Categories
- Consultation - Education - Language Discourse Knowledge

Coherence in Conversations

Recently, a gathering took place in which friends from diverse backgrounds, ages, geographies, and experiences came together to explore participation in discourse.  Coherence, it seemed, was the key.

 

The weekend began with a study of a message of the Universal House of Justice dated 4 January 2009, which encourages examination and conceptualization of the community’s work in terms of three broad area of action – “enabling the protagonists of collective effort to strengthen the spiritual foundations of villages and neighbourhoods, to address certain of their social and economic needs, and to contribute to the discourses prevalent in society”.  All of these efforts require coherence in methods and approaches, something that was implicitly, as well as explicitly, explored during the weekend.

 

Next, a message dated Ridvan 2010 was studied, particularly the paragraphs regarding “two interconnected, mutually reinforcing areas of activity: involvement in social action and participation in the prevalent discourses of society.”  Though the content was overtly about social action as a field of endeavor, under a framework of coherence the same concepts and principles are easily applied to discourse.  For instance, discourse, too, requires efforts to draw on insights from Revelation as well as tap into the accumulating knowledge of the human race; involves the application of the teachings of the Faith toward improvement of some aspect of society, keeping in mind a dynamic coherence between the material and spiritual requirements of life; is built upon the principle that access to knowledge is a right of all human beings; fosters universal participation in the generation, application, and diffusion of knowledge; is not the provision of insights and principles, but is concerned with building capacity to apply and reflect upon the application on concepts; is not a series of conversations one group of people does for others, but includes insights and perspectives from all; is founded on the immutable conviction that every human being is a mine rich in gems of inestimable value and can contribute to discourse.

 

While coherence was explicitly the topic of discussion, as demonstrated by the Ridvan 2010 and 4 January 2009 messages, the structure of the weekend sought to be implicitly coherent in approaches and methods with, say, what has been learned from the institute process.  In efforts of community building all throughout the world – through “meetings that strengthen the devotional character of the community; classes that nurture the tender hearts and minds of children; groups that channel the surging energies of junior youth; circles of study, open to all, that enable people of varied backgrounds to advance on equal footing and explore the application of the teachings to their individual and collective lives” – Baha’i communities are learning about how to “raise capacity within a population to take charge of its own spiritual, social and intellectual development”.  One of the methods and approaches toward this end is that all participate in the generation of insights.  Reality is multifaceted, and therefore a sincere investigation of reality, or truth, requires the harmonization of diverse perspectives from all.  In fact, the culture of protest that has come to characterize much of political activity is a predictable reaction to lack of ability to voice opinions in political decision-making processes, a clear injustice – for justice demands universal participation.  A weekend gathering regarding discourse used the same participatory method and approach as has been learned from institute campaigns and study circles.

 

Another principle that this first area of endeavor – community building – is founded upon is the wedding of study and service.  True education is the process of revealing the gems latent within all human beings so that mankind can benefit therefrom.  Study and service.  Neither is effective without the other.  In such a short period of time, such as a weekend, study becomes the overwhelming emphasis.  Yet, multiple times were participants asked to each one voice an insight through their subjective mind to enrich the collective understanding.  And on the last day, individuals and pairs presented insights from specific-subject discourses that they had studied that morning, each presenting something unique that others didn’t have a chance to study.

 

By all accounts, the result of this coherence was highly energizing.  These participants, who had been used to attending lectures and presentation, who considered the norm a 50 minute talk with 10 minutes for irrelevant Q&A, and who felt that they needed to muster up energy for any conference since all collective activity was draining, all verbalizing feeling charged by the end.  Clearly, the galvanizing effects of participation in collective knowledge generation coupled with such a simple act of service as sharing insights with others was evident.  Participants left animated and inspired to share their understandings of the conceptual framework they studied.

 

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At a foundational level, all areas of endeavor – whether a grassroots educational process aimed at the spiritual empowerment of large numbers, involvement in social action projects seeking to raise capacity, or participation in public discourses and humbly offering one’s perspective illumined by the Faith – are built upon conversations.  It follows, then, that all the conversations we are having in these diverse areas and fields must be characterized by a high degree of coherence.  In fact, in this way, the methods, approaches, principles, and framework will be more naturally coherent.

 

Coherence entails reflection on what we are learning about “meaningful and distinctive conversations” in the area of community-building, where we are seeking out receptive souls “who are willing to engage in a conversation about the world around them,” in order “to undertake with them an exploration of reality that gives rise to a shared understanding of the exigencies of this period in human history and the means for addressing them.”  If we are striving for coherence across all three fields of endeavor, then the nature of our participation in the discourses of society will share some of the same qualities as conversations we are learning to have in our community building efforts.

 

Categories
- Consultation - Language Discourse Justice Knowledge Oneness Power

Collective Reflections

This past weekend, nearly forty individuals gathered together for an exploration of participation in discourse. (See post, Discourse: Session at Bosch)  The aim was to connect everyday conversations – those with neighbors, with friends, with co-workers, with family, with parents of children and junior youth – regarding society’s prevalent discourses with the conceptual framework described by the Universal House of Justice, in order to provide a context for continued reflection, action, and learning.

Among other documents, the letter dated 2 March 2013 from the Universal House of Justice was the main study.  Both halfway through study of the message and at the end of the study – which was done in small groups – all participants got together as a large group, and each individual shared one advance in understanding regarding the conceptual framework provided by the Universal House of Justice in that message, one salient point that they wished to share with the large group.  Capacity to articulate insights perceptibly increased from the first round of sharing to the second.

Below are some brief notes of each comment, grouped by concept.  This list can serve both as inspiration for others to connect their experiences with the framework provided by the House of Justice, as well as a source of analysis and reflection.  (Of course, these groups are my own categorization – many comments span multiple concepts).

 

ONENESS

– Oneness requires breaking of all us/them dichotomies, including an “us” that is more conscious of the oneness of humankind and a “them” that is less conscious.

– Relationships are reconceptualized based on the principle of oneness – including our relationship with nature.

– That the rational soul is the identity of a human being is a conviction of the oneness of humankind

– Concepts addressed by the House apply to all.

– All are working to advance one humanity, because all are one – this realization gives hope.

– Hallmark of age of maturity is oneness – this principle reconceptualizes relationships and structures of society.

– The new civilization won’t come through only the efforts of Baha’is, but is a process of organic change that all people contribute to.

– Humanity’s transformation will occur through the efforts of all people.

– The principle of oneness reconceptualizes all human relationships in a sustainable way.

– Peace will not come about through Baha’is alone, but all people – this reality is becoming more apparent.

– Association with others in a spirit of joy and radiance creates unity which actually advances humanity forward.

– The rational soul (our identity) has no gender – an empowering concept to women, as well as men.

– Unity is promoted through associating with joy.

 

THREE PROTAGONISTS

– The vision of the relationships between the three protagonists is completely new; there is no precedents to guide action, only a mode of learning.

– Each of the three protagonists affects the other – how can I, as an individual, strengthen community and institutions?

– The three protagonists are not just for the Plan, but actors on a stage of history that at this point need cooperative relations in order for humanity to mature.

 

HISTORY / FUTURE

– Humanity is on an evolutionary path and is at the threshold of maturity – our communities are similarly at this point.

– Humanity’s transition requires work and effort, and though it is difficult, we try and learn.

– Historical perspective is important to understand humanity’s current state.

– The House is opening and guiding the final frontier for humanity’s evolution – the building of a world civilization.

– Civilization is to the body of humanity as the soul is to the body of an individual, which elevates the building of civilization to the level of sacred.

– The analogy of the soul to the body as civilization to humankind gives a vision of spiritual, as well as material, prosperity.

 

TWO PROCESSES

– Linking together the process of disintegration and integration infuses hope into our outlooks.

– The process of disintegration is not discouraging, but hopeful; it sweeps away barriers and allows for more integration.

– Integration and disintegration go hand it hand – disintegration allows for integration.

– As the forces of disintegration are removing obstacles, integration proceeds; the House of Justice is now sending open letters to Iran, as an example.

 

LEARNING

– Diversity of thought has led to a rich conversation that allows investigation of truth.

– Our mode of operation is a process of learning, and all is on a continuum – there is no need to fear disintegration.

– Culture of learning allows adaptation.

– Decision-making in fact benefits from a diversity of opinions, because consultation is a form of collective investigation of reality.  Diversity is a source of strength.

– The messages of the House of Justice become more accessible through a collective collaboration of diverse minds.

 

JUSTICE

– Consumerism is inherently unjust – it doesn’t allow justice, which is a faculty of the soul that allows one to distinguish truth from falsehood, to be exercised.

 

POWER

– Sources of power that can be harnessed include the power of unity, of truth, of pure deeds, of humble service, which represent a limitless capacity to transform humanity and allow each person to grow spiritually.

– Words associated with power include “release” and “enable”, not “seize”.  How do we help release the power latent in others?

– Reconceptualizing power as having sources based in the human spirit, and the power of unity for example, is an empowering notion, something all can access.

 

TWO FOLD PURPOSE

– The two-fold moral purpose permeates all aspects of life and all three protagonists, including its appellation to the Baha’i community itself (its own development, and its involvement in society at large)

– Through an understanding of this coherent framework for action, how can I choose coherent goals in life, aligned with two-fold moral purpose?

– Two-fold moral purpose requires a coherence of words and deeds.

 

THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

– The language of the House is accessible to all, and phrases from it can touch hearts.

– The House is inviting us to engage with a deep vision of a just and prosperous world civilization.

– How empowering is language of the House of Justice.

– The House of Justice has been providing us guidance in unfolding layers – their vision is world-embracing.

– The House of Justice itself is a model of effective governance, for it seeks to empower.

– This message demonstrates the power of Baha’u’llah through the vision and compassion of the House of Justice – all are uplifted, even those chastised.

 

DISCOURSE

– Discourse is part of the growth of Baha’i community – people are gems of value, and all can contribute.

– My goal is to have better discourse each day through reflection on conversations.

– The language of the House of Justice affects hearts, and use of its phrases is powerful.

– This letter represents a force of integration, and is empowering to discuss and share.

– The House of Justice’s use of language raises standards of discourse, and it uses language in a way that is beyond dispute.

