Categories
- Governance Justice Oneness

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Post-Election Talk

Two weeks ago, the United States once again had a presidential election, its 58th in an uninterrupted series held every four years since George Washington, predictably to occur in yet another four years.

 

During the 1912 presidential election, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá – Center of the Covenant of the Bahá’í Faith and Son of Bahá’u’lláh – had been visiting America. (Click here for this blog’s post from four years ago.)  He had been raised and lived most of His life as a prisoner and exile under two oppressive and corrupt dictatorial regimes, and had recently been freed as a result of the Young Turk Revolution of 1908 that brought partisan politics to a then-Sultanate Empire.  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá longed to travel to the democratic America, which was counseled years earlier by Bahá’u’lláh to adorn its land with justice. 

 

The day after the 1912 presidential election, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá happened to be in Washington DC, and gave a series of 10 publicly recorded talks over 5 days before heading off to New York. 

 

His first post-election talk – Wednesday, November 6th, 1912 – included a number of points, on liberty, on brotherhood, on the capacity of America, some of which are below.

 

He mentions the “freedom, hospitality and universal welcome extended to me during my recent travels throughout America” and then speaks of liberty:

The standard of liberty is held aloft in this land. You enjoy political liberty; you enjoy liberty of thought and speech, religious liberty, racial and personal liberty.”

 

Liberty and liberalism, though, He defines as “justness and equity toward all nations and people”, not merely as childish unfettered freedom.  Ensuring justice and equity sometimes requires a constraint on freedom as it is traditionally conceptualized.  

 

Brotherhood, or fraternity, is His next topic.  He speaks of different kinds: family bonds, patriotism, racial unity, and altruistic love of humankind.  These are all limited and liable to change and disruption, as we have witnessed over and over throughout history and in this country.  A spiritual brotherhood, on the other hand, will result in an indissoluble unity.  “We may be able to realize some degrees of fraternity through other motives, but these are limited associations and subject to change. When human brotherhood is founded upon the Holy Spirit, it is eternal, changeless, unlimited.”

 

In various parts of the world, this brotherhood and love had seemed to disappear; ‘Abdu’l-Bahá mentioned the Balkan Wars of 1912 and the turmoil in the Middle East.  Yet, “The world of humanity is one, and God is equally kind to all” He asserts, and the “source of unkindness and hatred in the human world” is division, citing examples of war and greed. 

 

He goes on,

As to the American people: This noble nation, intelligent, thoughtful, reflective, is not impelled by motives of territorial aggrandizement and lust for dominion. Its boundaries are insular and geographically separated from the other nations. Here we find a oneness of interest and unity of national policy. These are, indeed, United States. Therefore, this nation possesses the capacity and capability for holding aloft the banner of international peace. May this noble people be the cause of unifying humanity. May they spread broadcast the heavenly civilization and illumination, become the cause of the diffusion of the love of God, proclaim the solidarity of mankind and be the cause of the guidance of the human race. Therefore, I ask that you will give this all-important question your most serious consideration and efforts. May the world of humanity find peace and composure and this dark earth be transformed into a realm of radiance. May the East and West clasp hands together. May the oneness of God become reflected and fully revealed in the hearts of humanity and all mankind prove to be the manifestations of the favors of God.

 

Yet, it is not naïve utopia is that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is promoting.  He acknowledges that “Necessarily there will be some who are defective amongst men”.  His remedy, however, is based on the principles of love and unity, never admitting an “us and them” disunity; rather, He continues, “but it is our duty to enable them by kind methods of guidance and teaching to become perfected.”  Diversity implies a relative spectrum, meaning some will be on the right, some of the left, some further ahead, some behind, in any given measure.  The solution is not to cast one group aside in favor of another, but to help each group, knowing that we are all interconnected and, in the end, united and one.  He writes,

Others are immature and like children; they must be trained and educated so that they may become wise and mature. Those who are asleep must be awakened; the indifferent must become mindful and attentive. But all this must be accomplished in the spirit of kindness and love and not by strife, antagonism nor in a spirit of hostility and hatred, for this is contrary to the good pleasure of God. That which is acceptable in the sight of God is love. Love is, in reality, the first effulgence of Divinity and the greatest splendor of God.”

 

Finally, He ends with a prayer that is well-known to many Bahá’ís: “O Thou compassionate Lord, Thou Who art generous and able! We are servants of Thine sheltered beneath Thy providence. Cast Thy glance of favor upon us. Give light to our eyes, hearing to our ears, and understanding and love to our hearts. Render our souls joyous and happy through Thy glad tidings. O Lord! Point out to us the pathway of Thy kingdom and resuscitate all of us through the breaths of the Holy Spirit. Bestow upon us life everlasting and confer upon us never-ending honor. Unify mankind and illumine the world of humanity. May we all follow Thy pathway, long for Thy good pleasure and seek the mysteries of Thy kingdom. O God! Unite us and connect our hearts with Thine indissoluble bond. Verily, Thou art the Giver, Thou art the Kind One and Thou art the Almighty.”

 

 

 

‘Abdu’l-Bahá understood the capacity of the American people.  Just because we aren’t demonstrating that potential now, does not mean that it doesn’t exist.  Maturity is hard work, falling back into habits of childhood is the easy way out.  It requires effort and determination to release capacity, yet it is as inevitable as a tree releasing its capacity to bear fruit.   The question for everyone reading is: what type of gardeners are we going to be to the orchard of America? 

 

For the rest of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s post-election DC talks, and the rest of His talks throughout America, please see The Promulgation of Universal Peace.

 

 

 

 

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Categories
- Empowerment - Primary Care - Three Protagonists Discourse Health Care Human Nature Knowledge Social Action

Re-Birth of the Clinic

Humanity is on the threshold of the crowning stage in its evolutionary history – its collective maturity, characterized by a unification of the entire human race, manifest through a new world civilization which has achieved a dynamic coherence between the material and spiritual aspects of existence.

Who are the ones that are to bring about humanity’s vast transformation? All individuals.  Since all individuals are part of humanity. In addition to individuals, there are two other protagonists that will share in the advancement of civilization – the institutions and the community.

 

How does this civilization advance? Through the empowerment of its three protagonists.

 

And empowerment?  Through the generation of knowledge.

 

Knowledge is a potent force propelling the advancement of civilization. “What appears to be called for in any given region, microregion or cluster is the involvement of a growing number of people in a collective process of learning, one which is focused on the nature and dynamics of a path that conduces to the material and spiritual progress of their villages or neighbourhoods. Such a process would allow its participants to engage in the generation, application, and diffusion of knowledge, a most potent and indispensable force in the advancement of civilization.”

 

Access to knowledge is the right of every human being, and participation in its generation, application and diffusion a responsibility that all must shoulder in the great enterprise of building a prosperous world civilization—each individual according to his or her talents and abilities.”
The generation and application of knowledge, part of this collective process of learning, takes place in the context of three broad areas of endeavor –community-building drawing upon spiritual principles; social action; and participation in social discourse.

 

What ensures coherence between and among these three areas of endeavor is the process of systematic learning that occurs throughout.

 

*****

 

The clinic is a place in which individuals are already engaged in some sort of institutionalized discourse on human nature – albeit material in nature only.  The clinic is a place in which a certain type of social action already takes place – albeit from one group directed at another.  The clinic is a place in which a community comes together and forms a certain version of identity – albeit, a secondary identity at best.

 

The three broad endeavors are already present – yet, they are stuck in the patterns of the old world.

The three protagonists are all interacting – yet, they are stuck in modes of the old world.

It has potential.  It needs to be spiritualized.

 

 

Let us no longer allow the clinic to join ranks with the pulpit and the classroom and the newsstands and the market, and fall prey to society’s oppressive tendencies – dispensing knowledge and prescriptions to a passive recipient; fragmenting community life into walled-off exam rooms; restricting otherwise naturally-occurring spiritual conversations to material aspects of reality; and robbing people of their true identity as active agents of civilization-building, replacing it with the identity of some chronic disease.  Rather, let us re-conceptualize it as a place of empowerment.  Patients, physicians, family members, can all participate in a descriptive process of the generation, application, and diffusion of knowledge, each contributing to the building of a community concerned about the welfare of people within and beyond its borders, about their physical and spiritual well-being, and engaging in a discourse on the elements of a healthy society – spiritual, physical, intellectual.

 

 

THE CLINIC: An institution of society, animated by noble individuals, that operates within a community; where learning can be generated on the interaction of these three protagonists in all three endeavors, contributing towards the creation of a new world civilization.

 

 

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Categories
- Governance - Oppression Development Discourse Justice Oneness

Globalization: Good or Bad?

Friends, listen up. The end of the 20th century discloses to the eyes of humanity a vista of stupendous opportunities and grave perils. Allow me to explain. Some of the more striking phenomena are those associated with globalization, a designation that arouses strong emotions and lends itself to a variety of interpretations. But here is the truth. There is no doubt — and this is true irrespective of one’s views on the subject — that the forces of globalization have set the nations of the world on a new and irreversible course. There is no going back. We’ve passed the point of no return. Economic activity, political structures, and culture are all undergoing profound change. This is not our parent’s world any longer. A global society is being born as barriers that have kept peoples apart crumble and are swept away. Planetary civilization beckons. The transformation is made possible by accelerated technological advance, an early fruit of which is a mode of communication transcending national boundaries and operating at staggering speed. For example, the internet. However thrilling future prospects may be, present patterns of behavior do not inspire confidence in the process. People are critical about the role western governments and corporations have played on the global stage. It is only natural to wonder whether globalization will, in fact, unify the human race without imposing uniformity or simply propel the universalization of the culture of consumerism. Skeptics say globalization involves exporting materialistic values, consumer propaganda, and economic hegemony from the west. Can globalization really be the bearer of prosperity for the masses or the mere expression of the economic interests of a privileged few? Will it lead to the establishment of a just order or the consolidation of existing structures of power? Share your opinions below!

Globalization

 

Categories
- Religion - Three Protagonists Expansion & Consolidation Justice Social Action

Ridvan 2014 Message Summary

Paragraph#:

To the Baha’is of the World

1 – 3 years down. 2 to go. 2 Movements reinforced by youth conferences. 2000 Programs of growth (PG) remain of the goal.

2 – 3000 PG’s. Many simple lines of action; some intensified pitch; educational quality attracts participants. Momentum regained with searching consultation into lulls. Scope and complexity commensurate to supportive environment. 100′s serving thousands. Underlying vision discernible with large numbers.

3 – Expanding conversation amongst 10,000 locals on Vanuatu’s Mashriqu’l-Adhkár extension of training institute. Chief’s support junior youth groups which galvanize all age groups through practical service projects. The Local Spiritual Assembly gives guidance and resolution with wisdom and sensitivity against a backdrop of Expansion and Consolidation (E&C) when the other elements of the Plan are coherently combined. House of Worship captures imaginations.

4 – Counterpart in reflection on action, consultation, study, and action in numerous advanced clusters.

5 – Local capacity for learning fosters progress. Dynamic clusters identify what is required and create ways to achieve it. Rigid formulae cannot be extrapolated as circumstances are all unique, each contributing to collective learning. Beyond “success and failure” that breed freneticism or paralysis. Detachment: Effort is for God.

6 – If we exert an effort, heavenly aid will be vouchsafed. Entreat in the shrines on our behalf. Call to Action. Tear the veils assunder, point out the path of Salvation.

signed: THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

“There is much here to indicate that, when the elements of the Plan’s framework for action are combined into a coherent whole, the impact on a population can be profound.” 

Universal House of Justice - Main Hall

Categories
- Education - Empowerment - Governance - Oppression - Orthopaedic Surgery - Prevailing Conceptions - Religion - Science - Three Protagonists Development Discourse Health Care Human Nature Justice Knowledge Oneness Power

Artificial Scarcity & The Baha’i Faith

The Problem

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ARTIFICIAL SCARCITY is a term used to describe the condition in which masses of people are deprived of their bare necessities, while wealth, resources, and infrastructure exist in sufficient proportion to provide for all. The amount of wealth and scientific technology available to humanity in the 21st century is more than at any previous time in human history. So why are the following statistics still true?
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-There are 1 billion children living in poverty today.  
-Twenty-two thousand children die each day from hunger/malnutrition.
-Two point two million children die from preventable illnesses annually, due to lack of immunization.
-120 million children are not in any school (60% of these are girls).
-Over 1 billion people lack access to clean water (millions of women spend hours each day collecting water).
-Two billion people lack basic sanitation.
-One billion people are illiterate.
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To put these statistics in perspective: it would take less than what the United States spends annually on dog food to solve any one of these global tragedies. Alternatively, it would take less than a tenth of 1% of what the US government spends on the military annually to do the same. 
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Scarcity & Modernity

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So with the increase in scientific technology and global wealth production, why is the number of people under poverty increasing, not decreasing? Humanity is richer and more technologically advanced than ever before, and yet the scale of suffering, and its proportion as a factor of global population is increasing. With the aid of science, agriculture industries produce more food than the entire species needs to survive, but hunger still persists. Millions of people die from preventable disease, for which vaccine immunizations have already been invented. The internet makes knowledge universally accessible, but education is still not universal. 
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Privation is a condition being exacerbated by modernity, not alleviated by it, despite an ironic time-warp advance in agricultural technology and global productivity in the 20th cenntury. A complex result of international disunity, outmoded economic theories, cultural slogans, corporate and government exploitation of indigenous peoples, and squandering of natural resources, has artificially imposed scarcity as a defining feature of modern civilization, crippling the abundance and global prosperity of human civilization that is its natural state, by orders of magnitude.
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It’s Origin

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A particular conception of human nature which is implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, promoted in popular narratives can be traced back and identified as the Archimedian point from which the lever of human history pivoted in the trajectory of artificial scarcity . With the post-dark ages rise of the state-type known as ‘western democracy’, an implicit claim of superiority regarding its cultural values, was exported along with its plastic goods, fast food corporations, and sexualized media. Economic hegemony of the globe implied at least three metaphysical presuppositions, to a world fixated on materialism as its religion and new standard of truth. Understood to be the basis upon which western prosperity was ostensibly achieved, three assumptions stood out about human nature.
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Human Nature is:
1) Material
2) Individualistic
3) Competitive
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We are learning that human nature is not material but spiritual, not individualistic but communal, and not competitive but cooperative.
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Science Devoid of Religion

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Much of science is only acknowledged as true science until such time as it is disproven to be the fancies of personal bias amongst the elite who control thought in ways that benefit them through mechanisms of power: private and public grant funding, editors of academic journals, television and internet news media moguls, and industry-sponsored misinformation. A classic example is the transition from Newtonian to Modern Physics, the ecstatic character of which resembles mass religious conversion, more than the sterile stereotype of science fancied in popular imagination (See Kuhn, On the Structure of Scientific Revolutions). In orthopaedic surgery, the controversy over research on drugs like rhBMP-2, procedures like kypho- and vertebroplasty, and implanting of metal-on-metal hip prostheses, bear similar semblance to the effect of profit-motive over elite decision makers who lampoon their whims downhill as the edicts of gods from Mount ‘Science’, only to realize in retrospect a lesson which humility could have taught prior to the the cost in human life and morbidity. It is not science, but hubris that is to be blamed. 
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Likewise, the  three assumptions of human nature popularized implicitly by materialism’s gospel of human betterment which was successfully exported along with US lifestyle’s addiction to instant gratification (salt, fat, sugar, sex, violence, and drugs), purported to be scientific as well. Again, not because of evidence, but because of arrogance.
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The Science of Economics

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The science of economics, taught in every school, has led humanity down a dark path,  because it is based on a flawed conception of human nature. According to the fathers of modern economic theory, which still holds sway in dominant market spheres today, actors in the marketplace can be characterized according to the following three principles. 
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1) Human actors express unlimited material wants
2) The quantity of  desirable resources and wealth is limited and finite
3) Markets operate in an efficient manner
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Principle one states that human beings are rationally self-interested actors in pursuit of maximizing hedonistic pursuit of insatiable material pleasure. Here, both self-interest and a materialistic conception of human nature are presupposed implicitly in the premise. Principle two states that resources and opportunities are limited. In the case of natural resources for example it holds them, implicitly to be non-renewable (viz a vis. fossil fuels but not solar power)  and in the case of educational opportunities (university admissions but not online courses, open-source code, Ruhi classes, or grass roots distance education) and employment opportunities (trickle down theory and not regulated, responsible, socially just policies). As such, it presupposes them to be scarce and insufficient. Principle three states that consumers will purchase good products more frequently than inferior products and as a result of Laissez-faire natural selection producers of poor products will fall out of business, leaving an increasingly superior quality of product available for sale in the marketplace (ignoring the effect of advertising, which is one of the biggest investments of corporate producers, designed explicitly to undermine rational self-interest and persuade consumers to purchase things that are not to their benefit. Also, ignoring negative externalities which lie beyond the purview of market actors, and are having a devastating effect on human society, viz a vis green-house induced climate change.)  Value ought to be determined by a commodity’s worth to human society, as opposed to its price, which in modern economic theory is left unregulated as the equilibrium point between supply and demand. To drive up price, supply is intentionally limited by providers, even in the case of necessities, to maximize their profit margin. As worth is divorced from price so to is universal prosperity impoverished by income inequality.
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Reform in Retrospect

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These “scientific” principles are more selfish, egocentric, philosophical beliefs, that are essentially metaphysical in character, with no amenability to scientific inquiry. More like Machiavellian or Nietzschean claims of human nature than empirical science. It should evoke the question in us all, “why has metaphysical speculation, personal conjectures, and supernatural philosophy been allowed to pass as science?” It makes science seem like prejudice, superstition, and ignorance, especially those branches of science that endorse these claims about human nature. The twilight of this conception of human nature is at hand, giving way under mounting evidence of success in ethical-collective-cooperative business models, but not before its effects had been baptized into law, dogmatized as inviolate, and employed in not only academic exercises, but also in application to global market operations, Geopolitical relations, ownership of natural resources, and even in the domestic policy arising in the wake of civil rights and social justice struggles.
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Notwithstanding this, the most tragic victim of the material-individualistic-competitive conception of human nature is the education system. The fundamental principles of pedagogy upon which K-12 and university models of education have been adopted endorse a zero-sum grading curve, in which the success of one student necessitates the failure of his classmates, interpersonal competition fostered for internal class ranks, extinguishing creativity through emphasis on standardized testing, and social hierarchies that rarely relate to inherent talent but more often reflect access to opportunities family finances that enable credentialing like MD and PhD, exclusively and artificially maintained, through insurmountable tuition barriers.
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Artificial Scarcity of Education

