Grandpa Ed was badass

Grandpa Ed was badass

Yeah. Forgive the word badass, it doesn’t come easy to my generation. But it is, in fact, the word that fits. And I thank the generation that coined it.

In 1954 my father, Edward James Howard, a black man, newly married to a white woman, moved into a neighborhood in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Promptly, several of the white neighbors moved out. In 1959 he sailed to Brazil, wife and four kids in tow, to “pioneer.”

Edward J. Howard thought "a little different."

Edward J. Howard thought “a little different.”

Was he for real? What made him think so differently? What was it like for him in the 1950’s? And what was going on in the world at the time? I wish that he could tell me, but he’s been gone for thirty years now.

Recently, my storage got invaded by termites. Horrible. I won’t go into how nasty that was. But one amazing thing came out of it. I had to sort through my deceased parents boxed belongings. And there I found it. This precious thing, that told me how he thought. There, neatly typed on an old fashioned typewriter, with hand-written notes in the margins, was a talk he gave in 1956, when he was 32 years old. This is the average age of his current grandkids, most of whom never got to meet him. And it’s titled “Fast Evolving World – to What?”

Seriously? He thought his world was “fast evolving”? If he were here now his head would be spinning like a top. The other question, “To what?” is almost funny. But don’t we all want to know where we’re going, what we’re evolving into?  I know, some think we might actually be “devolving.”

In order to preserve the disintegrating document I digitized it, so that his descendants could decide for themselves whether he was a dreamer, a philosopher, or a revolutionary. It’s freaky how current some of his comments are. I know for sure his grand kids are smart and enterprising global citizens, but then, maybe Edward J. Howard started this trend.

Precisely at this moment in time it became very important to share his thinking. Why? Because at this juncture in time it is imperative to know one’s north. So that events in the world don’t defeat us, or cause us to lose our footing before we get where we’re going.

Here’s his talk, given in 1956, at LouHelen Bahá’í School near Davidson.

 

FAST EVOLVING WORLD – To What?

By Edward J. Howard

In an age wherein we are inclined towards and have our attentions constantly drawn to the negative things of life; in an age wherein we have witnessed opinions and viewpoints expressed on every imaginable idea in every conceivable subject; in an age that has produced so much confusion, conflict, and catastrophe, I would like to speak to you upon a more positive vein this afternoon and tell you some of the deeper values and spiritual implications found in the Bahá’í World Faith as it pertains to this disturbed and fast evolving world of ours.

The material and spiritual history of mankind has been a continuous process of evolution or gradual and constant unfoldment -and with all processes of unfoldment or development, as with the life of an individual, we might well ask ourselves the question – to what?

In the case of the individual, we can readily observe the seed of the man contained in the boy and through the various stages of growth and development the reality of the man who consumes the boy. Likewise, we observe the processes of history in civilization and see mankind march from family to tribe, from tribe to village, from village to city state, from city state to nation, and from nation today we hear the soundings of world government in the making.

You will notice I have mentioned world, for that is exactly what the Baha’i faith is- a universal, all inclusive, all embracing global movement of spiritual impetus signalizing the coming of age of the whole human race and the consummation of mankind’s material and spiritual progress on this planet.

Jane and Ed married in 1954, bringing his daughter Mary, and her daughters Tina and Carolyn into the family. Baby Tracie was a new addition in 1956.

Ed married Jane Reynolds in 1954, bringing his daughter Mary, and her daughters Tina and Carolyn into the family. Baby Tracie was a new addition in 1956.

To those of us accustomed to thinking in terms of limited concepts such as nationalistic states, geographic religions, class groups, and racial identities it is perhaps difficult to readily grasp concepts and the avenues of progress which eliminate all barriers in human endeavor based upon such limitations, and to begin anew with a simple thought such as – one God, one religion or one earth, one country. And yet, in the subconscious reality our deeper senses should demonstrate and confirm these basic truths.

It is clear and evident that the direction in which civilization is moving, and the swiftness of events that accompany this fast evolution, requires of us a new orientation in regards to our mental outlook, in order to make those necessary adjustments so essential to a positive approach to the problems of this age.

There is not one individual in this gathering whose conscience does not testify that in this day there is no more important matter in the world than that of universal peace. If the 19th century witnessed an age of industrial change, the 20th century is witnessing an age of changing concepts about people, about religion, about political ideologies and many other aspects of our civilization. As a matter fact, there is no facet of society that has not come in for a new closer scrutiny, and re-evaluation. The fundamental challenge of our day is the re-ordering of human affairs on the basis of justice and a genuine concern to understand the essential values and real purpose of life. The most outspoken opponents of truth and justice must and do rely on antiquated and unscientific information to make their points. Those people who distrust the democratic processes of freedom offer nothing new. They use the oldest kinds of religious and political devices to divide and rule. Any successes which the enemies of mankind can claim are won through the default of those who can and should promote the spiritual way of life. We as individuals bear a great responsibility to mankind to make clear (in both word and deed) our fundamental principles based upon some higher spiritual process such as those given to us by Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Baha’i Faith over 100 years ago. Hot air may serve a very comforting purpose on a cold winter’s night, but it leaves a very noticeable chill in terms of human rights.

Another aspect of this swiftly developing need and demand for re-orientation (and reorganization of our thinking processes) in order to see the great transition through which the world is passing, lies in our ability to gain perspective. To attempt in this day to visualize the world as anything other than a complete unit is a failure to understand the lofty purpose of divine wisdom. A most important concept is that of universality. The human situation concerns everyone, and not only do we have a religious precept on which to base our action, but they are in accord with and supported by all kinds of scientific evidence. Unfortunately our society has become so compartmentalized that many people believe that their only responsibilities are to limited groups of their own choosing. In reality the job before us is universal, it’s primarily to do with our sense of values. Any contrivances which some people use to set aside the common qualities of mankind are frustrating and annoying, but they are temporary at best. No matter how they twist and turn, regardless of their spurious arguments, in spite of their violence or turbulence, those who are unaware of the world as one community have been unable to do more than delay the constant progress of the great ideals of truth and justice as the true basis upon which universal peace can alone be established.

Brazilian friends Flavia and Newton invited Ed to settle in Brazil in 1959.

Brazilian friends Flavia and Newton invited Ed to settle in Brazil in 1959.

A standard by which we can test all valid arguments in the field of social concepts is this simple statement made in the Bahá’í Writings, as to the meaning of religion, “Whatever has to do with the universal good is divine, and whatever is divine is for the universal good; if this be true it is for all, if not it is for no one.”[i] “How pathetic indeed are the efforts of those leaders of human institutions who, in utter disregard of the spirit of the age, are striving to adjust national processes, suited to the ancient days of self-contained nations, to an age that must either achieve the unity of the world…or perish.”[ii]

We are caught in the era of change. Today’s problems and their solution were outlined in perspective over 100 years ago. The tangled mass of tensions in the world today comes from people’s past experiences, their outmoded ideas and limited vision, and their inability to meet the challenge of tomorrow. Those who oppose or hesitate to face broad moral issues, today, rely on insecurity, fear, expediency, and self-interest to sustain their position. Unfortunately too many accept the present state of affairs with complacency. We find many people who recognize the impact of change, but who insist that the only way of dealing with it is to let time solve the world’s problems. Most people abhor war, but they resist efforts to bring about peaceful solutions because they have not learned how to work constructively in the world community.