 

Discourse

Categories
- Consultation - Empowerment Human Nature Justice Oneness

Ninety-Five Conferences will be Convened

Topic Outline: (by paragraph)

  1. Summary
  2. Youth Saviors
  3. 95 Conferences will be Convened
  4. Carpe Diem (Seize the Day)

¶1    Summary

Civilization as we know it is characterized by a culture of rational self-interest and a value system that encourages individual benefit. Decisions regarding what social, political, or religious ideology to believe in seem based upon calculations of which one personally profits each individual or satisfies their desires the most. Nevertheless an emerging demographic exists who are not duped by the assumptions of the establishment generation. Progressive thinkers and activists, who are typically in their youth, are ironically the main resistance to this dominant ideology. This is ironic, because it is precisely the impressionable age group of youth towards which corporate marketing and proponents of consumerism tailor their advertising propaganda and a culture of peer pressure. Precisely where beneficiaries of a consumer culture expect to reap the 2nd generation of their ideological harvest, a phenomenon is being observed that gives hope to heart.

2    Youth Saviours

Those who are old enough to have the intellectual capacity to perceive right from wrong but who are still young enough to posses the trait of idealism before vested interests in financial establishment strip them of it — these youth in their mid teens and twenties — are at once the target and the arch-nemesis of the materialistic way of life. In youth is found both the gullibility of rationalized hedonism and the will that blazes bright with the fire of sacrifice. Selflessness is the moral order that will inherit the future. There would be concern for the destiny of human society and the trajectory of our civilization were it not for the youth who are arising in diverse cultural settings, and from a wide spectrum of social and economic backgrounds, both rural and urban, public schools and private universities, indigenous and immigrant populations, working class and affluent families to unitedly affect positive enduring transformation. These diverse social elements have melted together as if by the heat of a common oppression and the camaraderie born of a shared sense of purpose. A sea tide of melded discontent stands ready to revolutionize humankind’s ordered life with sweeping reforms one after another, and the unity of identity and purpose needed to see the that transformation through.

¶3   95 Conferences will be Convened

In launching this stupendous mission and to accelerate its initial progress, an organization of youth which functions as a platform for the dissemination of conceptual truths, and a proclamation of the responsibilities to be borne by this age group is needed. Therefore, 95 youth conferences will be convened. Every young person who perceives that the path to the regeneration of the fortunes of humankind as one collective lies in the restructuring of social, economic and political life according to spiritual values of unity and justice would do well to attend.

¶4   Carpe Diem (Seize the Day)

Born, Lived, and Died on this earth — every human being who has ever existed has confronted the perennial question, posed to us from the bowels of existence itself: to contribute to the betterment of the world or languish in hedonism the remaining days of a fleeting life? As innumerable as all the people of the world and of the past may be, still each one possesses a unique opportunity to render some service. Youth of the world: the choice is now! The cross-roads beckon before us: do we meditate on this crisis of civilization, do we commit to its reform, do we harden our hearts for the pain that a life of sacrifice would entail, in preparation for the glorious revolution, the surpassing characters, and the untold blessings that are sure to follow on the heels of so great an undertaking?

The swamp of human values today will birth fairies of a realm beyond, nymphs of perspicuous eye sight, visionary pixies with stainless characters in stark contrast to the mire of the swamp. Plagued by insecurity the present world order will perish. Uniting the myriad disenfranchised segments of a multi-cultured but too extremely unequal society into a single response. Youth who do not placidly walk past the injustices of the world, nor even seek to ignore or avoid them, but rather run straight towards them — these youth will struggle and die for the reign of justice to arrive.

“Free thyself from the fetters of this world, and loose thy soul from the prison of self. Seize thy chance, for it will come to thee no more…”

95 Youth Conferences

Categories
- Consultation - Empowerment - Governance - Oppression Discourse Human Nature Justice Oneness

In the Masses Lies the Key

Some facts are based on principle, others follow from empirical evidence. The economic and social order of the industrial world no longer considers universal welfare the object of its deliberations and actions. This has been, in part, the result of a self-centered design by the elite few whose underhanded influence upon government has seen a cancerous variant of capitalism eat into the vitals of democratic representation. However, this is also because a general unity of values, discourse, and global consensus on the part of the masses of people was lacking. Blame should be carefully laid where it can be demonstrated, to avoid exaggerating the culpability of those who exploited a situation that lacked unity of vision. Particularistic forces operated in a way that profited themselves according to an institutionalized design. The measure of their selfishness may neither have exceeded nor been exceeded by the selfishness of the masses. Outcome inequalities in access and opportunity may have resulted from a difference in power which enables them to acquire the structural changes anyone would seek in accordance with a morality of chaos that is fragmented into isolated individuals, in which each individual pursues their own personal benefit. This was and continues to be the dominant moral order. A differential of moral culpability may not have existed; only a power differential, between the soon-to-be elite, and the masses. But all animals exist in a state of power struggle with others. What worm declines to struggle against the crushing weight of a lion’s paw on his hunting sprint? If all people were universally selfish in the years leading up to the current accumulation of financial and social capital in the hands of a minuscule minority, then the current outcry should not be identified with the voice of justice, but is better anthropomorphised as the objection of losers. Culpability cannot be placed at the feet of the victors, soley due to their disproportionate privilege. Culpability must be placed equally at the feet of all who engaged in a jungle-style war of the fittest evolutionary specimen in the selfish and competitive world of social Darwinism. Anyone who competed in the game of selfishness contributed to the downfall of our moral order, and its institutionalization of unequal access and opportunity. If all humans were equally guilty in the years leading up to the injustice of our world order, then all can be declared equally innocent in this day, when all humankind is awakening to the reality of what our selfish ways have wrought. Humankind is now waking up from its great folly and opening its eyes to the beneficence of a new value system. The value systems of the future are based upon the acute awareness of the spiritual reality of humankind and therefore our essential oneness. The realization of the many inadequacies of the individualistic, competitive, materialistic paradigm is tearing away the veils from our eyes. In temporary moments of adjustment to blinding sunlight most social theorists are stunned, awed, and bewildered. There is need for a time of self-examination after our confidence in our identity has been shaken. The social theory that we touted for over half a century with such apparent promise, and in which we invested so much of our hopes and faith, now sags under mounting evidence that it is the source of a world-wide atrocity against all humankind, and the perpetrator of an ever-expanding abyss that divides a quickly shrinking wealthy elite from the masses of impoverished people mired in hopeless want. Bewilderment, gives way to search, and search to love of a philosophy of universal brotherhood and institutionalized philanthropy,  based on the concepts of a spiritual human identity, global unity, justice for all, and insightful theories as opposed to economics as the central feature of social existence. These concepts enable a renewed commitment on the part of people, institutions, and communities to the common well-being of humankind.

In the application of this new theory, we are not allowed to assign to the masses again a role of passive obedience to the will of an elite minority, this time a minority who understands the need for the common resources of earth (material and human) to be devoted to the universal well-being of all equally. This minority, no matter how well intentioned will prove to be no different from the minority that was responsible for the individualstic, competitive system of consumerism that produced so much senseless suffering and injustice in the world. No doubt they too had noble intentions with the start of their enterprise  (Indeed their theory maintained that the greatest amount of total prosperity resulted from each person striving to achieve the most comfortable life for himself or herself). No, rather must the revolutionary theory of human unity, equality, and spirituality be implanted in the lives of all people through the patient but methodical action and reflection of all people collectively in their respective spheres of endeavor to the problems facing them in their social, economic, agricultural, health care, and educational lives. Only this way will the empowerment of a people become a wide-spread and global phenomenon, which alone can be responsible for elevating a civilization out from the mire in which a half-century of greed, domination, and war has imprisoned it. The masses will have a fundamental role in the transformation of our world forward.

New theories are important, but structures must be coherent with those theories if they are to have a positive effect. Love cannot be maintained by force. Peace cannot be achieved through war. Similarly, justice cannot be achieved through injustice. Through principle we always knew, and through experience we have come to learn, that means must always be expressed in a way that is morally consistent with our ends. Equality cannot be achieved by a few. For, those few in perceiving the endpoint of a just social order, and seeking to impose that endpoint on multitudes of other people, will thereby  ironically become the unknowing perpetrators of a tyrannical world order. Foreknowledge of outcomes is not always necessary to be a good man, in many instances adherence to moral principles is sufficient. A revolution for the people must ultimately be conducted by the people. Where the people are activists only and not thinkers in the formulation of transformation, they continue to occupy the position of the manipulated  and their leaders, though purportedly advocating a moral order free of manipulative dynamics, are in fact inwardly becoming the oppressor class of a new totalitarian regime.

What is the role of “leadership” then, in the path to a just social order? As opposed to giving society its structure and overall direction, the function of the new leadership is to convene those settings in which selfless consultation can take place, to coordinate the interface and representation of all human needs equally, and to safegard the process of democratic decision making. The new leadership is a shepherd, walking beside the flock, not a fox, herding them toward exploitation. Reflection and action are as intrinsic to the masses as success is to revolution–without it, tyranny supplants tyranny without any change in human fortunes. Ironically, the act of compelling the masses to serve a revolutionary goal, falsifies the goals of the transformation, and robs it of its intended nobility. The oppressed maintain their status as oppressed under a new master, and the elite are merely exchanged for a minority with another lingo, and another vocabulary for justifying their indulgence. The means must be coherent with the ends, to truly vindicate those ends in the long run. It is a strange law built into the fabric of the universe, that morality is not utilitarian, but always will be, deontological. No matter how good the justification for a crime may be, God has made up His mind, that unsound means shall never serve His holy Ends. If leadership is committed to the unity and equality of all humankind, it recognizes that its reflection and action must walk hand in hand with the reflection and action of the masses.

Masses

Categories
- Consultation Knowledge

Scholars and Servants

As beings of praxis, human beings differ from animals, which are beings of pure activity. Animals do not consider the world; they are immersed in it. In contrast, human beings emerge from the world, objectify it, and in so doing can understand it and transform it with their labor. Animals, which do not labor, live in a setting which they cannot transcend. Hence, each animal species lives in the context appropriate to it, and these environments, while open to humans, cannot be a facility for communication among them.