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How did the esotericization of knowledge come to replace what is the birthright of all humankind — universal education? The esotericization of knowledge is the single most grievous victim of the economic system that birthed artificial scarcity. Baha’u’llah writes, “What “oppression” is more grievous than that a soul seeking… knowledge…should know not where to go for it?” Knowledge has been artificially controlled by barriers to its generation, application, and diffusion. Barriers that include cultural myths about who has access to it, economic barriers about who can afford it, and popular barriers about what its usefulness and application can be. Furthermore, education suffers from internal corruption regarding its generation, and what kinds of subjects are investigated, reported and applied that are of specialized interest to wealthy urban technocrats and irrelevant to the majority of people.
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The internet and cyberspace has created the possibility of exploding knowledge at unprecedented rates across millions of miles to peoples and lands who would otherwise never be able to communicate. Tuition is used to keep people out of universities, while the curriculum is already online wholesale. Exorbitant tuitions purchase for the student only the numeric digits of the password to access gigabytes of lectures and audio-visual material that is already uploaded online. This material could be used to teach graduate curricula in every shack or shanty town with a wifi connection accross the villages and urban sprawls of Africa and Latin America. False scales of prestige are perpetuated by cultural narratives originating in the enlightenment by which knowledge is conserved as the elite purview of credentialed experts (MD, PhD, etc.) by which masses are excluded from contributing to knowledge, but also from participating in its application to their own life situations. In this way a passive, recipient class is created which depends upon the knowledge and expertise of gatekeepers, prior to their own use of knowledge to advance towards prosperity. The inherent potential, volition, and talent of the masses is subjugated and destroyed in exchange for the experts to acquire their profits.
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Disempowerment is profitable to the few. Yet prosperity for all demands that we enact the democratization of knowledge, revolutionizing the systems of pedagogy using modern day technology to achieve relevant and participatory education for all.
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Applicability of Curricula

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The content of research and educational curricula are set by intellectuals who are ironically distant from the life of the masses from which the most important questions of our generation arise. Academic content  is determined by individuals and systems with priorities alien to the communities and realities of the majority of people. Graduate curricula and research agendas are as irrelevant to the issues of privation and prosperity as they are to industry needs of employment markets. The education-to-employment market mismatch is an oversight which is staggering even from a materialist point of view. An unprecedented proportion of college graduates are working unskilled minimum wage jobs. The corporatization of the university has metastasized and is stealing nutrients from its parent-cancer, the broader unregulated capitalization of civilization. This is the nature of self-interest — it splinters until the tinniest atoms of existence are at war with each other.
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Culture of Contest

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Artificial scarcity squanders human and natural resources through conflict that is the result of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The narrative is sold that opportunities are scarce and competition between individuals needed to determine who deserves opportunity — inculcating a culture of contest, prescriptively. Similarly, this same logic is used to make economic decisions regarding the structural supply of goods and services in the form of policy and infrastructure that creates opportunity and education. The prevalent discourse about what is considered valuable opportunities for the actualization of human potential is likewise prescribed via education by the beneficiaries of a pacified and obedient labor force. As such, both the social structure and the minds of social actors, individuals and institutions, is handicapped in the reductionism of the prison of the scarcity mindset. A self-reinforcing cycle of human consciousness and social structures is established in which privation and inter-personal conflict are regarded as natural. Slowly, what should be a reprehensible externality is transmuted into a fact to be embraced by those functioning most virtuously within the system. Before any evil decision-making has entered, injustice is already prevalent, and no one is to blame.
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Consumerism as Opiate

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The material-individual-competitive conception of human nature exported by an imperialistic consumer culture has built scarcity into the economic paradigm as a means of maximizing profits but not prosperity for the world order. For the growing number of the oppressed, their economic situation is resembling more and more the feudal relationship that characterized wealthy land-owners and peasant farmers in medieval Europe. Instead of military force to induce compliance, the modern masters of social and economic control employ subtle mechanisms of consumerism and entertainment which act as opium to the human soul, lulling a satisfied and docile slave labor class into generational obedience. Myths of opportunity and the american dream maintain people in the belief that suffering and privation result from the failure of individuals and not from the nature of the socioeconomic system.Workplace specialization and a growing climate of worker insecurity drive laborers to increasingly monotonous occupations that necessitate increasing quantities of nightlife entertainment to cure and assuage the destruction of their God-given potential. Exploiting the bodies of the masses, unjust labor wages drain biological treasure, while consumerism and entertainment exploit financially, reabsorbing monetary treasure back into the system. In simple terms, the feudal lord owns the adjacent beer-hall, in which the peasants squander their family’s livelihood on substance addiction each pay-day. Like all opiates, tolerance to even the highest doses becomes inevitable. Income inequality and mass privation of an increasingly employed and impoverished majority cannot but lead to instability and a breakdown of law and order. As riches are increasingly concentrated in the hands of an elite minority, receptivity to alternative social orders grows amongst the populace.  Only those who question, and are attune to the searing of the Undying Flame of the Baha’i Revelation are awakening to alternative worlds.
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Market-Share Vs. Pie-Size

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Re-conceptualizing human nature as spiritual-communal-cooperative allows a transition from emphasizing an individual’s or business’s market-share as a proportion of profits, to emphasizing the total size of the pie available to everyone. Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith writes, “the advantage of the part is best to be reached by the advantage of the whole.” This revolution in economic theory and social policy implies a profound change at the level of culture, both as individuals and communities, and at the level of social structure and institutions. Unlike the pseudo-science of modern economics, a growing body of evidence is showing that when each individual or group works to further the productivity and usefulness of the entire market (ie: pie-size), it may entail that the group’s particular market-share decreases as a proportion, but notwithstanding this, their particular allotment actually increases in terms of its absolute quantity. This evidence flies in the face of the zero-sum conception of reality in which competitive and self-interested systems inculcate scarcity as a natural outgrowth of the economic paradigm. Ironically, selflessness conduces to prosperity. According to the Baha’i conception, scarcity is an aberration. The reality of the universe is abundance.
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De Beers is a well known manipulator of diamond supply (via its leverage over a majority of global diamond mines) to fix prices at a high level.
diamonds
Categories
- Education Human Nature Justice Oneness

The Midnight Sighing…

A continuation of a conversation on Facebook, prompted by the quotation below, in which thoughts about these two links were asked…

www.usdebtclock.org – US National Debt Clock
xkcd.com/980/huge/ – xkcd: Money Chart

 

“Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor…”

One thing to remember is that money is simply a social construct that represents good and services, and the social value placed on these goods and services. In fact, economics as a whole is the systemization of values.

What the US National Debt Clock indicates to me is that there is a grossly unjust correspondence between useful and beneficial input of goods and services into society and output. For instance, the third largest budget item is on “defense/war” – this economic investment does not increase prosperity; in fact, building B2 bombers (represented in the xkcd chart in the bottom-right hand corner of the millions box) is not a constructive and beneficial use of funds. The cheaper alternative is to not war. Another example, which costs a bit more than the “defense/war” budget item is “credit card debt”. Again, this doesn’t input anything useful into society. Charging an individual to borrow money that they do not have does not create systemic prosperity – the more economical alternative is to create a culture of education that facilitates sound long-term economic planning at the level of the individual and community. How can we fund a legitimate need, like health care – an investment that will surely produce fruits (for healthy human beings contribute to societal well-being) – when we are, instead, funding fruitlessness?

The xkcd Money Chart is brilliant. At a certain level, it is a chart of values (the same way that the Manhattan skyscraper profile is a map of the depth and strength of its underlying bedrock). Money is simply the unit used to indicate this value. The wealth of the 1,200 richest people is roughly a bit more than the annual spending of the United States. US spending on nuclear arms during the cold war is roughly more than US spending on health care. The cost of flowers for William and Kate’s wedding is about equal to the annual income of individuals in the wealthiest 1% of the US; while the cost of Kate’s dress is more than what the wealthiest 10% of individuals make annually. It’s interesting to look around and make comparisons about how money is being spent.

Clearly, there is tremendous inequality and injustice. The solution is not found in fine-tuning manipulation of the same system that created the problem – not through “political passion, conflicting expressions of class interest, or technical recipes”. Rather, what is called for is “a spiritual revival, as a prerequisite to the successful application of political, economic and technological instruments”. As consciousness of the inherent oneness of humanity is raised and as understanding of the spiritual nature of a human being, a creation that mirrors forth divine attributes (like generosity), is fostered will the peoples of the world be empowered to creatively and together address the challenge of injustice. Understanding the nature of the individual as spiritual and the nature of humanity as one entity can be achieved through a process of spiritual education – 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”. So we see the spiritual solution to economic injustice.

 

“Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor…To give and to be generous are attributes of Mine; well is it with him that adorneth himself with My virtues.”

 

 

The Bahá’í perspective on the spiritual solution to economic inequality:

“…not through sedition and appeal to physical force—not through warfare, but welfare. Hearts must be so cemented together, love must become so dominant that the rich shall most willingly extend assistance to the poor and take steps to establish these economic adjustments permanently….For example, it will be as if the rich inhabitants of a city should say, “It is neither just nor lawful that we should possess great wealth while there is abject poverty in this community,” and then willingly give their wealth to the poor, retaining only as much as will enable them to live comfortably.”

“Fighting, and the employment of force, even for the right cause, will not bring about good results. The oppressed who have right on their side, must not take that right by force; the evil would continue. Hearts must be changed. The rich must wish to give! …The spiritually awakened are like to bright torches in the sight of God, they give light and comfort to their fellows.”

 

 

How can we create an economic system that empowers the wealthy to adorn themselves with the attribute of generosity, instead of oppressing them with the burden of greed?

 

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Categories
- Empowerment - Oppression Oneness

Marx, Baha’u’llah, and Suffering

Accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation, at the opposite pole. Along with the constantly diminishing number of the magnates of capital, who usurp and monopolize all advantages of this process of transformation grows the revolt of the working class, a class always increasing in numbers, and united, organized by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production itself. In this way evil galvanizes the forces of good that lead to its own destruction. Historically speaking, human experience creates the separation of good from evil, which in the fullness of time are one. For those who journey in the garden land of knowledge, see the end in the beginning, and the beginning in the end.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkS3liM7OW4

http://www.ruhi.org/

Favelas of Brazil: Adjacent Extremes of Wealth and Poverty

Wealth and Poverty Brazil

Categories
- Human Body Development Expansion & Consolidation Human Nature

Embryonic Humanity

Humanity is a whole, single organism, and may be likened unto the body of a human being, also a whole and single organism.  Likewise, the embryological processes that led to the development of the human being are therefore the same processes in the body of humankind.  What are these processes?

 

Humanity was not always a whole and single organism in its social, outward form.  Of course, on an ontological level, humanity is one – has always been, and always will be.  The last thousands of years have been the gradual manifestation into reality of this latent truth.  However, there have been stages:  “History has thus far recorded principally the experience of tribes, cultures, classes, and nations. With the physical unification of the planet in this century and acknowledgement of the interdependence of all who live on it, the history of humanity as one people is now beginning.”

 

We may say, then, that we are witnessing humanity’s embryological phase.  Roughly a century old, compared to the hundreds of millennia during which Homo sapiens existed, and the tens of millennia of civilization, humanity as one organism is very much an embryo.

 

What are the main embryological processes?  Immediately, the processes of cell division and growth and of differentiation and specialization come to mind.  This is how the organism increases in size and complexity, and other fundamental processes of gastrulation, somitogenesis, and organogenesis result from these first two foundational processes.

 

There is a third process, less discussed and yet now recognized as equally important, that it makes up the third of the three main processes of embryology: apoptosis.  A highly ordered and natural process, apoptosis is a series of biochemical events that leads to cell death.  WIthout apoptosis, for instance, fingers and toes wouldn’t be formed, as the hands and feet are massive paws until the cells in-between fingers and toes apoptose.  Similarly, organs are sculpted to their desired structure through apoptosis.  The chambers of the heart hollow out as structure responds to anticipated function.  The nervous system forms first as an overproduced mass of cells with potential, and those through which synaptic connections don’t arise aren’t chemically confirmed, and simply apoptose to allow for a well-functioning, descriptive neural network based on interactions that happened; and not a prescribed or predetermined system.  Apoptosis is not a passive processes, but active and highly-regulated, necessary for organic health and to maintain homeostasis – ironically, some degenerative diseases result from ineffective apoptosis.

 

This is not the only way cells die.  There is also the biological phenomenon of necrosis, which is the death of cells due to damage, toxins, trauma, infection, lack of blood flow or oxygen, a poisonous chemical environment – factors all extrinsic to the cell itself.  Necrosis is an unnatural and unhealthy occurrence, while apoptosis is a natural and healthy process.  And the differences are clinically perceptible; apoptosis is completely unnoticeable while necrosis results in pain, redness, heat, swelling, etc.

 

So what parallels can be drawn between the three processes of proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis?

 

– These processes are analogous to the dialectic through which civilization advances – crisis and victory.  The victory is often in terms of growth and decentralization – two movements that are inseparable.  They are both in terms of numbers and complexity, quantity and quality.  The crisis comes in the form of apoptosis – a decline in numbers, momentary set-backs and breaches in bonds, decreased efficacy when new complexities occur.

 

– Crisis is not a result of failure on the part of the protagonists, nor is it a passive occurrence; rather, it is an active and healthy phenomenon, necessary to provide organic conditions for new victories.  As progress is dynamic, so are the processes involved.

 

– It is important to distinguish between natural and healthy crisis and disruptive crisis.  Two factors predominate – perspective and the environment.  As apoptosis is a result of inner conditions, whereas necrosis is a result of external environmental factors, we must be alert to extraneous complications that result from the environment, and are not intrinsic to the process itself.  Crisis can be a smooth, seamless, and non-disruptive process when occurring in an environment imbued with love, patience, forbearance, and enthusiasm, one in which a humble posture of learning is the mode of operation.  Furthermore, if one has a negative perspective on events, then likely it will be seen as a crisis in negative connotation of the word; whereas if one perceives the same events as natural, it can be seen as an opportunity for progress.  How can we prevent unhealthy crisis – necrosis – before it becomes clinically manifest, and create environments and facilitate perspectives toward apoptosis, or healthy crisis?

 

– These three processes, growth, decentralization, and crisis, are all necessary for healthy progress, and they exist in a dynamic equilibrium.  An excess of any one becomes unhealthy.  Growth by itself leads to a congregation of functionless cells, losing touch with the purpose of increasing numbers; decentralization by itself is a premature distancing from the community, resulting in unsustainable activities or complacent stance; and crisis by itself is usually an indicator that focus is not on the process as a whole, but instead is on certain cells (individuals).

 

There is, of course, much more insight that can be drawn from how a human being embryologically develops and its application to the processes by which humanity advances.  It is important to always keep in mind that all these multiple interacting processes are fundamentally organic in nature.

Categories
Development Human Nature Oneness

A Final Step in Humanity’s Evolution

One can analyze in the tumultuous evolution of the life of humankind one thread, among others, that has been present and steadily advancing for thousands and tens of thousands of years.  Perhaps human history can even be conceptualized as a progressive movement in this direction.  This common theme is that since its earliest beginnings, humanity has been moving closer and closer to realizing the oneness of humankind – to manifest into reality this latent truth.

 

The fundamental barrier towards this realization is perceiving otherness – categorizing one group of human beings as “other” to another, often one’s own, group.

 

The reality of man is his thought.  Just as spiritual and physical reality, with all its laws, processes, and forces, is a manifestation of the mind of God – (Nature in its essence is the embodiment of My Name, the Maker, the Creator. Its manifestations are diversified by varying causes, and in this diversity there are signs for men of discernment. Nature is God’s Will and is its expression in and through the contingent world.) – so, too, is all of social reality an emanation of the collective mind of humanity: “…all these highly varied phenomena, these concepts, this knowledge, these technical procedures and philosophical systems, these sciences, arts, industries and inventions—all are emanations of the human mind.”

 

However, both the oneness of humankind and the fundamental reality of human beings as thought have both been progressively realized over humanity’s collective development.  This evolution necessarily started out as more physical, then moved towards more cultural and geographic – natural evolution into our current physical form, then the gradual integration of individuals into families, families into tribes, tribes into city-states, cities into nations, nations into empires, and now the emergence of a global civilization.  At this point, no one can reasonably argue that humankind is not whole and interconnected, and the earth is not one homeland.

 

This realization has only been at the physical, geographic, and cultural level – through masses of people moving like waves across the earth, through inter-ethnic marriage on a vast scale, through interconnected systems of communication and economics.  Yet, the reality of man is his thought, and social reality an emanation of the mind.  The final step in the oneness of humankind, beyond conceptualizing that all of humanity is one, is in not creating an “other” that doesn’t conceptualize this.  This is, perhaps, the most challenging “us” and “them” barrier.

 

Recently I heard the statement: “well, for us there is no ‘us’ and ‘them’, but for them there is an ‘us’ and ‘them'” or “we don’t think in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’s’, but they think in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’s'”.  This type of categorization of “us” and “them” is the deepest obstacle to oneness, the greatest challenge that must be overcome in humanity’s physical-geographic-cultural-intellectual-spiritual evolution.  Once our collective consciousness eliminates the thought that one group of people realize humanity’s oneness, and another group do not, then will we have reached the level of humanity’s fundamental reality (thought), and will social reality reflect more and more just and unified processes and systems, greater and greater degrees of Bahá’u’lláh’s vision for humanity.

 

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Categories
- Empowerment - Religion - Three Protagonists Development Discourse Justice Oneness

120 years of discourse

A few days ago passed the 120th anniversary of the first mention of the Baha’i Faith in the Western hemisphere.  At last, the spiritual forces released by Baha’u’llah’s Revelation had an “initial conversation” through which they could be channeled.  Many of the early Baha’is of the West interacted with the Faith through this initial conversation – whether they were present, read about in it a newspaper, or heard about it in a subsequent conversation.

