Can We Trust The News ?

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Ananiah didn’t want to believe it: innocent people were dying and his country’s newspapers were claiming the bombing was only against military targets.

How could they miss what he could see with his own eyes? Right across the border from his favorite tree, right in that village, mothers and kids his age were lying in a pool of blood, hands and legs and heads severed from their bodies…

He couldn’t stop the tears, couldn’t stop his body shaking with rage. What could he do about it? Why were the newspapers lying about it? What did those people down there do to end up like that?!

Ananiah changed that day. His trust in his country evaporated. His anger at grownups began to swell into hatred. His faith in God was injured…

~~~~~~~~~

I created that short scene, created it out of the truth of a situation happening all over the world—lies so huge that no one should believe them.

How do we get news that tells the real story? How can we arm ourselves with the Truth?

Here are some sources that work hard to uncover the facts:

OneWorld.Net: “OneWorld aims to be the place global citizens turn to for news and views from around the world not covered in mainstream media; we are also a key hub that Americans use to find and interact with like-minded individuals and organizations from around the world.”

GlobalVoices: “Today, Global Voices is thriving, vital component of the global media environment, helping individuals and media professionals around the world gain access to the diverse voices coming from citizen media.”

Inter Press Service: “Information is an agent of change. Since its inception, back in 1964, IPS has believed in the role of information as a precondition for lifting communities out of poverty and marginalization. This belief is reflected in our historic mission: “giving a voice to the voiceless”—acting as a communication channel that privileges the voices and the concerns of the poorest and creates a climate of understanding, accountability and participation around development, promoting a new international information order between the South and the North.”

The Real News Network: “We won’t blindly follow wire services or official press releases that attempt to set the news agenda. We will cover the big stories of the day, but we will broaden the definition of what’s important. The Real News will investigate, report and debate stories that help us understand the critical issues of our time.”

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: “RFE/RL’s mission is to provide uncensored news and information in countries where a free press is either banned by the government or not fully established.”

Spiritual Quote  (written over 100 years ago):

“In this Day the secrets of the earth are laid bare before the eyes of men. 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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Can Youth Guide Us ?

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Our politicians and corporate leaders are guiding us to the brink of total despair. What can youth teach us about faith and hope?

From the Record Searchlight (Redding, California): Local event raises cash for charities by raising the spirit of the ’60s

From Agence France-Presse: Baghdadis revel in first big football final in years “We’ve had only misery but we need to be happy. This is the first time that I forget everything. Can you distinguish a Shiite from a Sunni? No, they are all Iraqis,” said Mohammed Kazem, an 18-year-old deliveryman.

From OneWorld.Net: A Megaphone for Kenya’s Street Kids “Kenyan youth living and working in the streets are finding new ways to raise awareness about the issues that matter to them using online blogs and photography.”

Well, since most of the adults in the world are either part of the cause of the world’s crises or totally beat down by the crises’ oppression, it appears youth are the preeminent solution.

That’s not to say adults can’t help but I feel strongly that most of that help should be in the form of assisting the youth of the world in gaining confidence in the enormous potential they have for turning our poor, sick globe around—creating the faithful and hopeful impetus for positive change . . .

Today’s quote is addressed to Bahá’í youth but its message is a clear call for any youth to grab the reins and charge into the future:

“Indeed, let them welcome with confidence the challenges awaiting them. Imbued with this excellence and a corresponding humility, with tenacity and a loving servitude, today’s youth must move towards the front ranks of the professions, trades, arts and crafts which are necessary to the further progress of humankind—this to ensure that the spirit of the Cause will cast its illumination on all these important areas of human endeavor. Moreover, while aiming at mastering the unifying concepts and swiftly advancing technologies of this era of communications, they can, indeed they must also guarantee the transmittal to the future of those skills which will preserve the marvelous, indispensable achievements of the past. The transformation which is to occur in the functioning of society will certainly depend to a great extent on the effectiveness of the preparations the youth make for the world they will inherit.”
The Universal House of Justice, 1985 May 08, Baha’i Youth of the World

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What A Game !

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What kind of game is being played when children tussle and scrap over toys?

What kind of “game” is being played when adults tussle and scrap over nuclear weapons—the most deadly toys in human history?

From CommonDreams.Org: Nagasaki Commemorates Anniversary of Nuclear Attack {Saturday, August 9, 2008} “Thousands of people offered a minute’s silence at 11:02 am (0202 GMT), the exact moment the city was hit by the world’s second and last nuclear attack on August 9, 1945, killing more than 70,000 people.”