But human activity consists of action and reflection: it is praxis, and through praxis it is transformation of the world. As praxis, it requires theory to illuminate it. Human activity consists of theory and practice; it is reflection and action. It cannot, be reduced to either pure analysis (verbalism) or mindless action (activism). Without a revolutionary theory there can be no movement for change. The revolution of mankind’s ordered life will be achieved with neither verbalism nor activism, but rather with praxis, that is, with reflection and action directed at the structures to be transformed. The revolutionary effort to transform these structures radically cannot designate its leaders as its thinkers and the rest as mere followers or doers. In this revolution all must be scholars and all must be servants.

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Reflection and Action

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Categories
- Consultation - Equality of Women and Men Development Health Care Oneness

Utilizing Material Means

Achievement, we know from experience, requires the expenditure of material means. Social and economic development, albeit with a spiritual and transcendent intention, is no exception. Antithetically, there are many societies, some of whom may consider themselves servants of the best interests of humankind,  who gauge achievement in terms of the raw quantity of grants received, employees hired, and monetary resources consumed. Socioeconomic development (SED) programs of the future, are expected to utilize more accurate, humanistic, and noble outcome measures.

Communities generate funding for their own SED projects. Governmental or NGO donor agencies dispense grants to applicant organizations. In all cases however, funding should be utilized for the betterment of the people being served, not for the satisfaction of bureaucratic outcome measures imposed by the donors. Indigenous capacity building is the mainstay of authentic SED work.

Trust is paramount for the continued donation of funding. Systems, and not individuals, must be responsible for safeguarding the transparency and clarity of the financial operations of any SED organization. An eternity of financial drought will follow for every lapse of integrity in the process of money-handling. Not only is corruption of a willful and depraved manner unacceptable, but so too is the lackadaisicalness and imprecision characterizing so many governmental and charitable organizations. No wonder therefore at the little respect awarded to these organizations in popular conception. Inefficiency and incompetence are no less disillusioning than frank corruption. Evidence-based practices of financial regularity will serve as prophylaxis against an ethos that conduces to individual unscrupulousness.

Beyond concrete inputs and outputs, variables in a re-conception of efficiency should be expanded to include such things as creativity, selflessness, and sustainability of an employee’s motivation. We know that careerism can motivate people, but have we explored how spiritual values, self-sacrifice, and empowerment can motivate a work-force? Obsequiousness to one’s superiors accomplishes narrow aims. Camaraderie and unity in a collegial  team-environment  unleashes ingenuity and devotion that  reach super-human levels of dedication and excellence. The love one bears for oneself is delusional and finite. The love we bear for each other can be infinite and inexhaustible.

Far-farsightedness, a virtue lost on modern financial giants, entails expanding goals to include intangibles such as interpersonal rapport and talent-vocation matching, instead of the management-worker relationship — the worker-worker relationship should take precedence. The firing and hiring of individuals as the fundamental action of  human resource acquisition is the single-most destructive characteristic of modern economics. A vast and inexhaustible productive resource comes into existence in the interactions and familiarities professionals co-create together as they innovate the path to their next collective objective. The efficiency and joy, the exuberance and power of unity, as an intangible but positively priceless resource goes unquantified and unpurchased, altogether despoiled, as employers buy and sell individuals unaware of their collective efficiencies developed through mutual rapport.

The capacity of participants in SED projects to cooperate and coordinate united action determines their success. Over and above material inputs and outputs, a storehouse of spiritual and intangible resources remain as gems un-excavated from within the mine of human potential. Employment and production will reach summits of achievement  when harmonious cooperation is sought as a resource along with personal abilities. Loyalty and consecration,  resourcefulness and organizing ability, courage and zeal, tenacity, sagacity, fidelity, devotion, and vigilance–all these constitute the intangible powers of unity.

The triumph of selfless virtues testifies to the efficacy of their influence, an influence which should come to increasingly characterize the sphere of action in social and economic development. Material means are a treasure entrusted to an organization by those who make donations sacrificially, joyfully, and with a consciousness that its custodians will no doubt exercise an exalted attitude of scruples, gratitude, and economy in deference to the sacrifice that those donations entailed. To ensure the continued survival of SED organizations we have no doubt that such an attitude must and will be exercised.

The gap between one’s material means and one’s achievements is the measure of the potency of these spiritual virtues, and the proportion to which they have been utilized. Increasingly will these intangibles constitute the tipping point in the balance between forces of constructiveness and liberation on the one hand, and the forces of exploitation and individualism, on the other. The new centers of economic power will be the educational institutions that cultivate and reward intangible virtues of human character and spiritual ideals of unity and cooperation. By their aid and their insensible influence the truth will be made manifest in the realm of means as brilliant as it currently is in the world of spirit.

 

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Farm Workers

 

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Categories
- Consultation Development Justice Knowledge Oneness

Justice and Universal Participation

The development of a just society requires universal participation.

Why?  Why is this the case?  If you’d like, respond with your thoughts below.

Surely, there are many of reasons.  Three come to my mind at the moment.  They are related to unity, capacity building, and knowledge.

The purpose of justice is to bring about unity within human society.  This is a basic reason why all who are a part of this society need to be involved in its development; otherwise how could one claim unity, when some are spectators and some are protagonists?  More significant than the actual actions of various people (because of course, contribution to society’s development is a spectrum; some more active, some less) it is the mindset of “us” and “them” – of otherness – that hinders unity.

One of the manifestations of justice is that the capacity of each created thing is revealed to its fullest.  Obviously, this, too, is a spectrum.  But, to use a tree as a simple example, it is just that a tree be allowed to bear its fruit.  Human beings have infinite talents and capacities, especially when each individual is viewed as part of a collective humanity.  In order to fully express the collective capacity of humankind, opportunities must be created for each individual to contribute to humanity’s well-being and development, according to his/her talents.  Otherwise, if only some develop capacities while others don’t, the collective capacity of humankind will not fully be actualized, which is not just.

Finally, justice is the process of investigating truth through one’s own eyes, and not through blind imitation of what has been already stated.  A human being who undertakes an exploration of reality with justice will necessarily have a unique perspective, since it is through his/her own eyes – some may say that it is subjective.  We know that reality is multi-faceted.  As an example, imagine that it’s a sphere.  Each individual will view from a particular angle, perhaps seeing a disc.  It is only as more and more subjective perspectives are harmonized together will reality be objectively known and understood.  Justice demands universal participation, because it is only through a diverse range of perspectives that our multi-faceted reality can be known, and justice is the process by which we understand truth.

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Categories
- Consultation - Education - Empowerment - Oppression Discourse Justice Knowledge

Education and Liberation

Some people think education is an act of depositing facts, in which the students are the receptacle and the teacher is the banker. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues lectures and makes deposits which the students receive and memorize. This “banking” concept of education, allows the students only to receive, file, and store facts told to them. In the final analysis, it is the people themselves who are filed away through the lack of creativity, transformation, and true knowledge in this misguided pedagogy. The reality of man is his thoughts. Devoid of inquiry, apart from the exercise of generating knowledge, individuals cannot be truly human. True knowledge emerges only through invention: a restless, impatient, hopeful inquiry which human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other. In the banking concept of education, knowledge is a gift bestowed by those who are “knowledgeable” upon those who “know nothing”. Projecting ignorance onto students actually negates true education because this arises through agency and inquiry.

Education must begin with the resolution of the teacher-student dichotomy, so that both are recognized as simultaneously teachers and students. They are simultaneously co-creators of knowledge and collaborators walking a path of discovery. The banking concept of education regards humans as manipulable, submissive objects. Students fail to develop the critical consciousness of intervention as transformers of the world. Passively, they adapt to the world handed to them, and to the fragmented view of reality it describes. Fragmentation of the mind and not coherence is engendered by the banking conception of education.

To annul the creative power of the students and to inculcate their submissiveness serves the interests of those in power, who do not wish to see the world transformed. The state of the world as it is, is profitable unto them. Charity and “humanitarianism” are held up to pacify the people and preserve a profitable situation. Education must foster critical faculties unsatisfied with a partial perspective of reality – minds that always seek out the connections which link one fact to another and one reality to all the rest. Fragmentation weakens the mind of the slave class upon whose backs the profits of the privileged depend. The interests of the privileged lie in changing the consciousness of the underprivileged – not the situation which oppresses them. To achieve this end, the privileged use the banking concept of education.

The underprivileged are considered marginal outsiders, and deviants from the norm of prosperity and justice inculcated by the social order. As the excrement, or pathology, of a healthy society such outliers receive the stigma of “incompetent and lazy” folk. This stigma is used to justify a situation in which the disenfranchised are maintained quiescently in the social order doing the jobs and occupying the social rank that no one else would willingly accept. The banking concept of education avoids the threat of mass increases in spiritual consciousness, prevents unity of thought, and obviates activism toward wide-scale social reform.

The banking concept of education never proposes to students that they critically consider reality. It will deal instead with memorization as the vital question, and insist upon the importance of submissiveness and compliance as the measure of grading and evaluation. The “constructiveness” and “benefit” of (banking) education masks the effort to turn women and men into automatons. Many of those who use the banking approach, do so unknowingly, for there are innumerable well-intentioned teachers who do not realize that they are serving only to dehumanize their students.

The true educator must from the outset make efforts which coincide with those of the students to engage in critical thinking and the quest for mutual good. His or her efforts must be imbued with a profound trust in the majority of students and their creative intellectual powers. To achieve this, “teachers” must be partners of the students in their classrooms.

Grammar memorization, reading assignments, standardized testing, the hierarchy between teacher and student, and the criteria for teacher promotion: everything in this cookie-cutter approach serves to obviate thinking and boycott actualization of intellectual potential. The bank-clerk educator does not realize that there is no epistemic authority in his paid position as teacher: knowledge is not already known; it needs to be created. Teacher-student solidarity requires honest, respectful communication. Only through dialogical engagement can pedagogical, institutional, or community life find meaning. The teacher’s thinking is validated only by the authenticity of the students thinking. The teacher cannot think for his students, nor can he impose his thoughts on them. Thought has meaning only when generated by action upon the world.