Though we view the world in its present state with apprehension and alarm, there is something strangely significant about this century we are living in, (beginning about the year 1844) which can only be fully understood and appreciated through spiritual eyes.

In the estimation of historians, this radiant century is equivalent to over 100 centuries of the past. If comparison be made with the sum total of all former human achievements, it will be found that the discoveries, scientific advancement, and material progress of this present century have equaled and far exceeded the progress and outcome of 100 former centuries.

It is evident, therefore, that this century is of paramount importance in the history of mankind. Reflect upon the miracles of accomplishment which have already characterized it, the discoveries in every realm of human research, in inventions, scientific knowledge, ethical reform and regulations established for the welfare of humanity, mysteries of nature explored, invisible forces brought into visibility and subjection, a veritable wonder-world of new phenomena and conditions heretofore unknown to man, is now open to his uses and further investigation. Day by day, discoveries are increasing. We might well say, what a wonderful century this is! It is an age of universal Reformation. The foundations of human society are changing and strengthening. Today sciences of the past are useless. The Ptolemaic system of astronomy, numberless other systems and theories of scientific and philosophical explanation are discarded, known to be false and worthless. Questionable ethical precedents and principles cannot be applied to the needs of the modern world. Thoughts and theories of past ages are fruitless now. Thrones and governments are crumbling and falling. All conditions and requisites of the past unfitted and inadequate for the present times are undergoing radical reform.

It is evident, therefore, that counterfeit religious teaching, antiquated forms of belief, and ancestral superstitions which are at variance with the foundations of divine reality must also pass away and be reformed. The morals of humanity must undergo change. New remedies and solutions for human problems must be adapted. Human intellect itself must change and be subject to the universal reformation-if universal peace is to be attained.

In this radiant century, in this fast evolving world, it becomes apparent that at no time has mankind had greater opportunity to achieve a lasting and universal peace than it has now. It is now obvious that if such an objective is to be reached, more than ever before it is necessary to re-examine and reevaluate our thinking, discard worn out and outmoded ideas, to weigh new evidence and discoveries and reapply realistic knowledge to an ever-advancing civilization.

In Brazil Ed designed and built the family home with his own hands.

In Brazil Ed designed and built the family home with his own hands.

In analyzing much of what is happening in the world today, we can clearly see a new world order being born before our very eyes, evolving out of the chaos and confusion that commands our daily attention. We are witnessing the birth pains of the reign of righteousness and justice upon the earth. The period for which the Christians have been fervently praying for 2000 years.

Baha’is throughout the world, in every land and island where human creatures exist, are laying the foundation for world unity based upon simple and broad universal principles given to the world by Bahá’u’lláh. In laying the pattern for future society, he talked on the subject of humanity-“The lovers of mankind, these are the superior men, of whatever nation, creed, or colour they may be.[iii]

Unfortunately, largely prevalent in the attitudes of nations, peoples and religions is the notion that they are on the defensive, that they must cling to some dying cannon and thus they join the ranks of the frightened, exiling themselves from the real world by fleeing from most of its inhabitants. We were all born too late for a tribal existence. The incompatibility of our desires for exclusiveness with our other aspirations for peace and security can be shown on any principal for the ordering of life. That is why nationalistic, religious, classicist, and racist thoughts and practices are ethically wrong, regardless of the intensity of the desires and fears that support them.

Some people think that religion is confined to an edifice, to the worship at an altar. In reality, it is an attitude towards divinity which must be reflected through life in all of our actions. On the subject of the foundations of religion, Bahá’u’lláh (and his son ‘Abdu’l-Bahá) had this to say, “There can be no doubt whatever that the peoples of the world, of whatever race or religion, derive their inspiration from one heavenly Source, and are the subjects of one God…”[iv] “the foundations of the divine religions are one and the same.”[v] Further, “The fundamental purpose animating the faith of God and his religion is to safeguard the interest and promote the unity of the human race, to foster the spirit of love and fellowship among men. Let your vision be world embracing rather than confined to your own selves.”[vi] “Religion must be conducive to love and unity. If it proves to be the source of hatred and enmity, its absence is preferable.”[vii]

On the subjects of universal peace, education, and economic problems, Bahá’u’lláh said; “All men have been created to carry forward and ever advancing civilization.”[viii] “That one indeed is a man who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race… It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”[ix]

The family grew in Brazil, with the addition of Rhea, Gregory and Charles, and the marriage of Tina to Celestino.

The family grew in Brazil, with the addition of Rhea, Gregory and Charles, and the marriage of Tina to Celestino.

These are just a few of the broader concepts permeating the teachings of the Báhá’í Faith but they serve to illustrate an all inclusive, all embracing philosophy rather than the limited concept so prevalent in our thinking today. They call for a wider vision, a greater loyalty, which can transcend the mental barriers of nation, religion, class or race, for most of the barriers to peace and the well-being of mankind are mental barriers only, and the only real obstacles to world peace.

Though mankind sits and waits, and expects that some great force other than himself, in this fast evolving world, will bring about a solution to the problems and conflicts with which the world is faced, until all nations and people become united by the bonds of spirituality and real fraternity, until national and international limitations are met in the reality of divinely revealed guidance, true progress, prosperity, and lasting happiness will not be attained by man.

I asked you the question: exactly what is the world evolving to? The world is rapidly and steadily moving towards unity. That the forces of world catastrophe can only precipitate such a new phase of human thought is, alas, becoming increasingly apparent. If nothing but a fiery ordeal, out of which humanity will emerge chastened and prepared, can succeed in implanting that sense of responsibility which the leaders of a newborn age must arise to shoulder, it shall assuredly come.

“The unity of the human race, as envisaged by Bahá’u’lláh, implies the establishment of a world commonwealth in which all nations, races, creeds and classes are closely and permanently united, and in which the autonomy of its state members and the personal freedom and initiative of the individuals that compose them are definitely and completely safeguarded.… National rivalries, hatred, and intrigues will cease…”“The whole of mankind is groaning, is dying to be led to unity, and to terminate it’s age long martyrdom.”[x]

Back in Chicago, around 1979, some of the grandkids got to know Ed (far right).

Back in Chicago, around 1979, some of the grand kids got to know Ed (far right).