 

September of 1893, just over a year after Bahá’u’lláh’s ascension, Reverend George Ford, a missionary in Syria, read a paper by a Presbyterian minister named Henry Jessup, at the World Parliament of Religions held in downtown Chicago.  After speaking about Christianity, he ending the speech with,

 

In the Palace of Bahjí , or Delight, just outside the Fortress of ‘Akká, on the Syrian coast, there died a few months since, a famous Persian sage, the Bábí Saint, named Bahá’u’lláh -the “Glory of God”- the head of that vast reform party of Persian Muslims, who accept the New Testament as the Word of God and Christ as the Deliverer of men, who regard all nations as one, and all men as brothers. Three years ago he was visited by a Cambridge scholar and gave utterance to sentiments so noble, so Christlike, that we repeat them as our closing words:

“That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religions should cease and differences of race be annulled. What harm is there in this? Yet so it shall be. These fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the ‘Most Great Peace’ shall come. Do not you in Europe need this also? Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind.”

 

Thus began a discourse on Baha’u’llah’s principle of the oneness of humankind.

 

One way to think about discourse is as the instrumentality through which spiritual forces are able to influence the hearts and minds of human beings.  As thoughts and habits of behavior are altered, so are social structures.  The initial conversation – the Word of God brought by a Manifestation of God and subsequently spread across the world – leads to a community dedicated to translating high ideals into action.  This new system of values reorders consciousness and behavior and restructures the administration of society.  Eventually, a civilization emerges that embodies the concepts contained throughout this conversation.  As more and more people engaged in this conversation, the civilization becomes more and more just – as justice requires universal participation.  And as it becomes more and more just, it takes on higher degrees of unity.

 

The discourse on peace that began 120 years ago in the heart of North America has gained in strength and momentum, and taken on degrees of complexity.  The conversation has taken many forms and included many topics over the last century, and is currently about a community-building endeavor that receives its impetus from an education process that seeks to build capacity in its protagonists for acts of service through imparting skills, insights, and knowledge.  But it’s always been the same conversation. This is humanity’s conversation about its spiritual and social destiny – all can contribute, all have a say.  And at a deep level, all are connected to it….all can learn from it and advance it.  The conversation’s aim is to empower populations to take charge and responsibility for their own development, as a people.  In what ways are your daily thoughts, words, and actions contributing to this conversation?

 

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Categories
- Empowerment Development Justice Oneness

10% of Humanity’s Population is Young People in India

Putting aside, for a moment, the truth that young people are characterized by having a “desire to bring about constructive change”, by having “a capacity for meaningful service”, by having “all the hope in their hearts that, through strenuous concerted effort, the world will change”; setting aside, for a minute, the fact that youth have an “eagerness to take on a measure of responsibility to aid the spiritual and social development of those around them”, and that they “share in the desire to dedicate their time and energy, talents and abilities, to service to their communities”; and ignoring, for a second, that “loving fellowship, mutual encouragement, and willingness to learn together” are properties of groups of youth and that young people possess “altruism, an acute sense of justice, eagerness to learn about the universe and a desire to contribute to the construction of a better world” – why is it that so much emphasis is placed on young people?

 

In 1920 in the United States, Congress amended the Constitution to give women the right to vote.  Prior to this, it was state dependent.  Granting this contribution to the national society for roughly 50% of the nation’s population was a matter of justice – the principle of justice demands universal participation in collective decision-making, for justice is the only means by which unity is to be achieved.  Equality of men and women in the affairs of society is a prerequisite for progress and central to any advancement, not only at the level of the principle of equality – that the rational soul, a human being’s true nature, has no gender and denial of right based on sex is unfounded – and not only based on the principle of justice – because the contributions of all is required for unity, and unity is necessary for progress – but also simply because of sheer numbers.  Half of the people making decisions for the whole?

 

 

So let’s look at statistics.  50% of the current world’s population is under 30 years of age.  The percentage has been gradually increasing, and is projected to continue.  As the population grows, more humans are born, and these humans start out under the age of 30.  So it makes sense that over the past few decades the percentage and number of young people have risen.  Those under 30 now outnumber those over 30.  Of course, not all this 50% of humanity’s population are able to speak in complete sentences or are even fully conscious (ie, the infants and toddlers).  However, on both the level of the principle of justice and based on sheer statistics, it makes sense to involve the contribution of young people to the future progress and prosperity of humankind.

 

Some more statistics.  The average age of nations across the world ranges from 15 years old to 49 years old.  There are around 33 countries in which the average age is between 15 and 18, and another 29 countries in which the average age is between 19 and 21.  There has been a 14% increase in those aged 15 to 24 in the last 20 years – currently 18% of the world’s people are between 15 and 24; while 20% are between 5 and 14.   People 14 years old and younger currently make up about a quarter of the world’s population.  Those 15-30 also make up 25% of human beings on earth.  How can these large numbers contribute to advancement of humankind?  Perhaps one-quarter (15-30) can become empowered by responding to the spiritual aspirations of another quarter (those 14 and younger)?

 

We are in the midst of a youth movement – whether coordinated or not, whether purposeful or not, whether towards laudable aims or not, whether united or not – the movement is gaining and growing.  What will be its direction?  What will be its influence in the affairs of humankind?  Their contribution will be needed in order to even begin to strive for universal participation, without which there can be no justice, without which no unity, no progress.

 

The Universal House of Justice is charged with the duty of ensuring the advancement and betterment of the world.  50% of the world’s people are 30 and under, half of them youth between 15 and 30.  Now we can go back to all the characteristics of young people mentioned in the first paragraph – combining this with the percentage of humanity they represent, little wonder, then, that the House of Justice is working to coordinate and unify this youth movement, to instill in them a “twofold sense of purpose that impels them to take charge of their own spiritual and intellectual growth and contribute to the welfare of society” and make a decisive contribution to the fortunes of humanity.  Towards this end there are currently happening 114 youth conferences, to spur on this mighty youth movement – the first world-wide, unified, purposeful, commendable youth movement in the history of humanity.

 

http://news.bahai.org/community-news/youth-conferences/

 

Categories
- Governance - Three Protagonists Human Nature

The Reality of Coherence

In the 1 July 2013 Message of the Universal House of Justice, that beloved Body draws a connection between an individual’s engagement in the process of civilization-building and that individuals own personal development. The Letter states,

“You, however, are aware of your part in a mighty, transforming process that will yield, in time, a global civilization reflecting the oneness of humankind. You know well that the habits of mind and spirit that you are nurturing in yourselves and others will endure, influencing decisions of consequence that relate to marriage, family, study, work, even where to live.”

The connection between devoting your efforts to community-building efforts at the grass roots and developing success in personal affairs, the House of Justice explains, lies in the qualities of mind and spirit that are developed in community work that are beneficial to personal affairs, and vice versa.

What qualities of mind and spirit do we think are beneficial to a fulfilling marriage? Patience, tact, wisdom, love. To happy family? Selflessness, integrity, faithfulness, devotion. To effective study? Discipline, consistency, humility, reverence. To fruitful work? Obedience, loyalty, honesty, dedication, innovation. To strategic choice of living location? Consciousness of the provisions of the plan, awareness of the exigencies of population demographics, perception of receptivity, and freedom from prejudice.

How does one develop patience, tact, wisdom, love? How does one develop selflessness, integrity, faithfulness, devotion? How does one develop discipline, consistency, humility, reverence? How does one develop obedience, loyalty, honesty, dedication, innovation? How does one develop consciousness of the provisions of the plan, awareness of the exigencies of population demographics, perception of receptivity, and freedom from prejudice? Can these be developed in a vacuum, by simply willing it to be so? Virtues, must be developed by habituation, by practice — virtue requires application.

From where can the will and opportunity to develop all these virtues be mustered? It does not seem possible that for the sake of things in themselves (marriage, family, study, work, home) that this will is effectively summoned. To wit, we submit the testimony of the unnumbered millions with failed marriages, families, academics, careers, and homes. Where can the will and training arena to develop all the qualities needed to succeed in personal milestones be found? The Universal House of Justice is proposing: in selfless service to the provisions of the 5 year plan the youthful individual positions him or herself success in all these things. The 1 July Letter states,

“In the struggles that are common to each individual’s spiritual growth, the will required to make progress is more easily summoned when one’s energies are being channelled towards a higher goal—the more so when one belongs to a community that is united in that goal.”

Serving a higher goal, the creation of a New World Order, allows one to summon the will necessary to develop virtues. In practicing consultation one develops patience. In composing e-mails one develops tact. In navigating delicate situations one develops wisdom. In sacrificing for others one develops love and selflessness. In upholding others trust one develops integrity. In making good on one’s commitments one develops faithfulness. In prayer toward the common good one develops devotion. In punctuality one develops discipline. In tenaciously pursuing goals one develops consistency. In maintaining loving relationships one learns humility. In learning one acquires reverence. In instant, unquestioning servitude to the institutions one develops obedience.  In defending the Covenant and protecting others from those who would harm it one develops loyalty. In communicating efficiently one avoid lies and becomes honest. In enduring service one become dedicated. In problem solving one becomes innovative. In studying the guidance one learns the provisions of the plan. In scouting focus neighborhoods one learns population demographics. In teaching the Cause one develops perception of receptivity. In living with diverse cultures and socio-economic statuses one develops freedom from prejudice. Serving alongside comrades, sharing in their sorrows and delights, supporting them in their struggles and victories, further reinforces the will.  The qualities of mind and spirit needed for success in personal affairs are all developed in wholehearted service to the community that is laboring for social transformation and the erection of a divine civilization.

Coherence is the state of being in which multiple separate things are nevertheless linked through the products of their processes that are not only beneficial for the success of others, but necessary for it. The byproduct of community building is the necessary nourishment of personal success. As such, though they are separate things, they are one, as an ecosystem has parts, and yet is still one. Though animals and plants are distinct kingdoms, yet animals depend upon vegetation for their nourishment, and trees in turn rely upon pollination and dispersal by animal carriers to continue their life cycle. As such, the coherence that characterizes the balance of an ecosystem, is not unlike the coherence that characterizes the relationship between an individual’s personal affairs and his or her dedication to social welfare and public advancement.

Clearly then, the cycle would not be complete if civilization-building alone contributed to personal development and did not receive from it anything beneficial. Success in personal development contributes invaluably to the process of community building. Community building could not be carried in the absence of personal successes of individuals. It would be to allege that the work of advancing civilization could be carried out by disembodied souls. Human society advances as the result of human beings.

What qualities does a fulfilling marriage, a happy family, a prosperous occupation, and a strategic home-front pioneering position lend to the process of civilization building? A fulfilling marriage unleashes the powers of mind and speech upon which so many relationships that inspire organized community efforts depends. A happy family can anchor an entire community by providing moral leadership, organizing influence, for various age groups of activities for others to join, and a gathering center for other families. A prosperous occupation serves the community, inspires respect, conduces to dignity, and draws one into the economic and political  context of the society one serves. A well selected home front pioneering position, allows one to serve the best interests of receptive populations and establish pockets of social action.

Personal developmental achievements are dedicated to the operation of collective advancement, and striving for social change generates the qualities of mind and spirit that conduce to prosperity in individual affairs. Society cannot advance without individuals who are knowledgeable and capable of serving its needs, and wholesome family units with careers and social influence cannot be raised without engagement with society. Neither branch of coherence is acceptable without the other, for neither can subsist in the absence of the other.

Collapsing the dichotomy of the two-fold moral purpose is the secret to achieving coherence. This is the reality of coherence.

Recycle small

Categories
- Empowerment - Prevailing Conceptions - Religion Development Human Nature Knowledge Oneness Power

The Power of Truth

For thousands of years, beginning with the birth of the family – the smallest unit in the scale of human organization – humanity’s evolution has been characterized by a process of integration, which although far less spectacular than the parallel process of disintegration, is nonetheless more significant.  This process of integration, which has gone though successive stages from clan, tribe, city-state, and nation, will culminate in the final stage of humankind’s evolution – the unification of the entire planet.  This is the age in which we now live.  The hallmark of this age in human history is the principle of the oneness of humankind.  As humanity’s transition to maturity and oneness will be a complete transformation that the world has not yet witnessed, the principle of the oneness of humankind will be the basis for the reconceptualization of all relationships within society and all social structures.

 

However, in order for patterns of community life – fruit from the transformation of relationships and structures – built upon the principle of the oneness of humankind to emerge, certain foundational concepts must be reexamined – notably the concept of power.  Additionally, to contemplate a complete transformation as the one upcoming for humanity, the question of the power to accomplish it is raised.

 

Traditionally, power has been viewed as advantage of one person or group in order to dominate another person or group.  Power is considered a limited resource that is acquired through contest with others, and confers the ability to surpass others and win.  Notwithstanding the benefits brought to the human race from the exercise of power to advance one over another, as humanity matures, it must leave behind obsolescent and anachronistic ideas that have obviously reached the limit of their effectiveness.

 

There are other conceptions of power, and with it, sources of power, that are more befitting a maturing humanity.  The powers of the human spirit, the power of unity, of love, of pure deeds, are all powers that have been harnessed and tapped throughout history, resulting in impressive accomplishments in all spheres of life.  These are the powers that religion draws our attention to – religions which have represented successive stages in the spiritual evolution of human society.  These sources of power constitute a limitless capacity to transform that resides in humanity as a whole; and their operation is necessary to move humanity forward.  Under the premise of the oneness of humanity, these sources are not only more powerful than military might, economics, media, propaganda, etc., or anything that implies an “other”, but in fact the only relevant means to progress in a global society.

 

Truth is another source of power, associated throughout history with some of the greatest philosophical, artistic, and scientific advances we’ve experienced, that humanity as a whole must learn a great deal more about how to tap in order to propel the advance of civilization.  Why is it so powerful?

 

Reality is an expression of truth.  To actively explore this reality, through conversation, through service, through fellowship, through collective reflection, through study, is to understand truth – and with that, harness the power of truth.  The exploration of reality, then, becomes a very empowering action.  Framing action as an exploration of reality, then, is a highly encouraging mindset.  As more and more individuals work together to explore reality, as more and more individuals are encouraged to share with others the idea that their collective action is an exploration of reality, and as more and more individuals are empowered by generation of knowledge, the total amount of power available to humanity increases enormously.  And suddenly, with all this power, the transformation beckoning humanity doesn’t seem as difficult.

 

The worldwide Baha’i community is actively laboring to increase the power available to humanity for its transformation: “…everywhere, a notable number of friends find themselves ready to enter into conversation with people of varied backgrounds and interests and 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.”  In fact, one may say that a goal of the worldwide Baha’i community is to work for the empowerment of all the peoples of the world.

 

And as Baha’u’llah, the Manifestation of God for our age, has ushered in this new stage of human development, He has also promised that the power of truth will strengthen all of humanity in our efforts towards collective maturity: “Be not dismayed, O peoples of the world, when the day star of My beauty is set, and the heaven of My tabernacle is concealed from your eyes. Arise to further My Cause, and to exalt My Word amongst men. We are with you at all times, and shall strengthen you through the power of truth.

 

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Categories
- Empowerment - Three Protagonists Development Justice Oneness

From the Animator to a World Civilization

The worldwide Baha’i community is dedicated to a systematic long-term process of learning how to translate the principles of the Revelation of Baha’u’llah into reality and engaging more and more people in an “exploration of reality that gives rise to a shared understanding of the exigencies of this period in human history and means for addressing them.”  The community’s activities are the current representation of this process of learning.  The end goal: a world civilization that has achieved a dynamic coherence between the material and spiritual requirements of life.

 

How do these activities relate to a world civilization?  Let’s work backwards.

 

A world civilization that has achieved a dynamic coherence between the material and spiritual requirements of life requires relationships that are completely reconceptualized and based upon the principle of the oneness of humankind – the relationships between and among individuals, communities, and institutions – as well as social structures that are based on fresh conceptions of justice.

Relationships based upon the oneness of humanity and social structures based upon justice require patterns of behavior and habits of thought that are founded upon an understanding of the spiritual nature of the human being: that justice is a faculty of the soul, and that the rational soul – a human being’s identity – has no gender, race, ethnicity, or class.

These patterns of behavior and habits of thought that strive to embody more and more the principles of oneness and justice – in other words, a change of culture – require patterns of community life that draw upon our common identity; a community that takes “charge of its own spiritual, social and intellectual development” and is “eager to improve [its] material and spiritual conditions”.

Creating such a community life necessitates certain foundational collective activities that will occur even as humanity matures into a world civilization, such as praying together, educating the young together, studying together and applying insights into action together, and reflecting and consulting together.  These activities will never cease, only simply change form.

At various stages in the development of community life, one activity may flourish more rapidly.  This should be strengthened, as an advance in one aspect of the community-building process will advance the whole.  At our current stage of growth, the junior youth spiritual empowerment program has proven vital and beneficial to enhancing the entire scheme of community-building.

In order to develop the junior youth spiritual empowerment program, there needs to be strong animators – those older youth who work with junior youth groups – who “come to regard themselves as agents of social change”, “endowed with a twofold sense of purpose that impels them to take charge of their own spiritual and intellectual growth and contribute to the welfare of society”, and who can “examine the forces shaping their society and their role in contributing to its constructive transformation”.

 

This sequence of thoughts helps to show how service as an animator of a junior youth group is directly tied with contributing to the advancement of a world civilization.

Categories
- Education - Empowerment - Prevailing Conceptions Discourse Human Nature Knowledge Oneness

Pedagogy of the Empowered

The Baha’i world has been learning how to use an education program to raise capacity in individuals and populations to take charge of their own spiritual, social, and intellectual development and to build communities that understand the dynamic coherence of material and spiritual prosperity.  Based on the conviction of the nobility of the human being, on the oneness of humankind, and on the principle that science and religion are two complementary systems of knowledge and practice by which civilization advances, this educational system regards “man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value”, and believes that “education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.”

