of choice. It constitutes the next, inescapable stage in the process of social evolution, a stage toward which all the experience of past and present is impelling us.”

This is an extremely important document so I’ve also provided a Word .doc and Adobe .pdf file for download.

Here’s a list of some of the most important changes in humanity’s focus, begun in the twentieth century and, sad to say,  too often slapped down in people’s discussions, well before humanity has had a chance to learn to walk confidently down their pathways:

* The United Nations as a global peace-building organization

* The wide-spread shame at the perversities of the second world war which led to a multitude of non-governmental, humanitarian organizations which consult with the U.N.

* The systems of financial control, reserve funds, and trade regulations instituted after the Great Depression which may  instruct current leaders in the proper steps to avoid having it happen again

* Global programs aiming to establish universal education and the Internet—a tool which can accomplish that goal

* Technological and scientific inventions reaching heights that have made any insane acts by people or nations instantly visible to the rest of humanity (before 1900, it was relatively easy to commit atrocious acts then argue them out of existence)

* The universal awareness of the equality of women as well as the racial components of our human family, though yet to be implemented universally

* The growing awareness that poverty is not a necessary feature of human life

* The wide-spread, though inadequately enforced, conception of the unity of the world’s religions

And, summing-up these never-before-seen phenomena  of collective human action, the document quotes Bahá’u’lláh’s prophetic utterance:

“A new life is, in this age, stirring within all the peoples of the earth; and yet none hath discovered its cause or perceived its motive.”

That statement was written over 140 years ago. There are a growing body of people discovering its cause and learning how to perceive its motive . . .

Spiritual Quote :

“So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth. The One true God, He Who knoweth all things, Himself testifieth to the truth of these words.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 14

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Who Is Writing The Future ? – Part One

writing_the_future
“0n May 28, 1992, Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies met in special session to commemorate the centenary of the passing of Bahá’u’lláh…His message of unity had clearly struck a deep chord with the Brazilian legislators.”

That quote is from a document entitled, Who Is Writing the Future? Reflections on the Twentieth Century.

The twentieth century? It’s over and done with, right?

Well, if the hideous pressure on the global financial system, and the despicable lack of respect for human rights, and the impending, nay, imminent climate crisis, and various other dark and ominous conditions in our world are over and done with, then, I suppose the twentieth century will have absolutely no effect on our lives…

What’s that old quote—was it the Bible—something about the sins of the father…?

So, Who is Bahá’u’lláh and why did Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies single Him out for honor?

The document says, “During the course of the proceedings, speakers representing all parties in the Chamber paid tribute to a body of writings which one deputy described as ‘the most colossal religious work written by the pen of a single Man’, and to a conception of our planet’s future which, ‘transcending material frontiers’, in the words of another, ‘reached out to humanity as a whole, without petty differences of nationality, race, limits, or beliefs’.”

Strange that government officials in Brazil should so honor Bahá’u’lláh while the government in Iran ( Bahá’u’lláh’s land of birth ) was doing everything they could to stifle His ideas; in fact, had been working to rid their country of any trace of His ideas for nearly 130 years…

What are  these ideas that two governments’ officials could have such divergent opinions on?

Here are some of Bahá’u’lláh’s ideas from one of many web sites that dive deeply into His conceptions:

* Individual search for truth
* There is but one God
* Equality of men and women
* Universal, quality education for all
* Elimination of prejudice of all kinds
* Religion as the foundation of Love and Unity
* Harmony between science and religion
* There is a common foundation of all religions
* Equality and brotherhood among mankind
* The need for a universal, worldwide auxillary language
* Elimination of poverty
* Universal peace upheld by a world arbitrating body
* Protection of Cultural diversity
* Mankind must accept God’s Bounty

Over 500 elected officials of Brazil’s government set aside time to publicly honor the Prophet-Founder of a world religion, the Bahá’í Faith, when 89% of the population is either Roman Catholic or Protestant. What’s going on? And, why are Iran’s leaders so averse to Bahá’u’lláh’s religious ideas?

I hope to, with the help of the document, Who Is Writing the Future? Reflections on the Twentieth Century , answer those questions.

There will be five more posts in this series, covering the five sections of the document. If you’d like to download it and let it speak to you  during my attempts to covey its message, I’ve provided a Word .doc and Adobe .pdf file for download.

Spiritual Quote :

“The cause of God is like unto a college. The believers are like unto the students. The college is founded for the sake of the acquirements of science, arts and literature. If the sciences are not therein and the scholars are not educated the object of the college is not achieved. The students must show the results of their study in their deportment and deeds; otherwise they have wasted their lives….the cause of God must be a dynamic force transforming the lives of men and not a question of meetings, committees, futile discussions, unnecessary debates and political wire-pulling.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, Vol. 7, No. 18, p. 178

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