Changes…

Fire_zone

“How many are My servants whose deeds have become veils between them and their own selves, and who have been kept back thereby from drawing nigh unto God, He Who causeth the winds to blow.”
Bahá’u’lláh, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts

This blog has 322 posts…

I mention that because this blog will live as long as the Internet exists; and, the way things are looking, that will be for a very long time…

I also mention the number of posts because I’ve worked very hard to make each of those posts worth reading for as long as the Internet exists—each, even if about a particular topical event, has spiritual principles expressed which never die…

I won’t be writing any more posts on this blog (I’m working on my memoirs…) but the blog’s usefulness won’t cease…

There’s a search box in the right panel…

Put some words of interest to you in the box and read the posts that come up…

I guarantee you’ll find wisdom—wisdom I don’t have—wisdom in the words I chose to include from others…

Go ahead…

I dare ya…

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 ShoghĂ­ EffendĂ­, 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 ShoghĂ­ EffendĂ­ 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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Social Media, Youth, and Risk

children_youth_internet_risk

Jeremy and his mom, Susan, in their living-room

J: Whadaya mean, you want my passwords?

S: How old are you?

J: Mom, you know how old I am; you were there at my birth, remember?

S: Yes, dear, I certainly remember but, at your ripe old age of 13, I don’t think you have the social wisdom you need to make completely  independent decisions on the Internet.

J: You want to censor what I say to my online friends?

S: No, I want to collaborate with you; I want to share your experience and use my  experience in the world to help you make safe decisions.

J: You’re starting to sound like a politician…

S: Jeremy, I really mean what I’m saying. I trust your judgement as long as you’re fully informed. You just haven’t lived long enough to know all the traps people can set.

J: So, I can post what I want—you just wanna see it and maybe talk some things over?

S: You got it, sweetie.

J: Well… We can try it out for awhile but, if you start cramping my style, I’m gonna change my passwords.

S: O.K., I hope we don’t have to go that far. I’ll try to be as fair as I can.

J: Mom, I’m not doing anything wrong, ya know, and what about when I’m chatting…

S: I know you’re the most virtuous son in the world, but there’re plenty of people with less virtue who can seem  to be saints. Your chat activity is something we’ll have to have deeper consultation about…

J: Whew! You really are becoming a politician…

~~~~~~~~~
Jeremy gave his mother his passwords and Susan learned that she had a very responsible son…
~~~~~~~~~

Our imaginary Susan and Jeremy have a rather remarkable relationship but there are  parents who treat their children with respect as they try to protect them.

There have been some recent reports published about social media and the risk they may pose for young users.

The one getting most of the attention now is called, Enhancing Child Safety and Online Technologies, and comes out of a group at Harvard.

One of the most interesting findings was:

“With all three types of threats (sexual solicitation, online harassment, and problematic content), some minors are more likely to be at risk than others. Generally speaking, the characteristics of youth who report online victimization are similar to those of youth reporting offline victimization and those who are vulnerable in one online context are often vulnerable in multiple contexts. In the same way, those identified as ‘high risk’ (i.e., experienced sexual abuse, physical abuse, or parental conflict) were twice as likely to receive online solicitations and a variety of psychosocial factors (such as substance use, sexual aggression, and poor bonds with caregivers) were correlated with online victimization.”

The report is heavy with detailed analyses of various technologies to protect youth yet does admit that technology is not the only answer.

An article from Agence France-Presse,  Technology alone ‘won’t assure youth safety on Internet’, which references the Harvard study, says:

“Risk for children appears more correlated to his or her ‘psychosocial’ profile than a particular Internet technology platform…”

They go on to identify the sponsors of the Harvard study:

“Task force members included Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, MySpace, Symantec and Second Life creator Linden Labs.”

I’m sure you can see some positive as well as negative influences being brought to bear by organizations who have a financial interest in social media. Still, the bottom-line can be a significant pressure to pay attention to bad press, not to mention bad outcomes of online interactions.