Banking education begins with a false understanding of men and women as objects. Instead of “biophilia,” it promotes “necrophilia.” Life is characterized by growth in an organic, functional manner. Necrophilia loves all that does not grow, is mechanical, and stale. Memory rather than experience; subservience other than agency; owning rather than manifesting, is what counts. The necrophiliac loves control, and in the act of controlling kills life. The banking concept of education, which serves the interests of oppression, is necrophilia. Based on a mechanistic, static, naturalistic view of consciousness, it transforms students into receiving objects. It attempts to control thinking and action, leads women and men to submit to the world, and inhibits their creative power. When their efforts to act creatively are frustrated, people find themselves unable to use their faculties. This impotence leads to suffering.

We must abandon the banking method of education and replace it with the posing of problems relevant to human beings in their relations with the world. “Problem-posing” education, responds to the essence of consciousness: intentionality. “Problem-posing” education avoids lecturing and embodies honest communication. It epitomizes the method of consultative reflection. It is a pedagogy in which known facts are intermediates between people in their mutual quest for new knowledge. Known facts are not — indeed cannot be — the end in itself. Dialogical relations empower people’s capacity for cooperation in perceiving insights into knowledge and generating its further extensions.

The teacher becomes the convener of the class and the provider of prodding questions. With the students, he becomes jointly responsible for a process in which all generate knowledge. His authority must be on the side of freedom of thought, not against it. No bank-clerk teacher teaches, and no bank-account-student is self-taught. People research together, mediated by the world, using cognizable objects available to all in wikipedia, in textbooks, and on the internet. The teacher does not regard known facts as his private property, but as the object of reflection for himself and the students in their quest for mutual human betterment. In this way, the problem-posing educator constantly re-forms his reflections in light of the reflections of his students. The students—no longer docile listeners—are now critical co-investigators in dialogue with the teacher to find a solution to new human problems. The teacher presents the material to the students for their consideration, and re-considers her earlier considerations as the students express their own. The role of the problem-posing educator is to create, together with the students, the conditions under which knowledge is most effectively, and energetically generated. Problem-posing education involves a constant unveiling of reality. Students, as they are increasingly posed with problems relating to themselves and their world, feel increasingly challenged and motivated to respond to the inquiry. The challenge is interrelated to other problems within a holistic context, not as an isolated theoretical question. The resultant comprehension tends to increase total consciousness. The students conclusions to the challenge evokes new quandaries, followed by new investigations; and gradually the students become committed to a life of insatiable learning.

The “problem-solving” model of education is a practice of freedom—as opposed to the banking model of education which is a practice of domination. Through fragmentation, robbed of their minds, there is nothing to unite people in resistance to the exploitation of the powerful. The new liberatory pedagogy denies that man is abstract, isolated, independent, and unattached to the world. The world does not exist as a reality apart from man either, however. Consciousness neither precedes the world nor passively follows from it. They dance together the path of life.


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Brain Power

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Categories
- Consultation - Education - Empowerment - Governance - Religion Development Discourse Justice Knowledge Power

Spiritual Re-Education and the Power of the Masses

In discourse, thought, reflection and action are intimately interdependent.  Action is coherent only when it is not merely rote but also consultative, that is, when it is not dichotomized from reflection. Reflection, which is essential to action, is implicit in the requirement of explaining to the masses their own action, just as it is implicit in the purpose we attribute to consciously activating the subsequent development of experience.

For us, however, the requirement is seen not in terms of explaining to, but rather dialoguing with the people about their actions.  In any event, no reality transforms itself, and the duty which we ascribe to responsible citizens of explaining to the masses their own action coincides with our affirmation of the need for the critical intervention of the people in reality through praxis.

The democratization of discourse, which is the spiritual re-education of people engaged in the fight for a just world order, has its roots here. And those who recognize, or begin to recognize, themselves as bearing the responsibility to contribute to this transformation must be among the developers of this new education. No world order which is truly just can remain distant from the masses by treating them as unfortunates and by presenting for their emulation models from among the privileged. The masses must be their own example in the struggle for their redemption.

The establishment of a just world order, animated by authentic, altruistic generosity, presents itself as a spiritual re-education of humankind. Values which begin with the egoistic interests of the privileged (an egoism cloaked in the false generosity of paternalism) and makes of the masses the objects of its humanitarianism, itself maintains and embodies injustice. It is an instrument of injustice.

This is why, as we affirmed earlier, the betterment of mankind cannot be developed or practiced by a wealthy minority fixated on 3rd world development. It would be a contradiction in terms for the privileged few to not only defend but actually implement a spiritual revolution. But if the implementation of a new type of spiritual education requires political power and the masses have none, how then is it possible to carry out the re-education of the world without a spiritual revolution?

This is a question of the greatest importance, the reply to which is at least tentatively underway in the system of distance education propounded by the Ruhi Institute. One aspect of the reply is to be found in the distinction between governmental education, which can only be changed by political power, and educational processes, which should be carried out with the masses in the process of organizing them.

Bind ye the broken with the hands of justice, and crush the oppressor who flourisheth with the rod of My commandments.

Categories
- Consultation - Empowerment - Religion Discourse

Summary of 14 November Message

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1. Learning sites and associated clusters (31 in total) contain half the current junior youth groups and participants.

2. Universal youth response to serve as animators. Ruhi 5 releases reservoirs of commitment to social change. Program expands beyond resources within Baha’i community.

3. Benefits of JYSEP in junior youth: Power of expression, spiritual perception, developing capacity for service, shape praiseworthy character. Educational process and growth program benefit from JYSEP. Learning about  increasing and deploying resources, raising capacity in cohorts, coordination, and multiplication of core activities.

4.  Two broad goals – 1) accelerating progress in clusters with programs of growth.  2) finding individuals to carry this approach to hundreds other clusters.  Number of learning sites in North America to rise to 7, and associated clusters to 70.

5. Endeavors grounded in experience from clusters at the frontiers of learning will enable assembly to achieve objectives of current Plan

Department of the Secretariat

14 November 2012

JYSEP = Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program

Categories
- Consultation - Education - Governance - Language Human Nature

Shadows of the Mind: Disorganized Activism, Conducive to Change?

Decades have come and gone and our busy lives, cluttered with diverse daily drives and enjoyments, have advanced in age, irreparable choices have been made, courses set, and moral decisions cast in the stone of opportunity cost. Billions have come before us and billions beyond, all have passed into the annals of history, and been forgotten by the onward march of time.

The abyss of oblivion now beckons to our scrumptious generation, morsels for its dinner. Not many with good intentions have been seen on the world stage; albeit works of charity and small acts of kindness are as prevalent as the annual holiday season – but  structurally, not much has changed. A collective will that is able to revolutionize the structure of society and apply new values to its educational, operational, military, economic, and cultural aspirations has not emerged.

The failure belongs to us all, as much as it does to any individual, institution, or activist community. Faith in a number of established principles has waned from public consciousness. With lack of faith in these values, and the will to apply them, it is not easy to conceive a remedy for society’s spiral.

Many people speak of their ideals of improving society, but without the will to plan for the future how will this good intention produce any result? Without organization for the widespread application of intelligence, foresight, evidence-based strategy, and the will endure what is necessary to arrive at the desired result, of what use are all “good intentions”? The touchstone of intention, is the ability to learn from mistakes, not just to reapply the same failed systems and ideas to current problems.

Society has inculcated a system that places economic activity at the center of social existence, that deifies the market, that worships monetary wealth, that promotes cutthroat and deceitful business practices, that is protected by a system of legality that is equally divorced from morality as it is profitable to ruthless corporate-legal machines.

We have abandoned our children and the future generation to teachers less qualified, less compensated, and less equipped to discharge their duties than the sacred task of education requires them to be. The educational system is outdated, ineffective  and trains people to be a receptacle of knowledge, not active participants in their own learning process. This reflects our collective disregard for the importance of education. Lip service is no substitute. Where society places its wallet, is where you find what it believes in, what it values.

We have relegated intelligent problems that is the substance of climate change and discourses of global importance to the realm of political talking points, and corporate manipulation. When justice is dethroned, and intelligence is mocked as a partisan ploy, there you see the dangers of corruption in politics. Individuals cannot combat institutional corruption – institutional capacity is needed to deal with the evils of partisanship and to cleanse the current system.

We have abandoned justice for the guise of non-aggression in society: where human psyches should be nurtured with love and education and opportunity we have implemented a system of mass consumerism and individual disconnectedness.

Loneliness and desperation bursts through publicly in acts of unprovoked personal massacres committed by mentally deranged outcasts on the fringes of the social order. Mentally ill college students, and bullied high schoolers exact their vengeance upon a world that neglected their need to belong. The difference between outcasts and the rest of people living “normal lives” is not clear superficially, because the baseline level of social disconnectedness is so high. Madness, goes undiagnosed and unsuspected for decades. Loneliness is widespread and the human need to belong – much more powerful than the drive to consume commercial products – is not recognized at all in social value, taking hardly a second place to the recognized need for an new iPod.

Pain is the perpetual companion of the disenfranchised members within the system. Those without happiness, home, opportunity, love, or family values are relegated to a world of isolated subsistence, where they are expected to “overcome” through “self-reliance” the disparities that divide them. Instead, most are forced to suffer in solitude the aching question: should I continue being misunderstood by society? or take from society the attention and awe I deserve? Crime is the result.

Disconnectedness and disunity remain the foremost culprits. Though society has adopted a lingo of professed love and unity one to another, disenfranchisement and lack of a community to belong to, remains the de facto reality for most of the world’s inhabitants.

Oblivious to this suffering, post-modern voices from a bygone philosophical age still cry: “NO, to organized initiatives. NO organized system is needed to solve any social dilemma!” Why is this opinion maintained, that organized systems are superfluous to addressing social disparities and values of social cohesion and unity? Do we leave medicine and finance to free-lance garage-practitioners? Do we leave law and order to old-school sheriff’s like the wild wild west? In this day and age, do we leave governance to regional chieftains and warlords? So why would we leave social justice to disorganized activism?

Is the fear of oppression from large organizations rational? Or does it stem from a past where systems had been abused to commit atrocities against and oppress the public? Examples that come to mind are gender inequalities propagated by the Catholic Church, and government embroilment in scandals like the Tuskegee experiments?But should we throw out the baby with bath water, and use the rationale of post-modernism?