 

Of course, we know that our perceptions are built upon our assumptions.  Thus, as first glance, an onlooker might perceive simplicity, tangentiality, indoctrination, limitation, rote learning, or a whole list of other problems.  Perhaps this perception is biased by assumptions and values adopted by society’s conceptions of education – which breed passivity and facilitate oppression.  And perhaps another look might help.

 

Current models of education are information based.  They consider a human being as an empty receptacle waiting to be passively filled with information and technical skills necessary to fill positions in an economic system to maintain the status quo.  They aim to provide enough thoughtfulness that a high-school graduate can vote in an election, yet not so much thoughtfulness that he will question the political system.  Education as society knows it promotes a false-dichotomy of right/wrong in order to allow for a highly simple method of evaluation, which conveniently can be capitalized (pun intended) by the economic system to brainwash consumers to buy the “right” product over the rest.  And current systems perpetuate a fragmented view of reality in order to make the minds of their graduates easily able to be controlled by those with power, yet build in enough curricular association to prevent complete disintegration of what holds together various disciplines.

 

The Ruhi Institute, which provides a highly successful example of a set of curriculum that adopts an entirely different set of assumptions about human nature and education – some which are mentioned in the first paragraph.  Its foundation is the Word of God as revealed by Baha’u’llah.  Regarding its pedagogy, here are a few thoughts:

– Ruhi curriculum is not content and information based, but rather concept based.  The purpose is not to impart information but to advance understanding about concepts.  If one just takes a glance at the material, under the assumption of information-provision, one might think “there isn’t anything in here I didn’t already know, any new information, any dates or facts”, and one might perceive it too simple.  However, the purpose of human life is to achieve understanding: “…the ultimate goal of human existence which is the station of true understanding…” and “Man’s distinction lieth not in ornaments or wealth, but rather in virtuous behavior and true understanding.”  To understand is a verb, and its corresponding subject is the human mind.  It’s object is a concept.  Through advancing understanding, the human mind is able to generate insights into reality; to produce knowledge, sciences, and arts; to effect a change of cultural; and to advance civilization.  By imparting information, the mind simply gets information.  Paradoxically, then, curriculum based on facts are actually more simplistic.

– The questions in the Ruhi curriculum are designed to engage the participants with the text.  At first glance, a fill-in-the-blank question may be simplistic, rote, mindless even.  Under current educational assumptions, it may seem very low-level.  However, the purpose of education is to advance understanding and enable participants to generate insights from the ocean of the Revelation.   In order to do this, in order to discover pearls in an ocean, one must interact with the words and concepts.  Take math as an example.  Simply reading 3+4+7=14, and then discussing it, might not advance understanding about numbers.  If the goal was information, perhaps one could waste a lifetime memorizing the sums of various combinations of numbers.  However, 3+x+7=14 requires operation; requires interacting with the numbers.  What kind of integer, when added to 3 and 7 make 14?  What kind of deeds lead to the betterment of the world?  This type of operation can then grow in complexity.  3x+5=6x-7.  And so on.  It is through operations, through interaction, through engaging, that someone learns the concepts behind numbers, and similarly the concepts within the Word of God.

– The true/false questions can also be misperceived under current educational assumptions.  Society’s educational models are based upon a system of evaluation founded on a right/wrong dichotomy.  In this paradigm, a true/false question is meant to evaluate the test-taker to see if they recalled the information correctly, and to see if they got it ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.  However, again, the questions in the Ruhi curriculum are carefully designed to advance understanding.  It breaks down current paradigms by creating true/false questions which are ambiguous, thus opening up space where understanding can be advanced in all participants through a discourse – in which people of all backgrounds of mind can advance understanding on equal footing, supporting each other’s advance and respectful of the knowledge that each one possesses at any given moment, and in which all can benefit from a diversity of perspectives.  Under an anachronistic evaluation model of education, however, ambiguous true/false questions just seem poorly worded.

– Humanity is one.  And the human being is one.  Thus, all aspects of the human being are one.  And all fields of human endeavor are one – a collective investigation of one underlying reality.  Over time, human society has successfully fragmented educational disciplines (as it has fragmented all aspects of life).  It has become popular to claim a multi-disciplinary approach to education, yet all current education does is associate disciplines together.  When studying physics, a series of math problems about gravity are presented, as a way to integrate math and physics – but the result is only an association (and hard math problems).  True integration occurs when education revolves around the understanding of concepts, the acquisition and generation of knowledge, the development of skills and attitudes, the formation of habits, the strengthening of qualities, all related to performing an act of service.  Here, service becomes the key to coherence and integration – the balance.  Because in the end, isn’t the purpose of education to reveal the gems of an individual and enable mankind to benefit?

 

In the curriculum of the Ruhi Institute we have a potent example of how education can empower the masses of humanity to take charge of their own development and contribute to the establishment of a new world civilization – a pedagogy of the empowered.

 

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
- Empowerment - Religion - Three Protagonists

Advent Youth Conference

“In the young people of the world, then, lies a reservoir of capacity to transform society waiting to be tapped.  And the release of this capacity should be regarded by every institute as a sacred charge.”

“In an age consumed by self-interest, in which even spiritual affiliation is weighed in the scales of reward and personal satisfaction, it is heartening to encounter individuals from their mid-teens to their twenties- -those upon whom the sights of an aggressive materialism are decidedly trained–who are galvanized by the vision of Baha’u’llah and are ready to put the needs of others before their own.”

“We extend an invitation to these gatherings to every youth who recognizes in the methods and instruments of the Plan potent means for movement towards a better society.”

Dates and cities are listed below. To register, please visit:

http://www.youthconf.bahai.us

revolution baha'i youth

 

 

Atlanta / August 9 — 11

For residents of: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi

Register With Others As a Group Register Yourself


Boston / July 19 — 21

For residents of: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont

Register With Others As a Group Register Yourself


Chicago / July 13 — 15

For residents of: Illinois, Indiana, Kansas (except Wichita cluster), Michigan, Missouri, Ohio

Register With Others As a Group Register Yourself


Dallas / August 9 — 11

For residents of: Arkansas, Kansas (Wichita cluster only), Oklahoma, El Paso, Texas, Northern Texas

Register With Others As a Group Register Yourself


Durham / July 18 — 20

For residents of: Bermuda, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee

Register With Others As a Group Register Yourself


Houston / August 23 — 25

For residents of: Louisiana, Southern Texas

Register With Others As a Group Register Yourself


Los Angeles / August 31 — Sept 2

For those residing in CA-SW clusters (plus CA-SE01, CA-SE03, CA-SE04)

Register With Others As a Group Register Yourself


Minneapolis / August 16 — 18

For residents of: Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin

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Oakland / July 26 — 28

For residents of: Northern California

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Phoenix / July 19 — 21

For residents of: Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah

Register With Others As a Group Register Yourself


San Diego / August 9 — 11

For those residing in CA-SE clusters (except CA-SE01, CA-SE04, CA-SE04)

Register With Others As a Group Register Yourself


Seattle / July 26 — 28

For residents of: Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Washington, Wyoming

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Washington D.C. / August 16 — 18

For residents of: District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia

Register With Others As a Group Register Yourself

 

Categories
- Empowerment - Governance - Human Body - Religion Justice

Abdu’l-Baha on Economic Policy

According to Abdu’l-Baha, wealth inequality, can be attributed to the “extreme greed and rapacity of the manufacturers and industrialists.” He furthermore  identifies  the root cause of income disparity as the defunct operations of the legislative branch of government:

“The principal cause of these difficulties lies in the laws of the present civilization; for they lead to a small number of individuals accumulating incomparable fortunes, beyond their needs, while the greater number remain destitute, stripped and in the greatest misery.”

Abdu’l-Baha introduces concepts into His discourse that rarely find equivalent parallels in the modern discourse on economic policy. Instead of dominant values such as “economic growth”, He emphasizes “justice”; instead of  “profits” He emphasizes “humanity” and “equity”. His appeal to new concepts is grounded in a metaphysics that transcends the modern foundations of economics, which are outdated. The remedy to economic injustice He specifies lies in legislation designed to ensure that private profits go to meet the needs of the impoverished masses:

“…Rules and laws should be established to regulate the excessive fortunes of certain private individuals and meet the needs of millions of the poor masses; thus a certain moderation would be obtained…”

The exact proportion of workers wages as a function of CEO or owner income that is most conducive to justice, Abdu’l-Baha specifies as 20-25%. Therefore the average laborer should earn 20-25% of the total income earned by an owner or CEO. The majority shareholder of a corporation for example could expect to see approximately 4-5 times as much share in the profits as the average worker would. No more.

“Laws and regulations should be established which would permit the workmen to receive from the factory owner their wages and a share in the fourth or the fifth part of the profits…The body of workmen and the manufacturers should share equitably the profits and advantages…”

Today the average CEO “earns” 360 times as much as his average employee.  According to Abdu’l-Baha’s vision, the ratio of reward for investment vs reward for labor is not as distorted in favor of investment as is today’s market. The power balance between the labor and capital markets today is not tenable in the context of justice. Furthermore, honest labor should come with the guarantee of social security and retirement packages for aging populations. According to Abdu’l-Baha,

“The capital and management come from the owner of the factory, and the work and labor, from the body of the workmen… Either the workmen should receive wages which assure them an adequate support and, when they cease work, becoming feeble or helpless, they should have sufficient benefits from the income of the industry; or the wages should be high enough to satisfy the workmen with the amount they receive so that they may themselves be able to put a little aside for days of want and helplessness.”

The accumulation of excessive wealth is itself a burden and carries with it natural and moral dangers for individuals. Extremes of wealth and poverty engender social unrest between classes. Violence and crime become means of survival for the poor as well as weapons of retribution for their suffering against the rich. Wealth in itself is a transient entity that will not endure beyond its utility in this world. Large sums of wealth carry with them the burden of responsibility and administration for its owner. In the words of Abdu’l-Baha:

“If the fortune is disproportionate, the capitalist succumbs under a formidable burden and gets into the greatest difficulties and troubles…[for] the administration of an excessive fortune is very difficult and exhausts man’s natural strength”

Abdu’l-Baha advises people who control vast means of production that they exercise moderation in the acquisition of profits, instead diverting the majority of their funds to the infrastructure of their company, the needs of employees, or the welfare of society:

“It lies in the capitalists’ being moderate in the acquisition of their profits, and in their having a consideration for the welfare of the poor and needy”

For Abdu’l-Baha, the profits of a corporation do not belong to whoever arbitrarily purchased more of their stock. On the contrary, there is a moral right intrinsic to the workers who created the products to ownership of a fixed and definite proportion of the profits:

“Workmen and artisans receive a fixed and established daily wage—and have a share in the general profits of the factory…” “And it is from the income of the factory itself, to which they have a right, that they will derive a share…”

Moderation in the profits of the owner are linked to the retirement security of the laborers as well as the cost of caring for and rearing the worker’s offspring. The social security net of work covers not only the individuals who work but their family and children until they become old enough to be independently financially responsible:

“It would be well, with regard to the common rights of manufacturers, workmen and artisans, that laws be established, giving moderate profits to manufacturers, and to workmen the necessary means of existence and security for the future. Thus when they become feeble and cease working, get old and helpless, or leave behind children under age, they and their children will not be annihilated by excess of poverty.”

Abdu’l-baha advises congress to legislate on matters of workers rights and the share of profits to be apportioned to owners vs laborers in a just and impartial manner. By this statement He rules out the legitimacy of lobbyists or special interests swaying the partiality of the law-makers. It would be important for them to remain “impartial” in this regard and to legislate laws of profit distribution in accordance with principles of justice.

“But the mutual and reasonable rights of both associated parties will be legally fixed and established according to custom by just and impartial laws.”

If owners oppress laborers by refusing to pay them their share of the profits or treating them poorly or providing abusive working conditions, the judicial branch is responsible for passing a ruling in defense of the laborers, and the president and department of justice would be responsible for penalizing the corporation, procuring the profits due to the unpaid workers and establishing measures for the continuation of a just relationship:

“In case one of the two parties should transgress, the court of justice should condemn the transgressor, and the executive branch should enforce the verdict; thus order will be reestablished…”

Abdu’l-Baha clearly situates the relationship between employers and employees within the public sector, endorsing the validity and importance of state-run workers rights regulations:

“The interference of courts of justice and of the government in difficulties pending between manufacturers and workmen is legal, for the reason that current affairs between workmen and manufacturers cannot be compared with ordinary affairs between private persons, which do not concern the public, and with which the government should not occupy itself.

A coherent conception of society underlies Abdu’l-Baha’s vision of the relationship between the private and state sectors and the role of governance and law in ordering and regulating capital and labor markets:

“If one of these suffers an abuse, the detriment affects the mass. Thus the difficulties between workmen and manufacturers become a cause of general detriment.”

The Baha’i principle of unity is the nexus through which all things are connected. Pain of the part necessitates pain of the whole. Prosperity for the whole implies prosperity for each part. Can any body part maintain the position that only some distant body part is in pain, but that it itself is immune to the feeling? Surely not. The body experiences pain and pleasure as one. Likewise, the body politic experiences prosperity or privation as one. Abdu’l-Baha explains:

“In reality…these difficulties between the two parties produce a detriment to the public; for commerce, industry, agriculture and the general affairs of the country are all intimately linked together.”

pies

Categories
- Governance - Religion - Three Protagonists Discourse

Double Cure: Eliminate Parties and Campaigning

Partisanship is a bane to effective governance. Identifying with a political party exacerbates a bitter partisan divide that threatens the very fiber of social order and governance. Motivations of civil servants should be only the good of all people and the interests of the common weal. Political parties are artificial fabrications designed to impose a priority on public servants entirely alien to the betterment of the nation and the people.

Campaigning is a bane to institutional integrity and effective governance. Campaigning is not necessary for effective elections. People’s character should be known to the community through their deeds and selfless service. Ballots need only allow voters to write in the name of the desired candidate. A plurality of votes would elect the individual most renowned for her brilliant character, virtuous conduct, mature experience, established service, and achievements on behalf of public welfare. Special interests are able to distort representation by donating to campaign funds. The presence of campaigning requires candidates to raise funds to win elections, which structurally enslaves their will to corporate profits.

It is the combination of partisanship and campaigning which makes political candidates dependent on funding because they need to campaign against proponents from opposing parties.  Without political parties there would be no need to campaign against anyone else, and without campaigning  there would be no funding requirement to drive politicians to seek lobbyist’s endorsement. Partisanship and campaigning are institutional arrangements of  American politics that have distorted its true nature and corrupted it effectiveness.

It is the philosophical position of this forum that steps toward the elimination of political parties as well as the banning of the practice of campaigning would increase the integrity of democracy and the efficacy of governance. We recommend steps toward the structural transformation of national, local, and international politics removing the institutional arrangements of parties and the introduction of legal bans on campaigning. Any person or group operating in a way appearing to constitute overt campaigning will be disqualified from the electoral process. Without need to generate funding for costly campaigns, candidates will be free of lobbyists and donations from special interests. Free from partisan affiliations, government representatives will vote on all issues according only to principles of selfless and academically-informed considerations of public welfare.

holy land

Categories
- Governance - Oppression - Prevailing Conceptions - Three Protagonists Discourse Justice

Money, Lies, and Spiritual Solutions

Since the housing market crash of 2008 we have heard it said that the economy is recovering. Who, I wonder are the people who are actually recovering? Let us look into what the facts say. The top 7% of wealthy americans have gained $5.6 trillion during the period of time called the recovery from 2009-2011. The rest of the 93% of the working public have actually had a net loss in assets during this period amounting to a deficit of $669 billion. From 2009 to 2011, the richest 8 million families (7% of the population) have seen a rise in their personal assets increasing from $1.7 million to $2.5 million per family, on average. During this exact same “recovery” period 93% of the population – 111 million families – have seen their income decline by $6,000 per family, on average.

Who is recovering then I repeat? This comes out to a 28% increase in the assets of the wealthy, and 4% reduction in the assets of the poor. The phenomenon can be explained by a straightforward hypothesis: the entire financial product of the recovery is being accrued directly in the personal bank accounts of a wealthy minority. Income can be imagined to be a stream of money; wealth is the pool into which that stream flows. The vast majority of the water that was generated in the so-called “recovery” has flowed directly into the existing largest bodies of water, ie: all the reward gained by the recovery labor and austerity were accrued directly into investors pockets, some of it even being siphoned off from smaller lakes and streams that are already nearly dried up.

It seems we are to believe that the status of world affairs is determined by how the rich alone are feeling, and is reflective only of the state of the satisfaction of the privileged. This skewed metric of success is then reported publicly as if it applied equally to all. Medical science has confirmed that some affluent individuals suffer from Narcissistic personality disorders but how can a whole society be forced to think and feel the happiness of a small subset of people. I’ve never heard of a thief who forces his victim to deny his own feelings and profess great happiness at the wonderful new acquisition of commodities by the thief.

Through arrogance and methodical coaxing, through social conditioning and propaganda  the rich have come to identify the well-being of the state with their own personal well being.  If the rich feel enriched, the news announces, “we” are all richer. If the rich feel poorer, the media chastises american laborers for laziness, and calls for slashing of taxes and dismantling governmental infrastructure and safety nets. The entire world is asked to be selfless to make room for the narcissism of wealthy bankers and investors. Countless human beings in the latin american and african continents deny themselves their own perspectives and legitimacy in favor of believing the pronouncements and self-expressions of the powerful and wealthy elites of american society. The suffering millions go unmentioned and uncared for because media tycoons have decreed that it would suit their interests more if the news popularized the release of their latest technocratic gadget for consumer consumption.

Ideological transformation is necessary. Spiritual values must be heard throughout the world:  “tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor.”

The recovery has made a fortune for the rich and applied further downward economic pressure on the middle and working classes. A plan brought this turn of events about. The same plan that told the news media to cover reports of the great figures demonstrating a healthy and vibrant stock market and finance earnings. The discussion of the well-being of the masses of humanity is Taboo in american society. Such taboos themselves are evidence of a culture designed to placate and remove any trace of public discontent with the economic and social status quo. The more that news can spread of the recovery, the more the plight of the impoverished masses is kept out of the limelight, and the more injustice continues unabated and even intensifies in its oppression.

