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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Earth – Our Home; for Now . . .

earthWon’t say much myself in this post…

The movie trailer, the movie itself, and the Spiritual Quote  say more than enough!

Just a bit from the site that has the whole movie:

A Hymn for The Planet

“HOME is an ode to the planet’s beauty and its delicate harmony. Through the landscapes of 54 countries captured from above, Yann Arthus-Bertrand takes us on an unique journey all around the planet, to contemplate it and to understand it. But HOME is more than a documentary with a message, it is a magnificent movie in its own right. Every breathtaking shot shows the Earth – our Earth – as we have never seen it before. Every image shows the Earth’s treasures we are destroying and all the wonders we can still preserve. ‘From the sky, there’s less need for explanations’. Our vision becomes more immediate, intuitive and emotional. HOME has an impact on anyone who sees it. It awakens in us the awareness that is needed to change the way we see the world. (HOME embraces the major ecological issues that confront us and shows how everything on our planet is interconnected.)”

Here’s the trailer…


And, you can Watch The Whole Movie Here!

Spiritual Quote:

“Nature is God’s Will and is its expression in and through the contingent world. It is a dispensation of Providence ordained by the Ordainer, the All-Wise. Were anyone to affirm that it is the Will of God as manifested in the world of being, no one should question this assertion. It is endowed with a power whose reality men of learning fail to grasp. Indeed a man of insight can perceive naught therein save the effulgent splendour of Our Name, the Creator. Say: This is an existence which knoweth no decay, and Nature itself is lost in bewilderment before its revelations, its compelling evidences and its effulgent glory which have encompassed the universe.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 141

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The Science of Religion . . .

Mandala“Who, me? Religious? No thanks! I’m pretty spiritual but religion really turns me off.”

Ever heard someone say something like that? Ever said it yourself?

So what is it with this spiritual/religious divide? What makes what used to go together fall so far apart? Is it related to the idea that living-together seems to have more appeal than marriage?

“Who, us? Get married? No thanks! We’re pretty compatible but marriage really turns us off.”

What’s wrong with commitment? And, what does science have to do with any of this?

“Who me? Be scientific? No thanks! I’m pretty rational but exposing my ideas to the possibility of being disproven really turns me off.”

Just because some people get away with having their ideas accepted even when they aren’t true doesn’t make science invalid.

Just because some people get along famously living-together doesn’t invalidate marriage.

Just because engaging in spiritual activities makes a person more loving doesn’t make religion reprehensible.

It’s what people have made of marriage that makes many shy from it.

It’s what people have done to the use of the mind that has fostered less than rigorous thinking.

It’s what folks do in the name of religion that sends people running…

Marriage is an institution that makes a relationship more than being pretty compatible.

Science is an institution that makes thought more than pretty rational.

Religion is an institution that makes spirituality more than being a nice person…

There is also a science to marriage—a method of perfecting the living-together.

A science of religion?

I’ll leave you with a statement from the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith.

Spiritual Quote:

“Consider the rational faculty with which God hath endowed the essence of man. Examine thine own self, and behold how thy motion and stillness, thy will and purpose, thy sight and hearing, thy sense of smell and power of speech, and whatever else is related to, or transcendeth, thy physical senses or spiritual perceptions, all proceed from, and owe their existence to, this same faculty. So closely are they related unto it, that if in less than the twinkling of an eye its relationship to the human body be severed, each and every one of these senses will cease immediately to exercise its function, and will be deprived of the power to manifest the evidences of its activity. It is indubitably clear and evident that each of these afore-mentioned instruments has depended, and will ever continue to depend, for its proper functioning on this rational faculty, which should be regarded as a sign of the revelation of Him Who is the sovereign Lord of all. Through its manifestation all these names and attributes have been revealed, and by the suspension of its action they are all destroyed and perish.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 163

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Is World Peace Actually Possible?

 warMy posts usually end with a spiritual quote. This time, the quote will dominate the post…

The words are from a man who spent 40 years as a prisoner of the Ottoman Empire. He was considered one of the most spiritual men of his time. He devoted his freedom, when once he gained it, to traveling Europe and America, carrying a Message charged with the power of the inevitable peace that humanity would win…

Inevitable?

“A few, unaware of the power latent in human endeavor, consider this matter as highly impracticable, nay even beyond the scope of man’s utmost efforts.”

Many, if not most, of humanity seem to think that people have an innate, in-born tendency toward fighting. Peace, in part of the world, for part of the time, then a reversion to war…

“Such is not the case, however. On the contrary, thanks to the unfailing grace of God, the loving-kindness of His favored ones, the unrivaled endeavors of wise and capable souls, and the thoughts and ideas of the peerless leaders of this age, nothing whatsoever can be regarded as unattainable.”

This man’s spirituality was very great and he proved it in action. It was said of him, “…he treads the mystic way with practical feet”. He was also known for his extreme rationality as well as his unending positive vision.

“Endeavor, ceaseless endeavor, is required. Nothing short of an indomitable determination can possibly achieve it. Many a cause which past ages have regarded as purely visionary, yet in this day has become most easy and practicable.”

Easy and practicable with ceaseless endeavor  and indomitable determination.

“Why should this most great and lofty Cause—the daystar of the firmament of true civilization and the cause of the glory, the advancement, the well-being and the success of all humanity—be regarded as impossible of achievement?”

Why should it be regarded as impossible? If a person lacks faith in humanity; if a person is buried in materialism and can’t lift their vision higher than what’s happening in front of them; if a person is filled with hate and intolerance; if a person is beaten by circumstances and hollowed-out by compromise; if attitudes like this hold sway in a person’s life, of course world peace would seem impossible…

“Surely the day will come when its beauteous light shall shed illumination upon the assemblage of man.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 66
~~~~~~~~~

He passed away on November 28, 1921, in what is now called Israel.

“In the land that we know as the Holy Land, in all its turbulent history of the last two thousand years, there had never been an event which could unite all its inhabitants of diverse faiths and origins and purposes, in a single expression of thought and feeling, as did the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Jews and Christians and Muslims and Druzes, of all persuasions and denominations; Arabs and Turks and Kurds and Armenians and other ethnic groups were united in mourning His passing, in being aware of a great loss they had suffered.
H.M. Balyuzi, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá—The Centre of the Covenant, p. 453

For a detailed analysis of why our age holds the hope that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá believed in, consult The Promise of World Peace

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