Religious structure even still oppress the masses. But is disorganization and the dissolution of organized approaches to reforming society’s values the solution? Do we consider these religious structure valid expressions of religion? Is al-Qaeda a valid expression of religion? Is Christian fundamentalism a valid expression of religion?

But what should be foremost in our concerns, fear of tyranny, or commitment to improving the world? Systems increase the power of response. As such they increase the power of corruption as well.  Corruption should be rooted out, however, and we ought to struggle to eliminate. Let this be the end to which a painful past can motivate us to act. Let our will be stronger than our fear. Let us embrace an overarching process within evolutionary and global history. Let us acknowledge a fruit and destination to which the revolutions ages is inexorably drawing the human race. Let the telos of the universe again be recognized.

The new demand and discourse on valid religious organizations begins here: http://agencyandchange.com/2012/10/19/discourse-on-religion/

Mankind’s united destiny beckons. The merger of nation states into global federalism, the elimination of distinctions of all kinds, the economic, cultural, linguistic, and ultimately the political and biological unity of the human race is inevitable.

Inevitably, globalization will merge our economies, internet and cell phone communication will combine our languages, intermarriage and the force of biology will intermingle our genomes, the collective travails and natural disasters that persistently plague our world will require us to unite economically and politically to resist them, and the global trends in trade will mandate us to adopt a single international currency.

Competition, we have institutionalized in economic doctrine and business practice. Selfishness, we have inculcated as the driver of innovation and change. Concern with one’s personal family, we have touted as moral responsibility, while the heavens have said from the beginning of time “prefer others before oneself”.

Military might we appraise as a means of keeping peace and an expression of our patriotic commitment. But when has a display of might been conducive to de-escalating the portents and probability of war? When has war run from selfish armamentarians? and when has hot war not been preceded by cold-war?

When research and investments in technologies and green-energy for the future, upon which the prosperity of the whole race depends, are relegated to a second priority, and fossil fuels burnt at a ever-accelerating rate, it raises concerns about the intelligence of out political and discursive climate. If this trend continues, the demise of the values of the mind of man will be evident, and the rise of values pertinent to his body will be consummate in lust for power, war, and dominion. The drive for economic and military domination is an expedient, and not a path to enduring change and prosperity. domination is nullified when it faces the same thing across the sea. Historically, it has been particularistic pursuits of power that produce destruction, and it has always been submission of the ego in deference to the collective will that produces progress and prosperity.

Drives for particularistic interest, personal control, with power and war as a means to it, inevitably end by destroying and disenfranchising all, irrespective of the identity of the parties. Selfishness itself is the essence of destruction. Its origin is the war within the self, and its end is annihilation.

“…ye walk on My earth complacent and self-satisfied, heedless that My earth is weary of you…”

Categories
- Consultation - Governance - Oppression - Religion - Science Discourse Knowledge Oneness

Climate Change and Political Partisanship: Why is the Truth So Divisive?

Every intelligent mind that evaluates the causes for global warming concludes that human-induced green-house gas emissions are responsible for Earth’s atmospheric average temperature increases. The only people who disagree with this are fringe scientists and few in number. For mysterious reasons, politicians are highly polarized on this debate. This scientific question has therefore become politicized. Since the early 1990’s the debate has typically fallen along partisan lines. The question needs to be asked: ‘Should we raise awareness of the facts surrounding climate change and risk igniting partisan warfare?’

To investigate the scientific validity of an issue, to raise awareness and form thoughtful opinions, and to act on these views as citizens with our purchasing-power and electoral choices — all this seems a human duty and a moral responsibility. However, what if we also hope to avoid becoming embroiled in partisan conflict, and consider exacerbating its divisive character, by throwing fuel onto a fire, equally unacceptable? An alternative is to refrain from speaking altogether. This however, would imply remaining silent on matters of conscience.

To many it would be unconscionable to hold their peace on matters of importance to one’s community, the environment, and the world. As responsible citizens of one common homeland, if we know something we would wish to share it, especially if  it is of betterment to the world. Who wouldn’t want others to benefit from it, to stimulate large numbers to investigate it, to improve collective conditions and avert disaster?

Pursuit of truth is natural. The desire to teach it is equally natural. The facts compel our conscience to declare that human fossil fuels and deforestation are responsible for climate change and truly threaten life on earth as we know it. How can public information and unbiased investigation into the topic be promoted, while not attracting the label of partisan bickering? How can one be true to one’s conscience but at the same time avoid being drawn into conflict with partisan representatives and economic special interests?

Partisan demonizing carries with it a debilitating affect on intelligent discourse. Climate change is after all, an issue of global importance and collective human destiny. Is it possible to contribute wisely whilst remaining free of quarrel in a social environment charged with partisan bickering and economic second agendas?

Holding discourse hostage with the threat of demonizing and castigating alternative viewpoints undermines the truth-discovering power of consultation, cooperation, and collective action.

Dear Sandy: Will humankind put aside partisanship before the Earth overheats our species?

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Categories
- Consultation - Education - Empowerment - Governance - Language - Oppression - Prevailing Conceptions - Religion - Three Protagonists Development Discourse Human Nature Justice Knowledge Oneness

Summary: Ridvan 2012 Message

Paragraph#:

1. Abdu’l-Baha’s Temple-ground piercing Centenary. Diverse participants then and now.

2. Divine civilization beyond mere adjustments to present order.

3. Erroneous assumptions of human nature, justified by failings, disallow spiritual potential.

4. Imprisonment enables sympathetic hearts. 5-Year Plan (5YP) features grasped. Intensify application.

5. Signs: individual transformation, divine communities, administration promotes human welfare. Protagonist’s mutual support.

6. Citizens, body politic, societal institutions struggle for power. Cooperative Baha’i alternative emerging: responsible individual, nurturing institutions, eager community.

7. Revelation recasts societal relationships. Economic injustice tolerated; disproportionate gain emblem of success. Eschew dishonesty, exploitation.

8. National Mashriqu’l-Adhkars to be raised in Democratic Republic of Congo and Papua New Guinea. Remarkable response to Plans.

9. Mashriqu’l-Adhkar weds worship and service, reflected in devotionals and educational process, correlates with size and SA. JYSEP fuels SC’s and CC’s. Learning site fortifies E&C. Erection of Local Houses of Worship: Battambang, Cambodia; Bihar Sharif, India; Matunda Soy, Kenya; Norte del Cauca, Colombia; and Tanna, Vanuatu clusters.

10. Temples Fund established. Sacrificial contributions invited.

11. Seven countries breaking Temple-ground. Every city prelude. From these Dawning-Points peal out anthems of His praise.

The Universal House of Justice

 

“…extraordinary reservoir of spiritual potential available to any illumined soul…”

 

Abbreviations:
5YP – Five Year Plan
SA – Social Action
JYSEP – Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program
SC – Study Circle
CC – Children’s Class
E&C – Expansion and Consolidation

 

 

Categories
- Consultation - Empowerment - Governance - Religion - Three Protagonists Discourse

Summary of August 9th Message

Paragraph#:

1. 10 new Regional Councils (RC’s). 5-Year Plan messages foundation of action and study. Familiarity with dynamics of growth increases with core activities.

2. Dichotomy of neighborhood and centralized children’s classes (CC) transcended. 2 Junior Youth learning sites. Expansion/consolidation primary task of RC’s.

3. RC’s to ensure functioning of Regional Training Institute (RTI) and Area Teaching Committees (ATC). Two perspectives: cycles of activity and educational process.

4. RC to draw on world-wide system of generation and dissemination of knowledge. Relationship with Counsellors significant. Report successes and impediments.

5. Prospects for Junior Youth program especially bright. Transformation in junior youth and rapid development in those accompanied to serve as animators.

6.  Capacity for human resource development needed for sustainable progress in growth of Cause and transformation of society.

7. Intensity and patience are called for organically in accordance with the varying rates of growth in various populations.

8. Refrain from comparisons between differing circumstances. Validity of network teaching versus intense neighborhoods. Guard against inundating fledgling efforts.

9.  Attention to Latin, African, Asian children; now 1 in 4 children. Vibrant sense of community more pronounced. CC’s and JYSEP accelerate community building.

10. NSA to engage in regular consultation with Counsellors on form of scheme of cluster coordination being studied by International Teaching Center.

11. Ramifications for organization of National Center. Decentralization to respond to financial needs at grassroots. Funds for part- and full-time workers.

12. Growth not to revolve around expectations or presence of RC members. Requests for reports or gatherings deferred in response to needs of grassroots.

13. Appreciation of efforts. Ardent supplications on behalf of new RC’s. May Baha’u’llah bless American Baha’i community.

Department of the Secretariat

9 August 2012

Categories
- Consultation - Empowerment - Governance - Human Body - Prevailing Conceptions Discourse Justice

Discourse and Politics: Blood in the Arteries of Governance

Discourse on the following topics has brought these themes to the point of being reconceptualized. Certain foundational principles have emerged and crystallized from ongoing discourse. Principles we now believe in in a new way are:

1) Unity of all Humankind
2) Justice according to the Laws of God for all
3) Knowledge, as the central feature of social existence, the generation of which is prerogative and responsibility of all
4) Power, corrupted by partisanship today, must be revolutionized by the power of cooperation, love, unity, spirituality, selflessness, collective-mindedness, and humility.

The fundamental difference between the governance of the present and the governance of the future will be the values of the governors. Unity of the people will be: 1) an assumption about the nature of their collective trusteeship of the governed. Baha’u’llah writes, “The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My trust.” If the assumption is that all citizens are equal subjects under one government then disadvantages will not be allowed to amass disproportionately in one sector. 2) The self-conception of governance must change to recognizing itself as the greatest champion of justice for all people. Associated with this is 3) the requirement of promotion of language that reflects the selflessness of the speaking party and grounds any and all validity or claim to be heard in the public forum in the collective well-being. Thoughts will be entertained only that aim at the betterment of all people without regard for particularistic interests. And proposals will be entertained only that allocate resources in accordance with what serves the long-term, principled interests of all people. Baha’u’llah addressing the concourse of the rulers of the earth writes “Take ye counsel together, and let your concern be only for that which profiteth mankind and bettereth the condition thereof.”