After greedy banks manufactured fraudulent credit schemes and sold them to the american public the stock market that had traded with and insured these corrupt mortgages collapsed. The government simply credited large amounts of money to these same banks that had ruined the world, in  order to prevent the world from suffering a collapse of the global credit system. Bail outs consisted of the US government using taxpayer money to pay the bloated salaries and bonuses of the big bankers who threatened to resign if not bailed out.
The so-called “bailout” designed to benefit victims of the banking fraud unfortunately followed the exact same logic as fraud itself, which was: paying fat cats at the top promotes wealth by a “trickle down” phenomenon. Our own tax dollars and government championed the world view that the rich deserve to get richer even after having made the poor poorer.

The Federal Reserve credited trillions of dollars to Wall Street firms employing a wide variety of transparent and opaque financial maneuvers with little accountability and even less earmarking. The graph below demonstrates the beneficiaries of the bail bouts by amount received. As you can see the lion’s share went to private firms on Wall Street.  Fannie May and Freddie Mac are officially private institutions however they operate the same way as Wall Street banks.

There is a financial-legal pipeline between political positions in washington and high finance. Financial influence on Wall Street readily translates into legislative power in the senate and vice versa. They are like one currency with two forms of expressions: money and power. Most individuals shuttle back and forth between Washington and Wall Street during their careers. It is these folks that write laws and basic policies that govern our nation, legally and economically. They consult for and advise banks and then go legislate policies that enable things like sub-prime loans. Instead of representing citizens they made bankers billionaires and evicted countless american homeowners and cause an economic Armageddon.

These same wall street politicians proposed and carried out the bailout. This is severe and unregulated conflict of interests. Hank Paulson served as chairman of Goldman Sachs before being hired as Secretary of the Treasure under W. Bush  in Washington. Timothy Geithner was head of the regional Federal Reserve Board in New York (side by side with the heads of all major Wall Street Banks) prior to being asked by President Obama to join his cabinet as Secretary of the Treasury. Many congressmen and staffers hold offers for lucrative Wall Street employment in recompense for work they performed while occupying an office on the hill. Together, this marriage of finance and government has enacted a half-century of policies that rob the middle and working class of their rewards on labor in order to enrich the already wealthy. Is there any more blatant idolatry at the false-god of money than this?

Policy after policy enacted protects big banks and emboldens them in their ways. Even at the time for punishment, the bail out solution takes the form of money paid to big banks to incentivize them to put things back together. This doesn’t count as democracy. This is plutocracy.

The partisan system only exacerbates the dilemma. The election procedure that decides between party candidates often boils down to cash donations for campaign funds. Underlying their time in office, in legislating, in campaigns, and getting elected – money is the real common denominator in what is done. And therefore banks reign supreme.

The current stimulus policy being pursued by the Federal Reserve operates under the presumption that wealth trickles down. They have continuously been reducing interest rates on diverse bonds and securities to facilitate and expedite the flow of money as much as possible into stocks holdings. As money pours into stocks, their value on the market increases, and supports a thriving, bullish stock market. Wealthy investors who profit by their stocks going up  are somehow mysteriously thought to reinvest their earnings into the economy in a constructive way that creates jobs, supports education, fosters research, and bolsters infrastructures. According to this theory, upper class elites rarely spend private finances on offshore investments like cheap labor in Foxconn plants in china, or store it in offshore bank accounts where US taxes don’t apply, and rarely squander their money on useless pastimes such as extravagant, unnecessary lifestyles like sailing yachts, sports cars, private jet planes and esoteric entertainment. This is the trickle down wealth effect theory that is basically a hoax devoid of economic data and dogmatized by people who need an excuse to justify the corrupting influence of finances of government.

Why lower interest rates on securities in the first place? Why give low-interest rates to investment banks? How does giving 0% interest to banks help the citizenry? These Banks have consistently been using that money to make risky investments and loan it to the American people for a usury profit. outlandish interest rates on credit cards, escalating mortgage rates, and a plethora of high-interest credit lines for the public to consume is the result. Why doesn’t the government loan us the money itself at a low-interest rate, taking out the middleman?  Big banks are the middlemen who turn a huge profit peddling our own government cash to us at a higher rate than the government loaned it to them. Then they higher politicians after office to reward them for their favorable policies.

Figure 2 demonstrates that encouraging investments in the stock market is basically giving money to the rich. The top 1% of wealthy americans own 35-40% of all stocks. The top 20% of all wealthy americans own almost 60% of all stocks. Therefore, an investment in the stock market is bypassing the majority of the people in the middle and working classes prima facie. It benefits them not.

In the crash of 2008 Wall Street made millions in a process that is the legal equivalent to gambling and as a result the middle class has been in recession ever since. Over the several months that ensued, the fallout of 8 million jobs lost was noted. The clear paper trail leads directly to Wall Street financiers who, acting on greed, concocted sub-prime mortgages after lobbying for dysregulation of the finance sector under Allen Greenspan and W. Bush and repealing Glass-Steagall. Their aim: to sell more mortgages and maximize short-term profits for their shareholders.

No mention of justice or punitive measures for the guilty parties have ever been mentioned. No one who committed white-collar crimes has been imprisoned, nor have their assets accrued unjustly been confiscated. People who suffered job losses in the middle and working classes have never been appropriately compensated. Ironically, the rhetoric of “moochers” and “free-loaders” and “the 47% of the country who don’t take responsibility for their lives” continues. The federal stimulus package merely slowed the pace of the recession. It has not improved middle class average incomes, let alone reversed the direction of the recession. Only the rich are profiting again from stock market investments. We are facing the highest levels of sustained unemployment since the Great Depression with the lowest number of people seeking employment since 1979, 63%.  Figure 3 shows how the long-term unemployed level, as a proportion of total population, is at an unprecedented high.

The mortgage bubble bursting caused wide-scale business failure and massive layoffs.  Because average middle class incomes plummeted there was less principle to be taxed by state and local governments, robbing them of their primary source of revenue. Justice would require fact-based appropriations of Wall Street private bank accounts to be tapped for compensating people with foreclosures, firings, failed businesses, and slashed government programs. In reality what happened is that we simply allowed government programs and employment levels to take the hit.

This however introduced a vicious cycle. Because people didn’t have jobs and lost major portions of their income, governments couldn’t tax incomes if they no longer existed. So, governments had to slash programs for which funds had already been earmarked, necessitating a further round of layoffs. And so on and so forth.

Secondly, rising unemployment drives up labor supply while the demand remains stagnant or even declines. Price is determined by the intersection of supply and demand profiles. The result is a significant decrease in the salaries offered for labor, further driving down workers wages. The corporate savings on decreased workers wages and collapsed government union bargaining conduces to further profits for the wealthy.

Compared with today, the government has never employed such a low percentage of the total populace before. This is unprecedented in american history. How detrimental to the welfare of the masses this predicament will be is not clear, except for what is obvious in the reduction in public sector employment. Police, teachers, EMS, and air-traffic controllers have been cut and their families destitute or sinking into poverty without new jobs to replace the old ones.  Table 1 below demonstrates teachers employment dropped almost 6%, policeman over 8%, emergency responders down almost half of what it was, and air traffic controllers down almost 30%. (Please note: Air traffic controllers affect congressmen directly. Therefore,  it appears a hasty bill has been passed to mitigate the effects of the sequester on that particular sector of employment.)

Occupation

Employment (2009)

Employment (2011)

Change in Employment

Percent Change in Employment

Teachers

3,942,700

3,721,938

-220,762

-5.6%

Policemen

666,579

610,427

-56,125

-8.4%

Fire fighters

233,051

277,158

44,107

18.9%

Emergency responders

69,370

39,170

-30,200

-43.5%

Air-traffic controllers

23,959

17,128

-6,831

-28.5%

The decision to bail out the banks in 2008 was based upon the threat that the global economy was infected with illegitimate credit and would collapse if the banks went out of business. Whether or not this was true, does not imply that the only option for the public is to roll over dead and allow the banks to do as they please. Otherwise they will take tax payer bailout billions, and simply continue their pillaging of public wealth. Nevertheless, that is exactly what happened. Big banks were bailed out, multi-million dollar salaries and bonuses continued to be awarded, gambling on wall street proceeded unabated, in fact with new vigor and boldness. The banks have actually delved deeper into dangerous practices and have grown in size. If they were too big to fail then, there is no description for how big they are now. The LIBOR scandal and other rigging of global interest rates is another outgrowth of this emboldened attitude after the crisis of 2008. Like a child who never receives discipline, bankers are growing in audacity, and are often in collusion with regulatory mechanisms or simply legislate them away.  Practices of gambling with insured deposit money, partnering with loan sharks, money laundering for drug cartels and terrorist organization, and increasing the monthly dues on homeowners forcing them into premature foreclosure have all proceeded unchecked. Figure 5 illustrates just how much since 2008 nothing has changed to break up big banks or to curb the expeditious use of immoral practices.

As an example of the cancerous degree of the growth of big banks, consider their relationship to, and enabling effect on, wealth inequality – which is a well-documented precipitant of social unrest and civil disobedience. The top hedge fund manager in 2012 reports having “earned” in a single hour the equivalent of what a family would make in 21 years, on average in the united states. Now consider the top 10 hedge fund managers “earned” in 1 year the equivalent of what approximately 200k registered nurses working in hospitals in the US would make combined.

The value of a hedge fund to society is similar to the value of a casino. They have an economy of their own that produces and consumes, but it yields no positive effect on society besides enriching the winners and impoverishing masses. Simple gambling is immoral, but at least is currently legal. A hedge fund manager’s expertise is in concocting schemes to bend rules and obscure crimes, to break the law or to buy it. Illegal insider tips hidden without a traced. High-frequency trading without actually caring about the product of the company invested in. Manipulating stocks with rumors or media. Exploiting tax loopholes. Manufacturing and marketing fraudulent financial products or bundles designed to fail so insurance money can be claimed. These are some of the ways that hedge fund managers break the law, make millions swindling hard-working families, and avoid being caught.

In modern times, radicalism doesn’t just increase in Islamic groups, it increases in political partisanship and financiers as well. Rhetoric and doctrines to support particular agendas become popularized through well-funded campaigns and propaganda,  often amongst rural, uneducated, and unsuspecting populations. Fear mongering and prejudice coupled with bigotry and the promised pleasures of materialism sway the minds of the electorate and purchase voting power in the grass-roots. As a war of civilization rages on the international front, a war of financial radicals pitted against the common weal ranges domestically — lobbied by Halliburton, the NRA, and big banks. Their viciousness is matched only by the fanaticism of the extremists who fight with each other overseas to see who will control oil resources. A philosophy that aggrandizes the ego and glorifies violence is used to seduce people, taking them back to fantasies of boyhood compensation sloganized in the works of 1-dimensional thinkers like Ayn Rand.

The erroneous philosophy of seeing competition, struggle, and war in everything. The juvenile outlook that society consists only of individuals and that government has no place in regulating, legislating, and providing infrastructure. These are the ideas of individuals who do not know what they are saying, and in their ignorance have even steeped to hatred of the poor. Rhetoric, such as “moochers”, “f freeloaders, and “the 47% who do not take responsibility for their lives” deserves no place in a society of mature souls, with spiritual insight, and moral integrity.

Individuals must voluntarily ask that their privileges be suspended if it would serve the common weal and ease the travails of their fellow countrymen. But this is not the interpretation given to the Bible anymore. Albeit, these were the sentiments and explicit intentions of Jesus Christ, Whom this Nation of God-fearing people reveres so much. So how could it be that national discourse has overlooked this striking passage from the mouth of Jesus, “go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

Rich and engaging discourse from all sectors on these and other issues of collective importance will raise awareness and educate the masses in the nature of what transpires in the economic and political spheres around them. In self-propelling systems of distance education at the grassroots lies our only hope of an irrepressible movement. Knowledge and spiritual transformation are a light that will illuminate the economic-political axis of darkness, and liberate individuals to love their social institutions fully, reduce the extremes of wealth inequality, and nurture all people without prejudice in a system that rests-assured that the surest path to the protection of any one part is to ensure the prosperity of the whole.

Various economic policy suggestions have been proposed by way of solutions to the dilemmas listed above. In addition to spiritual transformation and grassroots education, practical steps to mitigate short-term damage in the present humanitarian crisis of poverty would do well to consider the following activist opportunities. A Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street financial transactions. This is a matter of justice. Every sale or transaction in the US is subject to sales tax, why is high-stakes multi-national gambling not taxed? It is certainly a sale, and it may even be worthy of a vice tax as well. This is a principled starting point. The tax rate can be increased until the rate of day trading slows down enough to represent a legitimate interest on the part of the investor in the product and mission of any given corporation and sufficient time is allowed for products and initiatives to come to fruition before the stock is deemed worthy of sale or withdrawal. Such a posture is more in keeping with the honest and genuine intentions of an investor seeking to sponsor the business of a corporation. The tax rate on stocks, bonds, and derivatives can be raised until high-frequency trading for example is eliminated. These taxes would be used to offset the damages done to the global infrastructure as a result of scams originating from Wall Street. As a matter of fact, eleven nations have already decided to adopt the Robin Hood tax to govern their own internal stock exchanges. For more information please visit robinhoodtax.org.

Another practical solution is state banks that could compete and replace Wall Street type banks in each of the US’s 50 states. North Dakota  has a State Bank functioning in a transparent, honest, and legitimate service model devoid of corporate shareholdings, illegally maintained profit requirements, and other pressures of financiering. We recommend the erection of 50 public state banks to support local city banks with loans to private citizens to mirror the success seen in the State Bank of North Dakota model. Bankers in these banks, as public servants, receive reasonable, and not extravagant, salaries. It makes sense for the government to give low-interest rate credit to these banks because they pursue the interests of the people, not their own selfish interests. For more information please visit the Public Banking Institute which is led by Ellen Brown and Marc Armstrong. Twenty states are currently exploring this idea with their help. It is morally imperative that conscientious citizens become active in the reform that could improve conditions of economic and social justice in our society. This discourse represents one of many constructive ways to reform Wall Street’s influence on the economy and capitol hill. Justice demands that labor be rewarded with wages, and those wages not be taken by corrupt bankers even if they lobby the law to be written in their favor and can’t be caught. Society needs reform.

“Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor, lest heedlessness lead them into the path of destruction, and deprive them of the Tree of Wealth. To give and to be generous are attributes of Mine; well is it with him that adorneth himself with My virtues.” 
sun trees cold
Categories
- Empowerment - Religion - Three Protagonists Discourse

Summary Ridvan 2013 Message: Growth and Discourse, A Dynamic Coherence

Paragraphs:

1- “The Book of God is wide open, and His Word is summoning mankind unto Him. Incline your ears, O friends of God, to the voice of Him Whom the world hath wronged, and hold fast unto whatsoever will exalt His Cause. With the utmost friendliness and in a spirit of perfect fellowship take ye counsel together, and dedicate the precious days of your lives to the betterment of the world and the promotion of the Cause of Him Who is the Ancient and Sovereign Lord of all.”

2- These Words come to mind unbidden at sight of consecrated global efforts. Power of Word of God is ascendant in hearts.

3- Training institute is mainstay. Some relocate to receptive village or neighborhood. 3 Month rhythmic pulses; 3 distinct stages of education process.

4- Dynamic cluster process not readily simplified. New features require special attention. Expansion phase goal can vary.

5- Different speeds. Welcome all contributions. Reflection on entirety and specific endeavours. Progress achieved with love.

6- Neighborhoods of intense activity have preceded cluster IPG’s. Community building transforms spirit and culture of a place.

7- Training institute impels Social Action. Common conceptual framework governs spheres of endeavour. OSED evolving.

8- Faith identified with possessing welfare of humanity at heart, in conception, and means.  Even in the Cradle of the Faith.

9- Recent wave of Iran’s persecution endowed network of agencies. Grassroots discourse arises naturally. National level discourse proceeds with action, reflection, consultation, study. Office of Public Discourse established at BWC to: facilitate learning, ensure coherence, coordinate activity, and systematize experience.

10- Chilean Temple apace. Expectation surrounding 7 new Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs. Fundamentally spiritual endeavour. Union of worship and service.

11- Fervor by convocation of 95 youth conferences. Younger followers stimulate entire Cause.

12- Day of supreme felicity, Ridvan 1.5 centuries ago, Najíbíyyih Garden. Word of God gone forth and God-intoxicated lovers have blossomed a community of purpose.

 

Nancy Wong Photography, LLC

Categories
- Empowerment Development Human Nature Oneness

Inside Those Suffering Eyes: The Us and Them Dichotomy

Those who wish to make a positive impact on the world are faced with a paradox born of the very privilege that motivates them to help others. They are at once the beneficiary of oppressive structures and their product. Insofar as they have become awakened to the plight of the impoverished masses they are reactionary to the knowledge of suffering and the empathic guilt of enjoying the spoils of injustice. On the other hand, were it not for this privilege the motivation to rise up in activism would be lacking as well as the technological means to analyze the problem and the social influence to pursue reform.

Emerging from this context, activists in pursuit of reform are faced with a self-reinforcing dilemma. Spearheading a movement requires the oppressed (the proposed beneficiaries of reform) to submit to preconceived models of action and adopt objectives derived from their personal experience. Naturally, not spearheading a movement would obviate the possibility of marginalizing the directions and incentives of the masses, but would remove them from the field of service. Emotional and motivational repercussions of this problem overshadow any academic shortcomings conceivable, as social organization and collective will in the rural setting are far more susceptible to unspoken implications. Overall direction being set from the outside is the hallmark of failed development initiatives.

The exacerbation of the Us-Them divide renders the population purported to be served an intractable obstacle. Alternative extremes result in cultural relativism and relinquishing the task of transformation in the name of others’ rights to self-determination and autonomy. Colonial invader or assimilated relativist seem like the only two viable options.

