Where’s The Party ?

Today I’ll look at the mechanics of the American presidential election but also elections, in general, from the global perspective.

From OneWorld.Net: Amnesty Int’l Focuses on Americans’ Voting Rights
“Under Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to participate in government and open elections…”
“Amnesty and other groups taking part in the voter registration drive fear that millions of Americans may not be able to cast their ballots in the presidential polls if certain shortcomings in the current electoral system are not addressed before the presidential polls in November.”

From The Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
Article 21.
(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

From About.com-US Government Info: The Electoral College System
“When you vote for a presidential candidate you are really voting to instruct the electors from your state to cast their votes for the same candidate.”
“Each elector gets one vote.”
“While the state electors are ‘pledged’ to vote for the candidate of the party that chose them, nothing in the Constitution requires them to do so.”
“Critics of the Electoral College system, of which there are more than a few, point out that the system allows the possibility of a candidate actually losing the nationwide popular vote, but being elected president by the electoral vote. Can that happen? Yes, and it has.”

Hmmm… Government of, by, and for the People? The U.S. population is a bit over 301 million people; the Electoral College system has 538 people . . .

It could be argued that the United States election process is the best possible system. It could also be argued that the moon is made of green cheese.

My Faith counsels us to “…obey the government under which [we] live…”, it also counsels that people should “under no circumstances suffer their inner religious beliefs and convictions to be violated and transgressed by any authority whatever.”

Tough call, eh? No matter what I think about the government and its procedures, I should obey it, yet never abandon my inner convictions.

It may sound totally ridiculous yet, in my opinion, it’s based on the principle that not resisting the wrong will make it stand out all the more. If we argue and contend, we muddy the issues. If the issues are muddy, how can we clearly decide what will actually work. If we obey a wrong decision we can aid a process that will make it utterly, clearly wrong. Then, clear corrections can happen.

Some may say, “Who me suffer, just to aid some distant, just decision?”

Well… What if the distant, just decision aids your children or grandchildren?

Unbelievably, that’s a tough call for some folk . . .

“…we are concerned at the lack of leadership over a wide spectrum of human affairs. At national, regional, and international levels, within communities and in international organizations, in governments and in non-governmental bodies, the world needs credible and sustained leadership.
‘It needs leadership that is proactive, not simply reactive, that is inspired, not simply functional, that looks to the longer term and future generations for whom the present is held in trust. It needs leaders made strong by vision, sustained by ethics, and revealed by political courage that looks beyond the next election.’
“This cannot be leadership confined within domestic walls. It must reach beyond country, race, religion, culture, language, life-style. It must embrace a wider human constituency, be infused with a sense of caring for others, a sense of responsibility to the global neighborhood.”

Report of the Commission on Global Governance, Our Global Neighborhood. (New York: Oxford University Press. 1995.) p.353.
Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Oct, Turning Point For All Nations

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“…the wine of certitude…”

There are so many opinions about how to know what God wants for us (and, this is one of them…).

Of course, God’s Wishes are not a matter of opinion.

Anyone who tells you they know what God wants for your life should be treated kindly but certainly not believed automatically.

Our soul’s growth is too important to entrust to human care…

“…they that tread the path of faith, they that thirst for the wine of certitude, must cleanse themselves of all that is earthly — their ears from idle talk, their minds from vain imaginings, their hearts from worldly affections, their eyes from that which perisheth. They should put their trust in God, and, holding fast unto Him, follow in His way. Then will they be made worthy of the effulgent glories of the sun of divine knowledge and understanding, and become the recipients of a grace that is infinite and unseen, inasmuch as man can never hope to attain unto the knowledge of the All-Glorious, can never quaff from the stream of divine knowledge and wisdom, can never enter the abode of immortality, nor partake of the cup of divine nearness and favour, unless and until he ceases to regard the words and deeds of mortal men as a standard for the true understanding and recognition of God and His Prophets.”

Bahá’u’lláh: The Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 3-4

~ Unleash The Life Within ~

Religious Minority in Iran


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About three weeks ago, I posted a story about the arrest and detainment of the leadership of the Baha’i Faith in Iran. It was published here to highlight the plight of people denied the basic human right of Belief.

Six days ago, the Universal House of Justice, the world governing body of the Baha’i Faith, sent a letter to the believers in Iran.

I’m posting it here as an example of how religion can support human rights:


(Department of the Secretariat)

3 June 2008

To the believers in the Cradle of the Faith

Dear Bahá’í Friends,

Almost three weeks have passed since the recent arrest of the members of the distinguished body termed the “Friends in Iran”. No reliable information regarding their circumstances or whereabouts is available. This lack of news and the fact that these dear ones are deprived of access to their families and to legal counsel to defend their rights are causes of deep concern to the Bahá’ís of the world and to all those who seek justice and equity.

