July 26, 2004Articles and commentary regarding world events
July 15, 2004
In "Heavy Rains Swamp Sudan Camp," (July 15, 2004), BBC's Hilary Anderson continues to share http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/3896049.stm
a personal account of her experience within the Darfur camps. Hearing once again (See: July 20th newsletter) of the severity of the living conditions, it brings to mind the following questions for each of us to ask:
Who are these people? Are they 'our' people in the sense of relations, or an anonymous 'they' to whom this is happening? Put another way, are the refugees part of our family in terms of how we respond, or are they strangers whom we read about?
These questions are important and must be asked, especially when tragedy, oppression, or other misfortune befalls a large group of people whether in Africa, India, the Middle-East, or here at home, and whether it is natural in origin or originates within the realm of human error and mis-creation. As consciousness becomes more planetary, we must begin to see people everywhere as real as ourselves - as individuals with specific needs, feelings, and stories that we can relate to rather than as group abstractions who are anonymous. We need to rid ourselves of this sense of anonymity - to find the courage to observe within ourselves the roots of lingering prejudice and stereotyping, there inside, though we might not wish it to be. Also, as consciousness becomes more planetary, it needs to engender within us a sense of responsibility to all and for all, not just to those within our national
borders or within our immediate circle of acquaintance.
We are all interconnected. This is the truth that ultimately will end division and prejudice. Yet now, in the face of present tragedy, what we can do is care. We can care and we can ask ourselves and our leadership, why is there not more help for Darfur? Why, especially, when the developed countries of the world and the U.S. in particular has so much more than it needs to help the poor at home and the destitute abroad?
What is caring? It is, among other things, the desire to help relieve pain and suffering. In response to humanitarian crises such as Darfur, there is help of different kinds that can be offered, some more immediate and situational in focus, some dealing more with the root issue that gives rise to 'haves' and 'have-nots', worldwide. This root problem is our sense of separation from others - our lack of identification. Social and political activism is important and governments need to become broader in outlook concerning who they truly serve. Yet, the transformation of the world's consciousness does not begin with activity, but with awareness and self-knowledge that underlies the motivation to act. What each of us can do to change planetary consciousness which affects the consciousness of those who govern, is to begin to change ourselves and the ways in which we hold others. This
shift applies everywhere - not only in our response to the Darfur refugees, but to our immediate neighbors and co-workers.
Who are our friends and who are strangers? When the world no longer contains any strangers for us, we will have arrived at the place in which we can directly contribute to world peace. We will have taken down boundaries and borders within ourselves and can assist in doing this externally. We do this step- by-step, by finding the courage within our daily lives to step out of typical roles and to hold all as souls in the light and love that emanates from God. When we do not
do this with God, we may still hold onto self-protection and erect borders around our hearts which some may not cross. Then, there are strangers in our world. When we do this with
God, we see others as companion souls, equally real as ourselves. These thoughts and feelings are powerful, as is all thought. When we are aware and when we hold this awareness in the Oneness we share with all of life,
we each have the power to change the world.
Note: The following article may also be of interest, sounding a positive note in relation to African diplomacy and the politics of caring. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/3896299.stm
July 19, 2004
"The Ghost of Vice-President Wallace Warns 'It Can't Happen
Here'" (refers to Henry A. Wallace, Vice-President under
Franklin Roosevelt, 1941-45, not to Gov. George Wallace), is
an editorial by Thom Hartmann (July 19, 2004) concerning the
emergence of fascism within present-day American life. http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0719-15.htm
While you may or may not agree with his strong, partisan outlook
and his depiction of the Bush administration as moving the country
in this direction, this article's discussion of fascism is clear
in its historical references and aims at a definition of fascism
that is easy to grasp. Because of its clarity, it enables us
to reflect upon this political force and ideology which represents
a current within American society that many fear. It allows
us to take in the concept more slowly, and to compare the present
with past examples of fascism without the distress, denial,
or avoidance that might otherwise ensue.
Among the points that Hartmann's article makes, there is this: that the means
of fascism is public deception practiced by both corporate and political leadership through the manipulation of media. We, who strive to be more discerning concerning truth and the 'appearance' of truth, must continue to be aware of the shaping influence of what we are presented with by media. We must be on the alert for truth and for its 'apparent' presence when something else quite different may be going on behind the scenes. (This occurs not infrequently when politicians espouse one goal or aim but really have another in mind). Discernment is a learning process, a process of growth. We must learn to distinguish the true from the false in order to protect the freedoms we cherish.
