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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Economic Compassion

moneyThe current global economic crisis is only one part of a set of crises including a climate crisis, a crisis of deprivation of women and children, a crisis of violent terror, a crisis of nationalistic overweening pride, and a crisis of moral apathy, to name a few.

All these crises are interwoven and no emergency, quick-fix solutions will abate the suffering of humanity. Actually, none of the currently popular “solutions” has much of a chance at stemming the tide of woe engulfing our human family. And, most sadly, the “experts” are clueless—have proven their inability to resolve anything and are wallowing in the trough of denial…

The Real Solution, to all  these crises, is embarrassingly simple and appallingly ignored: Recognizing the Oneness of Humanity…

I’m going to present two solutions to the economic crisis that offer extremely practical local and regional techniques for easing the current squeeze (as well as giving you a powerful motivation toward hope in the midst of crisis in the Spiritual Quote at the end of the post…).

The first site with solutions is Common Security Club. Check out their site and watch this supremely educational video:

The next site is yes! and their 31 Ways to Jump Start the Local Economy. Get together with a few friends and go over their list and I think you’ll be amazed at the results!

Spiritual Quote:

“The question has been asked: Will the spiritual progress of the world equal and keep pace with material progress in the future? In a living organism the full measure of its development is not known or realized at the time of its inception or birth. Development and progression imply gradual stages or degrees. For example, spiritual advancement may be likened to the light of the early dawn. Although this dawn light is dim and pale, a wise man who views the march of the sunrise at its very beginning can foretell the ascendancy of the sun in its full glory and effulgence. He knows for a certainty that it is the beginning of its manifestation and that later it will assume great power and potency. Again, for example, if he takes a seed and observes that it is sprouting, he will know assuredly that it will ultimately become a tree. Now is the beginning of the manifestation of the spiritual power, and inevitably the potency of its life forces will assume greater and greater proportions. Therefore, this twentieth century is the dawn, or beginning, of spiritual illumination, and it is evident that day by day it will advance. It will reach such a degree that spiritual effulgences will overcome the physical, so that divine susceptibilities will overpower material intelligence and the heavenly light dispel and banish earthly darkness. Divine healing shall purify all ills, and the cloud of mercy will pour down its rain. The Sun of Reality will shine, and all the earth shall put on its beautiful green carpet. Among the results of the manifestation of spiritual forces will be that the human world will adapt itself to a new social form, the justice of God will become manifest throughout human affairs, and human equality will be universally established. The poor will receive a great bestowal, and the rich attain eternal happiness. For although at the present time the rich enjoy the greatest luxury and comfort, they are nevertheless deprived of eternal happiness; for eternal happiness is contingent upon giving, and the poor are everywhere in the state of abject need. Through the manifestation of God’s great equity the poor of the world will be rewarded and assisted fully, and there will be a readjustment in the economic conditions of mankind so that in the future there will not be the abnormally rich nor the abject poor. The rich will enjoy the privilege of this new economic condition as well as the poor, for owing to certain provisions and restrictions they will not be able to accumulate so much as to be burdened by its management, while the poor will be relieved from the stress of want and misery. The rich will enjoy his palace, and the poor will have his comfortable cottage.

“The essence of the matter is that divine justice will become manifest in human conditions and affairs, and all mankind will find comfort and enjoyment in life. It is not meant that all will be equal, for inequality in degree and capacity is a property of nature. Necessarily there will be rich people and also those who will be in want of their livelihood, but in the aggregate community there will be equalization and readjustment of values and interests. In the future there will be no very rich nor extremely poor. There will be an equilibrium of interests, and a condition will be established which will make both rich and poor comfortable and content. This will be an eternal and blessed outcome of the glorious twentieth century which will be realized universally. The significance of it is that the glad tidings of great joy revealed in the promises of the Holy Books will be fulfilled. Await ye this consummation.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 132

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The Girl Effect, Revisited . . .

image credit

Both images (the same person) are from National Geographic. The one on the left taken in 1984, the right in 2002, in Afghanistan.

The woman was interviewed in 2002. Here’s an excerpt:

Had she ever felt safe?

“No. But life under the Taliban was better. At least there was peace and order.”

Had she ever seen the photograph of herself as a girl?

“No.”

She can write her name, but cannot read. She harbors the hope of education for her children. “I want my daughters to have skills,” she said. “I wanted to finish school but could not. I was sorry when I had to leave.”

Education, it is said, is the light in the eye. There is no such light for her. It is possibly too late for her 13-year-old daughter as well, Sharbat Gula said. The two younger daughters still have a chance.

This is a story repeated far too often in our world but there is strong reason for hope!

One among many reasons for hope is a site called The Girl Effect and I can’t urge you strongly enough to click that link and at least watch the really awesome video !