Are human beings doomed to be outsiders to every group except a single subculture, narrowly defined by nationality, ethnicity, social class, religion, and occupation? I believe not. But can you think of a reason why? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

poor boy

Categories
Justice Oneness

Planetary Unity, Universal Justice, Global Prosperity

Global prosperity will result from the establishment of universal justice. The establishment of justice in turn depends upon the progressive unification of the peoples of the world into a single community, one family, functioning like the fingers of one hand. The existence of structural impediments to the work of the unification of the people of the world cannot be denied. Foremost among such obstacles are: 1) the concept of nationhood, 2) centralized control over knowledge and the flow of information, 3) childhood neglect due to a culture of materialism and selfishness, and 4) inadequate access to an ideology of hope and reconstruction that offers a common identity. Structural improvements to social relationships will need to be made before justice can be installed as a fact of global infrastructure. For the sake of the prosperity of humankind, unity must be achieved.

Unity, is of four kinds: geography, destiny, type, and values. Prisoners that share a cell are united as a result of their physical proximity to each other, ie: their geographical unity makes them united. Workers in all nations feel a certain affinity for one other as a class who labor under toilsome conditions for the production of society’s goods. Workers also share a common destiny of being controlled by those who own the means of production, whatever corporation that may employ them. Their common plight orchestrates a shared destiny that they see in each other. Hence, the popularity of unions, Marxian theory, and the concept “proletariat.” African-American individuals, regardless of their socio-economic status, share a sense of unity with each other as a result of their race, evidenced by the development of shared culture, rights movements, and the affection of brotherhood.  African-Americans experience unity as a result of sharing identity in a common type. These three types of unity (geography, destiny and type) are of limited scope and none is universal in its potential or claim on humanity.

Geography is limited by space, there will always be another location to represent a disunity. Destiny is restricted to those who do not control their own social predicament. Thus, those who do not share the oppression or structural relationship that led to a common destiny cannot be united through it. Finally, unity based on type will always be thwarted by a more refined conception of type, due to mankind’s infinite degrees of diversity. Within every race can be found subsets, ie: ethnic or tribal differences, like in Rwanda’s ethnic cleansing.

Planetary unity cannot be achieved through urbanization, and the movement of millions of acres of rural farmlands to inhabit common geographical regions known as urban centers. Planetary unity cannot be achieved by herding masses of people into a common social role, because those who drive the system remain outside of the destiny of the masses. Finally, planetary unity cannot be achieved by uniformity, because infinitely refined forms of diversity are forever intrinsic to human nature.

Only one type of unity remains to unite people across geographical boundaries, regardless of social destiny, and whose existence celebrates the infinite diversity of human race, culture, language, and tastes. Value unity is the only power that can inspire the minds and attract the hearts of a limitless assortment of human souls – a unity of values can alone unite a beleaguered and disheveled humanity seeking justice and prosperity in the 21st century.

planetary unity

Categories
- Governance - Oppression - Prevailing Conceptions - Three Protagonists Discourse Justice

New World Order

Corrupt incentives drive people’s contribution to the public discourse. Politicians, businessmen, financiers, are all guilty. The discourse no longer represents an honest viewpoint of reality, the dominant slogans on TV and radio are a designed smoke-screen to hide the real structure, decision-making, and motives at play in the world of economic policy, legislation, and campaigning. The derangement in  economics, political deceit, and social manipulation is reaching unrecognizable proportions. Popular culture is responsible for making itself gullible to such influence. Our society nurtures a desire to be entertained from childhood, cultivating generations eager to be led by priests, politicians, advertising, pop idols, and whoever proves skillful at appealing to superficial emotions. Hence the increasing efficiency with which political marriages to the finance sector manipulate mass perceptions in the electorate during campaign season and drive up consumer demand with commercial advertising. The world’s social, economic, and political Order is in an irreparable downward spiral. Nothing can salvage it except a broad reconceptualization of our fundamental conceptions of society, self, government, global interdependence, the rule of Justice and Law, the reviving of the spirit of brotherhood in Religion, wide-scale increase in education and the free-flow of knowledge, robust discourse amongst the masses, self-sacrifice for unity, and a sense of  obedience to One Universal Cause.

Framing the problem and a plea to begin rethinking society’s fundamentals begins here with Professor David Harvey:

NWO
Categories
- Empowerment - Prevailing Conceptions - Three Protagonists Discourse Human Nature

Unemployment and Religion

No one looks for the source of economic problems in spiritual matters. Likewise, no one looks for solutions to economic problems through spiritual means. Unemployment is the self-claimed most important economic problem of the day, and yet, the fact that workers aren’t motivated to go to work isn’t seen as a systemic problem of our culture, but rather as a problem with those individual workers themselves. “Lazy”, some people call them. “Unmotivated” others say. And yet, what do we expect individual’s to feel motivated by in our current conception of the purpose and nature of employment? How does it draw on a human being’s capacity, talents, and aspirations? These are the sources of motivation after all.

Modern western society has reduced the individual’s perspective of work to what is termed “gainful employment.” The gainful employment conception sees work as solely aimed at acquiring the means for the consumption of produced goods. The main driving thrust of employment then is to put into  society the labor that earns one the credit on which to purchase society’s commodities. There is no real purpose or passion or spiritual worth intrinsic to the labor itself in this conception. Society has crafted innumerable “jobs”, to be filled, and “products” to be consumed around this vapid conception of employment.

No serious doctor would look at the human form and reduce the purpose of eating to being healthy, and the value of health to hoarding food. But that is precisely what we have done when we expect society to work for a salary, and expend that salary on the consumption of goods. The system is circular: acquisition and consumption resulting in the maintenance and expansion of the system of good production and, in consequence, upholding the practice of gainful employment. Whereas, the reality is that human life should have a purpose that transcends the mere physical dimension.

In the gainful employment conception, there is no consideration for matching a human being’s natural talents to her or his tasks, for the maximization of society’s benefit from her or his labor. Neither is there a sense of credence given to the dreams or aspirations of the individual, in what he or she deems worthy of their life’s work. Finally, there is very little collective planning with regard to what division of labor would be most efficient and conducive to the prosperity of society as a whole. Corporations are empowered to employ countless thousands of mindless workers without questioning the merits of the menial tasks they assign them to perform, many of which are a waste of true human potential, and taken cumulatively  usually detrimental to the interests of society. For example, the maintenance and running of enumerable fast food chains, which waste human talents and capacities on things like assembly line production for Big Macs or janitorial labor, meanwhile the whole time these establishments do a disservice to society, driving up the consumption of unhealthy foods and saturated fats, simple sugars, and processed goods.

Taken individually, things like labor of various complex levels, compensation of salaries and wages, and the purchasing of goods, groceries, and housing are all essential activities to the economic order, however the vapidness of the entire conception is demonstrable in its circular-ness. Bodies don’t live to eat, and expend energy to hunt food — we live to listen to music, love our families, serve our communities, and develop our potential for art, science, and civic engagement. Eating is just something we do to enable this whole process. Likewise with sleeping, and using the energy from our food to solely pursue another meal or shelter, clothing, and some other basic necessity. The purpose per se of our health in our bodies however is not the acquisition of the next meal, nor is it the purpose of food and rest and shelter simply to create those conditions in which we feel most comfortable and secure. They are part of a larger context in which meaning comes to be realized through a series of complex, interconnected social, personal, and spiritual pursuits that give a sense of transcendence and purpose to our lives.

The  inadequacy of the concept of gainful employment, as it is practiced in our modern culture can be read from two sources: First, the wide-scale apathy of workers and upswing in mass shootings that social media sources are covering as the natural expression of people on their daily routine grind as post-office workers, school boys, or university students. The second sign of the inadequacy of the conception of gainful employment is the mounting tide of people who are totally unemployed all together. The growing armies of the unemployed, who develop day by day an increased sense of demoralization and despair, are considered by those who believe in social safety nets and those that consider them lazy or un-ingenuitive, a bad sign for health of the economy. One of the most important indices of economic strength and prosperity is the unemployment level, and in turn, one the major causes of unemployment is the conception of gainful employment as it is understood in modern culture. A reconceptualization  of employment in popular culture is the spiritual solution to the economic problem of unemployment.

Workers

Categories
- Empowerment - Governance - Oppression Discourse Human Nature Oneness Power

Framework that Shapes the Baha’i Approach to Political Involvement

For decades, the Universal House of Justice has been nurturing the development of the Baha’i community in Iran, guiding them through their persecution and assisting them to recognize the significance of their sacrifice and their opportunities to serve.  A few days ago, they sent a letter to the Baha’i of Iran.  Below are a few notes, paragraph by paragraph.

.

1. The message starts by acknowledging that wave after wave of persecution to this sorely tried community has only served to strengthen it. The larger Iranian community, itself oppressed, sees this injustice as destructive, while witnessing the Bahá’í community as a force of construction and calling for its full participation in the life of society.

2. From a political standpoint, the Bahá’í community has historically been cast as either rebels and foreign spies against the current regime or apathetic and withdrawn from social life. The House is providing comments on the Bahá’í attitude and approach towards politics to assist in the understanding of Iranian citizens regarding this subject.

3. Perspective on politics is tied to conception of history; humanity is approaching its threshold of maturity – the unification of the entire human race – and is currently in a period of unprecedented transition characteristic of the struggle to come of age. Latent powers and capacities are coming to light, and accepted conventions and cherished attitudes are being rendered obsolete by evolutionary imperatives.

4. These changes are the result of two interacting processes – one destructive, sweeping away barriers that block progress; one integrative, drawing diverse groups together for opportunities to cooperate. Bahá’ís strive to align themselves with the integrative forces.

5. This view of history underlies every endeavor.

6. The organizing principle of the imminent mature society is the oneness of humanity, though widely accepted today, is still in the early stages of reconceptualizing societal structural relationships – current ill-conceived notions of which are entirely inadequate and dangerous.

7. All peoples and nations will contribute to the transformation envisioned, and as unity will be progressively achieved in different social realms, structures reflecting political unity in diversity will take shape.

8. How can Bahá’ís best contribute to the civilization-building process?

9. Regarding its own growth and development, Bahá’ís are dedicated to a long-term process of learning to establish patterns of activity and structures that embody convictions based on the principle of the oneness of humanity, in which all are invited to participate. Those listed help form the conceptual framework in which Bahá’ís operate.

10. Because this process of learning must address numerous questions that arise (with many examples noted), a mode of operation characterized by action, reflection, consultation, and study of the Writings of the Faith and of patterns unfolding using scientific analysis has been adopted by Bahá’ís.

11. The direction of this process of learning is guided by Plans of the Universal House of Justice, broadly aimed at building capacity in protagonists to strengthen spiritual community life, address social and economic needs, and contribute to discourse, all with coherence.

12. The nature of the relationships of these protagonists – individuals, communities, and institutions — which lies at the heart of this process of learning, is cooperation rather than competition, is universal participation rather than spectators and powerful elite, is collective prosperity rather than irresponsible liberty.

13. The operation of power is involved in the relationships between these protagonists; yet the concept of power as domination and contest is antiquated. Rather, the human race contains a limitless capacity to transform through powers of the human spirit, such as love, unity, humility, purity, that can be released and channeled.

14. The Bahá’í community is not perfect, is not the embodiment of these ideals; it is gaining insights into them. It is not uninterested in social affairs nor unpatriotic, but its endeavor – which can be labeled as “idealistic” by some – is obviously deeply concerned for the good of humanity, hardly an objectionable effort by a group of people.

15. Involvement in society is another dimension to contributing to the advancement of civilization, which naturally must not contradict the first, in terms of principle or practice, in assumptions or action. Bahá’ís endeavor to associate with all people with joy, to promote unity, to serve humanity.

16. With these thoughts, Bahá’ís collaborate with others to promote human welfare, choosing means worthy of noble ends. They don’t impose religious convictions, yet do share lessons learned from their experience.

17. The convictions, beliefs, assumptions, and commitments detailed in the paragraphs above constitute the essential elements of the framework that shapes the Bahá’í approach to politics.

18. Bahá’ís don’t seek political power, won’t affiliate themselves with political parties or divisive agendas, and won’t accept political posts except those purely administrative in nature. However, humanity organizes itself through politics, and thus Bahá’ís vote, observe the laws of the land, and endeavor to uphold the standard of justice through lawful and non-violent means.

19. This approach enables the community to maintain cohesion and integrity and build its capacity to contribute to processes that promote peace and unity.

20. Participating further in the life of society is not without challenges, and the House of Justice prays for assistance from God in conversations regarding the framework articulated in this message, in collaborating with others, and in working towards betterment without compromising identity.

 

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 - 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
- Equality of Women and Men Oneness

Gender Equality and the Economy

So long as woman is maintained in the prison of objectification and her worth set by superficial conceptions of beauty–international unity and peace, and economic prosperity, will remain beyond the grasp of human achievement.  The uniting power of a more compassionate and intuitive nature  can alone overcome the divisive culture inculcated by men in the war-obsessed system of nation-states.

It is the result of a soul-stirring Revelation that man has come to know and appreciate the value of women in this day and age. Truly, if it were not for the spiritual impetus yielded unto our primitive species, centuries and millenia would have surpassed us before the reality of the sanctity of the female form and the integral function performed by united families in matters of political peace, the prosperity of economies, and our cultural tastes was ultimately realized.

Much emphasis is placed on growing humankind’s economies. Few recognize, however, that social issues of a spiritual and humanitarian nature are the limiting denominator in most of these dilemmas. Fifty One percent of humankind’s workforce is cruelly mistreated and deprived of their brilliant intellectual and physical potential–which they could have contributed to the tasks of rebuilding the global economy, nurturing its social and cultural development, and organizing its international politics so as to lead us away from intractable violence.

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womenliftglobaleconomy

 

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Categories
- Governance - Oppression Health Care Human Nature Oneness

Mental Illness and Collective Responsibility

Mental illness is not responsible for mass shootings. Removing guns from society would prevent mass shootings, but guns aren’t responsible for mass shootings. A desire for mass suffering is at play. What causes the desire for mass suffering? Much of what we call mental illness is not the cause but the effect of pain in relationships with family, community, and institutions. Individuals shouldn’t  be held responsible for illness, but who then is responsible? Insanity is a collective phenomenon. The desire for mass suffering is an outburst after a chain of painful experiences, inadequate coping mechanisms, family dysfunction, social alienation, exploitative communities, institutional neglect, and personal malice. Society is in part responsible for the suffering that produces mental illness. The division between criminality and insanity is a subtle one, mediated by society’s willingness to heal and prevent aberrant behavior. The barometer for what is considered mental illness depends upon what we are willing to accept responsibility for as a society. One day when social institutions are far more capable of caring for the neglected, and communities welcome their outcasts, we will recognize how much more the responsibility for tragedy rests on our own shoulders.

A perfectly sane man may commit a mass shooting, with pre-meditation and planning. However, mass shooters are automatically branded as mentally ill because it seems irrational. Why? Because we are too good to be worth killing? That reflects our experience of ourselves and our community. We are not so innocent in the shooter’s eyes. Mass shooters, terrorists, and communist revolutionaries traditionally feel disenfranchised by the social order. Our contentment with our individual homes, luxuries, entertainment, ambitions, and families blind us to the suffering of other people. The people in Newtown are no longer blind. The killer achieved his objective. We all feel his pain now. His suffering is externalized, projected onto those families. If you think this is unjust, it is only a matter of time before more mass shooters force us to reconsider the meaning of justice. We are responsible for everything that affects us. If something matters, we should hold ourselves responsible for its outcome. Welcoming the social outcast and eliminating gun ownership would have helped prevent this. We are all interconnected. Unity is both a goal and an operating assumption. Through shared travails we realize that as one humanity, we rise and fall together. Any pretensions to individualism, isolationism, or factions of particular interest will be forced to acknowledge their interconnectedness. Selfish evil cannot be marginalized or ignored, it just transforms expression until united good rises to meet it. Pain never leaves the world, it just waits to kick open a school door in Newtown, Connecticut.

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Jungle

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Categories
- Governance - Religion - Three Protagonists

Guns and Moses

If other people were carrying guns in the Newtown massacre they would have been able to intervene and stop the mentally ill killer — Or so the argument by gun owners goes. The reason why this argument is false is that mental illness exists with a predictable proportion within the population. Increasing gun ownership increases the number of mentally ill people with guns too. This means we will have more mass shootings, which will require more people to carry guns. Very convenient for the NRA.

Unintelligent and egotistical people fall for this corporate reasoning. Real heroes don’t kill bad guys, they sacrifice their “rights” to save children. It is vain and statistically inaccurate to believe that guns prevent mass shootings.

This is not a progressive viewpoint. This transcends partisan disagreements. This is a moral ideal with universal scope. Absolute demilitarization of nations and disarmament of individuals is a pre-requisite for world peace. Whatever minor technologies are necessary for maintenance of internal law and order by official police is all that is needed. Without national militaries, a small global peace keeping force under UN authority will be all that is necessary.

It is the presence of weapons and militaries that makes violence and war possible. Security and peace cannot be kept by threats and war, they must be produced by disarmament and demilitarization.

The legislative function of nations and the UN must come into play to outlaw the possession of all guns and weapons and the demilitarization of all national armies. Only when disarmament and demilitarization are embraced as law and principle can the safety and security of the people of the world be established.

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MLK

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Categories
Discourse Health Care Justice Oneness

Don’t Regulate Guns: Arm the Children!

Fire arms enable tragedy in a way that no other technology does. Where guns are absent, tragedies and destruction are less. Where people possess fire arms, homicide,  suicide, and mass shootings are more prevalent. Why do we need guns? We don’t. We enjoy guns for recreational purposes. What about defense? Possession of a fire arm does not deter other people from shooting you. Self-restraint isn’t inculcated by fear of retaliation. Rational foresight isn’t a strong suit of the violent. What about the 2nd amendment? The freedom to bear arms applied to (a) musket technology of the 1700’s, and (b) farmers who resisted government occupation by force. Muskets fire few shots per minute. Modern hand guns and semi-automatic machine guns were not envisioned by the founding fathers. Who today would seriously entertain the idea that guns help deter wrong deeds committed by the government? The government could commit a host of financial fraud in league with wall street to rob a majority of american home-owners of their pensions, and there’s nothing that guns would do about it. The government is tyrannical in its corruption to corporate tycoons and NRA lobbyists, but guns ironically aren’t the solution to that: they’re the result. Modern governments are tyrannical in a non-military fashion; therefore owning weapons isn’t the solution. A discourse on the influence of finances in congress would do more good. The 2nd amendment is outdated. Society evolves; so should the constitution. Civil servants should have to make a sacrifice to hold their office to ensure their incentive is strictly the common good. Total personal income for congressmen should be capped by the IRS at a modest quantity to flush out those who seek public office for personal gain. Lobbyists would lose interest and general welfare would be the only motive left for congressmen. To serve civil society is a responsibility and a sacrifice, not an accomplishment and a lottery ticket. Periodic massacre’s are not the price of freedom, but the outgrowth of anarchy.

