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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Young Powerhouse . . .

Feel downhearted about Humanity?

Think there’s no good reason to hope for the future?

Pretty much fed up with all the portrayals of humans as inept, powerless cogs in a wheel that’s stopped turning?

The three videos in this post should cure you of all those ills!

Thia Megia

She appeared on America’s Got Talent  at 14 year’s old and wowed them!

The following videos show her at 12—amateur videos that capture a Polished Soul showing us how to Live Life!!!

Spiritual Quote:

“We applaud those youth who, in respect of this period, have already engaged in some activity within their national and local communities or in collaboration with their peers in other countries, and call upon them to persevere in their unyielding efforts to acquire spiritual qualities and useful qualifications. For if they do so, the influence of their high- minded motivations will exert itself upon world developments conducive to a productive, progressive and peaceful future.”
The Universal House of Justice, 1985 May 08, Bahá’í Youth of the World

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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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Neda! Stay With Us . . .

Neda SoltanThis woman was recently murdered in Iran…

She’s now called Iran’s “Angel of Freedom”…

She was walking with her singing teacher (women in Iran are prohibited from singing in public), while the current struggle for human rights was being waged around them, when a single malicious bullet found its home in her heart…

She was a student of philosophy and is now a symbol of the egregious waste that oppression of human freedom spreads over not just Iran but our whole earthly Home…

Why such brutal waste of human potential?

Why should beauty be viciously twisted into the horror of senseless death.

Why should those created in God’s image take on the venomous visage of satanic insanity?

People are murdered, young beauty is effaced, humans become devils because the Principle of the Oneness of Humanity is buried under ages of egoistic debris…

The Spiritual Quote  at the end of this post contains a solution for this Crime…

I’ve posted an image and video of Neda’s final moments on one of my other blogs. Why in the world would you want to go there and actually watch this sweet, young woman die? I’ll let Aylar Macky, who represented Calgary in the recent Miss Universe Canada competition, who had never been involved in any social causes, then turned into a strident activist, give you one possible reason why you might watch Neda die.

In her words, from the Calgary Herald :

“I watched the video of Neda over and over….I just couldn’t stand by helplessly after that….This isn’t just about Iran, it’s about all of humanity.”

Spiritual Quote:

“This is a new cycle of human power. All the horizons of the world are luminous, and the world will become indeed as a garden and a paradise. It is the hour of unity of the sons of men and of the drawing together of all races and all classes. You are loosed from ancient superstitions which have kept men ignorant, destroying the foundation of true humanity.

“The gift of God to this enlightened age is the knowledge of the oneness of mankind and of the fundamental oneness of religion. War shall cease between nations, and by the will of God the Most Great Peace shall come; the world will be seen as a new world, and all men will live as brothers.

“In the days of old an instinct for warfare was developed in the struggle with wild animals; this is no longer necessary; nay, rather, co-operation and mutual understanding are seen to produce the greatest welfare of mankind. Enmity is now the result of prejudice only.

“In the Hidden Words  Bahá’u’lláh says, ‘Justice is to be loved above all’. Praise be to God, in this country the standard of justice has been raised; a great effort is being made to give all souls an equal and a true place. This is the desire of all noble natures; this is today the teaching for the East and for the West; therefore the East and the West will understand each other and reverence each other, and embrace like long-parted lovers who have found each other.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 19

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Oppression Must Stop . . .

poorThis family is from another era but what they were suffering is still going on—oppression of most of the population by those in authority, whether governmental or corporate.

This is the second post in direct response to a recent survey (“What Should Be Our Greatest Concern?”).

Our last post explored the Global Water Crisis—number one concern of readers taking the survey. This post will bring two issues together: one from the second greatest concerns—Human Rights; and, one from fifth place—Economic Collapse.

The following two-part video set brings those concerns together
in sharp focus…



Spiritual Quote:

“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.

“Bahá’u’lláh teaches that an equal standard of human rights must be recognized and adopted. In the estimation of God all men are equal; there is no distinction or preferment for any soul in the dominion of His justice and equity.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 240

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Our Human Family’s Water Crisis

waterFrom the results of our last survey, the global water crisis was the top urgent concern of readers. This post will give you a number of resources to explore the crisis and its possible solutions.

Here are some daunting facts from the Wikipedia article called Water Crisis:

> Inadequate access to safe drinking water for about 884 million people
> Inadequate access to water for sanitation and waste disposal for 2.5 billion people
> Groundwater overdrafting (excessive use) leading to diminished agricultural yields
> Overuse and pollution of water resources harming biodiversity
> Regional conflicts over scarce water resources sometimes resulting in warfare

From the World Water Council site we have:

“While the world’s population tripled in the 20th century, the use of renewable water resources has grown six-fold. Within the next fifty years, the world population will increase by another 40 to 50 %. This population growth – coupled with industrialization and urbanization – will result in an increasing demand for water and will have serious consequences on the environment.”

At Water Partners International there are many more facts about the crisis as well as a strong reminder that a Water Crisis induces a Sanitation Crisis…

And, for an interesting view on how the water crisis is also inducing more strain on the economic crisis see the story, Preventing a water crisis, at The Boston Globe.

Spiritual Quote:

“The conservation and protection of the environment must be addressed on the individual and societal levels. Shoghí Effendí, in a letter written on his behalf, states:
We cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us and say that once one of these is reformed everything will be improved. Man is organic with the world. His inner life moulds the environment and is itself also deeply affected by it. The one acts upon the other and every abiding change in the life of man is the result of these mutual reactions.”
Conservation of the Earth’s Resources, Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, p.101.

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Some Things Bear Repeating . . .

 unity

Spiritual Quote:

“O thou revered maidservant of God! Thy letter from Los Angeles was received. Thank divine Providence that thou hast been assisted in service and hast been the cause of the promulgation of the oneness of the world of humanity, so that the darkness of differences among men may be dissipated, and the pavilion of the unity of nations may cast its shadow over all regions. Without such unity, rest and comfort, peace and universal reconciliation are unachievable. This illumined century needeth and calleth for its fulfilment. In every century a particular and central theme is, in accordance with the requirements of that century, confirmed by God. In this illumined age that which is confirmed is the oneness of the world of humanity. Every soul who serveth this oneness will undoubtedly be assisted and confirmed.

“I hope that in the assemblies thou mayest sing praises with a sweet melody and thus become the cause of joy and gladness to all.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 113

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