"In prison you come face to face with time. There is nothing more terrifying." This is a comment by Nelson Mandela whose 86th birthday was celebrated recently. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/1454208.stm
. In "Profile of Nelson Mandela," (June 1, 2004), I find once again admiration for this man whose convictions and hope caused him to maintain moral and spiritual strength during a twenty-seven year term of imprisonment. Those who, due to life circumstance, are compelled to wait long for what they wish to arrive, can take heart from Nelson Mandela's life which demonstrates the capacity of the human spirit to remain strong in the face of adversity, and to wait, because it believes in what it is waiting for.
July 22-23, 2004
"Coalition Forces Endanger Humanitarian Action in Afghanistan"
by Kenny Gluck, MSF (Medicins Sans Frontieres, ie. Doctors Without
Borders), Director of Operations, Holland Office. (July 22,
Medicins Sans Frontieres, standing outside the political arena, offers humanitarian help to those in need, thereby qualifying itself to comment on the true meaning of the word 'humanitarian'. There is certainly a 'calling', similar to a religious or spiritual vocation, that draws people to work for this group, and it can be felt clearly on their website as a willingness to take in and to remain identified with the suffering of people around the world. This suffering is evident on the MSF website.
However, I include this reference not only to point out the work of a group of devoted servers, but also to point out the care-less-ness that has been the legacy of Operation 'Enduring Freedom', as the mobilization in Afghanistan has been called. The military objective of routing out the Taliban has been won, (or so we thought, until recent information showing a resurgence of this group began to appear), and the installation of a new government has been secured. And yet it is the common people, the poor people - who were poor before U.S./Coalition intervention and now are poor within a post-war country - who are, according to MSF, being manipulated in order to serve current military objectives in the Coalitions's ongoing campaign against terrorism.
Looking at our present policy of military intervention and withdrawal and the trauma and disarray it leads to (often referred to as "collateral damage") for many ordinary people, we must ask - at what cost do we do these things? What has happened to the high ideals that are part of our history - the ideals that are embedded in the Declaration of Independence and even in the Pledge of Allegiance? Does our embracing of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" stop at our own borders or do we value them for all people, not only when it suits our national interest and only for as long as it does? The war we waged in Afghanistan and in Iraq has one set of goals - our goals in rooting out terrorists. But what about the goals of the people whose lives we have disrupted?
It is good that MSF writes about the true meaning of 'humanitarian aid'. We, who are so bold in marching into another country in order to defeat terrorism, need to take human responsibility for the consequences of our actions. We may be stepping on people along the way and not only stepping on them, but leaving behind a chaotic and broken landscape that needs to be put together again long after we have come and gone.
In this context, see also: Aid fails to boost Afghan economy (March 30, 2004)
U.S. confirms Johnson head found (July 23, 2004) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/3921397.stm
There is something at work that creates horror, shock, and also, if we allow it, a numbing toward horror and shock, when we hear of 'beheadings' - something that is so inconceivable in the way that life relates to life, the way human beings relate to another human, that we can hardly believe it is possible. And yet with several beheadings already having taken place, we are in danger of getting used to the presence of horror, not questioning how such disregard for and desecration of human life could be the state of affairs, even if among a few. For what is an action among a few is a consciousness among a greater number.
We are in grave danger if we get used to horror. We are in danger if we cease to ask how this could be happening - how the purity and sanctity of the human being that is both body and soul could be violated and threatened with violation time after time? There is something in this action and threat that is anti-life. It is anti-life and it is anti-God. It is a travesty to say that a beheading can take place under the banner of spiritual justification, asserting all the while that "God is great." A travesty with many variations that we must come to understand.
We, who are witnesses, must never think that this is just what human beings do. It is what human beings do, but only when influenced by the darkest forces within themselves that can turn them completely against what is natural to the inner nature of each soul. This inner nature is covered over, otherwise such acts would never be possible. We can pray for this inner nature to show itself and for the soul to heal, but more than pray, we need to insure that we, ourselves, do not become numb, despairing, disillusioned, or afraid, so that we give up on the light within us and within humanity as a whole.
Additional articles that are important to form your own opinion about:
"Allawi Shot Inmates in Cold Blood, Say Witnesses" (July 17, 2004) Sydney Morning Herald,
"Red Cross Named Jail Before Alleged Killings by PM" (July 23, 2004) Sydney Morning Herald