An article from The Washington Times, Social networking benefits validated, references a different study that “…looked at more than 5,000 hours of online observation and found that the digital world is creating new opportunities for young people to grapple with social norms, explore interests, develop technical skills and work on new forms of self-expression.”

And, to reconsider the role technologies might play, an Australian study, Developments in Internet Filtering Technologies and Other Measures for Promoting Online Safety, is referenced in an article from ON LINE opinion,  Filtering won’t deliver for Aussie kids. They say: “Although it is accepted that children do face some risks online, these risks are more complex than government rhetoric sometimes indicates. Several studies, including the government’s own research, indicate that so-called ‘content risks’—the risks associated with viewing unwanted content—come a distant third to ‘communication risks’ and ‘e-security risks’.” Which to me says that filtering content does nothing to protect youth from potential harmful effects in the actual communicating they do online.

Protecting our younger online citizens is very important but doing it in a way that doesn’t hamper their “style” is at least equally important. It’s been shown that social media is empowering youth to take up Causes and they’re showing a remarkable ability to initiate positive change. The Free Child Project  has quite a collection of links that will show the value of not only protecting our kids from predators but also protecting their inalienable right to interact and do their best to use their unquenchable energy to help our suffering ol’ globe…

Spiritual Quote:

This quote was directed to Bahá’Ă­ youth but you can replace Bahá’Ă­ with any other Faith and the quote still maintains its value…


“For any person, whether Bahá’Ă­ or not, his youthful years are those in which he will make many decisions which will set the course of his life. In these years he is most likely to choose his life’s work, complete his education, begin to earn his own living, marry, and start to raise his own family. Most important of all, it is during this period that the mind is most questing and that the spiritual values that will guide the person’s future behaviour are adopted. These factors present Bahá’Ă­ youth with their greatest opportunities, their greatest challenge, and their greatest tests—opportunities to truly apprehend the Teachings of their Faith and to give them to their contemporaries, challenges to overcome the pressures of the world and to provide leadership for their and succeeding generations, and tests enabling them to exemplify in their lives the high moral standards set forth in the Bahá’Ă­ Writings. Indeed the Guardian wrote of the Bahá’Ă­ youth that it is they ‘who can contribute so decisively to the virility, the purity, and the driving force of the life of the Bahá’Ă­ community, and upon whom must depend the future orientation of its destiny, and the complete unfoldment of the potentialities with which God has endowed it’.
From a letter of The Universal House of Justice to Bahá’Ă­ Youth in every Land, June 10, 1966

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Poll Results

pollsWell, the One Common Faith Polls have been up for three days now and I want to report on the results, so far

I’ve learned in my time with this blog that any given post can be visited for months because of the web of connections I have on the Internet. The post that’s remained the most popular, Strong In The Broken Places, was written back on May 9th…

Even though I’m going to give the results of the polls in this post, I’m sure they’ll be visited over the next few months. I’ll be giving updates as time goes on. You didn’t take part in the polls? Oh, my!  Here they are…

So…

*The poll about, How would you characterize yourself?, has 32 responses so far. The top three responses are:

#1: Spiritual

#2: is a tie between, Religious and Moral

#3: is a tie between, Agnostic and Atheistic

*The poll with the question, How do you feel about humanity’s future?, has 25 responses and the top three are:

#1: The Kingdom of God will be established on earth

#2: Improvement’s possible with God’s help

#3: is a tie between, Science will save us and We will save ourselves

*The poll about, Where do you feel you’re at, right now?, has 29 responses and the top three are:

#1: Working to establish God’s Kingdom

#2: Climbing a spiritual mountain

#3: Roaming in a spiritual valley

The results are in (for now) and I’m pondering them deeply to open myself up to what the readers of this blog are feeling…

Spiritual Quote:

“You will see how the world is upset with internal conflict, and many lands are dyed in human blood—nay the earth is kneaded with gore. The flame of war is so ablaze that such terrible struggle finds no parallel in the war records of any of the middle or recent ages. Heads have become like grains and the war like mill stones—nay even worse. Flourishing lands are ruined, cities completely wrecked and thriving towns annihilated. Fathers have lost their sons, sons are made fatherless, and mothers have shed tears of blood over the death of their youthful sons. Children are made orphan, women are helpless, and the world of humanity is forced backward in all respects. The wailing cry of fatherless children is raised abroad, and mothers’ pathetic lamentation reaches the high heaven.

