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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How Hungry Are *You* ?

Cartoons can be brutal in their portrayals yet nowhere near as brutal as the facts.

Who’s starving?
Who’s well-fed and determined to stay that way, whatever the price?
Who deserves to starve?
Who’s working to stop the inequities?

From Reuters: Biofuels major driver of food price rise: World Bank “Large increases in biofuels production in the United States and Europe are the main reason behind the steep rise in global food prices, a top World Bank economist said in research published on Monday.”

From OneWorld.Net: Trade Negotiations Cannot Solve Food Crisis Created by WTO and World Bank “Trade negotiators are using the current food crisis as a Trojan Horse at the WTO negotiations to push an agribusiness agenda on farmers and rural communities around the world,” stated Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “Agriculture should be removed from WTO negotiations until international leaders fully examine the impact on developing countries’ ability to feed themselves.”

Hmmm…
The World Bank states one of the major problems then persists in striving toward a non-solution.

Why are people so subjugated they can’t raise their own food? Why do the multinationals work so hard to deny human rights?

Let’s see . . . Couldn’t be massive greed, could it?

It took me most of 40 years to get the idea that we are One from my head to my heart. During that time, I committed actions that benefited me and ignored my brothers and sisters in our global family.

My head said I deserved what I could grab. I’d suffered and needed those material things to comfort me . . .

Now my heart aches with bleeding feelings that stun my sensibilities. The world’s in the clutches of the temporally powerful. Temporal because the Spirit of humanity will survive and the materialistic “rulers” will turn to dust and be forgotten.

This post and its implications are so grief-ridden I’m reduced to a state of utter hope—hope that my grandchild’s children will see better days.

What’s your estimate of when things will turn from greed to compassion?

~~~~~~~~~

“Good God! Is it possible that, seeing one of his fellow-creatures starving, destitute of everything, a man can rest and live comfortably in his luxurious mansion? He who meets another in the greatest misery, can he enjoy his fortune? That is why, in the Religion of God, it is prescribed and established that wealthy men each year give over a certain part of their fortune for the maintenance of the poor and unfortunate. That is the foundation of the Religion of God and is binding upon all.
“And as man in this way is not forced nor obliged by the government, but is by the natural tendency of his good heart voluntarily and radiantly showing benevolence toward the poor, such a deed is much praised, approved and pleasing.
“Such is the meaning of the good works in the Divine Books and Tablets.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 276

“Unfortunately, the arbiters of human affairs have, instead of embracing the concept of the oneness of mankind and promoting the increase of concord among different peoples, tended to deify the State, to subordinate the rest of mankind to one nation, race or class, to attempt to suppress all discussion and interchange of ideas, or callously to abandon starving millions to the operations of a market system that all too clearly is aggravating the plight of the majority of mankind, while enabling small sections to live in an unprecedented condition of affluence.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1989 Feb 09, Right to Development

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How Do You Feed A Whole World ?


Quite often, the global drama strikes me as a group of children fighting over who gets to go first. Actually, I’ve been feeling a bit adolescent lately so it’s not much of a stretch to see the world’s leaders as misbehaving children.

From the International Herald Tribune: Negotiators acknowledge World Trade Organization process needs to change

From the New York Times: After 7 Years, Talks Collapse on World Trade

From the New York Times/World Business: China’s Shift on Food Was Key to Trade Impasse

From Reuters: EU points at U.S. for WTO collapse

From The WIP: How to Solve the Food Crisis: Cut trade barriers and start a Green Revolution in Africa, says Jeffrey Sachs
“The only silver lining in this (crisis) is – I even hate the idea of using that – is that it has made more people aware of the things that can be done, like the green revolution. I am not a believer in waiting for crises to get things done. I think it’s an absolutely ridiculous part of our character, but when we do have the crisis, at least it’s true that there is more discussion about agriculture the last months than there was in eight years!”

Hundreds of people, seemingly knowledgable in their field, sit down over a seven-year period and can’t come to an agreement; even though people are starving, and banks are tottering, and simple, sincere people (the world over) are losing hope . . .

What’s missing?

One thing that needs to be adjusted in the equation is to strike out the terms referring to Third World. Far as I can figure out, we have one world.

Next, terms need to be incorporated so the job of production becomes integrated globally—not the “us”/”them” situation we have. This will free enormous creative resources for solving our other crises.

“Economic development strategies employed by the United Nations, the World Bank and a number of governments during the last fifty years, however sincerely conceived and executed, have fallen far short of aspirations. In much of the world, the gap between the “haves” and “have-nots” has widened and is accelerating with the persistent disparity in income levels. Social problems have not subsided. In fact, crime and disease are not just on the rise; they are also becoming endemic and more difficult to combat.

“These failures can be traced to a number of factors. They include a misplaced focus on large-scale projects and bureaucratic over-centralization, unjust terms of international trade, a pervasive corruption that has been allowed to flourish throughout the system, the exclusion of women from the decision-making processes at all levels, a general inability to ensure that resources reach the poor, and the diversion of development resources into military hardware.

“A dispassionate examination of these factors betrays a common systematic and fundamental flaw in the current paradigm for economic development: material needs are often addressed without taking into account the spiritual factors and their motivating power….

“Because of the spiritually damaging nature of dependency, schemes which focus solely on redistributing material wealth are doomed to failure in the long run. Distribution of wealth must be approached in an efficient and equitable manner. In fact, it must be intimately integrated with the process of wealth creation.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Oct, Turning Point For All Nations

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Money and Value

Money doesn’t always equal value.

These news items are about the United States but what’s happening there is impacting the global economy . . .

From The New York Times: Worried Banks Sharply Reduce Business Loans “Banks struggling to recover from multibillion-dollar losses on real estate are curtailing loans to American businesses, depriving even healthy companies of money for expansion and hiring.”

From the Economist: Inflation or deflation? “The markets have become incredibly volatile as investors vacillate between these outcomes.”

From the BBC: Record deficit for next president “The next US president is expected to face a record federal budget deficit of almost half a trillion dollars.”

Economics used to seem as opaque as metaphysics to me. Then, as I hit the middle of middle-age, it became apparent I was studying the economics that businesses use, that nations use, that politicians manipulate.

The economics that has squandered vast quantities of non-renewable resources.

The economics that keeps certain people away from creativity, away from a decent livelihood.

The economics that spawns wars and utterly brutal treatment of innocent civilians !

I don’t want to start ranting so here are some spiritual quotes to ponder:

“The repudiation of national right and power to make war represents the first step toward mutual wealth and sound economy. Short of a world economy mankind will not achieve the fruits of civilization.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1947 Feb, A Bahá’í Declaration of Human Obligations and Rights

“Widespread uncertainty about the condition of the economy indicates a deep disorder in the management of the material affairs of the planet, a condition which can only exacerbate the sense of frustration and futility affecting the political realm.”
The Universal House of Justice, A Wider Horizon, Selected Letters 1983-1992, p. 102

“…participants in the informal sector of the economy, women in particular, must be involved in reconceptualizing economics altogether, both theory and practice. If women have a unique approach to economic activity, it would most likely be apparent in the largely unstructured informal sector of the economy. For example, preliminary findings in an on-going study of women industrial sub-contractors in Malaysia, show that the business objectives of the majority of women sub-contractors are defined not so much in monetary terms as in terms of values.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Aug 26, Women in the Informal Sector in Malaysia

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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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