How can there be different people, with different ways of life and social structures, but all with a binding unity? How are the diverse tissues of a body coordinated to achieve maximum efficiency and prosperity for all? In pursuit of collective unity and prosperity, rulers ought to regard the world as the human body which, though created whole and perfect, now has various social, economic and political imbalances  as a body that has been afflicted with illness and maladies. Selfish, particularistic, or corrupt politicians, of whom partisanship is a subset, are like untrained, uneducated, fake doctors who have pursued their own materialistic desires at the expense of the common weal.  And through the violent and competitive electoral and social system we have created if a well-trained and educated physician did intervene, his influence was limited and interrupted and the recovery remained limited to a small region of the body. Collectively, the unity and prosperity of the human race has not been realized.  “That which the Lord hath ordained as the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of all the world is the union of all its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith.”

This can in no way be achieved except through the power of a skilled, an all-powerful and inspired Physician. Any representation to the contrary is false. The testimony of all history is obvious. Mankind suffers, and selfishness reigns at the level of statesmanship, where selflessness should have flourished decades ago. We must have laws within our discourse against selfish ideology or intentions and we must promote a discourse that glorifies and appreciates educated, thoughtful, proposals that aim for the betterment of all people with no surreptitious corruption or financial motives. We must vote for and uplift those who have demonstrated a history of consistent selfless action, thoughtful planning for universal betterment, and unwavering discipline and justice in the face of tempting expedients. A stricter order of appreciation for the level of selflessness in the ideology of political leaders is necessary. Those with power must support a culture and enact laws that ensure values which promote those with selfless tendencies, and remove those with particularistic or corrupt inclinations.  “It behoveth every ruler to weigh his own being every day in the balance of equity and justice and then to judge between men and counsel them to do that which would direct their steps unto the path of wisdom and understanding. This is the cornerstone of statesmanship and the essence thereof.”

The publication of high thoughts is the dynamic power in the arteries of life; it is the very soul of the world.

Categories
- Consultation - Education - Governance - Language Discourse Justice Knowledge Oneness Power

Can Debate Lead to Truth?

Is it possible that a “debate” leads us, the listeners and watchers, to truth? Can a mode of dialogue such as contestational or confrontational debate assist others and people interested in the issues to discover the truth or learn more about the details of the issues? Does this forum conduce to discovery? Does contest and argument even produce results in truth seeking? Does a public setting of competitive public display uncover and disentangle the intellectual subtleties no doubt at the center of what needs to be appreciated to solve the problem? Do enraged egos before a gaping audience foster intellectual loftiness or merely expedience and aggression in a defensive mind? An audience seeking entertainment on “fight night” pay per view, as they do in the determination of political leadership on important social issues will scarcely be able to disambiguate its destiny out of the darkness of the 21st century. With a priority on violence as a form of entertainment, commercialization of political decision making, combat as the ideal form of intellectual activity – with all this, the result will be a world ruled by slogan-filled celebrities suited better for individual aggrandizement than collective vision and responsible leadership.

What is discovered through debate: Who is most skilled and most motivated to aggrandize himself and to dominate others. When important discussions are framed in terms of winners and losers, its is difficult to see how the goal of leadership is collective accomplishment. What are the losers meant to do after the debate? Respect the opinion of the majority, when so much practice has been given to disrespecting each other, and mocking and hating one’s opponents? If the process that produces political and social leadership is divisive how can the result be collective and universal prosperity? Moreover, how can the winner be responsible for the suffering of the losers, when his entire camp was running on disregard for the opinions and detests the values of 50% of the population? What assurance do we have that the partisan desperation created in the electoral process does not carry over into the legislative and governing process post-election? What is to say that the paralysis of the legislative and judicial machinery, and social and economic unrest, and distrust of the government is not a direct corollary to the contestual and partisan manner in our elections and governance systems? This results in an increasing privatization and individualization of isolated aspirations and life initiatives undertaken by individuals for their private family’s prosperity. Why be committed to a people or a system that feeds on violence and contest? The breakdown of the partisan political system results in breakdown of governance and collective social cohesion itself, at once a symptom and a cause of individualistic forms of materialism, consumerism, and entertainment preoccupations.

If people had a government they loved, a collective community to which they belonged, an ideal worth fighting for, and a prospect that united not divided people’s interests against each other there may be more general will and universal participation in matters of importance to collective well being. Without a collective to believe in, what reason do people have not to pursue their own individual happiness and pleasure in isolation to the collective good? In the absence of a cause worth serving, people find entertainment and pastimes to serve themselves, becoming a shadow of what their inherent potential could have destined them to be. Human being, is a mine rich in gems. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures. Our purpose is that all humans shall be regarded as one soul. If the leaders and politicians of this age would lead the people towards fellowship, love, and unity, everyone would finally experience the pleasure of the highly-coveted true liberty, and within the energy of a free conscience discover the exhilaration born of undisturbed peace and inner composure. Productivity on that day will harness the power of unity for explosive levels of global prosperity. It is inevitable that the earth will one day attain this station. ‘All things have I willed for thee, and thee, too, for thine own sake.’

Categories
- Consultation - Governance Discourse Justice Knowledge

Post-Partisan Politics

Identifying aspects of political discourse that is partisan in nature and to be avoided is challenging and will call for a higher caliber of insight and self-mastery as issues become increasingly engrossing and complex and as noble ideologies arise to prominence within the context of partisan systems. The boundaries may not always be clear, and our understanding of these boundaries in turn may evolve over time as the community synthesizing and advocating noble, selfless, and unifying ideologies 1) learns from the global experience, 2) synthesizes collective learning into tangible guidelines, 3) initiates more radically when responsibilities are low, and then consummates more reservedly as responsibilities and powers grow,  and finally 4) as issues available in the data itself evolve and humanity unitedly breaches new frontiers in the study of phenomena related to modern governance. World conditions change, and as such, engagement in partisan politics must change its off-limits demarcations – always keeping true to the axiom that what promotes unity is best, and any discourse involving combativeness, conflict, or competition, must be eschewed behind. In our struggle to apply our keenest insights into unraveling these boundaries, perhaps some controversial issues will unintentionally be engaged, however, rapid real-time delimitation of what is considered valuable and allowable discussion will suggest itself and can be modified distinctly and quickly, retracting said involvement, and supplanting it with non0involvement – as a policy most conducive to unity. Damage will by this means be minimized and any controversy will be pre-emptively avoided.

Future collective understanding of these boundaries will be able to benefit from the synthesized experience of others who engaged in discourse of a similar learning nature and whose results, quickly synthesized in a globalized learning process, feeds its respective experience of controversial boundaries into a centralized, canalized, web of communication that extends inwardly collecting experience from near and far policy-discussions. Subsequently, dissemination of information regarding which topics, structural arrangements, language insensitivities, particularistic proposals, and bigoted sentiments conduce to public discontent, fueling contention. This information is data that can be synthesized into a guideline for political activists seeking to avoid encroachment on elements that create disunity, constitute partisanship, inadvertently support campaigning, or constitute a breach in voting secrecy. Generation of knowledge takes places through experimentation at city and village centers; the collation of information from localities will proceed inwardly and upwardly toward a world nerve center for synthesis and crystallization of collective experience into a distillate of statistical averages, constructive coincidences, complementary tendencies and identification of strategies of benefit. Finally, recommendations can be formulated by induction, insofar as cultural and contextual considerations allow, for the dissemination and diffusion of guidelines in a retrograde direction, towards diverse cities and hamlets, on a global scale. The process of the generation, application, and diffusion of knowledge therefore has its dawn at the grassroots level, sees its meridian glory emerge in the metropolitan nerve center that synthesizes global experience, and reaps its golden luster in the distant goal lands it warms in the political landscape which undergoes a global re-organization of its structure and re-education of its culture. Knowledge and praxis of political science will be equipped to assist and not invalidate human progress.

We know that we can minimize our mistakes, maximize our systematic learning, and revolutionize structural insufficiency  if we deliberate together on the synthesized global experience, study the resultant guidance, and consult together with unity. So powerful is the light of unity, that it can illuminate the whole earth. The power of fraternity, camaraderie, and prosperity through unity surpasses the light of the sun, and turns earth into a lustrous homeland for a prosperous people. As a species, we learn how to apply knowledge, have faith in the collective, scientific, knowledge-generating and synthesizing process, and ultimately take action informed by such experience and empowered by such loving unity. After one cycle of experimentation, collation, synthesis, recommendation,  application and diffusion – we return to reflect on what we have learned through such action. Please, offer some recommendations that inform the structure of a post-partisan political world. Outcome measures include considerations of practicability, merits and nuances in application, prohibitions and descriptions of internal dynamics. Let us keep in mind the complexity and difficulties that are involved in prosecuting such a charge.

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- Consultation - Governance

Consultation and Governance

The practice of consultation has been a theme of multiple posts on this blog.  It is, obviously, a vital concept for governance, for it is the operating expression of justice in a way that empowers.

As the last post pointed out, a conception of governance that is informed by the principles of Oneness, Justice, and Power that were discussed in the last two posts, and that seeks to exercise a collective trusteeship over an interconnected and unified social body is dependent on effective consultation for collective decision-making.  Society’s current models of dispute and debate, of interest group competition, of “us” and “them” mentalities are entirely inadequate to meet humanity’s challenges in an age of social interdependence.

Consultation, in the setting of governance, needs certain prerequisites.  Those members of institutions must be sincere and systematic in seeking truth; they must be frank and loving when putting forth their views; they must be detached from their words, for once put forth, they belong to the whole group – to be altered, critiqued, discarded, or accepted.  Unity is to be valued above opinions, for it is unity that leads unto truth.  And diverse perspectives must be sought from all individuals, for a multi-faceted reality is illumined more by more insights – the minds of many is preferable to the minds of few.  Their goal must be the well-being of all humanity; their means the application of spiritual principles and a spirit of fellowship with the community in which they serve.  Finally, their mode of operation is a humble posture of learning, in which reflection on decisions made helps constantly improve and refine policies and their implementation.  This reflection is not simply a judgement of “good” or “bad”, but rather, “what did we learn?”.