“The source of all these catastrophes is racial fanaticism, patriotic fanaticism, religious fanaticism and political fanaticism. The source of these fanaticisms is ancient imitations, religious imitations, racial imitations, patriotic imitations, and political imitations. As long as following such imitations persists, the very foundation of humanity is wrecked and the world of man is in great jeopardy.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Letter to Martha Root

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Language That Deceives

No particular news focus today except the language it uses. I scanned Google News at 11:50 p.m. GMT. Bold/Underlines are the language in question.

Unsubstantiated statements given as if they’re quotes:
From the Daily Times of Pakistan: Musharraf’s impeachment dominates PA session “PML-Q’s Amir Sultan Cheema said the president had the right to defend himself against the impeachment motion. He praised Nawaz Sharif as a humble man, but added that Nawaz seemed to be under the influence of Asif Zardari.”

Unsubstantiated statements given as if they’re quotes/facts:
From the Telegraph of the United Kingdom: John Edwards admits to lying about affairHe stated he had not been in love with Ms Hunter, an obscure film-maker”

Words commonly used to make unsubstantiated statements sound true while not referencing sources:
From the Associated Press: Security tightens more as Olympics get under way “On Thursday, a videotape purportedly made by the Turkistan Islamic Party, a militant group seeking independence for Xinjiang, was released with threats of attacks during the Olympics. The group is believed to be based across the border in Pakistan, where security experts say core members have received training from al-Qaida.”

An example of the right way to attribute statements:
From Agence France-Presse: Hundreds attend anti-coup rally in Mauritania “Abdahalli’s daughter said Friday she was concerned about her father’s safety and security.
“I am worried about my father’s health and safety given that he has not been freed,” Amal Mint Cheikh Abdallahi told AFP from her family home.”

I’m not trying to say these stories are completely devoid of truth. I’m pointing out that, even in a story with a lot of research behind it, there can be subtle (or not so subtle) traps for an unwary reader. Politics has taken this twisted art to unbelievably unrefined heights !

Today’s spiritual quote, concerning newspapers and written in the 19 Century, is completely valid for the swift transmission of news on the Internet:

“The pages of swiftly-appearing newspapers are indeed the mirror of the world. They reflect the deeds and the pursuits of divers peoples and kindreds. They both reflect them and make them known. They are a mirror endowed with hearing, sight and speech. This is an amazing and potent phenomenon. However, it behoveth the writers thereof to be purged from the promptings of evil passions and desires and to be attired with the raiment of justice and equity. They should enquire into situations as much as possible and ascertain the facts, then set them down in writing.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 39

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Regularizing…

Woo-Hoo !

Two more weeks of taking drugs, then a month or so to flush them out of my system, then I wait for 6 months to see if the virus actually went away—BUT—in two weeks, I stop taking these abusive drugs !!!

Today was my birthday and I unexpectedly gave myself a present I didn’t think I’d have for two more weeks—Internet in my apartment. It was really good to see how hard two men worked today to assure I had the Internet Today ! Not many cool service people left out there . . .

So, with the promise of more regular posting, I’ll leave you with the words that go with that image up there:

Rejuvenation

Restoration

Renewal

Re-Creation

Refreshment

Mending

And, this prayer:

O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit. Purify my heart. Illumine my powers. I lay all my affairs in Thy hand. Thou art my Guide and my Refuge. I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being. O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life.

O God! Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself. I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá

(Compilations, Bahá’Ă­ Prayers, p. 150)