It is strange and pitiful that an inquiring age such as ours, which has discovered so much of truth, should have left the spiritual realm unexplored, and should have missed the most important truths of all.  Arnold J. Toynbee, a historian of Oxford University, recently pointed out that the practical extinction of a rational faith in Western society is the supreme danger to the spiritual health and even to the material existence of Western civilization. A deadlier danger by far, than any of our hotly contested and loudly advertised political and economic sicknesses. He further stated that historical evidence definitely reveals time and time again that religion is the cement that holds civilization together.

Reflecting the spirit of the age, and with grave concern for society brought about by those spiritual forces released through the revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, down whatever road thoughtful men look today, they see before them some guiding truth, some leading principle advanced long ago. The sum and essence of the best hopes of the best minds today is contained in such simple statements as the 12 basic principles of the Bahá’í Faith revealed and proclaimed over 100 years ago.

Unification of the whole of mankind is the hallmark of the stage which human society is now approaching. But to those who are aware of the direction in which civilization is moving it can hardly fail to be significant that the Baha’i Faith is laying the foundation for the “Kingdom of God on Earth”.  It is these new patterns of thought for society which will be the agency for the reign of righteousness and justice upon the Earth.

 

[i] ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, by J. E. Esslemont, US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980 edition, p.257.

[ii] Shoghi Effendi. The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh. US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1974 edition, p. 36.

[iii] ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Paris Talks. UK Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1972 eleventh edition reprint, p. 148-149.

[iv] Bahá’u’lláh. Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1990 pocket-size edition, p.217.

[v] ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Foundations of World Unity. US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979 sixth printing, p.92.

[vi] Bahá’u’lláh. Proclamation of Bahá’u’lláh. US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1978 reprint, p. 122.

[vii] ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace. US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1982 second edition, p.287.

[viii] Bahá’u’lláh. Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh. US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1990 pocket-size edition, p.215.

[ix] Ibid, p.250.

[x] Shoghi Effendi. The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh. US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1991 first pocket-size edition, p.201 and 203.

 

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Posted in baha'i, bahai, equality, freedom, global discussion, interracial, interracial marriage, multiracial, national discussion, new world order, Paradigm shift, peace, race, social justice, Uncategorized, unity in diversity, universal peace, war | 1 Comment

Words for Robert Reynolds (M.I.A.)

Bob Reynolds and Jane Reynolds Howard, his tireless advocate

Bob Reynolds and Jane Reynolds Howard, his tireless advocate

On this Veteran’s day I want to share a poem I wrote in honor of POW (Prisoner of War) Robert Reynolds, my mom’s first husband and the father of my sisters Tina and Carolyn. Briefly, the story goes like this: My mom remarried after her first husband was shot down over the Baltic Sea and declared dead. 30 years later after my father passed away she heard about “Ghosts in the Gulag”, American soldiers whose plane had been shot down during the Cold War and imprisoned in Siberia. She began a long campaign to get secret documents declassified. She discovered her first husband had been taken prisoner and abandoned by the government behind “the iron curtain.” She set out to Russia and the Artic Circle to find him.

 

 

WORDS FOR ROBERT REYNOLDS (M.I.A.)

 

First you were dead,

gone forty years.

Memory of my mother,

brow of my sisters

reminiscent of your picture.

 

Now you’re alive

in possibility.

Wandering ghostlike in cold Russia.

 

You used to be just the pain of my mother,

bottled up grief

never spilling out

of vacant doe eyes.

 

Now my sister dreams of grueling torture

inflicted

on a father she never knew.

 

Cold sweat on waking,

she cries

curled up like the child in womb

she was in 1950

when the spy pilot was shot down over the Baltic Sea

and became a ghost in the Gulag

by our policy of abandonment.

 

Mom remarried,

had the rest of us kids,

wore widow’s weeds again

after thirty years,

only to hear the news of a possible resurrection.

 

 

Now, expectancy pervades

these epic lives

spanning four decades

and two continents.

 

Where are you now?

Beloved of my mother,

Cold War casualty

lost behind an iron curtain,

wandering in your destiny,

alive in our imagination

(with no official confirmation)

begging release from purgatory.

 

You are craddled

in the palm of God’s hand.

 

Rhea Harmsen

 

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Race in America: My Reflections on “The Present Crisis”

Poetry is all I have to offer today when my country is in such turmoil. I write a lot about race unity, hoping to spread hope. Wherever there is a thought of hate, replace it with a thought of love. We can do this. We will reach the promised land. Keep the faith.

IMG_7348

 

On Restitution and Absolution

(Reflections on James Russell Lowell’s “The Present Crisis”)

I

From the cauldron that’s America, now in full rolling boil,
Feel the heat of convolution, smell the stench of bubbling oil.
Arms reach out from bloody soil, for relief of human mis’ry.
Mingled voice of white and black call on heaven to take pity
On the people of this nation, ‘cross the heartland and the cities.

Where the sheet-covered figures now march by light of day,
And by night roam the youth gangs seeking unsuspecting prey.
Where retreat into tribalism is our new found insanity,
Self-hate and righteous bigotry reach a level of profanity
And America is drowning in its own inhumanity.

Race relations in America, it’s like entering a maze…
The racism in our fibers is a cancerous malaise.
In some hearts there’s deep despair, and the poor hope no more.
‘Neath the barely restrained violence dwells a lust for retribution.
There dwells an anger deeply rooted in unjust persecution.

While a hoard of TV pundits poke the wound in fascination,
Mesmerized by all its festering, paralyzed by complications,
A new wayward generation can’t transcend its own confusion.
The past beckons ever-present, calling out for resolution,
While the future looms so imminent, with the threat of no solutions.

The momentum of decay is now measured by the hour
As the race-related incidents descend in steady shower.
Each assault deals loss of hope, each new verdict heightens panic.
Feel the fall of a great country, sinking like the great Titanic.
Rearing now for its third gasp, as it drowns in the Atlantic.

One great canvas holds the anguish now reflected in all eyes,
Our faces all turn upward, voices question darkened skies:
“Who will give us restitution?” “Who will grant us absolution?”
“When will come illumination, and an end to tribulation?”
“Do we even have volition to break with our tradition?”

White sister, black brother, come to table, eat your supper.
White father, black mother! Cool your anger, ease that hunger.
Cast the load and sit you down! Break your bread and pass it round…
Hush your mouth and do some lis’ning! Drink the gall of our own history…
Humbly look into each eye. Bow your head and eat your pie…

II

The gang children of today, you see, who live by hatred’s rule
Only mimic what was learned in our forefathers’ school.
When they led that Cyclops, Slavery, where our trusting feet did play,
To the offspring of that monster they did sentence us as prey.
They enslaved their children’s children in a trackless round of hate.

They defined the most great issue that would challenge us today
As we struggle to retrieve our wounded children from the fray,
From the claws of Slavery’s offspring, Indifference and Self-hate,
We glance behind to roads long forgotten in dismay,
Where the bare bones of history, show both greatness and disgrace.