Here is a PDF file of their Fact Sheet and here’s an excerpt from that Fact Sheet:

The Ripple Effect

• When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.

• An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An extra year of secondary school: 15 to 25 percent.

• Research in developing countries has shown a consistent relationship between better infant and child health and higher levels of schooling among mothers.

• When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man.

Population Trends
• Today, more than 600 million girls live in the developing world.

Girls Count !

Here are two videos from their site:

Spiritual Quotes:
“The world of humanity has two wings — one is women and the other men. Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible. Not until the world of women becomes equal to the world of men in the acquisition of virtues and perfections, can success and prosperity be attained as they ought to be.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 288<

“As long as women are prevented from attaining their highest possibilities, so long will men be unable to achieve the greatness which might be theirs.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 133

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Killing Our Fellow Humans

killing_our_fellow_humans

Three Guys At The Café

G1: “You’re sayin’ it’s America’s fault?”

G2: “Sure. Who uses the most stuff that ends up in the atmosphere?”

G1: “What about China?”

G3: “Yeah, they beat the Americans by a billion miles!”

G2: “But America’s tryin’ to spread its life-style all over the world—tryin’ to make everybody into gross consumers.”

G3: “But China’s makin’ the most babies…”

{A Gal Walks Up… }

Gal: “Whachu guys talkin’ ’bout?”

G1: “Who’s puttin’ the most shit in the atmosphere.”

Gal: “That’s easy, it’s the rich guys in power.”

G2: “But which  rich guys?”