From the Khaleej Times: All options on the table? {by Noam Chomsky} “NUCLEAR threats and counter-threats are a subtext of our times, steadily, it seems, becoming more insistent. The July meeting in Geneva between Iran and six major world powers on Iran’s nuclear programme ended with no progress.”

From OneWorld.Net: 16-Year-Old’s Video Wins Peace Contest {Videos Included} “California high school student Erik Choquette’s three-minute film calling on the United States to take a lead role in eliminating the world’s 27,000 nuclear weapons was recently awarded first place in a national video contest on nuclear disarmament.”

A tragic historical remembrance, a renewed saber-rattling by world leaders, and a cutting-edge video by a 16-year-old . . .

One of the most outstanding characteristics of our modern world is the vast range of action and desire—from the most debased to the most noble.

Finding one’s bearings in this tempestuous drama is a major undertaking—fraught with clamoring voices, swirling with contending payoffs, ripping at the heart-strings of any caring person.

Can we find any enduring promise of world peace? Is it impractical to search for such a promise? Is it in ancient texts or modern essays? Do you care?

Today’s spiritual quote is followed by links to the full document from which it came—a healing balm for the weary traveler on the Path toward Peace…

“Banning nuclear weapons, prohibiting the use of poison gases, or outlawing germ warfare will not remove the root causes of war. However important such practical measures obviously are as elements of the peace process, they are in themselves too superficial to exert enduring influence. Peoples are ingenious enough to invent yet other forms of warfare, and to use food, raw materials, finance, industrial power, ideology, and terrorism to subvert one another in an endless quest for supremacy and dominion. Nor can the present massive dislocation in the affairs of humanity be resolved through the settlement of specific conflicts or disagreements among nations. A genuine universal framework must be adopted.

“Certainly, there is no lack of recognition by national leaders of the world-wide character of the problem, which is self-evident in the mounting issues that confront them daily….There is, however, a paralysis of will; and it is this that must be carefully examined and resolutely dealt with. This paralysis is rooted, as we have stated, in a deep-seated conviction of the inevitable quarrelsomeness of mankind, which has led to the reluctance to entertain the possibility of subordinating national self-interest to the requirements of world order, and in an unwillingness to face courageously the far-reaching implications of establishing a united world authority. It is also traceable to the incapacity of largely ignorant and subjugated masses to articulate their desire for a new order in which they can live in peace, harmony and prosperity with all humanity.

“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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A Little Help Can Go A Long Way

Not much of my own comment in this particular post. I’ll let the news sources and websites inform you about this Wonderful concept. As always, though, there will be a spiritual quote at the end…

From OneWorld.Net: Microloans Pay Off for Planet, Investors
“Mohammed Yunus, an economics professor from Bangladesh, is considered the father of microfinance. In 1983, Yunus founded the Grameen Bank to make small loans to impoverished entrepreneurs. Grameen Bank now has over 7 million borrowers. Yunus and the Bank received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.”

From Wikipedia: Microcredit “Microcredit is the extension of very small loans (microloans) to the unemployed, to poor entrepreneurs and to others living in poverty who are not considered bankable….Microcredit is a part of microfinance, which is the provision of a wider range of financial services to the very poor.”

From Business Week: Micro Loans, Solid Returns “With about $200 of his own money and a $1,500 loan, Vahid Hujdur rented space in the old section of Sarajevo and started repairing, then reselling discarded industrial sewing machines. Eight years and several loans later, Hujdur now has 10 employees building, installing, and fixing industrial machinery.”

From the KIVA website: We Let You Loan to the Working Poor “Kiva is the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world. The people you see on Kiva’s site are real individuals in need of funding – not marketing material. When you browse entrepreneurs’ profiles on the site, choose someone to lend to, and then make a loan, you are helping a real person make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their family, and their community. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates and track repayments. Then, when you get your loan money back, you can relend to someone else in need.”

“The increasing disparity between the rich and the poor is a major destabilizing influence in the world. It produces or exacerbates regional and national conflicts, environmental degradation, crime and violence, and the increasing use of illicit drugs. These consequences of extreme poverty affect all individuals and nations. Increasingly we are becoming aware that we are all members of a single human family. In a family the suffering of any member is felt by all, and until that suffering is alleviated, no member of the family can be fully happy or at ease. Few are able to look at starvation and extreme poverty without feeling a sense of failure….

“A new economic order can be founded only on an unshakable conviction of the oneness of mankind. Discussions aimed at solving problems related to extreme poverty based on the premise that we are one human family rapidly expand beyond the current vocabulary of economics. They demand a wider context, one which anticipates the emergence of a global system of relationships resting on the principles of equity and justice.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1993 Feb 12, Human Rights And Extreme Poverty

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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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