‘Twas the portion of the white man to be this land’s oppressor,
Blundering into this great drama oft to plunder and divest her.
And now even when immigrating lately to the scene,
He is burdened as accessory to our forefather’s sin.
Now he totes a weary load in the color of his skin.

And it fell to the black race to be sacrificial lamb
Then the victims free of sin on the stage of this our land,
But like the children of the Israelites when freed from their bondage
Some went wandering in the desert, some went turning to idolatry,
Seduced by every idol, now the tools of their own carnage.

So while white man’s soul did battle with the demons in his head,
The black man had to wrestle with the dragon in his bed.
While the one lost his faith by succumbing to his greed,
The other reaped his grace overcoming evil deeds.
For even ‘neath oppression can the spirit wander free.

III

At this pass, this great juncture, when the stars are all aligned
And the fruitage of our actions have all ripened on the vine
From the forces of the universe we must question this convergence.
We must ask the divine purpose in the cyclical resurgence
Of Moses’ children’s bondage and Pharaoh’s people’s scourges.

On the shores of this new nation were we destined here to meet?
Some came chased here by intolerance, some came shackled by their feet.
Are we then to chart a path through God’s primordial maze?
Meant to play out age old themes upon this nation’s stage?
Search the meaning of the cosmos through kaleidoscope of race?

Could it be our Revolution, from which our freedom grew,
Won the privilege of dignity only for the few?
And the truth we found self-evident but still chose to deny
Entombed in our constitution a poison laden lie,
Incongruity we’ve struggled ever since to rectify?

For as each century came full circle we came inching towards the truth.
By the strife of good and evil our thirst for freedom grew.
Fighting for emancipation our whole nation agonized.
Marching for desegregation we were further purified.
It but remains to ask the present hour where our crisis lies!

IV

For our country’s schizophrenia there must be a resolution
Lest the strain of our disunion prove our final dissolution
Into shards of shattered principle, into stripes of shredded dream.
What began in incongruity must forever be made clean.
In the river tide of history we may never swim upstream.

To redeem our great nation, from the brink of its destruction,
And retrieve its mangled soul from the pit of its corruption,
Let us wade in the water trusting ever in His grace.
And thus, coax a resolution from the iron teeth of fate
Where we all gain restitution for humanity’s mistakes.

In America’s march triumphant t’wards our spiritual evolution
One brother’s restitution is the other’s absolution.
The one who shows forgiveness heals the wound in his own soul.
And his mistrust, once relinquished, severs slavery’s last hold,
Breathing peace where resentment has taken heavy toll.

The other, who through trial, overcomes his own denial,
And wrenches from his gut that unconscious racist bile,
When desisting of supremacy, his redemption does attain.
In becoming brother’s keeper he wipes from his hand the stain
Of the slaying of poor Abel by his wandering brother Cain.

Thus, for each man and race to its challenge overcome.
To determine what its station, in the darkness or the sun.
To the measure each man caters to his love or to his hate,
Or voices by his silence his collusion with the race,
Turns the tide of this great nation and of our commingled fate.

As we’re merged blood with blood, our destinies can’t be parted.
As two saplings grown entwined who cannot be divided.
By the sheer sweat of sinew, by the act of conscious will,
Must we turn our sights up mountain, scaling back on back until
We plant the flag of oneness on the peak of highest hill.

As we’re made from the same dust and dwell in the same land
We must become one soul, be the lion and the lamb.
We must eat with the same mouth and walk with the same feet.
Till the signs of our oneness make the round complete.
And though darkness be upon us we dare not accept defeat.

For a glorious vision beckons, in the prophecies of old.
Of a day when former enemies will willingly take hold
Of the weapons of their hatred, gladly to transform,
Into instruments of healing. To remove that crown of thorns
From the brow of all their brethren, and be to peace reborn.

And America’s share in breathing life into this vision
Is to heal the wound within, to cure its own division.
For our ever-present crisis is mirrored in all nations
Where old enemies now rise in burning conflagration.
Dare we raise up the first prejudice-free generation?

A global race committed to advance civilization
And ransom all of “those who have trespassed against us.”
For leading by example is our only global power:
With each of our soul struggles we are hastening that hour
When humanity, AS ONE, yields this planet’s finest flower.

By Rhea Harmsen

Copyright 1996

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The World is Getting Better, not Worse – Unity of Thought in World Undertakings

Source: The World is Getting Better, not Worse – Unity of Thought in World Undertakings

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The World is Getting Better, not Worse – Unity of Thought in World Undertakings

The World is Getting Better, not Worse – Unity of Thought in World Undertakings

The world is getting better, not worse. It can be proven. By measuring the increase in something called “unity of thought in world undertakings.”

Whenever all of humanity decides to unite around a certain principle or enterprise, or in solving a common problem, it can be said we have reached a plateau of global consciousness (albeit around a single issue). Unity of thought in world undertakings is a positive trend in the social evolution of the planet. Through it, we can perceive great cause for hope for the future of humanity, rather than the ever-gloomier apocalyptic scenarios popular culture is fond of presenting. Yet, few people are aware of it. It is as if a flower has bloomed in the night, and is presented at break of day, to an astounded humanity.

Knotted Gun by Carl Fredrik Reutersward. Gift of Luxembourg.. UN Visitor’s Plaza

This global unity of thought may be scientific, economic, or in the arena of human rights or global governance. It also comes about as a result of shedding of obsolete ideologies from previous centuries. Entire systems of thought, of government and economics have fallen out of favor and are currently frowned upon by the world community, even if they are not yet completely relegated to the past. Among them are slavery, colonialism, imperialism, racism, tyranny, dictatorship, disenfranchisement, religious warfare and genocide, to name a few.

Unity of thought in world undertakings is one of the Seven Candles of Unity. According to ’Abdu’l-Bahá, a Bahá’í leader and writer who lived from 1844 to 1921, these seven candles are the milestones to achieving complete unity on the planet (see all seven candles in the addendum, #1). No one seems to know exactly in what order these candles will be fully lit, only that they are occurring simultaneously or concurrently, and that they are inching us closer to the goal of a united world, a peaceful global civilization.  Anyone who puts their efforts behind the achievement of one of these candles of unity can be said to be contributing towards the final goal of a planetary civilization.

Many examples of unity of thought in world undertakings exist, some in the nineteenth century, many more in the twentieth century, and with an accelerating momentum, they are coming to pass in the twenty first.

The Prime Meridian at Greenwich was adopted in 1884

One early example is when humans agreed to adopt a universal system of time. 26 nations attended the International Meridian Conference held in October 1884.   By majority vote they agreed to adopt a single prime meridian for all nations as the beginning point for the measurement of the 24 hour day.[i]  The Greenwich meridian, which passes through the village of Greenwich, England, was chosen.  Prior to this point there was much confusion in the world. Each city could set it’s own time, so that arriving by train from another city a visitor would not know what time of the day it was. Each city or region operated on its own, with no universal standard.