Gal: “Don’t matter what country, if they got the power they’re gonna trash things for the rest of us…”

~~~~~~~~~

That imaginary scene certainly isn’t deep or precise or particularly wise, but one thing’s for sure—those in power aren’t doing anywhere near enough to save our human family from critical disaster.

And, It’s not China or the Americans; it’s the people in power in those countries. The rest of us, all over the world, are reaping the dark fallout from their lack of wisdom.

“So, Alex, you seem to be saying the rich/powerful leaders are killing humanity?”

Pretty much, yes.

A case in point:

From SciDev.Net: Sea level rise ‘will surpass worst-case scenario’ “A sea level rise of one metre or more is predicted to have a devastating effect on major coastal cities, island states and populous delta areas such as those in Bangladesh and Myanmar.

“A panel of experts speaking yesterday (10 March) at the International Scientific Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark, warned that without efforts to curb the rise of greenhouse gas emissions, sea level rise would expose most parts of the world to greater storm surges — increases in local sea level caused by the winds of storms — threatening lives and infrastructure.”

I can imagine one of those guys in the café saying: “So a bunch of poor beggars get a little wet, so what?”

Sorry guy, it’s not just a bunch of poor beggars getting a little wet; it’s millions of our fellow humans suffering and dying because a certain class of humans are addicted to a life-style that harms Mother Nature and makes Her lash out in pain and rage.

I may be attacked for saying this, but the attitude that unlimited freedom leads to prosperity has been clearly proven to be false. The affluent bubble has needles of crisis poking it all over…

From the Climate Change Policy Advisor at Oxfam : Sea level rise spells increased likelihood of disaster for the world’s poorest people “These startling new predictions on sea level rise spell disaster for millions of the world’s poorest people. Poor coastal communities in countries such as Bangladesh are already struggling to cope with a changing climate and it can only get worse. This must be a wake-up call for rich countries are not doing anywhere near enough to prevent these cataclysmic predictions becoming a reality. Rich countries, who created the climate crisis, must cut their emissions from 1990 levels by at least 40 percent by 2020 and provide the $50 billion that is the minimum needed each year to help the world’s poorest people adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change.”
famly-roof
Your home may not look like the one in that image but if the kind of home it is makes you not care what’s happening to the people who live there, you need to examine your conscience, make it face reality, and find some form of compassion for the struggling and innocent members of our Human Family…

Spiritual Quote:

“He must not consider divergence of races nor difference of nationalities; he must not view variation in denomination and creed, nor should he take into account the differing degrees of thoughts; nay, rather, he should look upon all as mankind and realize that all must become united and agreed. He must recognize all as one family, one race, one native land; he must see all as the servants of one God, dwelling beneath the shelter of His mercy.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace

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Who Are The Poor ?

poorAre you poor? Do you know someone who is?

Most of humanity is poor…

Even the richest people on earth run the risk of being poor in spirit.

I want you to contrast your memory of the largest, most exciting event you’ve ever seen (especially if it was in an affluent country)—full of cheering crowds, ecstatic children, thunderous music, and fantastic displays; contrast that with the following video—produced all over the world  and performed by some of the poor majority—then, tell yourself which event is more uplifting to your soul:

Produced by Playing for Change

I can’t help but feel that things like the Superbowl or the Rose Parade or the extravaganza of the recent U. S. Presidential Campaign not only don’t help my soul but probably darken it just a bit…

Our souls need to truly connect with other souls, not through massive productions that worship money and privilege but through events that let us truly participate, even if only to sing along with the video…

Spiritual Quote :

“They who are possessed of riches…must have the utmost regard for the poor, for great is the honor destined by God for those poor who are steadfast in patience. By My life! There is no honor, except what God may please to bestow, that can compare to this honor. Great is the blessedness awaiting the poor that endure patiently and conceal their sufferings, and well is it with the rich who bestow their riches on the needy and prefer them before themselves.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 202

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Are You Hungry ?

gluttonFrom OneWorld.net: “The $700 billion bailout package for Wall Street recently passed by the U.S. government to mitigate the financial crisis ‘could have wiped out the last traces of poverty, hunger, malnutrition and squalor from the face of the Earth,’ said food and trade policy analyst Devinder Sharma.

So, the financiers who caused the crisis (and made the gap between affluent and squalid wider) are to be preferred over millions of other members of our Human Family?

Where is the justice in this situation?

How long will this assault on virtue and morality continue?

How the hell do the perpetrators of such vile imbalances sleep at night?

It’s become fairly obvious that purely economic or political solutions to global crises don’t work.

From Inter Press Service: Poverty, fuel and other crises all interconnected

From AFP: World finance chiefs grasp for solutions in firestorm

From MarketWatch: Despite Market Rebound, Food Crisis to Follow, Experts Say

From The Financial Times: Global bailouts “second-worst solution” to global crisis

It’s time to realize why these “experts” in global business can’t end our world’s problems.

Spiritual Quotes:

“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.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith, p. 240

“The fundamentals of the whole economic condition are divine in nature and are associated with the world of the heart and spirit…. Hearts must be so cemented together, love must become so dominant that the rich shall most willingly extend assistance to the poor and take steps to establish these economic adjustments permanently. If it is accomplished in this way, it will be most praiseworthy because then it will be for the sake of God and in the pathway of His service. For example, it will be as if the rich inhabitants of a city should say, ‘It is neither just nor lawful that we should possess great wealth while there is abject poverty in this community,’ and then willingly give their wealth to the poor, retaining only as much as will enable them to live comfortably.

“Strive, therefore, to create love in the hearts in order that they may become glowing and radiant. When that love is shining, it will permeate other hearts even as this electric light illumines its surroundings. When the love of God is established, everything else will be realized. This is the true foundation of all economics. Reflect upon it.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 238

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Path Toward Peace – Step Three

economic disparity

Preventing Economic Disparity


A few extremely rich and so many poor… It’s criminal! Greed and corruption must be banished, the vast majority of human beings must be given a fighting chance to make their place in the world, children should not starve to death for lack of food while other children are world-weary with affluent lust.

From The Economic Times: Global financial crisis: The Story so far

From Principled Profit: Ethics Could Have Avoided The Collapse of Lehman, Merrill Lynch

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Articles of Faith: Ethical lessons to draw from economic crisis

As I’d mentioned a few posts ago, this series on Path Toward Peace is a major challenge for me, spiritually and emotionally. This morning, as I was pondering how to write today’s post, I decided to take a break (always good when the creative juices feel stopped-up) and stroll down to the Java Street Café. The owner, Sam, was not too busy and I thought I’d bring up what I was pondering for my blog post—I mean he is a good business man and highly attuned to financial concerns. I wasn’t sure what he’d say about economic disparity and was amazed at what he did say.

He brought up a concept that dealt with providing a fixed income to each citizen, not socialism but a humane method of lifting the burden of economic distress from human endeavor—not social security but social insurance, proactive at that.

Here was a man, focused on profit and loss, talking about altruistic business and government—a way to ensure that each human being had the means of a basic existence—pure justice and equity. This is a far cry from the existing situation in today’s ruinous economic game plan. We touched on the idea of the owners of businesses providing profit-sharing to employees. And Sam crowned this inspiring discussion with a statement about the necessity of being aware that the wealthy exist on the labor of the common person.

The next post in this series will deal with the spiritual and emotional transformations necessary for humane economic activity. Nevertheless, we must be willing to act, in whatever capacity we can handle, to instill fairness into our economic activities.

Spiritual Quotes:

“The inordinate disparity between rich and poor, a source of acute suffering, keeps the world in a state of instability, virtually on the brink of war.”
Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 551

“A financier with colossal wealth should not exist whilst near him is a poor man in dire necessity. When we see poverty allowed to reach a condition of starvation it is a sure sign that somewhere we shall find tyranny. Men must bestir themselves in this matter, and no longer delay in altering conditions which bring the misery of grinding poverty to a very large number of the people. The rich must give of their abundance, they must soften their hearts and cultivate a compassionate intelligence, taking thought for those sad ones who are suffering from lack of the very necessities of life.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 153

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