What is a source of comfort to our grief-stricken hearts is the courage and steadfastness you have manifested in the face of this crisis. You continue to discharge your spiritual obligations in unity and resolutely adhere to the Divine Teachings. Relying on heavenly grace, you are exerting efforts to protect and safeguard the interests of the Faith. The support that the press and other mass media have given to the oppressed believers in Iran, the advocacy of their cause undertaken by social activists, and the sympathy voiced by Iranian intellectuals evoke our hope and deep gratitude.

Observe how an increasing number of Iranians, who in honouring their ancient traditions, value human rights, believe that the time has now passed for ignorant prejudices to cause division and discrimination amongst people, and recognize that the true exaltation of the nation of Iran is to be attained through unity in diversity. Rest assured that the Iranian people will exert themselves to fulfil such a vision. How regrettable that a small band of those, their hearts darkened by the clouds of prejudice, have yielded to hatred and animosity, are incapable of comprehending the truth that Bahá’ís have no intention but to serve the world of humanity and to assist in the establishment of a spiritual civilization, attribute to you baseless conspiracies, persecute you for your religious beliefs and practices, and seek to inflict harm upon you. Yet, you recall the counsels of Bahá’u’lláh, Who asserts: “That one indeed is a man who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race.”

Strive, then, to exemplify these words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: “It behoveth the loved ones of the Lord to be the signs and tokens of His universal mercy and the embodiments of His own excelling grace. Like the sun, let them cast their rays upon garden and rubbish heap alike, and even as clouds in spring, let them shed down their rain upon flower and thorn.” Despite the current crisis, pay no heed to oppression and cruelty and, inspired by the Divine Teachings, act in the opposite manner. Focus your thoughts on being a source of good to those around you.

Exert every endeavour to serve your fellow citizens—heirs to a culture rich and humane—who themselves suffer from many an injustice. Avoid all divisiveness and conflict, consort with everyone with kindliness and sincerity, and engage with your compatriots in the discussion of ideas and the exchange of thoughts on matters with which they are anxiously concerned. Ignite in their hearts the flame of hope, faith, and assurance in Iran’s glorious future and in the bright destiny of humankind which you well know is sure to come to pass.

We supplicate in the Holy Shrines for the protection of the believers in the Cradle of the Faith.

[signed: The Universal House of Justice]

Bloggers Unite for Human Rights

Disunity is a danger that the nations and peoples of the earth can no longer endure; the consequences are too terrible to contemplate, too obvious to require any demonstration. “The well-being of mankind,” Bahá’u’lláh wrote more than a century ago, “its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.” In observing that “mankind is groaning, is dying to be led to unity, and to terminate its age-long martyrdom”, Shoghi Effendi further commented that: “Unification of the whole of mankind is the hall-mark of the stage which human society is now approaching. Unity of family, of tribe, of citystate, and nation have been successively attempted and fully established. World unity is the goal towards which a harassed humanity is striving. Nation-building has come to an end. The anarchy inherent in state sovereignty is moving towards a climax. A world, growing to maturity, must abandon this fetish, recognize the oneness and wholeness of human relationships, and establish once for all the machinery that can best incarnate this fundamental principle of its life.”

The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Oct, The Promise of World Peace

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Sign the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Read the Declaration

just a few recent Human Rights Stories from around the world

The abuse of human rights councils and commissions

Human rights and motherhood

More children living in fear

Human rights group threatens to sue Chevron

Morocco: Sham Inquiry Highlights Impunity for Police Abuse

Stop blocking a UN human rights monitoring mission in Sri Lanka

Germany: Press for Human Rights Reform in Russia





Presented to the first session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

February 1947


Sweet Words Are Crying Out For Potent Action

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Check out our most recent posts!

Working hard to be a lot nicer–in this blog and in my daily life–not just courteous and kind but proactively NICE {“refined or virtuous”}. So, since I’m building up to May15th and Bloggers Unite for Human Rights, here’s a sneak preview.

“On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the full text of which appears [below]…. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and ‘to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories.'”


Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the
equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human
family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in
the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights
have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the
conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which
human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and
freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the
highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled
to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against
tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be
protected by the rule of law,
Whereas it is essential to promote the development of
friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the
Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human
rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person
and in the equal rights of men and women and have
determined to promote social progress and better
standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to
achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the
promotion of universal respect for and observance of
human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Whereas a common understanding of these rights
and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full
realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims
RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all
peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual
and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration
constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education
to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by
progressive measures, national and international, to secure
their universal and effective recognition and observance,
both among the peoples of Member States themselves and
among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article 1.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity
and rights. They are endowed with reason and
conscience and should act towards one another
in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set
forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any
kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion,
political or other opinion, national or social origin,
property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no
distinction shall be made on the basis of the political,
jurisdictional or international status of the country
or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be
independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any
other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security
of person.