We can look forward to many other such milestones being achieved in the way we measure things: the adoption of a universal calendar that reconciles both the solar and lunar calendars currently in use around the world is an imperative.  A universal system of weights and measures would be infinitely useful. We are almost there, actually, with the United States, Liberia and Myanmar being the last holdouts to the metric system. [ii]

But unity of thought in world undertakings has, and will come about in many other arenas, not just in weights and measures. Health, human rights, international law, and global governance, are a few. Many instruments and agencies have been developed in order to bring about this type of worldwide collaboration.

Smallpox is the first disease eradicated by the World Health Organization.

In the arena of health untold human suffering has been avoided by the formation of the World Health Organization (WHO), one of the specialized agencies under the umbrella of the United Nations.[iii] WHO was formed in 1946 with the mission of working on communicable and non-communicable diseases, to improve maternal and child health, environmental hygiene and nutrition. The global initiative to eradicate smallpox, for example, started in 1958, when 2 million people were dying from it every year. By 1979 the disease was declared eradicated. Many other issues and diseases are now being combated by WHO in a global manner, including malaria, tuberculosis, AIDS, STD’s, polio, measles and recently, Ebola. Global methods of disease outbreak surveillance now exist, as well as the compilation of accurate statistics on the spread and morbidity of diseases.

Deliberation of nations takes place in yearly gatherings called Commissions.

Deliberation of nations takes place in yearly gatherings called Commissions.

In the arena of human rights a great milestone was achieved with the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human rights in 1948. Prior to this time there was no international standard by which all nations could be held accountable for the treatment of their citizens, or by which progress in human rights could be measured. Now, with this consensus or unity of thought, a charter exists for the convening of world nations in yearly gatherings called Commissions. In these Commissions, government representatives from member nations hammer out and adopt documents called Conventions. Once the Convention is agreed to, each of the signatory countries must take it home, ratify it and try to implement it.

The cultural practice of child brides is widespread

The cultural practice of child brides is widespread and requires systematic attention

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW),[iv] is one example of a machine that has been working for nearly sixty years to bring about progress in the world of women. Government representatives of each of the UN member states have gathered every year since 1946 “to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide.” The CSW, now in it’s 59th yearly gathering, has drafted the 1953 Convention on the Political Rights of Women, the 1957 Convention on the Nationality of Married Women, the 1962 Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriages, the 1951 Convention concerning Equal Remuneration for Men and Women Workers for Work of Equal Value, and the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

The Food and Agriculture Organization works tirelessly at the grass roots.

The Food and Agriculture Organization works tirelessly at the grass roots.

More than twenty specialized agencies  exist, functioning in a similar manner. Each agency coordinates world efforts in such fields as agriculture, education, children, refugees, development, labor, industry, money, intellectual property, meteorological, maritime, aviation, and narcotics. (see Addendum #2 for a full list of agencies under the umbrella of the United Nations Economic and Social Council). The conventions they’ve adopted have been propelling progress and international cooperation on a range of issues.

Also aiding in the development of unity of thought are world conferences or summits. The United Nations Conferences on the Environment and Development, for instance, also known as the Earth Summits, were held in 1992 and 2012.[v] From them, emerged the following documents: Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, Agenda 21, and Forest Principles. The following conventions were adopted: Convention on Biological Diversity, Framework Convention on Climate Change and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.  Under the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientists the world over contribute to an assessment of climate change, it’s physical, social and economic impact, and work on strategies for the control of greenhouse gas emissions. These findings are summarized in yearly reports to governments and policymakers.

The Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 was also the site of the Global Forum

The Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 was also the site of the Global Forum

On December 12, 2015, the historic Paris accord on climate change was signed by over 180 countries, creating a framework for the reduction of carbon emissions. Countries also pledged one hundred billion dollars to assist other countries and island nations displaced by the effects of climate change.

 

Another arena where we can look forward to new milestones in unity of thought in world undertakings is the eradication of poverty and hunger. The Millennium Goals were adopted by the United Nations for 1990-2015 (see addendum #3 for all eight goals).[vi] The first target goal was to reduce by one half the number of persons living on less than $1.25 per day, and halving the proportion of those suffering from hunger (defined as 1. Prevalence of underweight children under five years of age and 2. Proportion of population below minimum level of dietary energy consumption).

Ethiopia, Community of Atsbi Womberta, November 2011 Endamino Primary School The school meal programme helps every boy and girl concentrate on class instead of hunger. These meals helped the Endamino school achieve a 0% drop out rate over the past three years and an enrollment which is 53% female. Students learn to build fuel-efficient stoves out of locally available materials. They learn to make natural fertilizers and grow trees too. This hands-on knowledge is then taken home where children teach their parents, most of whom never had the opportunity to go to school themselves. In this way, the Endamino Primary School is teaching an entire community how to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Students at Endamino are hopeful for the future; many of them want to be teachers when they grow up. To help nurture this, the school has started a program where kids in grades six through eight are actually trained to become tutors for younger students who canÕt make the trip each day to school. Armed only with a small chalkboard, these young teachers-in-the-making head out after class and on weekends to help ensure everyone gets an education. Children enjoying a plate of CSB+, provided by WFP. Photo: WFP/Rein Skullerud

These children in Ethiopia partake of the school meal program from the World Food Bank.
Photo: WFP/Rein Skullerud

Ahead of the 2015 target date, the population living on less than $1.25 a day in developing countries was halved to 21%, or 1.2 billion people. The majority of this achievement took place in China and India. Some countries did not see progress and some goals fell short of fulfillment. Consultation on more aggressive targets are underway for the future. 795 million people in the world suffer from hunger or famine.

In the financial arena great turbulence exists in the world, much of it due to the absence of universal systems. At present, the people seem to be at the mercy of greed, exploitation, rogue economic maneuvers and financial lawlessness. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank Group of five agencies focused on reconstruction, development, finance and investments, have yet to discover the solutions to the world’s economic problems or the complex process of building a just universal economic system. A global system of currency is also a crying need, not just in the European Union, but for the world. The UN Global Compact came into being in the year 2000 to encourage standards in business with regard to work practices, human rights and corruption. The Compact has given birth to many other related agencies and movements.

G8 countries pledged funds for debt relief of poorest nations

G8 countries pledged funds for debt relief of poorest nations

Global consciousness has become centered on the terms “income inequality” and “economic justice.” It is now evident that economic justice is a prerequisite to unity. Under conditions of inequality and oppression, world unity and peace are unattainable. The elimination of extremes of wealth and poverty is the ultimate goal, as it is the only solution that will produce lasting tranquility. In the effort to comply with the Millennium goals to decrease poverty, G8 countries supplied the IMF and World Bank with enough funds to forgive the debt of countries with a yearly per capita income of less than $380 per person. Nevertheless, given that global poverty comes from systemic problems, it requires  systemic solutions.