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Olivia Engel

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Categories
- Education - Empowerment - Governance - Oppression Development Justice Oneness

Empowerment, Oppression, and Social Order

Extreme socio-economic inequalities of access and opportunity result in privileged vs. oppressed classes. The oppressed, over time, adapt to the structure of domination under which generations languish and become resigned to it. The status quo of the social order is maintained by coercive deterrents and castigating norms. Fear of freedom inhibits the underprivileged from waging a struggle for reform. The task of forging alternatives to the social order requires the rejection of a submissive social role and the adoption of prescriptive autonomy and larger community responsibility. The oppressed, having internalized the image given them by their oppressor accept a self-conception of individualism and dependence prescribed by the social order.

Prescription is the process by which one ideology’s value-allocations are injected into other individuals and communities, transforming the consciousness of persons prescribed to in conformity with the ideals of the oppressor. The behavior of the oppressed follows the guidelines set by the social order. The mindset which afflicts the oppressed will persist until they achieve a self-conception that holds them capable of running the risks of equality. Increasing capacity leads to this state of empowerment.

The oppressed suffer from a duality which has established itself in their self-conception. Without equal opportunities and access they cannot exist authentically. Yet, although they desire authentic existence, they fear its responsibilities. They are at one and the same time themselves and the oppressor whose social norms they have internalized.

Suppose some among the disadvantaged sought to alter the course of history, to change the social order, and to eliminate the sources of unequal access to social and economic capital. Their struggle for reform threatens not only the social order, but also their own oppressed neighbors who are fearful of still greater extremes of inequality, and indeed punitive measures that loom unspoken above their fragile lives. When they discover within themselves the yearning to be equal and united, they perceive that this yearning can be transformed into reality only when the same indignation is aroused in a critical mass of believers, volunteers, and supporters. While dominated by the fear of freedom they think themselves incapable of teaching or appealing to others, or to listen to the discourse of worthy causes, or even to the pangs originating from within their own consciences. The social order subdues the will to fight with the incessant whisper: “don’t stand out, don’t resist the flow, don’t oppose the flow of the norm.” As a result, the oppressed prefer gregariousness to authentic unity; they prefer the security of conformity to the creative enterprise produced by equality; they prefer boring subsistence over the dangers of ruffled feathers during the activism of social change.

The oppressors are also incentivized to maintain the social order as it exists, for it represents the source and foundation of their inordinate privilege. Although they may donate charitable contributions to the oppressed class they can never instigate revolution, not because they are unwilling, but because their soul’s lack the spirit of selflessness that suffering engenders. They give a pittance of charity to redeem their guilty conscience of the disproportionate gain they enjoy unearned, and squander indulgently. In order to maintain the flow of their conscience-clearing donations to charity, the oppressors require the perpetuation of the system of injustice, upon which their disproportionate privilege depends. An unjust social order is the permanent fount of their false generosity, which is nourished by popular squalor, poverty, and global despair.

Enduring change to the social order, ironically, consists in fighting to eliminate the causes which make charity possible. It is the good conscience of the oppressive social order that stifles the will to change, and drinks thirstily the nectar of complacency that only the fount of pride could furnish. Charity is the origin of that clean conscience.

Charity induces the disadvantaged and subdued masses to extend their trembling hands in supplication before the power and wealth of the socially successful. It is not in supplication but in co-equal creator-ship that these hands become worthy hands, belonging to valuable peoples, and creators of peace and prosperity for all. True generosity lies in striving so that men’s hands need not be extended any longer in supplication, but become increasingly the hands of creators which when raised up, embody the confidence of empowered hands. With a definite sense of power and increasing skill these hands transform our world and revolutionize the human condition.

Categories
- Governance Development Justice Oneness Power

Unity, Communism, and Change: The Principle, the Boogie-Man, and the Future

Today it seems that the message for change is articulated by people who believe in the unity of races, equality of genders, and institutional intervention on behalf of social and economic justice. These people also hold that the unity of mankind is a valuable principle. Alternative views originate from camps where self-reliance, individualism, and the centrality of ownership over risk and productivity is central to economic growth. These two camps are not necessarily opposing, although they set themselves up in a way to compete in a zero-sum situation, mutually excluding each other from voters allegiance, and financial and ideological support. There may be principles of merit at the heart of both camps, however the conflict appears to be designedly partisan, ideologically embodying the structure of conflict. They equate success with the failure of the opposing camp. As such, unity and consensus cannot be built.

The association of change and progress with unity and inclusiveness has not always existed. Progress has become increasingly linked with unity in popular discourse. However, the language of unity recalls certain associations with historical precedents. Certain movements invoked similar justifications for tyrannical processes in the past, such as the emphasis of national unity under communism in the USSR. This recalls tragic associations with 10 million deaths and relocations in genocides under Stalin.

Progressivism is associated with the political left, and conservativism with the political right. Leftism is associated with unity as a principle because of the language employed historically in communism. The right is associated with individualism, which it regards as the driver of economic activity. The right regards laissez faire markets as the source of economic prosperity. Whatever the etiology, the right has come to be associated with capitalism, and the left with communism. The division has been made highly controversial by manipulating public perceptions, reducing the discussion oftentimes to caricatures. The current matrix of associations is as follows:

The LEFT:
Economic theory: communism
Social theory: unity and equality
Direction: progressive

The RIGHT:
Economic theory: capitalism
Social theory: individualism
Direction: conservative

What is the origin of the association between the principle of human unity and communist economic systems? Why has a moral principle become bound up in political lingo and public perception with something so destructive and so outdated as communism? The largest and most well-remembered historical example of communism’s practical failures was Soviet Russia and the cold war arms race. In American perception, the USSR was demonized and held to be an ideological antithesis to the United States of America. But is this association between communism and an appeal for greater unity so tight knit? Moreover, is the fear of communism and all things related to it rational or even useful for our society? More specifically, does the principle of human unity imply communist economic practices?

First we will have to identify the elements of communist economics that led to its failure. Second we will have to look at the principle of human unity and identify its elements, moral appeal, and its implications. Finally we will look at these two, and determine if there exists any essential overlap that confounds the language of human unity with the knee-jerk reaction against communism. We will show that the aforementioned association is partly the result of historical experiences, irrational fear, and prejudices of language; we will also show that the principle of the unity of humankind is good, sound, and moral; and we will conclude by demonstrating that there is no essential connection between the economic system of communism and the moral appeal of the principle of oneness.

According to Karl Marx, when left to their own devices, power structures within free markets will set up systems that normalize a culture of exploitation of the masses of common laborers. Without a medium for expression of their wants and without voice to their needs, the proletariat, as they were called, would feel progressively dissatisfied. The discontent of the masses would well up into revolution eventually which would shift the balance of power in favor of the working class with the instatement of a communist government. This analysis also produced the categories of class theory that saw the organizers of the system of exploitation as a rich, powerful, minority that enjoyed disproportionate privilege. Whilst the working class was constituted of a poor, hard-working, majority that suffered in silent determination until the advent of revolution.

Whilst communism has multiple elements, the economic theory is of greatest concern here. One of the tenets of a communist economics is the absence of private property and ownership and that the means of production and subsistence belong to the community as a whole. So, communism believes that people should not be allowed to own things, and that the resources funneled into industry as well as the products of work belong to the society as a whole to be distributed as it sees fit for the satisfaction of its subject’s needs. These tenets can summarized as follows:

1) No private property

2) Resources and Products belong to the community

Although it is not entirely obvious that these are bad ideals as stated, it does pan out to be the case that societies do not prosper with the implementation of communist economic theory and these beliefs. No one has to remind the west of the dangers of communist economic practices, and with the evidence of history at our disposal in the 21st century, not many entertain the idea that communism in its pure ideology is tenable as a model of governance in economic spheres. Notable cases of the collapse of the Soviet Union testify to this fact, and the reality that the People’s Republic of China has actually prospered in recent times due to its distancing itself from communist economic regulations, and the implementation of a de facto free-market system under a nominally communist government, has led to widespread acceptance that pure communist economic theory is not a practical possibility.

Finally, we note that the episode of McCarthyism in the United States in the 1950’s roused public fears and prejudices to a level of irrationality and hysteria. As a result, communism ceased to occupy a rational pole in public considerations of governmental and economic options available, and started to become a weapon of defamation commensurate to a culture of witch hunting, demon-exercising, or other superstitions. The combination of these influences produced the current psychological milieu, in which it may be difficult for the public to speak or think rationally on topics that have a historical association with something so tragic and devastating in the collective national memory.

It is important to differentiate communist economic systems, from the benefits of the principle of the oneness of humankind, which it is the position of this forum, constitutes the single most important factor in the realization of world peace, global security, and future prosperity for the species. The principle of the oneness of humankind is no outburst of ignorant emotionalism or a vague hope, it is not even just a reawakening of the spirit of brotherhood and charity among humans. It determines the nature of the structures and relationships that bind institutions within states, policies to people, and nations into members of a single human family. It is not merely an ideal. Institutions are responsible and committed to the task of spreading its message, and embodying its truth. It cannot engender a mechanical change in society, but a natural and organic one. It challenges old belief systems, that inculcate or encourage a loyalty to smaller or outdated sects, and challenges all values to recognize the infinite authority of the value of the entire human family.

The principle of the oneness of mankind necessitates the demilitarization of the globe, as large militaries have been one of the most crucial elements enabling divisiveness, disparities, and war. We require a unified planetary model that melds our political machinery into a single global federation of nation-states, with a representative parliament, and a single global executive branch.

Unity must materialize in our spiritual aspirations, our trade and finance systems, and our script and language. Nevertheless, we must safeguard the local cultures and diversity of national and regional heritage. This is similar to how a human body centralizes control over many functions through the operation of the central nervous system, but also relegates certain functionaries to local administration and entrusts certain decision-making to regional nervous circuits or even paracellular communication. Unity in a planetary federation does not therefore imply uniformity any more than national federalism (vis. the USA) implies destruction of state distinctiveness or regional rights and cultures.

Human unity represents the consummation of our evolution that began with the birth of family life, subsequent development of tribal solidarity, leading to construction of the city-state, coming to rest finally in the system of sovereign nation-states that we have today. As you can see the circle of unity has been expanding continuously over humanity’s long history from the caveman to the space-station, and our final stage of evolution is now imminent: global unity. This final stage is necessary, inevitable, and soon at hand.

To meld so many disparate factions into a cohesive unity will require another impetus from that Source that has impelled the evolution of our species through all of its successive stages into greater circles of unity throughout the past. It is prophesied in religious scriptures and tribal faiths as well. A gradual diffusion of the spirit of world solidarity is arising out of the chaos on the internet, in the financial system, in health scares, in tourism and travel, in international trade and debt, in sports and culture, and in charity and development work.

Human unity increasingly captures the attention of the leaders and presidents of nations. Only selfish and backwards forms of nationalism would regard the call to international unity as a threat to the power and resources of the national government. Just as colonial powers resisted the inevitable rise of national sovereignty for the sake of selfish power, so too will national powers resist the rise of a global unity that stands equally inevitable and equally beneficial to the interests of the people and the governments. Absolute autonomy of the arm is no special boon when the brain is willing and able to coordinate whole-body motion.

The fierce opposition which greeted the Geneva Protocol, the proposal for a United States of Europe, and the restriction of President Woodrow Wilson’s 14 points into a smaller version, the League of Nations, all rank as among the prejudices faced by the forces of global unity at the hands of national power-mongering. Nevertheless the testimony of the prosperity of the United States of America with its system of federalism represents a credible and persuasive guide for the future of our world when it overcomes its prejudices against planetary society. Indeed, the United Nations demonstrate a significant advance in this direction, with some well-known shortcomings that illustrate the importance of more powerful and less nominal government structures at the global level.

The establishment of the European Union has taken steps in securing the monetary unity of that continent, however we still see the challenges associated with surgically enacting monetary unity in the absence of greater fiscal unity, vis. the current debt crisis in Greece. With Greece wanting to maintain its own national sovereignty in the context of increasing debt, their eventual fiscal merger with the rest of Europe is inevitable. As it is now, without fiscal unity, Greece maintains its control over fiscal budget setting. This sets the stage for increasing debt because they are not able to manipulate their currency, now the Euro (set by central European control) in response to economic shortages. This predicament will continue, and will worsen, until Greece and other countries like it are forced to sacrifice their national sovereignty in favor of continental governance. European control has already begun asserting Greek civil servants must comply with austerity measures before further loans from the European Union will be granted. The signs of centralized european government are already therefore being demonstrated. Inevitably, Europe is heading toward both monetary and fiscal unity – A reliable guide to the economic future of our planet.

Trouble and travail meld the warring factions of the world into a single united homeland. Stirring struggles and fierce controversies that forged the unity of the United States, are liable to play themselves out on the world stage to forge a global unity that will endure as long as mankind itself.

Categories
- Governance Discourse Justice Oneness

America’s 1912 Election

One hundred years ago today, a sixty-six year old traveler from the East, an exile and prisoner since the age of nine, with no formal education, in broken and failing health, having never faced a public audience, and unfamiliar with the customs and language of the West, gave a talk at Grand Hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio, en route to the capital of the United States.  He was ‘Abdu’l-Baha.  It was election day.

That particular election was unique.  The three competitors are now all called by the same name “President”, for on the ballot was the incumbent President, a former President, and the newly elected President.  This was the first time all the 48 continuous states participated.  That day seemed to embody unity.

‘Abdu’l-Baha, in the course of this nearly three-year historic journey to Egypt, Europe, and North America, before audiences large and small, brilliantly expounded principles – the spirit of the age – that are imperative for humankind’s imminent transition to maturity.  The independent search for truth, the oneness of the entire human race, the unity of all religions, the condemnation of all prejudice, the harmony of science and religion, the equality of men and women, abolition of the extremes of wealth and poverty, justice as the ruling principle of social organization, and universal peace as humanity’s goal, to name a few, were proclaimed in every social space, from homes, churches, parks, and railway cars, to universities, societies, halls, and public squares.  None were excluded.  The working poor, scientists and statesmen, children, refugees, clergy and skeptics, all benefited from a wisdom and love that was uncompromising in defense of truth yet elevating and gentle in manner.  Still today, millions are galvanized by such a matchless example of words and deeds that transformed hearts and expanded consciousness.

Election day a century ago, ‘Abdu’l-Baha praised the efforts of then-President Taft for rendering services towards the cause of peace, and noted that peace was constantly a topic of discourse in this country.  Taft had made treaties with various nations, and while this was good, the talk urged a higher level of peace – one that moves past cooperation within the current fetish of the social convention of nation-state sovereignty, one that embraces the beckoning world commonwealth, putting into social structure and political machinery the truth of the oneness of humanity.

America is destined to lead the world in the cause of peace, in spiritual civilization.  The challenge will not be easy or swift, and it is one that includes every member of the human race.  Society is formed from conceptions – these thoughts are shaped by conversation.  President Wilson, who was elected that day in 1912, incorporated these spirit-of-the-age principles into a noble peace program aimed at the well-being of all.  How can we apply, elevate, and spread the discourse of the oneness of humankind?

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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
- Governance - Human Body - Prevailing Conceptions Discourse Human Nature Justice Oneness

Economic Theory: Competition, the Key to Prosperity?

Human nature has been misinterpreted. We are not selfish and competitive by nature, but rather, altruistic and cooperative. Human societies to some extent actually represent an anomaly in the competitive theory of the jungle. Humans demonstrate a detailed division of labour and exchange of goods and services, with or without a cooperative intention on the individual level, between genetically unrelated individuals, that amounts to an economy-wide scheme of cooperation for collective prosperity. Modern societies with large organizational structures for meat and vegetable production and distribution, banking services and widespread trust in economic stability, and the rule of law and order, do the same. Since earliest days of the species Homo sapien, we have seen dense networks of exchange relations and practices of sophisticated forms of food-sharing, cooperative hunting, and collective warfare in hunter gatherer societies. The world of the animal for example, exhibits little to no distinguishable division of labour. In the jungle, cooperation is limited to small groups, and when it is seen it is almost certainly among genetically closely related individuals (eg: a family in a pack of wolves). Even in non-human primates (chimpanzees etc.), cooperation is orders of magnitude less developed than it is among humans. One may argue that certain insects such as ants and bees, or even the naked mole rat demonstrate cooperation in colonies of 1000’s of individuals working together. However, cooperation of these types of organisms cannot be appreciated except in the context of their considerable genetic homology. Genuine, conscious, cooperation that is biologically altruistic or selfless (ie: lacking genetic incentive) is seen in human society because of our unique nature, distinct from the jungle.

The “Jungle” interpretation of human nature comes from looking at humanity’s past of war and crime and deducing that human nature is selfish and competitive. No serious sociologist would look at a child and deduce that human beings are 2 feet tall and irrational. Yet, that is precisely what has been done when we look at humanity’s war- and crime-ridden history and deduce that human nature is selfish and competitive. Over the course of the child’s maturation and development it will become evident that he is actually capable of being a 5’10” professor of physics, for example. To judge human nature based upon an immature stage in human development leads to misconceived notions of who we are and how we should behave. The problem arises from the mistake of taking descriptive observation and mistaking them for a prescription of how things should be. The is-ought fallacy. Based on the observation of selfish and competitive behaviour, sociologists have prescribed selfish and competitive standards for others to follow. Instead of describing humankind’s violent past and seeking to overcome and transcend these difficulties in the future, many social theorists normalize these characteristics and prescribe them as the mode of interaction in economics and political practice. The sad truth is that much of our social order is built with this view of human nature in mind, catering to the worst aspects of our potential. No wonder society and the global state of affairs are in such shambles. A distinctive effort is needed to rethink human nature and our relationship to the collective order. Nothing less than a spiritual revolution in the hearts and minds of people and a transformation of the values of society will redeem us from the course we have set for ourselves with bankrupt self-conceptions.