Article 4.
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and
the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6.
Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere
as a person before the law.

Article 7.
All are equal before the law and are entitled without
any discrimination to equal protection of the law.
All are entitled to equal protection against any
discrimination in violation of this Declaration and
against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8.
Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the
competent national tribunals for acts violating the
fundamental rights granted him by the constitution
or by law.

Article 9.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention
or exile.

Article 10.
Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public
hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in
the determination of his rights and obligations and
of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11.
(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the
right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty
according to law in a public trial at which he has
had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on
account of any act or omission which did not constitute
a penal offence, under national or international law, at
the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier
penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable
at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference
with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor
to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone
has the right to the protection of the law against such
interference or attacks.

Article 13.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement
and residence within the borders of each state.
2) Everyone has the right to leave any country,
including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14.
(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy
in other countries asylum from persecution.
(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of
prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political
crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and
principles of the United Nations.

Article 15.
(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality
nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16.
(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation
due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to
marry and to found a family. They are entitled to
equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at
its dissolution.
(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free
and full consent of the intending spouses.
(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group
unit of society and is entitled to protection by society
and the State.

Article 17.
(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone
as well as in association with others.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought,
conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to
change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone
or in community with others and in public or private,
to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice,
worship and observance.

Article 19.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and
expression; this right includes freedom to hold
opinions without interference and to seek, receive
and impart information and ideas through any media
and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful
assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21.
(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the
government of his country, directly or through freely
chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public
service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the
authority of government; this will shall be expressed
in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by
universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by
secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22.
Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to
social security and is entitled to realization, through
national effort and international co-operation and
in accordance with the organization and resources
of each State, of the economic, social and cultural
rights indispensable for his dignity and the free
development of his personality.

Article 23.
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice
of employment, to just and favourable conditions
of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the
right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and
favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and
his family an existence worthy of human dignity,
and supplemented, if necessary, by other means
of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade
unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24.
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including
reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic
holidays with pay.

Article 25.
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living
adequate for the health and well-being of himself
and of his family, including food, clothing, housing
and medical care and necessary social services, and
the right to security in the event of unemployment,
sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack
of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special
care and assistance. All children, whether born in or
out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26.
(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education
shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental
stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory.
Technical and professional education shall be made
generally available and higher education shall be
equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development
of the human personality and to the strengthening of
respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship
among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall
further the activities of the United Nations for the
maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind
of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27.
(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the
cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and
to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the
moral and material interests resulting from any
scientific, literary or artistic production of which
he is the author.

Article 28.
Everyone is entitled to a social and international
order in which the rights and freedoms set forth
in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29.
(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which
alone the free and full development of his personality
is possible.
(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms,
everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are
determined by law solely for the purpose of securing
due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms
of others and of meeting the just requirements of
morality, public order and the general welfare in
a democratic society.
(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be
exercised contrary to the purposes and principles
of the United Nations.

Article 30.
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as
implying for any State, group or person any right
to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed
at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms
set forth herein.


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The Mother of Pangea Day


Jehane Noujaim

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Well, it’s Saturday evening here, and, for four hours today, I was not really in Kettering, Ohio in my studio apartment. I was in New York City, Rio de Janeiro, London, Dharamsala, Cairo, Jerusalem, and Kigali plus many other venues that sponsored the Pangea Day event.

If you knew nothing about it or want to know more or want to relive the experience, it’s all archived at the Pangea Day Web Site.

In this hopeful talk, Jehane Noujaim unveils her 2006 TED Prize wish:
to bring the world together through the power of film.

And, she did it !!!

Thank You Messages to Jehane Noujaim

“The Pangea Day blog has received an outpouring of thanks to Jehane Noujaim — whose vision was the basis for this unique, inspiring world event — from friends in her hometown of Cairo, Egypt:

“Jehane, this is May El Hosseny. I hope I was in Pangea Day to share my wish, I hope it will come true. I hope one day I can deliver a message or more. Love from the pyramids. Egypt needs people in love to show about true life. Thank you anyway. I’ll do my best to be a film director that can send a message all over the worlddd! Neufo!”

“Keep us close.” — Ismail Barrada

“You give us hope in a world that has so little of it.” — Shahir Maged

“Echta gidden!! Gidden gidden! Ani ani ani!” — Karin El Dib

“Jehane congratulations on bringing the world together, setting an example for people all over the world to get together in an imaginary common consciousness, facilitated by the power of film images and words that resonate. I hope your wish, Pangea Day, becomes an opportunity for people to change from passive recipients of information and images, to agents of change in their everyday lives. Mabrouk, Pangea Day was awesome!” — Karina Shalaby

“Jehane, your wish almost killed me but it was worth it. I love ya.” — Stu your cous

“Jehane, your wish almost killed my husband but it was worth it. Congratulations! What a beautiful day.” — Amanda

“Dear Jehanie, a beautiful job that expressed your wish well — most proud of you! With love and a hug.” — Mom

“Love ya. We miss you.” — Pop

Thanks, Jehane!