From these thoughts and from previous posts on consultation:

How can these qualities be nurtured in organizations and in the area of governance?

How can these mature approaches to collective decision-making inform relationships between and among individuals, communities, and institutions?

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- Consultation - Governance - Human Body Justice Oneness

Oneness, Justice, and Governance

As has been a central theme throughout the discussions on this blog, our current stage of human history is defined by global interdependence.  All forms of government and organization that divide one group against another are simply outdated, ineffective, and frankly detrimental.  Progress requires harmony and coordination among and between all levels of society; and thus, the practice of governance – which is an institution that serves to facilitate progress – must be informed by a recognition of humanity’s oneness and interdependence.

The vision of our social body is analogous to the human body, in which diverse elements are integrated together in a unified whole – each achieving well-being through striving for the well-being of the whole, while the well-being of the whole allows the full realization of each parts capacities.  As demonstrated with an organism, organic unity is not uniformity – it is harmony of diversity.  Similar to biological life, diversity is a source of strength, of creativity, of resilience, of productivity, of adaptation, of beauty; and real prosperity will be achieved when all the diverse elements and segments of society contribute towards governance within a unified and integrated framework.

The means to achieve unity is through justice.  The role of a just government, then, is to allow every individual and group the opportunity to build capacity to contribute to the advancement of civilization; as well as to guide collective goals and collective decision-making processes with the aim of the well-being of the whole, and not of one part at the expense of the whole.  This necessitates a consultative approach to governance, to allow for diverse thoughts to become harmonized into unity of action.  Justice is how unity in diversity occurs.

In your daily life, what are some forms of governance and organization that you encounter? 

How are they informed by oneness and justice?  How can they be informed by these concepts?

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Categories
- Consultation - Empowerment - Religion - Science Development Justice Knowledge Oneness Power

Beyond Modernism and Post-Modernism

Historically and currently, the relationship between power and knowledge has been strained and complex, to say the least.  Recently, “modernism” – which has constructed systems of knowledge around truth-claims about social reality – has come into critique by “post-modernism” – that these systems have been created through the operation of privilege and power, resulting in an unjust and inequitable social reality that brings modernism’s remarkable advances to only an elite minority.  Post-modernism, however, has reacted to an extreme position, asserting that all knowledge is grounded in power dynamics, that knowledge is oppression, that no truth-claims are more valid than others.  Instead of a solution, post-modernism has replaced all thought with endless critique.

Perhaps the following premises can help:
1)  Human comprehension is limited, human perspective is diverse, and social reality is complex and multifaceted.
2)  Science and religion, two systems of knowledge and practice, yield partial and tentative, though valid, insights into this reality.
3)  Over time, through a reflective learning process, humanity can judge the relative validity these insights (or truth-claims) against the goal of advancing civilization.

This is a consultative, evolving, and adaptive approach to knowledge.  It can be protected from oppressive uses of power by a) drawing in any and all diverse insights and perspectives, experiences and reflections, and constructive criticism from all people, and b) being guided by spiritual principles such as oneness, justice, interdependence, compassion, honesty, cooperation, etc.

This approach resolves the tension of knowledge and power, currently taking form as the crisis of modernism and post-modernism.  More importantly, it empowers humanity to take charge of its own destiny and the advance of civilization through the generation and application of knowledge.

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- Consultation Knowledge

Reconciling Relativism and Truth

Like all false dichotomies, an approach to knowledge that is either absolutist or relativist is not helpful nor enlightening in efforts to generate and apply knowledge towards the building of a just and prosperous world civilization. A few previous posts have given ways to conceptualize knowledge that demonstrates that a belief in the foundational nature of truth is compatible with a recognition of the relativity of truth.

  1. Truth claims are relative to the diverse perspectives of different facets of the same object of study (reality). Consultation is the method by which human beings collectively advance understandings of our one, interconnected, reality.
  2. Collective understanding of objective truth advances over time – as unity is built, as consultation is employed, as insights from religion and science (humanity’s two systems of knowledge and practice) become more accurate, as vision is sharpened, as methods and approaches are more attuned. Thus, current claims about foundational truth are relative to time and degree of understanding.
  3. Certain foundational truths have a relative latency, in that they are manifest over time either through natural processes or over time through human effort. At any given point, a foundational truth might be less manifest than at a later point, and is thus relatively latent.
  4. Some social realities are built upon foundational truths that are latent relative to human will, and therefore, embody this foundational truth to relative degree. The issue of human rights is a great example: The nobility of man is a foundational truth of reality, which is embodied in some legal and political systems to a relatively higher degree than others. At any given moment, one can claim a system of human rights to be embodying an objective truth to a relative degree.

In the end, this approach to knowledge is an assumption that cannot be empirically validated.  It can be only operationalized; and the fruits it yields over time will be its proof.

Do you prefer this approach to knowledge over the ones currently crippling our academic, economic, medical, legal, and political systems?

How does this understanding of knowledge help free us to generate and apply knowledge towards human betterment?

 

Socially Constructed Foundational Truth

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- Consultation Justice Knowledge

Circle of Participation

This online forum for discourse shares content that is inspired by the Writings of the Bahá’í Faith. Learning how to apply what is written to reality, however, remains a formidable task. In order to accomplish this, capacity must be built in others; individuals, groups and institutions must arise to contribute to the discourse, sharing in action, reflection, and consultation, with a mature spirit of scientific and social discovery, at once dignified and enthusiastic, similarly rigorous and all-inclusive – and never losing site of the all-important fact that knowledge is generated in groups. Shared input and thoughts from various concerns for the betterment of society are needed to unravel complex issues requiring extensive exploration before solutions can be discerned. Any single individual, or even group of individuals, must in time fall short of advancing the frontiers of human learning in any field of importance to service or production, society or politics. No matter how diligent or intelligent this dedicated minority may be, without increasing circles of participation, the total intellectual and experiential reservoir available to solve the world’s increasingly complex and challenging issues will prove insufficient. Justice demands universal participation.

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- Consultation Knowledge

Consultation and Objectivism / Relativism

Previous posts’ discussion on the concept of consultation shed some initial light on transcending the false dichotomy between objectivisim and relativism. Some knowledge has a foundational basis, that has an existence beyond the human mind, and through consultation, we can become increasingly attuned with these truths. However, our understanding will always be relative and incomplete at any given time and with any given group. The object of human study – reality – is complex and multifaceted, and every individual has a limited comprehension and perspective. Thus, the validity of a truth-claim put forth by one group of individuals is relative to the diverse perspectives from which each views the same foundational truth – and with this understanding, one can claim that all truth-claims have equal validity, for they are all relative.

However, to transcend the dichotomy implies that we must become more and more attuned to the actual truth. This necessitates methods of investigating reality that distinguish more attuned truth-claims from mistaken ones; more holistic truth-claims from non-coherent ones; deeper truth-claims from superficial ones. The goal is the process of validating, deepening, and integrating understandings of our one, interconnected, reality.

One such method is consultation. And one significant prerequisite, already discussed in connection with creating a culture of learning, is a posture of humility.

What are your thoughts? With your friends and co-workers, what methods of knowledge-generation do you see that moves beyond objectivism and relativism?

Categories
- Consultation - Empowerment Discourse Human Nature Justice Knowledge

Education: The Driver of Social Transformation

In reference to human potential it has been said, “Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit there from.”
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Education is a fundamental right and duty of every soul. Education allows each person to manifest justice – to be able to see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears. It is by education that we learn to understand the world around us and to articulate the inspiration we find within ourselves. True education is a cause of humility; by it a person learns their finitude and takes up their duty to serve others. In this way, true education bestows wisdom upon an individual. False education serves the ego and cultivates attitudes of superiority and aloofness, and the knowledge acquired is used in improper ways. The acquisition of knowledge should be guided by our twofold moral purpose: developing the latent capacities of an individual, and empowering the individual to carry forward the very lofty task of civilization-building. Without education we are deprived of the powers of thought, articulation, and consultation which allow for the generation of knowledge, it’s application in our lives, and its diffusion to others; without education, we are deprived of fully manifesting our human nature and participating in the central process of social existence.
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Consider the importance of education as a human right and duty, and the role of the denial of education in situations of oppression.

What are the signs of a well-educated person, and by what means have they acquired knowledge? For what do they use knowledge?

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- Consultation Discourse Knowledge Oneness

Truth, Civility, and Consultation Part III

Any minority pursuing development on behalf of the collective foists its values onto, and often disturbs, the very population it purports to serve.  Subsuming collective prosperity to their personal values of progress, and sacrificing the participation and engagement of whole segments of indigenous population, this minority allows little room for feedback from efforts as they are made, learning in action, or real-time adjustments to suit realities in the field. These feedback loops would involve acknowledging those indigenous populations as equals to the developers conducting the development process – empowering them. Maintaining a power dynamic has historically been the priority of the ‘global development’ community. Increasing industrial and technological resources are needed to advance the agenda, implement the plan, and placate an unwilling and unsuited local community. Alone and isolated, a driven minority commits itself to increasing scales of intellectual and technocratic sophistication (personal accomplishments) in pursuance to its commitment to a personal vision of prosperity. Soon, corporate investments are needed to bolster ailing engagements, exploitative incentives are needed to motivate corporate bottom lines, a marriage of convenience between idealism and corporate exploitation seems necessary. Right becomes wrong, success in industrialization becomes justified at all costs, ends justify means, cultural and sociological tragedies of all kinds abound, struggle for power becomes end in itself, idealistic ideology is subordinated to camp warfare for competitive contract bidding, development has become imperialism, idealism has become opportunism, and disunity becomes religion.

We learn from this that communication must be made open, free, and inclusive. Consultation should be recognized as cure to these many difficulties. Discourse must seek out participation and respect for all people and perspectives. Diverse and dissenting views must be admitted. Honest and sincere contributions to the global discourse of human betterment are paramount and singular criteria. Manipulation or insistence on one line of action or reasoning must not be tolerated. Each offered thought belongs to the collective and is not attached to ego or camp. Offered for the collective good, and free from calculation for personal or particularistic advantage or gain, proposals are modified, refined, or discarded based upon consideration of global interest.  Truth in this way becomes a function of politeness and inclusivity as this ensures welcomeness in collective participation. Poise, equanimity, and civility have a mysterious relationship with truth. Politeness, dignity, and selflessness maintain the relevance of any one individual to the collective decision making, truth discovering, and knowledge generating process.