Current economic theory is modeled around a self-interested conception of human nature analogous to the competitiveness of animals fighting for survival and reproductive resources in a jungle. I believe human nature is fundamentally altruistic, analogous to the harmony of cells and tissues cooperating for total organismic prosperity. The best advantage of the part is pursued in the progress of the whole. Cooperation of the various parts leads to health, and selfishness of any cell leads to cancer. The human body and not the jungle is what I choose as my model for societal and economic organization.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7AWnfFRc7g

Assumptions of the Jungle Interpretation of Human Nature:
1. Human beings are naturally self-interested
2. There is a finite amount of goods, services, and opportunities with an infinite amount of wants, drives, and competitors
3. Competition is both biologically necessary and mandated by the scarcity of resources
4. Survival of the fittest is not just a biological law, but a social one as well, equally applicable to the biological and social human condition

Assumptions of the Body Interpretation of Human Nature:
1. Human beings are naturally altruistic
2. Goods are produced in proportion to the sense of a duty, purpose, and enterprise animating human endeavours, individually and collectively
3. Needs are satisfied in a way that does justice to their severity and intensity, which balances the extremes of satisfaction and want society-wide
4. Creation of a just and prosperous world order is the fruit of all social evolution, just as the manifestation of the rational mind has been the fruit of biological evolution

 

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
- Governance - Human Body - Three Protagonists Discourse Justice Oneness Power

Beyond Political Partisanship

Three Protagonists and the Life of Society

Prosperity is the goal for mankind. As individuals and as a collective. To govern large groups of individuals congregated into a collective, as in a metropolis or a rural village, as in a city hall or a neighborhood shop, to prevent chaos, violence, injustice, and disturbances of the peace, institutions are needed. Security provided by appropriately appointed law administrators allows societal functions of education, travel, medicine, and commerce to receive well-deserved focus and resources. From the sanctity of authority, institutions engineer the erection of infrastructure and offer their guidance for the organization of social elements. While elected representatives are of the people, governance flows from the occupied institutions to the people. Albeit, creative initiative and prosperity are experienced fundamentally at the level of the individual and their families. At the same time, it should not be overlooked that prosperous institutions conduce to prosperous communities, and prosperous communities ultimately will be undermined if individual health and wealth disparities are so extreme as to undermine the very fabric of safety and security in a society.

Partisanship, Unity, and Justice

Partisanship is defined as loyalty to a group of people or a camp of ideology over and above its merits or its rightness or wrongness on individual issues. Initially parties are purportedly selected on the basis of personal affinities for the rightness or wrongness of their stance on issues, the very existence of parties beyond the issues implies loyalty on the basis of something other than whats right. What does partisanship add where the issues end? What does a party contribute that principles could not? Party choice is maintained often in the absence of close affinity with many issues, or even of those issues with the reality of the exigencies of the people. Party affiliation is not repeated for each issue, deciding what is best in each case. Moreover, oftentimes party membership is selected on the basis of cultural values or family position. For those in politics, often the choice is a pragmatic one brought about by the considerations of career opportunities and personal success. Times change and issues come and go, issues are even conjured up as distractions or partisan chess pieces; throughout all this proponents of a given party are expected to adapt their beliefs to the platform propounded by the partisan goals and agenda. Little thought is given to alternatives to this system given how antithetical partisanship is to nurturing right, moral, constructive, reasonable, and honest governance and societies. Partisanship is by definition antithetical to unity. To say “we have a partisan system” is to deny the successful functioning and the very unity of the system itself. A broken system is all that remains, a so-called “gridlock” is what they call it today. Partisan politics does not produce governance, it entails conflict between warring factions.

Solutions: Secret Ballot and Bans on Campaigning

Keeping our political views personal and voting privately allows justice, thoughtfulness, and more nuanced governance. Publicizing our political viewpoints, public displays of party loyalty, talk of voting choices, and expensive campaigning all force people to act more than they think, force people into camps before the issues are considered, and prevents them from being able to reflect privately. Privacy and humility in these considerations allows voters, politicians, governments, and populus to reserve their choices for what they think is right and best, and protects political action from public confusion or particularistic coercion. The concept “special interest” is contrary to the betterment of the people; all that should be considered is “general interest”, and common well-being, as the prosperity of the part is best safeguarded by pursuing the prosperity of the whole. Politics will, as medicine has, learn this. With the thought of the betterment of society in the uppermost of our consideration a better modus operandi for political action is achieved. Conversely, the continual flow of statements of loyalty, mass action, and emotional hysteria in the political sphere prevents people from considering and planning based on the their perception of what is just in a given issue before contributing their voice, vote, assistance, or position. A) Being morally correct, and B) being applicable to the priorities of society is foremost in people’s deliberation. Without secrecy from public scrutiny, without privacy from particularistic detractors, how can one reconsider one’s views on challenging questions? Said another way, without thought, how can difficult problems be approached? Excessive publicization has suffocated the internal thought process. After pledging commitment on one topic, voters are drawn in by ties of partisanship to support other viewpoints propounded by the platform and whatever irrelevant issues the party leaders deem strategically useful in the expedient time frame.

The presence of campaigning detracts from the selflessness and virtues prerequisite to the very act of leadership. Indeed, campaigning itself raises questions as to the motives and intentions of the individual whose foremost requirement would be qualities of selflessness and self-abnegation in deference to the interests of the good of all people. The implementation of a system of secret ballot for voting for positions of all offices and all important issues would eliminate the counterproductive conglomeration of individuals into morally superfluous partisan factions. What does partisanship add that private principle does not? What fame does campaigning achieve that successful service to human good does not? Disqualification of any candidate for office on the basis of attempts to campaign would protect those offices from the corruption that self-serving politicians have inflicted upon the populus since the inception of democracy.

“O ye the elected representatives of the people in every land! Take ye counsel together, and let your concern be only for that which profiteth mankind and bettereth the condition thereof, if ye be of them that scan heedfully. Regard the world as the human body which, though at its creation whole and perfect, hath been afflicted, through various causes, with grave disorders and maladies. Not for one day did it gain ease, nay its sickness waxed more severe, as it fell under the treatment of ignorant physicians, who gave full rein to their personal desires and have erred grievously. And if, at one time, through the care of an able physician, a member of that body was healed, the rest remained afflicted as before.”

Categories
- 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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- Governance - Prevailing Conceptions - Three Protagonists Power

Governance and Discipline

How does the conception of power from the last few posts shape thoughts regarding governance?  Currently, because our society’s structures and relationships are dominated by self-interested expressions of power, governance is viewed as a set of regulations and rules of conduct between competing parties, or an instrument of oppression by those in positions of privilege.  Government, viewed in this manner, disciplines the populous in two ways – through systems of overt reward and punishment to ensure order and the status quo; and through a version of “common sense” indoctrinated through government education and socialization to ensure the easy governability of the people.  What results is a perpetual struggle for power.  Little wonder the lack of trust in authority.

As demonstrated with the analogy of the relationship between the nervous system and the muscular system in the body’s release of power, the role of government instead, is to guide and coordinate collective capacity towards pursuit of collective goals, decided upon through consultation.  The highest purpose of institutions is nurturing human potential – releasing the creative powers of individuals and communities and harmonizing them together.  Discipline also takes on new meaning.  On the individual level, it is responsibly aligning creative capacity and action with collective endeavors, and consulting thoughtfully with institutions.  On the institutional level, it is putting aside their own interest, valuing the welfare of all, and consulting with humility, never considering themselves intrinsically superior.  On both levels, this discipline is not imposed by checks and balances, nor by fear or incentive.  It is ultimately a conscious, spiritual, internal process entailing self-sacrifice and alignment with a higher purpose.  And this process will lead to empowered individuals, empowered communities, and empowered institutions, utilizing power for the betterment of the world.

Do you have any relationships with authority that nurtures and releases your capacities and powers?  What are the dynamics?

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- 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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- Empowerment - Human Body - Three Protagonists Oneness Power

Neuromuscular Power

Operating under the assumptions that human beings, by nature, are cooperative and not competitive, and that there are spiritual sources of power that can unleash the latent capacities of individuals towards contributing to the advancement of civilization, the model of contest for social structures is ineffective. Instead, what are other models of social organization that are just, sustainable, and empower humanity to take charge of its destiny?

We, again, arrive at the analogy of the human body. Human society is a single body – composed of diverse yet organically unified cells, dynamic in its function, and in which the well-being of every part is inextricably linked to the well-being of the whole (and likewise, the well-being of each part can only be had through seeking the well-being of the whole). How does the human body exhibit power? Movement is achieved when the muscles exert force onto the skeletal structure, while in harmony with a relaxed counter-muscle, and in concert with the directives of the nervous system. There are multiple entities, all working together and for the same goal, that allows power to manifest – it cannot be accomplished without the cooperation of all parts, and surely not if some parts are in competition with others. Organic bodies are characterized by having properties that only emerge on the level of the whole, that do not exist at the level of any parts.

With this understanding, power is an expression of unity – an emergent property of our organic social body that is manifest when the relationship between individuals and institutions is marked by harmony, cooperation, integration, and interdependence. Power ultimately resides in the individual members of the social body (muscles), but the capacity to release this power rests with the institutions of society (nervous system) – the creative powers of humanity will never manifest to their fullest without a true harmony, trust, and common vision between these two. Social structures, as trustees of collective well-being, must learn to guide, coordinate, and tap into the capacities and powers of all people in pursuit of collective goals. And individuals must align their initiatives with this guidance and vision. Only then will we have the makings of a healthy social neuromuscular junction.

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- Three Protagonists Power

Spiritual Magnetisim

Spiritual sources of power and capacity are relatively more intangible than material sources; they nonetheless exist and exert influence just the same.  One way to discuss their dynamics and learn how to draw upon them is to use the analogy of a magnet.

A magnet is an object, composed of a common substance like iron, and when under proper conditions, creates an invisible magnetic field – harnessing the power inherent in invisible electric charges to produce an invisible electromagnetic force.  The only difference between a magnetized piece of iron and a non-magnetized piece of iron is the internal alignment of its elements.  Basically, if the electron configuration among the atoms are such that the poles and charges are all aligned in the same direction, the material will produce a net total magnetic field.  If the electron configurations are in different and random directions, the material will not be magnetized.

Quite an insightful analogy, one must say!  The human soul (magnet) has the latent capacity to manifest spiritual powers (magnetism), such as the power to unify and the power to attract other hearts through goodly deeds and a praiseworthy character.  The human being acquires these powers through the proper alignment (electronic configuration) of its thoughts, words, actions, attitudes, etc., with the spiritual forces and laws that govern reality.

Social institutions, such as the family, the state, the university, the clinic, and so on, can also manifest collective powers of justice and unity, for instance, through their proper internal alignment – both of individuals constituting those agencies and of the structure, values, purpose, and nature of the organization itself.

Likewise, communities, when composed of individuals and institutions described above, will manifest characteristics of love, oneness, and reciprocity.  It will become a wholly magnetized environment that elicits the capacities of all towards contributing to a process of collective betterment.

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- Empowerment Discourse Knowledge Oneness

Discourse, Education, and the Collective

Capacity building requires forums in which space has been created for learning about the betterment of society. Open forums for discourse can accompany and assist undergraduate students through their four years of university studies. Through an ongoing cycle of study, consultation, action and reflection, youth between the ages of 18 and 25 can learn more about who they are, what type of life they are leading, and the significance of engagement towards social change. In such settings people with potential learn about the dynamics of their engagement in social action and about the issues confronting prevalent discourses. They develop capacity to reflect, analyze, and learn from study and from ongoing action. Important in this process is the erection of essential elements constituting their conceptual framework. It is through some type of structure in the values and mind that people contribute to their families, neighborhoods, communities, and civic engagements. This structure is constant, but evolving. This structure encapsulates their principles. This structure allows progress to circumvent problems associated with whimsical decision-making or changes in mood and environment. Principles and scruples are as indispensable to productivity in the workplace as they are to advance in the social and intellectual setting. It, is after all, through the sum of multiple individual’s conscientious striving that we advance as a civilization.  In this way, on a personal level, we acquire the tools necessary to decipher and understand the complex mesh of intentions and realities we are inundated with in popular culture. Such tools include the ability to disentangle, understand and contextualize undergraduate university hierarchies and course content. Most people come to recognize the less than flawless value system that went into the design of their university courses and majors. Undergraduate students engaging in this forum, then, emerge with a sense of responsibility to assume ownership for their own education. This spiritual and intellectual empowerment is the agency by which we seek out and acquire the kind of knowledge necessary to live productive, contributory, and meaningful lives.

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- Religion - Science - Three Protagonists Knowledge

Walking a Path

That one who generates knowledge can be likened unto a scout evokes images of walking a path, which perhaps can be an analogy to the process of generating and applying knowledge.  Let us expand on this analogy.  Firstly, walking a path is a collective enterprise, not an isolated act; a path invites the participation of many and can be known by all.  A path has an end point and necessitates a structured, defined, and logical progression forward; but the actual course is not a straight line – thus, progress is mapped out, by multiple groups, through periodic reflection on current position and factors, at which point, the course and direction can be adjusted.  In this way, uncharted territory and related lines of exploration can be charted, and a fuller picture of the landscape can be obtained.  Walking a path implies constant movement and active effort, and yet the pace is not fixed; all strides are accommodated.  Those who walk this path require skills and abilities, qualities and attitudes, and it is through walking with others that these capacities are developed, not in isolation or off the path – there is no “practice” path; all actions are within a social context.  And of course, this path is not mapped out from the beginning; the horizon in the distance beckons those who walk and provides the general direction and goal, while the lamps that illumine their footsteps are the systems of knowledge and practice of science and religion.

One note about pace.  Although it is fostering a natural and unified process of forward movement with others that is important, and not reaching the end goal in a disunified manner, still there must be value placed on the speed of exploration.  The rate of progress of organic social processes can be increased, while still maintaining requisite characteristics of unity, justice, and humility.  The relationships between individuals, communities, and institutions, all walking this path, and their ability to engage in an ongoing learning process – defined as consultation, action, reflection on action, and study of science and religion – is what will determine the pace of progress.  In short, as has been a theme throughout, the advancement of civilization is propelled by the generation of knowledge within a learning mode and the development of proper relationships between its three protagonists.

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Oneness

A Unifying Center

Human nature is endowed with the capacity to unite together in groups. This unity is the result of forces that bind individuals together, whether these forces are generated by love, fear, ideology, culture, religion, interest, etc; and the capacity for unity always implies a center. Consider united groups throughout society today. A political party is united around some agency or a common stance on a policy, as well as united by being not another party; a group of sports fans are united by their common love of a certain team, and likewise a common hatred of the rival; an ethnic community is united through traditional activities and ideologies that have been passed down over generations, traditions different from their neighbors.

All of these centers of unity are spatially and temporally limited in scope, they are all particular and material in nature, and they often involve a struggle for power against some other center. These types of centers will lead to conflict and contention, and the greatest hope of humanity organized around these types of unity is a sterile and distant tolerance. More likely will be perpetual war.

Rather, a spiritual center of unity is universal and limitless. All human beings are spiritual in nature, and this common element can unite across geography, culture, and generations. There is no power struggle, because there ceases to be an “us” and “them” – one group is no longer defined by not being another group. Power is used collectively and constructively, and not oppositionally.

Using an analogy from physics, individuals in society can either be compared to gas molecules in a container or as planets revolving around a sun. In the first case, the movement of the molecules is independent of other molecules, and the interaction is collision. The condition that governs interaction is simply the size of the container – less conflict can be achieved through a larger container and less interaction. In the second case, there is a center of gravity around which all the planets revolve. The sun establishes the relationships between the planets, ensures order, creates harmony between all parts. The interaction of the planets is beautiful, never in conflict. We see, here, the profound differences when introducing one variable – a universal, unifying center.

Unity, by definition, requires a center around which to unify. Unity for the entire planet necessitates a universal, spiritual, center.

What are your thoughts on unifying centers?

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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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- Empowerment Discourse Knowledge Oneness

A Culture of Learning

The choice to adopt assumptions with the intention of operationalizing them does indeed entail challenges – overcoming habits of mind, resisting corrosive social forces, understanding the dynamics of change, etc – however, the journey hardly stops there.  These assumptions need to be applied and tested within reality to assess the fruits they bear.  To this end, a culture of systematic learning must be fostered; one that is motivated by a human being’s two-fold purpose, one that draws insights from science and religion, one that approaches universal participation and regards all as protagonists in the generation and application of knowledge.

There are a number of principles that prove valuable towards creating a culture of learning – three here will be mentioned.  One is integrating study and action together.  When they are carried out concurrently, insights are tested against reality, questions arise through service, and understanding is enhanced in a coherent fashion.  Contrast this with the educational systems of society which heavily fragment theory and practice, to the point where whole fields, irreconcilable with each other, are created to encompass one fragment versus the other.  Operating within this mode of study and action, a posture of humility assumes extreme importance and value – that each individual contributes simply one perspective towards an evolving collective knowledge, which is tested through action, studied and refined by others, and does not belong to one or another person alone.  Rather, all are empowered to own the generation and application of knowledge.  Again, society denotes humility as passivity, weakness, inferiority, submission.  Far be this from the truth!  Rather, true humility comes from an understanding of the oneness of humankind – that we are all cells in the body of humanity, that we all can play a part in the great enterprise of rearing a world civilization, that no one individual is greater in station than another.  Finally, joining study and service with a humble condition compels individuals to not only encourage and accompany others on a path of learning, but also to find delight and happiness in the accomplishment of others.  For – again, drawing from oneness – the knowledge generated by another is collective and beneficial to all.  The service rendered by another is towards the whole community, and benefits all.  Assisting others in learning is just as valuable as learning itself, for all work together in a culture of learning.

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