Act now.

The following organizations, each with international reach, are making specific calls to action on Pangea Day. Please take a moment to express your voice on an important social issue or fund a life-changing project.

Avaaz.org – The World in Action
Stop the clash of civilizations. Support peace in the Middle East.
Take action

Charity: Water
Make the right to clean water a reality.
Take action

Interfaith Youth Core – Building a Global Interfaith Youth Movement
Experience religious pluralism; get involved in an interfaith dialogue or community service project.
Take action

Kiva – Loans That Change Lives
Lend as little as $25 to an entrepreneur in the developing world today.
Take action

ninemillion.org – A UNHCR Education and Sports Campaign
Give refugee children worldwide the chance to learn and play.
Take action

ONE – The Campaign to Make Poverty History
Fight global poverty. Join ONE.
Take action

United Nations Population Fund
Stand up for women and protect maternal health.
Take action

The We Campaign – We Can Solve the Climate Crisis
Call on world leaders to prevent the worst consequences of global warming.
Take action

WITNESS – See It. Film It. Change It
Sign the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and tell your story.
Take action

Join a Group

Communicate and connect with other Pangea Day supporters. Help spread the word.

  • YouTube
    Pangea Day on YouTube
    join now
  • myspace
    Pangea Day on MySpace
    join now
  • facebook
    Pangea Day on Facebook
    join now
  • facebook
    Pangea Day on Facebook
    join now
  • Ovi
    Pangea Day on Ovi
    join now

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Happy Pangea Day !!!

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Media Guide

Pangea Day’s History

In 2006, filmmaker Jehane Noujaim won the TED Prize, an annual award granted at the TED Conference, which honors three individuals with the potential to change the world. She was granted $100,000 and — more important — a wish to change the world. She wished to create a day in which the world came together through film. Pangea Day grew out of that wish. The event has been taken forward by Noujaim, in conjunction with TED and the Pangea Day staff, led by Executive Director Delia Cohen.

Watch Jehane Noujaim’s 2006 acceptance speech for the TED Prize

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s on the program for Pangea Day?

Pangea Day is a 4-hour program of short film, live music and talks. You can find the lineup of films, musicians, and speakers at www.pangeaday.org.

What time is Pangea Day?

The 4-hour program will be broadcast live to the world on May 10, 2008, 18:00 – 22:00 GMT on TV, the Web, and mobile phones and in select digital cinemas. Find your local time here >>

How can people watch Pangea Day?

There are 7 ways to watch the Pangea Day program on May 10, 2008:

  1. At a Friends of Pangea Day event: Watch the program at locally organized Friends of Pangea Day events around the world, from a large Berlin theater to a bedouin camp in the Sahara. Find the full listing of events here >>
  2. On television (local terrestrial or cable network): Broadcasters around the world will carry the live program on May 10, 2008. Find the list of broadcasters here >>
  3. Online: We will be streaming our broadcast online at www.pangeaday.org.
  4. At one of six live broadcast locations: Pangea Day will be broadcast live from Cairo, Kigali, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai, and Rio de Janeiro. Tickets are available to some of these broadcast locations. Find more here >>
  5. Via commercial satellite: We will be beaming our broadcast via broadcast satellite around the world. Some approved venues with commercial downlink capabilities will be able to receive the broadcast this way. (Note: This broadcast cannot be received on home satellite dishes.) Contact info@pangeaday.org for more information.
  6. By mobile phone: Watch selected content from Pangea Day on your phone via Nokia’s new video-sharing site, OVI.com/pangeaday.
  7. In a movie theater: Cinemas around the world will carry the Pangea Day program live in digital projection. A few theaters taking part: Bryn Mawr Film Institute near Philadelphia; Cinema Paradiso in Fort Lauderdale, FL; Cinema Nova in Melbourne, Australia … learn more >>

Who’s involved?

Pangea Day’s advisory board includes film-world luminaries such as producer JJ Abrams (Lost), actor Forest Whitaker, and musician/activist Bob Geldof. See the full list here. Pangea Day’s key global partner is Nokia. Find more about this partnership here >>

How can I contact a local Friends of Pangea Day event in my town?

Use the global event map to find a public Friends of Pangea Day party in your area. Hosts are encouraged to invite and include local press. You can also contact Pangea Day for official comment by emailing info@pangeaday.org.

Where can I download photos and briefing documents?

You can find film stills, photos of speakers, hosts and musicians, regional briefing documents, and much more information on our media resources site. Write to info@pangeaday.org for password access, subject line “Media Request”