Going forward, the elimination of the extremes of wealth and poverty should be the guiding principle for unity of thought in the economic arena. Legislative remedies and voluntary giving are among the local as well as global movements that must be encouraged. Wise legislation can ensure that wealth is derived ethically and not through exploitation of the worker or the environment. It can also regulate taxation, so that the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes. Legislators should also deliberate on what are normative economic rights of citizens. Do they include the right to basic food, to guaranteed work, to elementary education, to public healthcare, to universal pension, for example? Legislation to eliminate extremes could go so far as to promote profit sharing of capital with labor, giving the worker some return for his intellectual/physical effort.

Billionaires pledge to give over fifty percent of their wealth away.

These billionaires pledge to give over fifty percent of their wealth away.

Voluntary giving is a powerful means of ensuring that one’s wealth is spent with purpose, reflecting one’s hopes for humanity. It is also a tool for the elimination of extreme wealth. In 2010 The Giving Pledge became a movement on the part of billionaires to give away over 50% of their wealth.[vii] Through it, philanthropy is not only gaining momentum, it is also transforming the meaning of wealth. Increasingly, wealth is seen as a means of making a difference in the world, rather than as a means of ensuring one’s own comfort.

 

Civil society and global activism pressure governmental organizations

Civil society and global activism pressure  governmental organizations to address issues

Civil society is one of the most powerful examples of unity of thought in world undertakings. Often, when official world organizations meet, they are shadowed by a forceful contingent of thousands of non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) made up of citizenry. In the Earth Summit, for instance, while some 2000 government officials deliberated, 17,000 non-governmental organization participants held a Global Forum.[viii] These NGO’s often lobby for causes not yet adopted by the world governmental organizations, and provide steady pressure for issues to rise to the top of the world’s agenda. Some organizations may have been born in one nation but their scope can be extended by alliances with an ever-wider group of collaborators, until global solidarity is reached.

This vast catalog of achievements shows that humanity is increasing its power to mobilize around pressing issues, to consult, and to reach consensus. Furthermore, the implementation of world undertakings is becoming more muscular.

Despite this sense of growing hope in our ability to improve global conditions some very thorny problems remain, and a sense of urgency mounts, with regard to increasing the pace of these world undertakings. And although the maxim that “a good tree cannot give bad fruit,” is widely accepted, some detractors of the work of these world bodies exist. Their objections come from a lack of trust between collaborating nations and a fear of jeopardizing individual nation sovereignty. In some extreme cases, fundamentalist religious agendas dominate the domestic discourse and may prevent a country from ratifying these global initiatives.  The United States and Iran, for instance, are among the last seven nations that have not ratified CEDAW, the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, adopted by the UN in 1979.[ix]

It is evident that any one country alone cannot solve global crises such as terrorism, human trafficking, international drug trade, and refugees. Ever-wider circles of collaboration must exist, based on the growth of global consciousness of the solutions. Some nations are eager to join in collaborative efforts, while others, due to entrenched private interests or deeply seated “cultural practices,” are slow to join the table of global cooperation. It has been amply demonstrated, however, that slowly, the pressure of the world community and of systematic monitoring, brings about change.

25 singers and musicians from 20 countries collaborate on a UN song to highlight the oneness of women

One woman song – 25 singers and musicians from 20 countries collaborate on a UN song to highlight the plight and oneness of women

What can the ordinary individual do to contribute to unity of thought in the world or to support these world undertakings? The generality of the public is almost completely unaware of this positive trend in global affairs. At best, our understanding is confused. We have no concept of how massive and organized these efforts are, of their rapid rate of development and mobilization. Our focus is still on individual country hegemony, the current wars and threat of wars, and the chaos of our disunion. An individual strategy, however, to align with the unity of thought movement can be a powerful decision. Artists, activists, socially conscious people of every persuasion can contribute to tipping the scales in the direction of global civilization. They can align their discourse, content, product, or professional practice with the growing consciousness of oneness, diversity, unity, solidarity, cooperation and world-mindedness. It is in the mind of single individuals that vision begins, that innovation is conceived, that love for humanity is born and carried out.

In 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, “The second candle is unity of thought in world undertakings, the consummation of which will erelong be witnessed.” We are surely bearing witness to it in this day. Momentum gathers such that soon, rather than pushing a boulder up a hill, we will have reached the zenith and the boulder will be rolling downhill propelled by its own force. That is to say, that at some point, governments and non-governmental entities will have developed the unity of thought, the will, and the vision to act, to fix the most intractable problems of humanity. Although this is but one of the Seven Candles of Unity (by which we can measure our progress towards world peace), it is overwhelming evidence that the world is making steady progress. The many crisis which daily distract and confound us, serve only to impel us to more clearly define the problems, and to more urgently seek enduring, collective solutions. So, yes, underneath the fog of all that is happening, the world is getting better, not worse.

 

Addendum

1 – The Seven Candles of Unity[x]

1.  The first candle is unity in the political realm, the early glimmerings of which can now be discerned.
2. The second candle is unity of thought in world undertakings, the consummation of which will erelong be witnessed.
3. The third candle is unity in freedom which will surely come to pass.
4. The fourth candle is unity in religion which is the corner-stone of the foundation itself, and which, by the power of God, will be revealed in all its splendour.
5. The fifth candle is the unity of nations — a unity which in this century will be securely established, causing all the peoples of the world to regard themselves as citizens of one common fatherland.
6. The sixth candle is unity of races, making of all that dwell on earth peoples and kindreds of one race.
7. The seventh candle is unity of language, i.e., the choice of a universal tongue in which all peoples will be instructed and converse.

 

2 – Agencies under the umbrella of the United Nations Economic and Social Council

United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
Membership
Functional commissions
Regional commissions
Specialized agencies
Other entities
World Bank Group

 

3 – Millennium Development Goals by 2015: [vi]

  1. To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. To achieve universal primary education
  3. To promote gender equality
  4. To reduce child mortality
  5. To improve maternal health
  6. To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
  7. To ensure environmental sustainability[1]
  8. To develop a global partnership for development[2]

 

References

[i] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Meridian_Conference

[ii] http://www.zmescience.com/other/map-of-countries-officially-not-using-the-metric-system/

[iii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Health_Organization

[iv] http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/brief-history#sthash.Wkn8iXkL.dpuf

[v] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Summit

[vi] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_Development_Goals

[vii] http://givingpledge.org/index.html

[viii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Summit

[ix] http://www.cedaw2015.org/index.php/about-cedaw

[x] http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/se/WOB/wob-19.html

Posted in baha'i, collective security, consultation, deliberation, equality, extremes of wealth and poverty, feminism, food security, futurism, global discussion, governance, parliament, poverty, rape as a weapon of war, rights of women, the poor, Uncategorized, unity in diversity, violence against women, wealth, women | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Europe and the joke of reverse colonialism

Europe is being invaded and I’m laughing. But at the same time I’m weeping(really) because people are suffering and dying to escape from war and persecution. How sad it is to walk through a long, long underwater tunnel to get to your cousins, and to be turned back. To be unwanted.