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- Consultation - Empowerment - Three Protagonists Knowledge

Global Learning

A culture of learning that operates through study, consultation, action, and reflection, depends on empowerment and capacity building on the level of both the individual and the institutions of society.

Individually, all are responsible to participate in the generation and application of knowledge according to each’s unique talents and capacities.  Contrasted to current society’s depiction of education and learning as a filling information into the empty minds of passive recipients, a culture of learning recognizes the innate capacities of creativity, insight, and intelligence of all individuals.  Opportunities must be created to develop these latent capacities towards the end of generating and applying knowledge for the betterment of the world.

Institutional capacity must also be developed – both creating systems which foster the empowerment of individuals through manifesting their latent capacities of knowledge generation, as well as  consolidating, integrating, and diffusing generated knowledge.  Learning is a collective enterprise, as consultation thrives on diverse perspectives and views from many individuals.  Thus, not only does the role of institutions becomes the empowerment of all to contribute to learning, but to distill and synthesize knowledge generated from diverse settings and contexts.  Knowledge propels the advance of civilization – the goal being a world civilization.  Knowledge, therefore, has a global dimension, and institutions must discern universal patterns from local insights.  Of particular significance is the impact these concepts have on the educational systems of the world.  They need to be concerned with empowering students to be active participants in a process of generating and applying knowledge – not receptacles of others’ learning; and they need to compare knowledge from diverse contexts, identify patterns, and disseminate learning.  In these ways will institutions be empowered themselves to guide a global collective learning process towards building a world civilization.

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- Consultation Discourse Knowledge Oneness

Truth, Civility, and Consultation Part II

The history of philanthropic movements recounts many instances of people who believe in noble ideals and strive to fulfill their vision of what they think the world ought to look like. One may reasonably ask however, whether what they considered ideal could actually truly be considered a reliable pattern for prosperous order without incorporating the vision and experiences of the people needing ‘development’. Notwithstanding, ‘global developers’ implanted systems of industrial and economic production based on north american models and experience indiscriminately.

The twentieth century saw the collapse of this worldview; its ideals sagged under mounting historical evidence. Development seemed to be struggling as an ideal. Extensive efforts in line with the corrupt core of ideals it cherished met only with results to the contrary. Exacerbated stand all parameters and indices of the severity and profundity of social and economic pathology – 50 years and countless billions of dollars into the movement later.  The undoing of the nuclear family extended into previously untouched rural outreaches, the unprecedented brutality and depravity of criminality, the normalcy of dysfunction at the level of educational systems. The tragic fate of socio-economic development as a western export has eradicated in the global psyche the once-cherished hope that idealistic motives and material resources can correct the problems of planetary civilization. After D-Day and Hiroshima an age of globalization ushered in the consciousness of human interconnectedness and the nobility of co-existent constructiveness. Development emerged as the single most exorbitant and grandiose collective idealism manifest in corporate investment and political discourse to which the human race has ever turned its attention.

Its idealistic naiveté matched its financial and technological investment. Far from narrowing the gap between the minority that enjoys the benefits of western modernization and the vast majority of members of the human family mired in hopeless privation – ironically, the movement towards development that once boasted high hopes has seen the gap widen into an abyss. By its own standards the movement must be judged a disheartening failure, if not a direct contributor to our current predicament.

 

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- Consultation Discourse Knowledge Oneness

Truth, Civility, and Consultation Part I

Unity and Truth are closely related. If two people argue about a matter both are wrong about it. Prevalent assumptions hold that truth can be known and should be sought by individuals.

Alternate epistemologies hold that truth should really be pursued as a collective, as a community, or in a social setting. This view maintains that truth can be discovered and investigated most effectively through loving and inclusive consultation, within increasing circles of participation. In this way, unity becomes the prerequisite of knowledge; Truth emerges through a combination of diverse perspectives and experiences. Unified groups and loving communities foster an environment in which shared needs come to the fore of the discussion, common sentiments are given voice, and universal solutions are propounded. United consultation acts as a conduit for collective understanding, it brings all members of the community into connection with others’ needs, creates collective vision, gives a sense of power over what is to be done, and inspires people to act on behalf of the common weal. Furthermore, unified discussion enriches and spreads widely the details and intricate workings of community infrastructure and with swiftness spreads the understanding of the problem, the parameters of shared resources, and suggests effectively the proposals of collective response. Great swiftness and ease characterize consultative approaches to problem solving. The emergence of a collective mind to accompany a community’s spirit becomes natural.

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- Consultation Discourse Knowledge

Study, Consultation, Action, Reflection

An approach to the generation and application of knowledge within a learning mode occurs through a process of study, consultation, action, and reflection.

Science and religion are the two systems of knowledge and practice that strive to describe reality, and are studied in an ongoing and systematic manner, with humility and with the understanding of their complementarity. This study is undertaken for the purpose of informing action, to apply insights generated.

As reality is multifaceted and complex, and every individual has a unique perspective on some aspect of reality as an object of study, then consultation is the method by which a more accurate depiction of reality can be created. For consultation to be effective, the individuals participating must have purity of motive, humility, truthfulness, patience, and detachment. In an atmosphere of openness, mutual respect, and commitment to truth, individuals can exchange diverse views on reality, offering them to be critically and frankly examined, in a dispassionate and courteous way. The more individuals that contribute perspectives, the more facets of this highly complex reality will be illuminated.

Tentative insights into reality, through study and consultation, must be tested against reality for learning to advance. A goal and purpose of study and consultation is action – in particular to not only effect individual and collective transformation, but to learn about it. Thus, action in a learning mode must be unified and accommodate diversity, must reconceptualize mistakes as opportunities for growth, must aim to build capacity in all participates to become protagonists of learning.

For learning to actually take place, reflection on action is essential in order to analyze observations, modify conceptions previously held, and adjust subsequent action. This is both an individual and a collective endeavor – individually, realizing one’s capacities and how best to manifest them; collectively, as just with consultation, each person’s diverse views can provide a unique perspective.

Study, consultation, action, and reflection are interwoven aspects of a single coherence process of learning.

What are your reflections on reflection itself?

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- Consultation Discourse Justice Knowledge

Justice and Discourse, Part II

Both extremes are to be completely avoided; the first of accepting everything one reads – this is the state of being an easy prey to eloquence and dazzling and elaborate presentations of those who pretend to know or actually are recognized as world-renowned experts in a given field. The second is to criticize continually and instinctively everything that contradicts one’s own views or ways of phrasing or thinking about certain concepts than what one already has narrowly defined for one’s own self. Rejecting everything new is wisdom for turtles. Women and men of genus homo and species sapien are rich, confident and capable of considering something new, grasping its fundamentals and novelty, and disseminating and applying  new insights and knowledge to various tasks of human endeavor. The extremes mentioned above are in connection with Justice as it exists in application to the endeavor known as discourse – the present undertaking of the current forum you, the reader and we, the contributors, are taking part in. Neither of these extremes is in accordance with the principles of justice as accepted in our discourse.

We wish to demonstrate how subtle and profound the discussion of justice can be and how much there is to learn from theories such as the ones elaborated by the contributors and commentators. We also hope to demonstrate how numerous truths are lost when one insists on keeping references to God and Revelation out of the discussion of justice. Our avowed aim in discourse is to be concerned with the advancement of humankind towards a novel world civilization.  However important an open and sincere consultative process is here, regarding justice and other foundational concepts of our dialogue, such a discourse will not produce answers to the worlds problems if its is limited to material reality and consideration of within materialistic presuppositions and reductions. We wish to avoid the anathematic posture of  Western secular thought towards transcendental, evolutionary, and teleological interpretations of reality, drawing upon aspects of human consciousness capable of experiencing and knowing spiritual reality. For the vast majority of the world’s inhabitants it is consciously, culturally and empirically self-evident that human nature and human civilization with its rituals and kindness, schooling and organization, indeed all of reality, including the beauty of the natural world and the mystery of evolutionary origin – for these reasons and for most of the worlds (unspoken for) population: reality is fundamentally spiritual.  If discourse is to be relevant to the needs of humanity in this day, it must consider the concept of the spiritual reality of humankind as the pivot of its interactions, consultations, and deliberations. We aim as part of this discourse to demonstrate how reflecting on the Writings and ideas of certain powerful social thinkers as well as guided or Revealed truth and spiritual meditations will teach us to avoid the two extremes mentioned in the previous paragraph.

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- Consultation Discourse Justice Knowledge

Discourse and Justice, Part I

As a community of discourse we need to ensure that we develop the ability to read and examine other people’s views and thoughts on a given subject with fairness. This does not mean that we never reach conclusions or continuously consider new or erroneous explanations without an end in sight, but that we believe the truth exists as a conglomerate of all valid vantage points, in which the different perspectives of many hearts lend insight into the many facets of reality, complex and intricate as it is. To a large extent, the problems in the world today testify to how much we have neglected to consult as a global community on issues of communal concern, neglecting and marginalizing the views and experience of those most affected by our policies and decisions. Ironically the best conclusions, the authors believe, can only be reached when all sides have weighed in and proper consultation is allowed to cement the various view points in an understanding that leads to valid and worthwhile action.  Justice requires that multiple views be incorporated into an understanding of a multi-faceted reality. This is our destiny, in spiritual maturity, institutional structure, and social force of habit.

There are two extreme positions that we have noticed in characterizing public involvement in the discourses of society. When new comers come to the table of discourse on issues related to development, unity, science and its relationship with religion, peaceful resolution to international conflict, malnutrition, disease and poverty, we find that there is a tendency to fall into one or the other extreme position alleviating the difficult burden of studying the discourse at hand to familiarize oneself with its intricate and challenging substance. These are difficult questions and to be presumptuous about how long it will take for discourse to yield fruit on any issue, does no one any good. Patience is an indispensable ally. Humbleness is a must. And a willingness to learn and study, and never be arrogant in the face of new data, facts or even concepts is a whole life’s worth of challenge and success.