Right now there are upwards of 60 million people, classified by the United Nations as refugees or internally displaced persons. They are wandering the world in search of a home. So sad.

But there are many funny stories in this big story. One of them is about Iceland. The government of Iceland said they could only take in 50 refugees this year. Then, the big-hearted people of Iceland got together on Facebook and 11,000 said they would be willing to take refugees into their homes! Ooops. The government was forced to reconsider. LOL. This is how it should be, the people should tell the government what to do and not the other way around!

Another story. Two countries said they will only take Christian refugees. That’s certainly laughable. What an un-Christian attitude! But perhaps Jesus Christ, the founder of the religion of “love thy neighbor,” would be weeping at this attitude among his supposed followers.

Another funny thing; some are upset that overwhelmed countries receiving refugees have not sorted them out properly. They want them to distinguish between “legitimate” political refugees seeking asylum and those whose children are merely starving. That’s because they would deport the latter. Good luck with that idiotic distinction.

You have to ask: did the European colonials have the same standard? When did looking for better economic opportunities become a censured thing? Europe, imperial Europe, the continent which colonized the rest of the world, invading and ravaging unnumbered cultures, building their wealth and resources by plundering and enslaving others, is now experiencing the discomfort of being invaded by hordes of people wanting to encroach on its resources. And I’m laughing. Because it is simple karma. It’s a weird sort of reverse colonialism taking place here.

But the funniest part is that they think they can stop this invasion. They can’t. Build a wall and it will be crushed. Establish quotas for refugees and they will be exceeded. And just as colonialism was unstoppable for the native cultures that suffered it, just as it is irreversible for the current generations that resulted from it, so will Europe be conquered, whether it wants to be or not. It is an inexorable movement, as sure as the tides of history. Europe is attractive because it has food, and shelter, and order, and peace. That’s better than the gold the colonials sought.

Resistance is hilariously shortsighted, because PEOPLE are a resource that the European countries need. They should be vying with each other to get as many bodies as they can inside their borders. Many countries have a population growth crisis, births are not replacing deaths. They NEED workers in order to have a healthy tax base, in order to preserve their elderly benefits, in order to safeguard the gains of several generations of socio/capitalism. The refugees coming in are crazy for work. They are people who know how to work hard. And they have more children than Europeans do, so they will inflate the population.
Give these children good educational opportunities and they will become the engineers and computer scientists that the future needs. It’s a win-win.

Fleeing from war, the refugees know the price of peace; coming from insecurity, they know the blessing of a haven; escaping intolerance, they are grateful for the smallest kindness. Welcome them with open arms, integrate them into communities, and they will be the first to protect the peace and security of the country.

In reacting to this global turbulence we must ask ourselves: “Are human beings free?” Or are they born with a stamp on their forehead, meant to restrict their movement upon the face of their mother planet? Borders have held us in for so long that we don’t even question the logic of it. People must move in orderly fashion, they shouldn’t just go wandering to find a better place. There is such a thing as “nationality” and people should abide by it. Right?

Well, if you believe that, then you must also believe that there shouldn’t be tyrants, and conflicts, and famines resulting from wars. There should not be drug cartels and sectarian armies and religious persecution. There should not be exploitation and multinational greed and egregious poverty. There should not be REASONS that make people want to wander. Beyond that even, there should not be children and families who are caught in the crossfire. Now what is more important, to respect boundaries or to protect the human beings?

What if countries declared their borders to be completely open? Anarchy, you say? Complete disorder? To have completely open borders across the entire world is Utopia, of course. Nobody knows how this would work. But what if this were the ultimate end game? Remember, in the beginning, there were no borders at all. Maybe, “the earth is one country, and mankind its citizens.”

Global migration has always been a fact of history, and the current world turmoil has simply accelerated its momentum. In a modern world with open borders freedom of movement would not be restricted or castigated, but it would be documented, so that there could be taxation and representation for all. Simple.

Viewed in broad strokes, the human movements of history become discernible as a fluid, evolving picture. Migrations, slavery, transportations, subjugations. Freedom, liberation, redistributions, equalization. Coalitions, councils, regional then continental alliances, treaties, leagues of nations. Non-governmental organizations, commissions, resolutions, declarations of rights, millennium goals. Global society, world undertakings, planetary trends, universal vision. Interplanetary endeavors, bold experimentations, failures, learning.

Europe, stop kicking and screaming and let yourself be led. The future is knocking and it’s your time to shine.

Note: Needless to say, the story of Europe is a cautionary tail for America and Asia as well.

Posted in extremes of wealth and poverty, futurism, ideal capitalism, Paradigm shift, political debate, social justice, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

On forgiveness, race fatigue and righteous anger

 

Edward and Jane Howard, who married in 1954 before laws against intermarriage were struck down in 1967, were pioneers of race unity.

In the wake of another senseless incident of racial violence the majority of Americans are sagging their heads in desperation, rubbing their hearts to assuage the pain of a wound that will not heal, saying, “I can’t do this anymore.” Terroracism has the whole nation firmly in its grip. And the media, well…the media which we watch feverishly for some crumb of understanding, will find its focus where it will. It will magnify seemingly random soundbites and often ignore the greater question.

The point is not whether some almost saintly black people can forgive the misdeeds of the gunman. That should not be our focus in this moment. As sublime and awe inspiring as that may be, that should not be our national discourse in the face of this event. The question is how angry should the rest of us be that this can happen, that there are others waiting in the shadows to commit the same atrocity upon black innocent people. And that we should be powerless to deter it, and have to watch it. Again.

When will we, the silent majority, take to the streets and march in the name of the race unity? When will we decide to show by force of numbers that the evil minority does not speak in our name? That we have turned the tide of our country? I do not know how many racist still exist, too many for sure. But they are a small number compared to those of us who have rejected for all time this malignant ideology, who do not want this cancer in our body politic, who have seen and believed the evidence of science that the human race is one species with infinite variation, who want to live in peace and freedom from prejudice.

Whether or not these nice black people can forgive a satanic individual is a personal matter that should be left to them. There are some people who are highly evolved and follow the Christian teaching of “turn the other cheek.” But that should not be the attitude of the state, whose duty it is to exact justice. Neither should it be the attitude of the rest of us, who should be thinking of the future, taking systematic measures to prevent the other domestic terrorists that lurk in the shadows, plotting similar actions. The terror they inflict on the black population of this country, who cannot even attend church without fearing for their lives, who cannot send their teenage sons out on the street without fearing for their safety, that should be our concern.

For the media to play up the “forgiveness story” of these modern day lynchings only serves to appease our apprehension of an all out race war, our fear of full scale riots by the madding crowd. It is a sinister news angle that does nothing to address the underlying problem.

The reality is that we must root out the language, the symbols, the vestiges and the remnants of racism from our culture. Forget free speech. Your freedom of speech ends where my safety is infringed on. If Germany can make it illegal to display swasticas then we can make it illegal to own klu klux clan paraphernalia, to name our boulevards after slavery defending generals, to wave their flag from our public buildings. We must speak out against racist conversations, race baiting, race bashing, reverse racism, institutional racism and colorism. We’ve got to embrace our mixed nation, praise our abolitionists, expose our history, both the egregious and the noble, let go of our lost cause narrative, show that in the main, we are a great people, struggling to get to the promised land.

Our self defense against terroracism should be decisive, systematic and strategic, aimed at protecting our country and everyone in it. Racists in power should be exposed like naked kings, whether they are policemen, administrators, senators or media commentators. Racism, whether veiled or overt, should be out of fashion, out of favor, and frowned upon.

And still this will not be enough.

To truly heal our nation we must walk the path of race unity, forging lasting friendships, overcoming denial, abandoning mistrust, giving up that unconscious sense of superiority, rooting out that learned sense of inferiority. We must intermarry, have mixed race children with multiple allegiances, who can feel the unity in their own skin. In order “to live out the true meaning of our creed,” we still have much work ahead. But let’s get at it, let’s not give up, nor give in to despair. Let’s not forgive, nor be afraid. Like all true Americans, let’s forge the society we want, let’s pioneer the country we want to live in.

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Home (My reflections on the present crisis)

2013-12-28 08.23.49

 

 

 

 

 

Home

“And except those days be shortened
there shall be no flesh saved:
but for the elect’s sake
those days shall be shortened.”
Revelations

 

I am looking for a place to lay down my head
I look right, then left, but no place is home.
I am woman without country
My poetry no longer soothes me
My prayers no longer cure me
My mission doesn’t fill me –
I just want to go home.

Living in the last days,
Time of frogs in boiling water,
Tribulations without end
Such as was not since the beginning…of time.
There’s no flesh on my bones
I am lost in the storm
I must lay down my head
On a smooth white stone.

Iniquity abounds, suffering is aflame
As in the days of Noah…the flood came,
And took them all away

Can a spirit survive being crushed in a vice?
How long before it shatters like a supernova?

Oh Mercy grant that these days are shortened,
Oh say, we can all go home.
Pray we will come together
Oh Faith, feed us on the bread of hope.
And God grant soon the Earth is chastened
Her children helped to find their soul
That one by one we forsake the hating
Bind her wounds and bring her body home.
Please God, may these days be shortened
Praise God, we can all go home.

 

Rhea Harmsen

Copyright 2004

 

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Parliamentary Speeches of Maria Klaus – BIRTH OF IDEAL CAPITALISM – On Consultation

IMG_2999[1]INTERVIEW SOUNDBITES 5 (translated from Aussish)

PEOPLE BEING INTERVIEWED IN A SUPERMARKET

(SHOPPER 1) “She had an unusual religion. Where you can’t get involved in partisan politics. You know? Really. You can’t run for office. Only if you’re appointed. And that’s what happened with her. This old man from her district died. The prime minister asked, who is the best person from your district. They said, ah there’s this retired teacher, a school principal. So they named her. And then she goes there. And starts talking about things.”

(SHOPPER 2) “Solving problems. That’s what she did. While other members were stuck and arguing. She started bringing solutions. And it was so refreshing it caught on. Like a wildfire.”

(SHOPPER 3) “Yeah, and then, people started to watch what she said. It was on television. Her speeches were carried live. And I skipped class one time, because Maria Klaus was going to speak.”

(SHOPPER 4) “Even in the bars. They switched the channel to see her speak. If they knew she was going to speak.”
(SHOPPER 5) “Well that was not so shocking as her first speech in parliament. I looked this one up later, when I was doing my master’s degree on her. And it was absolutely amazing what she did. She changed the rules of the game. She established a whole new set of rules for deliberation. And this applied only when SHE brought something to the floor.”

(SHOPPER 6) “Ah, but it started to rub off. Because by contrast, it made other practices look silly. Actually, you could now see right through members who had an agenda, or who were controlled by special interest groups.”

 

ON CONSULTATION

 

April 21, Year 1

I thank the Speaker, Ladies and Gentlemen, for his gracious introduction and I accept his invitation to address to you a few words. As the speaker mentioned, I am from the — district and I am humbled, sincerely humbled to be in this beautiful edifice, so full of meaning for our people and on which rest so many of their hopes.

I am also a bit overwhelmed to be among the company of such distinguished ladies and gentlemen such as yourselves, who have chosen this field of endeavor, to be public servants, and have spent many years here.

In fact, that is why I address you, to explain to you the peculiarities that have led me here, and the limitations to my service. You see, I will be here a very short time. As you know I was appointed by our illustrious Prime Minister to complete the term of the late distinguished Mr. —–, member for my district for the last 37 years. I have never harbored any aspiration for a political career and was greatly surprised to be asked to undertake this challenge. Nevertheless, I am committed to serve in good faith, to the best of my ability, giving all my heart and mind to the devising of solutions to our country’s problems.

The reason I say I am surprised to find myself here, is that if the normal course of events were to be followed, I could not be here. You see, my religion, it makes no matter what that religion is, I know we make no distinctions here. But the fact of the matter is that I am prevented by that religion from engaging in any form of partisan politics. At present, our political system as u know is very much ruled by the party system. In order to obtain a seat in parliament one must align oneself with one party, in opposition to another. So. The first peculiarity of my case is this, that I will not, indeed cannot seek a second term following the completion of this one.

I appreciate your perplexity, but it must be so.
Now I am sure you have already deduced from this my next difficulty. And that is that I must serve without aligning myself to any political party. You ask yourself perhaps, how can I be of any use at all, then? Well, I have given this a great deal of reflection and I feel there may be a way, if I simply confine myself to deliberating the merits of a question, without regard for how it affects the interests of the various parties or its alignment with a particular partisan ideology. Likewise, ladies and gentlemen, when I bring a proposal to the floor, which I hope, with conscientious study to be able to do, you will help me greatly, by following a procedure where you deliberate my proposals on its merits, with full and total frankness, with full indulgence of my inability to explain how it would fall within the various party alignments. If you are able to do this, I am sure you will quickly ferret out the flaws of my argument or be able to add modifications of improvement. With that explanation, which I hope was sufficiently brief, I hope I have obtained your goodwill for the peculiarity of my mode of serving my term of office.

Thank you very much.

 

 

As reported by Rhea Harmsen

Posted in deliberation, global discussion, governance, ideal capitalism, national discussion, Paradigm shift, unity in diversity, women, women's history | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment