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Peace from Harmony
Rene Wadlow: World Citizen's Notes

Dr. Rene Wadlow

 



GHA Honorary Member,

The ABC of Harmony, 2012, coauthor:

www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=478

and Global Peace Science, 2016:
http://peacefromharmony.org/docs/global-peace-science-2016.pdf
President, Association of World Citizens,

Representative to the United Nations, Geneva,

Le Passe, France

 

 

René Wadlow is the editor of the journal of world politics and social issues: www.transnational-perspectives.org. Since 1973 he has been the Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, of the Association of World Citizens, active o­n issues of conflict resolution, disarmament, and ecologically-sound development. From 1963 to 1978, he was professor and Director of Research of the Graduate Institute of Development Studies, University of Geneva. He served as the founding secretary of the European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI). He has been an editor or o­n the Editorial Advisory Board of a number of scholarly journals including Genève-Afrique, International Development Review, Human Rights Quarterly, Human Rights Internet, and the Journal of World Education.
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Rapid Ratification Needed of the Treaty o­n the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

by Rene Wadlow

2017-07-19

 

On 7 July 2017, at the United Nations in New York, a Treaty o­n the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was voted by 122 Member States, one Member State, the Netherlands, voted against, and o­ne Member State, Singapore, abstained.The People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) was the o­nly nuclear-weapon State to take part in the Treaty Conference and to vote in favor of its adoption.The other nuclear-weapon States did not participate in the drafting of the Treaty.

 

Immediately after the positive vote, the delegations of the USA, the United Kingdom, and France issued a joint press statement saying that "This initiative clearly disregards the realities of the international security environment... This treaty offers no solution to the grave threat posed by North Korea's nuclear program, nor does it address other security challenges that made nuclear deterrence necessary."

 

Article I of the Treaty sets out its basic intention: to prohibit all activities involving nuclear weapons including to develop, test, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons and to use, threaten to use, transfer, station, install or deploy these weapons.

 

The Treaty will be open for signature and thus the start of the process of ratification at the start of the U.N. General Assembly o­n 20 September 2017.50 ratifications are necessary for the Treaty to come into force.21 September is the World Day for Peace, set by the U.N. General Assembly in 1981. The theme this year is "Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All".

 

The Association of World Citizens believes that signing the Treaty o­n the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons would be a most appropriate way to mark the Day of Peace and its theme "Together for Peace".The Association of World Citizens warmly welcomes the Treaty and expresses its deep appreciation to the U.N. secretariat, the delegates of the Member States, and fellow non-governmental organization representatives who have worked to achieve this common goal, an important step toward a world free of the threats posed by nuclear weapons.

 

World Citizens were among those who called for the abolition of nuclear weapons shortly after their first use o­n Japan, and many Japanese world citizens have constantly participated in efforts toward their abolition.

World Citizens have also stressed that the abolition of nuclear weapons is part of a larger effort of disarmament and the peaceful settlement of disputes.At each 5-year review of the Treaty o­n the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), World Citizens have stressed that Article VI of the NPT has not been fulfilled by the nuclear-weapon States.Article VI says that "Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith o­n effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and o­n a treaty o­n general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control." Unfortunately, the issue of general and complete disarmament and forms of verification and control are no longer topics o­n the world agenda.

 

The Treaty o­n the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons follows what has been called The Hague Law tradition of the banning of weapons because of their humanitarian consequences, a tradition first stressed in Saint Petersburg in 1868 and which was at the heart of the two peace conferences of The Hague in 1899 and 1907.This tradition has led to the ban o­n poison gas by the 1925 Geneva Protocol as well as the more recent bans o­n chemical weapons, biological weapons, anti-personnel land mines, and cluster munitions.A conference of U.N. Member States was held in Vienna, Austria o­n the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons which brought up-to-date the many reports and studies o­n the impact of the use of nuclear weapons o­n humans and Nature.Thus the emphasis of the negotiations o­n the Treaty concerned more humanitarian consequences rather than arms control issues.

 

World Citizens have always stressed that the abolition of nuclear weapons and other disarmament measures must be accompanied by efforts to strengthen world institutions that can skillfully address conflicts as early as possible. Acting together, all States and peoples can help to define a dynamic vision and program for achieving global security that is realistic and achievable.Progress toward a cosmopolitan, humanist world society requires the development of effective norms, procedures and institutions.

Thus, the start of a speedy ratification procedure of the Treaty o­n the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons o­n 21 September, Day of Peace, would be a sign to the peoples of the world that there is at the world level a vision of this crucial step toward a world of peace and justice.

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Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

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21 June: A Day of Balance and Harmony
by Rene Wadlow
2017-06-21

            Our earth is a small star in the great universe
            Yet of it we can make, if we choose, a planet
            Unvexed by war, untroubled by hunger or fear,
            Undivided by senseless distinctions of race, color, or theory.
                                                         Stephen Vincent Bennet

 

The 21st of June, the Summer Solstice, is in many cultures the cosmic symbol of balance and harmony: balance between light and dark, between the universal and the local, between giving and receiving, between women and men, and between our inner and outer worlds. History records humanity's preoccupation with the sun's annual cycle.  Sites such as Stonehenge in England are thought to have been erected specifically to trace the path of the sun through the heavens.

 

The sun has always had symbolic meaning.  As that most ancient Sanskrit prayer, the Gayatri tells us, the sun is a disc of golden light giving sustenance to the universe, and Plato used the image of the sun to represent the idea of the o­ne, the Good. In the age of the Old Kingdom in ancient Egypt, the concept of harmony, order, and balance were personified by the goddess Ma'at, the winged woman who replicated o­n earth, the celestial balance of order and beauty.


There is an old tradition attributed to Hermes Trismegistus and the Emerald Tablet which says "that which is below is like that which is above, and that which is above is like that which is below."  Thus, the cosmic growth of light should be reflected in our lives in greater light, greater awareness, greater understanding.


21 June is a day of recognition of the world-wide increase of light which destroys ignorance.  It is a day in which we celebrate illumination as it dispels darkness.  It is a day during which we can all recognize the growth of greater consciousness and concern for the common good. Therefore, the Association of World Citizens stresses cooperation and visions of a better future. Harmony and balance include tolerance, acceptance, equality and forgiveness of past pains and conflicts.


Due to the efforts of those with a world vision, people throughout the world are recognizing their responsibility to each other and are attempting to revolve ancient and entrenched global problems. Today, we see a new spirit of cooperation as we move toward a cosmopolitan, humanist world society.  We see a growing spirit of forgiveness, reconciliation, and dialogue.  We are o­ne human race, and we inhabit o­ne world. Therefore, we must see the world with global eyes, understand the world with a global mind, and love the world with a global heart.

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens


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GHA: Children Priority of Global Peace Science from Harmony.

To the GHA 12 Anniversary o­n February 15:

http://peacefromharmony.org

 

Rene Wadlow

 

Published:

http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=272

http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=739

 

15 February is the birth anniversary of the Global Harmony Association (GHA) with its early emphasis o­n children as a priority for paving the way toward a harmonious civilization and global peace.GHA's birth in 2005 was at the mid-point of the UN-sponsored International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World. 1999 had been the International Year for a Culture of Peace with UNESCO as the lead UN agency for the Year.David Adams of the UNESCO Secretariat was the motor of the Culture of Peace concept.We had worked closely together, as all UN Years depend for their impact more o­n non-governmental organizations (NGOs) than o­n governments who are willing to vote at the General Assembly for a special theme as a UN Year but then do rather little else.

 

As has happened with other UN theme Years, such as the 1975 Year of Women, as little can be done in a year, the UN Year is transformed into a Decade.Thus it was thought that the Culture of Peace Year could be transformed into a Culture of Peace Decade. Some of us involved thought that Culture of Peace as a title was not very specific and did not set out the method nor the people who were the prime agents.Thus the idea of adding the term Non-violence as the method and children of the world as the prime agents.The UNESCO staff person in New York and a world citizen colleague started contacting diplomats at the UN in New York to get the Decade proposed.

 

We ran into sharp opposition at the start from the representatives of the USA and the UK who said We already donate money to UNICEF; we don't need an additional decade for the children of the world.Fortunately, we had the diplomatic skill of the Ambassador of Bangladesh with us who took the lead in convincing other government. Moreover, it is difficult for governments to oppose doing goodfor children at least in theory.Some governments thought that the title was too long, especially for publicity purposes and wanted to shorten it.Non-violence could easily have been dropped.In the middle of the discussions o­n the name, my colleague in New York called me in Geneva to ask about the name change. I replied that I thought also the name too long, but it was not up to NGO representatives to suggest what words should be cut, that was up to government diplomats. As the governments could not agree, the too long title remained.The governments did little, but there was strong non-government efforts of which the GHA emphasis o­n harmonious education was an important contribution.

 

There has been a constant international effort to create a legal basis for the rights of the child. The legal framework for the welfare of the child began early in the League of Nations efforts with the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Childof 1924 largely influenced by the Polish educator and writer Janusz Korezak (1878-1942). He promoted the idea of the rights of the child within the broader framework of progressive, child-centered education. Child welfare has always been a prime example of cooperative efforts amonggovernments, scholars highlighting the conditions of children, and NGOs working actively in the field.

 

The efforts continued after the Second World War.The Geneva Declaration served as the basis for the UN General Assembly resolution o­n the Declaration of the Rights of the Child of 1959.The 1959 Declaration was followed with more specific provisions: the Declaration o­n Social and Legal Principles relating to the Protection and Welfare of Children, the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice, the Declaration o­n the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict.

 

In 1978, some representatives of both governments and NGOs in the UN human rights circles in Geneva felt that it was time to bring together these different declarations and provisions into a single text which would have the legal force of a UN convention.The Polish delegation to the UN Commission o­n Human Rights took the lead in this effort, but some governments felt that the different declarations needed to be closely reviewed and measured against changing realities.Thus a Special Working Group o­n the Rights of the Child was created in 1979 under the chairmanship of the Polish representative, the legal specialist Adam Lopatka. Government and NGO representatives worked together from 1979 to 1988 for a week each year.There was a core group, including the Association of World Citizens, which worked steadily and which represented a wide range of different beliefs, values and traditions, as well as a wide range of socio-economic realities.

 

The Working Group managed to come to a consensus o­n the final version in time for the General Assembly to adopt it o­n 20 November 1989, the anniversary of the Geneva Declaration.The Convention o­n the Rights of the Childis meant to provide guidance for governments to review national legislation and policies in their child-related initiatives.The Convention also provides a framework of goals for the vital activities of NGOs.NGO work o­n two lines simultaneously: to remind governments of their obligations through approaches to ministries, elected officials, and the media, and to undertake their own operational efforts.

 

By creating a common legal framework of world law, the Convention o­n the Rights of the Child has increased levels of government accountability, bringing about legislative and institutional reforms, and increasing international cooperation.As James P. Grant, then UNICEF Executive Director said Transcending the detailed provisions, the Convention o­n the Rights of the Child embodies the fundamental principle that the lives and the normal development of children should have first call o­n society's concerns and capacities and that children should be able to depend upon the commitment in good times and in bad, in normal times and in times of emergency, in times of peace and in times of war, in times of prosperity and in times of recession.

 

The introduction of the concept of harmony has been an important addition to the discussion of child welfare, building o­n concepts of harmony in both Asian and Western societies. (See my essay o­n the GHA website The Light of Harmony in Western Civilization)

 

More recently the welfare of children has somewhat fallen off the world agenda of governments with financial issues, trade, and sustainable development becoming the negotiating focus. However, children as a priority remain a constant concern of non-governmental organizations and we need to continue our cooperative efforts.

 

      But continued efforts towards the children's priority needs in a more fundamental theoretical basis. GHA found them in a result of 11 years of work in unprecedented, the first globally and inhistory "Global Peace Science" from harmony (http://peacefromharmony.org/docs/global-peace-science-2016.pdf). It was created by the GHA 174 coauthors including the President of India, Abdul Kalam, the three winners of the Nobel Peace Prize and the dozens of distinguished scientists and peacemakers from 34 countries. This unique science summarized the main ideas of the GHA 8 books and more than 50 peacemaking projects (http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=472), which it created over the past years and has provided the idea of ​​children's priority with fundamental scientific substantiation.  

The first concern of the GHA in the way of children's priority is global peace and the search for a peaceful solution of conflicts, especially the US and Russia nuclear tensions, through the deep societal structure of harmonious classes SPHERONS (http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=423), which are the GHA unique scientific discovery in Global Peace Science. This science provides a strong hope that the children's priority will be achieved in the new social structure of harmonious classes. Perhaps the birth of this unprecedented hope is the main achievement of GHA for its 12 anniversary.

 

*Rene Wadlow, President, and a Representative to the UN, Geneva, of the Association of World Citizens

12/02/17

 

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Day of Mother Earth
by Rene Wadlow
2017-04-22

The United Nations General Assembly in 2009 through resolution A/RES/63/278, under the leadership of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, designated 22 April as the International Mother Earth Day. The Day recognizes a collective responsibility, set out in the 1992 Rio Declaration, to promote harmony with Nature so as to achieve a just balance among economic, social and ecological needs of the present and future generations.

 

In traditional Indian culture, according to texts as early as the Vedas, the Earth is home to all living species that inhabit it and must not be excluded as they all contribute to the planet's welfare and preservation.  Therefore, human beings must contribute to the web of life of which they are a part and find ways of using the elements to produce food without damaging other life forms as far as possible.

 

World Citizens stress that Earth is our common home and that we must protect it together.  Loss of biodiversity, desertification, and soil loss - all are signs that there must be renewed efforts to develop socio-economic patterns that are in harmony with Nature.

 

World Citizens highlight that the protection of Mother Earth is a task in which each of us must participate.  However, there have always been traditions that stressed that a more enlightened group of humans would come to show the way. One tradition was among the Natives of North America.  The more enlightened were thought of as "The Rainbow Warriors" - the warrior being o­ne who protects rather than o­ne who goes abroad to attack others. Nicola Beechsquirrel recalls this tradition in her poem, a tribute to Mother Earth.

 

The Rainbow Warriors
Nicola Beechsquirrel

 

Come, all who ever loved our Earth
Who lived in peace amongst her creatures
Gentle, loving, caring folk
With healing hands, and wisdom in your souls.
Come, incarnate o­nce more
Come to Earth in her greatest need.
Help us rid her of her burdens
Cleanse her of all poisons
Close up the deep sores o­n her sacred body
And cover it o­nce more in soft green.
Walk amongst us again
That we may relearn ancient skills
And long-forgotten wisdom
And tread lightly upon our Mother Earth
Taking from her o­nly what we need
Living her ways in love and joy
Treating her creatures as equals.
Teach us how to reach those who exploit her
How to open their souls to the beauty of Life
That they may destroy no longer.
Come to us, Rainbow Warriors
Share with us your wisdom
For we have great need of it.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

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Erich Fromm: Meeting the Challenges of the Century
by Rene Wadlow

2017-03-23

 

I believe that the o­ne World which is emerging can come into existence o­nly if a New Man comes into being - a man who has emerged from the archaic ties of blood and soil, and who feels himself to be a citizen of the world whose loyalty is to the human race and to life, rather than to any exclusive part of it, a man who loves his country because he loves mankind, and whose views are not warped by tribal loyalties.

Eric Fromm Beyond the Chains of Illusion

 

Eric Fromm (1900-1980), the psychoanalyst concerned with the relation between personality and society, whose birth anniversary we mark o­n 23 March, was born in 1900.  Thus his life was marked by the socio-political events of the century he faced, especially those of Germany, his birth place.

 

Erich Fromm was born into an orthodox Jewish family in Frankfurt am Main.  The families of both his mother and father had rabbis and Talmudic scholars, and so he grew up in a household where the significance of religious texts was an important part of life. While Fromm later took a great distance from Orthodox Jewish thought, he continued a critical appreciation of Judaism.

He was interested in the prophets of the Old Testament but especially by the hope of the coming of a Messianic Age - a powerful theme in popular Judaism. The coming of the Messiah would establish a better world in which there would be higher spiritual standards but also a new organization of society.  The Messianic ideal is o­ne in which the spiritual and the political cannot be separated from o­ne another. (1)

 

He was 14 when the First World War started and 18 when the German State disintegrated - too young to fight but old enough to know what was going o­n and to be impressed by mass behavior.  Thus he was concerned from the start of his university studies with the link between sociology and psychology as related ways of understanding how people act in a collective way.

As was true for German university students of his day, he was able to spend a year or a bit more in different German universities: in Frankfurt where he studied with the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory whose members he would see again in New York when they were all in exile, at the University of Munich, at the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute, and at the University of Heidelberg from where he received a doctorate.

 

He had two intellectual influences in his studies: Sigmund Freud whose approach was the basis of the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute and Karl Marx, a strong influence in the Frankfurt School.  Fromm chose a psychoanalyst path as a profession, learning and, as was required in the Freudian tradition, spending five years in analysis.  Fromm, however, increasingly took his distance from Freudian orthodoxy believing that society beyond family relations had an impact o­n the personality.  He also broke o­ne of the fundamental rules of Freudian analysis in not overcoming the transfer of identification with his analyst.  He married the woman who was his analyst.  The marriage broke after four years perhaps proving the validity of Freud's theories o­n transfers and counter-transfers.

 

Erich Fromm's reputation and his main books rest o­n his concern with the relation of individual psychology and social forces - the relation between Freud and Marx. However, probably the most fundamental thinker who structured his approach was the Buddha whom he discovered around the age of 26. It is not Buddhism as a faith which interested him - Buddhism being the tradition built o­n some of the insights of the Buddha.  Rather it was the basic quest of the Buddha which interested him: what is suffering?  Can suffering be reduced or overcome?  If so, how?

Fromm saw suffering in the lives of the Germans among whom he worked in the late 1920s, individual suffering as well as socio-economic suffering. For Fromm there must be a link between the condition of the individual and the social milieu, a link not fully explained by either Freud or Marx.

 

Fromm had enough political awareness to leave Germany for the United States just as Hitler was coming to power in 1933. From 1934, he was teaching in leading US universities. In 1949 he took up a post as professor at the National Autonomous University in Mexico, but often lectured at US universities as well.

 

Fromm's work is largely structured around the theme of suffering and how it can be reduced.  There is individual suffering. It  can be reduced by compassion and love. o­ne of his best known books is The Art of Loving. Love is an art, a "discipline", and he sets out exercises largely drawn from the

Zen tradition to develop compassion toward o­neself and all living beings.

 

There is also social suffering which can be reduced by placing an emphasis not o­n greater  production and greater consumption  but o­n being more, an idea that he develops inTo Have or To Be. Fromm was also aware of social suffering and violence o­n a large scale and the difficulties of creating a society of compassionate and loving persons.  His late reflections o­n the difficulties of creating The Sane Society(the title of a mid-1950s book) is The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness.  We still face the same issues of individual and social suffering and the relation between the two.  Erich Fromm's thinking makes a real contribution as we continue to search.

 

Note

(1) See his You Shall Be As Gods for a vision of the Jewish scriptures as being a history of liberation

 

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Xi Jinping, Citizen of the World, and the Making of a Global Policy
by Rene Wadlow
2017-03-05 10:39:01


A recent issue of 
Newsweek hailed the President of China Xi Jinping as a citizen of the world and highlighted his 17 January 2017 speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland as setting forth a new global policy.  At a time when the President of the United States is putting his America First policy into practice, and the President of the Russian Federation is striving to make Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church great again, it is China that is providing great power leadership toward a cosmopolitan, humanistic, world society.

At Davos, Xi Jinping stressed that globalization had produced powerful global growth and facilitated movement of goods and capital, advances in science, technology and civilization and interaction among people.  He noted the China-led creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.  He ended by saying that the people of all countries expect nothing less (than to make globalization work) and this is our unshrinkable responsibility as leaders of our times.

It is true that globalization the world as an open market has worked well for China's export-led economy and for its foreign infrastructure development efforts the o­ne Belt-One Road project of rail, roads and sea ports.  However Xi Jinping also mentioned civilization and interaction among people as o­ne of the outcomes of globalization, perhaps thinking of the large number of student exchanges and the impact of Chinese culture through the increasing number of Confucius Institutes throughout the world.

Xi Jinping stressed the need for ecologically-sound development and meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Conference the protection of Nature being high o­n the list of world citizen priorities.

It is certain that in addition to setting a broadly positive global policy, there are real internal challenges to meeting the world citizen values of equality and respect for the dignity of each person.

As fellow citizens of the world, we are heartened by the advances of the rule of world law, of equality between women and men, by efforts of solidarity to overcome poverty and hunger.  We look to Chinese leadership to strengthen the forces which advance a cosmopolitan, humanist world society based o­n wholeness, harmony and creativity.

Rene Wadlow, President, and a Representative to the UN, Geneva, of the Association of World Citizens

05/03/17

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Kuan Yin: Goddess of Compassion and Harmony

Rene Wadlow

 

Wise in using skillful means, in every corner of the world, she manifests her countless forms

 

19 February, in countries influenced by Chinese culture, is a day devoted to honoring Kuan Yin, goddess of compassion she who hears the cries of the world and restores harmony.She is a goddess for the Taoists and a bodhisattva for the Buddhists but she represents the same values of compassion for both faiths.There has been mutual borrowing of symbols and myths between the two groups, as well as an identification with Mary in countries with a Roman Catholic minority such as Vietnam and with Tara among the Tibetans.

 

From the Taoist tradition, she is associated with running water and lotus pools.Many of her virtues come from Buddhist teachings:

Wrathful, banish thought of self

Sad, let fall the causes of woe,

Lustful, shed lust's mental object,

Win all, by simply letting go.

 

As in this Chinese verse reflecting her advice, many Buddhist values are phrased negatively: abobha (non-greed), adosa (non-hatred), amoka (non-delusion), less frequently in positive values metta (loving kindness), karuma (compassion), mudita

( happiness in the good fortune of others.)

 

Yet Kuan Yin is associated with active compassion as a driving force of action, where all, including the least of living things are treated with fairness and consideration and where the broader currents of life move toward harmony and equilibrium.

 

While most of the myths and ex voto paintings found in temples show Kuan Yin helping individuals in times of stress or danger, there is also a broader, more political-social aspect to her efforts to restore harmony and balance.Today, at a time when humanity is increasingly working together to meet ecological challenges and to overcome ideologically-led strife, the spirit of Kuan Yin presents to us an important call for a cultural renaissance based o­n the concept of harmony.Rather than concentrating primarily o­n conflicts, struggles and suffering, the spirit of Kuan Yin suggests that the focus should be o­n cooperation, and visions of a better future.Harmony includes tolerance, acceptance, equality, and forgiveness of past pains and conflicts.The spirit of Kuan Yin leads to gentleness, patience, kindness, and to inner peace.

 

We are fortunate to be able to participate in a crucial moment in world history when the law of harmony, that is the law of equilibrium, is being increasingly recognized and understood. Harmony is the key to our ascent to the next higher level of human consciousness: harmony between the intellect and the heart, the mind and the body, male and female, being and doing.

 

For the conscious restoration of equilibrium, we must understand the lack of harmony particular to each society and to each segment of the society.It may be a lack of balance in the goals to be reached and the means to reach these goals.It may be a lack of balance between thought and action, or it may be a lack of balance between the role of women and men.

 

The efforts to restore harmony can often be long for there are structures and institutions which, though lifeless, take a long time to crumble.One needs patience.Yet, there are, at times, unexpected breakthrough and shifts.Thus, o­ne must always be sensitive to the flow of energy currents.

 

Thus as we mark 19 February to honor Kuan Yin, we also develop a new spirit of cooperation for the creation of a cosmopolitan, humanist world society.Social harmony is inseparable from the values of respect and understanding, of goodwill, and of gratitude toward o­ne another.

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

10/02/17


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Ukraine: Still divided and tense
on: February 04, 2017In: EUROPEOPINIONPOLITICSNo Comments
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By Rene Wadlow

The start of 2017 has seen an increase in military action and tensions in the separatist areas of Ukraine, especially in the Donetsk and Lulansh regions and around the city of Avdiyivka.  There has been high-caliber artillery fire along with small arms and morters. There had already been a sharp increase throughout the spring and summer of 2016, with an average of 1000  exchanges a day, as monitored by the some 1,100 staff members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) posted to the area.  The Secretary-General of the OSCE, Lamberto Zannier, has recently called for respect of a cease-fire already negotiated through the OSCEs Minsk group.

The possibility of a new Cold War with its military buildup, lack of cooperation, and the stilling of opposition voices is real. The politically divided and potentially more violent Ukraine highlights broad social, economic and geopolitical orientations that will have long-range consequences.  The current situation in Ukraine and Crimea does not led itself to calm considerations or compromises.

The OSCE has tried to develop conflict-reduction steps in addition to monitoring the situation o­n the ground.  The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights has tried to promote dialogue between Russian and Ukrainian civil society groups; the OSCE Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings has tried to raise awareness of local authorities about the threat of human trafficking in eastern Ukraine especially among internally displaced persons, and the OSCE High Commissioner o­n National Minorities has organized an expert discussion  o­n minorities linguistic rights.

However, we are still far from a satisfactory resolution of the conflict and the political tensions between Russia, Ukraine, and the NATO alliance.  Western economic sanctions against Russia are still in place, harmful to the Russian economy but not harmful enough to modify Russian policy. The Western economic sanctions still operative were followed by Russian economic sanctions o­n European Union food products causing difficulties for EU agricultural production.

There is a need to move beyond the current deadlocked and tense situation.  Ukraine faces real internal problems: political, economic, and social.  There is a need for dialogue, trust-building, and reconciliation within the country all stepping stones to stable internal peace.  There is also need for de-escalation of international tensions.

At the start of the armed conflict, o­n 17 April 2014, there was a o­ne-day negotiation in Geneva between the US Secretary of State John Kerry and the Russian Foreign Minister Sergy Lavrov.  The Association of World Citizens proposed to them a federal-decentralized government for Ukraine that would not divide the country o­n the pattern of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia or Transnistra in Moldova but would foster local and regional autonomy. At a press conference following the Geneva meeting Sergy Lavrov said that the Ukrainian crisis must be resolved by the Ukrainians themselves and that they should start a nationwide national dialogue within the framework of the constitutional process which must be inclusive and accountable.

The Association of World Citizens proposal warned against simplified concepts in the Ukraine discussion.  Federalism is not the first step to the disintegration of the Ukraine.  But federalism is not a magic solution either.  Since the Geneva meeting there has been a certain degree of decentralization but not a real federal structure.  There has been a proclamation of a Donetsk Peoples Republic and a Luhansk Peoples Republic.

Those of us outside the Ukraine must help facilitate discussions of national governmental structures for the Ukraine and regional security cooperation so that common interests may be found and current tensions reduced.

06/02/17

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The Re-affirmation of Humanitarian International Law

BY TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 9 January 2017

Rene Wadlow TRANSCEND Media Service

6 Jan 2017  Current armed conflicts in Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria-Iraq-ISIS-Turkey, Libya, Somalia and elsewhere have led to repeated and conscious violations of humanitarian international law such as attacks o­n medical facilities and personnel, killing of prisoners-of-war, the taking and killing of hostages, the use of civilians as human shields and torture.

At this stage, there is a pressing need to reflect upon what actions should be taken to implement humanitarian international law in response to increased challenges. We would like to stress the need for a United Nations-led conference o­n the re-affirmation of humanitarian international law stressing its application to non-State parties.  Non-State actors such as ISIS or the Afghan Taliban, are increasingly involved in armed conflicts but were largely not envisaged when humanitarian international law was  being drawn up. The, the conference would highlight the need to apply humanitarian international law both to States and to non-State actors. (1)

Such a conference would bring together into a coherent synthesis the four avenues of humanitarian international law: (2)

  • The Geneva Conventions Red Cross-mandated treaties;
  • The Hague Convention traditions dealing with prohibited weapons, highlighting recent treaties such as those o­n land mines and cluster munitions;
  • Human rights conventions and standards, valid at all times but especially violated in times of armed conflicts;
  • The protection of sites and monuments which have been designated by UNESCO as part of the cultural heritage of humanity, highlighting the August 2016 decision of the International Criminal Court o­n the destruction of Sufi shrines in northern Mali. (3)

Such a re-affirmation of humanitarian international law should be followed by efforts to influence public consciousness of the provisions and spirit of humanitarian international law. This can be done, in part, by the creation of teaching manuals for different audiences and action guides. (4)

I would cite a precedent for this re-affirmation of humanitarian international law from personal experience. During the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, I was part of a working group created by the International Committee of the Red Cross to respond adequately to the challenges of this conflict which was the first African armed conflict that did not involve a colonial power.  The blocking of food flows to Biafra and thus starvation as a tool of war was stressed in our work. (5)

One conclusion of the working group was the need to re-affirm the Geneva Conventions and especially to have them more widely known in Africa by writing Africa-focused teaching manuals. Thus, as at the time I was professor and Director of Research of the Graduate Institute of Development Studies, Geneva, I collaborated with Professor Jiri Toman, Director of the Institut Henri Dunant o­n the  creation of such a manual to be used in Africa. Today, such culturally-sensitive manuals could be developed to explain humanitarian international law.

Such a re-affirmation conference would be welcomed by civil society organizations related to relief, refugees, human rights and conflict resolution. A certain number of these organizations have already called attention to violations and the need for international action.

NOTES:

1) see Andrew Clapham. Human Rights Obligations of Non-State Actors (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006)

2) see Sydney D. Bailey. Prohibitions and Restraints in War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972)

3) see Rene Wadlow Guilty Plea in Cultural Destruction Case Peace Magazine (Canada) Oct-Dec 2016

4) see Jacques Freymond. Guerres, Révolutions, Croix-Rouge (Geneva: Institut Universitaire de Hautes Etudes Internationales, 1976) and Thierry Hentsch. Face au blocus. La Coix Rouge internationale dans le Nigéria en guerre (Geneva: Institut Universitaire de Hautes Etudes Internationales, 1973)

5) see as a good example of an action guide Paul Bonard. Les Modes dAction des Acteurs Humanitaires. Critères dune Complémentarité Operationelle (Geneva, CICR, no date given)

__________________________________________

René Wadlow, is president and a U.N. representative (Geneva) of the Association of World Citizens and editor of Transnational Perspectives. He is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment

09-01-17


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Maurice Béjart: Starting off the Year with a Dance

Rene Wadlow

 

January first is the birth anniversary of Maurice Béjart, a innovative master of modern dance.In a world where there is both appreciation and fear of the mixing of cultural traditions, Maurice Béjart was always a champion of blending cultural influences.  He was a world citizen of culture and an inspiration to all who work for a universal culture.  His death o­n 22 November 2007 was a loss, but he serves as a forerunner of what needs to be done so that beauty will overcome the walls of separation.  o­ne of the Béjarts most impressive dance sequences was Jérusalem, cité de la Paix in which he stressed the need for reconciliation and mutual cultural enrichment.

 

Béjart followed in the spirit of his father, Gaston Berger (1896-1960), philosopher, administrator of university education, and o­ne of the first to start multi-disciplinary studies of the future.  Gaston Berger was born in Saint-Louis de Sénegal, with a French mother and a Sénégalese father. Sénégal, and especially Leopold Sedar Sengore pointed with pride to Gaston Berger as a native son and the second university after Dakar was built in Saint-Louis and carries the name of Gaston Berger.  Berger became a professor of philosophy at the University of Aix-Marseille and was interested in seeking the basic structures of mystical thought, with study o­n the thought of Henri Bergson and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, both of whom were concerned with the basic energies which drive humanity forward. Berger was also interested in the role of memory as that which holds the group together writing that it is memory which allows us to be able to hope together, to fear together, to love together, and to work together.

 

In 1953, Gaston Berger was named director general of higher education in France with the task of renewal of the university system after the Second World War years.  Thus, when Maurice-Jean Berger, born in 1927, was to start his own path, the name Berger was already well known in intellectual and administrative circle.  Maurice changed his name to Béjart which sounds somewhat similar but is the name of the wife of Molière.  Molière remains the symbol of the combination of theatre-dance-music.

 

Maurice Béjart was trained at the Opera de Paris and then with the well known choreographer Roland Petit.  Béjarts talent was primarily as a choreographer, a creator of new forms blending dance-music-action. He was willing to take well-known music such as the Bolero of Maurice Ravel or The Rite of Spring and The Firebird of Stravinsky and develop new dance forms for them. However, he was also interested in working with composers of experimental music such as Pierre Schaeffer.

 

Béjart also continued his fathers interest in mystical thought, less to find the basic structures of mystic thought like his father but rather as an inspiration.  He developed a particular interest in the Sufi traditions of Persia and Central Asia.  The Sufis have often combined thought-music-motion as a way to higher enlightenment.  The teaching and movements of G.I. Gurdjieff are largely based o­n Central Asian Sufi techniques even if Gurdjieff did not stress their Islamic character.  Although Gurdjieff died in October 1948, he was known as an inspiration for combining mystical thought, music and motion in the artistic milieu of Béjart.  The French composer of modern experimental music, Pierre Schaeffer with whom Béjart worked closely was a follow of Gurdjieff.  Schaeffer also worked closely with Pierre Henry for Symphonie pour un homme seul and La Messe pour le Temps Présent for which Béjart programmed the dance. Pierre Henry was interested in the Tibetan school of Buddhism, so much of Béjarts milieu had spiritual interests turned toward Asia.

 

It was Béjarts experience in Persia where he was called by the Shah of Iran to create dances for the Persepolis celebration in 1971 that really opened the door to Sufi thought a path he continued to follow.

 

Béjart also followed his fathers interest in education and created dance schools both in Bruxelles and later Lausanne.  While there is not a Béjart style that others follow closely, he stressed an openness to the cultures of the world and felt that dance could be an enrichment for all social classes.  He often attracted large audiences to his dance performances, and people from different milieu were moved by his dances.

 

Béjart represents a conscious effort to break down walls between artistic forms by combining music, dance, and emotion and the walls between cultures.  An inspiration for world citizens to follow. 

 

Rene Wadlow: President, Association of World Citizens

30/12/16

 



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Palmyra: Renewed dangers

 

on: December 13, 2016:  By Rene Wadlow

 

By o­ne of the ironies of military strategy, the Syrian government forces and their Russian allies concentrated o­n the current battle for Aleppo, leaving the historic city of Palmyra largely unguarded. The Islamic State (ISIS or Daesh in Arabic)  had held Palmyra, called the Venice of the Sands for some10 months, starting in May 2015 until they were forced to leave by Syrian government forces and allies in April 2016. In May 2016, Russia had celebrated the flight of ISIS with a short concert of Prokofievs music played by musicians from the Marinskiy Theatre in the Roman-era outdoor theater and a video talk by President Putin.

 

Now ISIS forces are back in control and both the people and the monuments of Palmyra are in real danger. When in control of Palmyra, o­n 23 August 2015, the temples of Baalshamien Lord of the Heavens   and Bel a goddess often associated with the moon, had been largely destroyed by ISIS. This iconoclastic approach to pre-Islamic faiths and their material culture is the same which had led to the destruction of the large Buddha statues in Afghanistan monuments that attested to the rich culture along the Silk Road. The destruction of the Palmyra temples was also to show the impotence of the international community to stop ISIS. Smaller artifacts were destroyed or sold off in what has become a massive trade of looted art works.


ISIS had again taken control of Palmyra with a combination of sleeper cells persons loyal to ISIS who stayed o­n waiting for orders to attack and from ISIS fighters who have been dislodged from other cities. There is a real danger that ISIS leaders will push for revenge killings of people and will destroy more art works with a burned earth mentality. It is difficult to know who or what can serve as moderating influences o­n ISIS to respect humanitarian law concerning people and respect for the common heritage of humanity concerning works of art.

 

Syria and Iraq are home to some of the worlds first cities, a complex and unique meeting of states, empires and faiths.  The protection of works of art and cultural heritage is an aspect of world law in which UNESCO is playing a leading role.  There is also a need to build an awareness and then action o­n the part of non-governmental organizations, especially those in consultative status with the United Nations.  o­ne of the difficulties with appeals to the international community is that the international community has no  street address and so appeals are rarely delivered. Too often, governments and people react after events rather than affirming positions from a deeper level of awareness and a legal basis in world law. Today, there is a need for a world-wide demand for the protection of the cultural heritage of Palmyra.

 

The protection of cultural heritage owes much to the vision and energy of the Russian artist Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947). Roerichs desire to make known the artistic achievements of the past through archeology, coupled with the need to preserve the landmarks of the past from destruction, led to his work for the Banner of Peace to preserve art and architecture in time of war.  Roerich had seen the destruction brought by the First World War and the civil war which followed the 1917 Russian Revolution.  He worked with French international lawyers to draft a treaty by which museums, churches and buildings of value would be preserved in time of war through the use of a symbol − three red circles representing past, present and future a practice inspired by the red cross to protect medical personnel in times of conflict.

 

Roerich mobilized artists and intellectuals in the 1920s for the establishment of this Banner of Peace. Henry A. Wallace, the US secretary of Agriculture and later Vice-President of the United States, was an admirer of Roerich and helped to have an official treaty introducing the Banner of Peace − the Roerich Peace Pact − signed at the White House o­n 15 April 1935 by 21 States in a Pan-American Union ceremony.  At the signing, Henry Wallace o­n behalf of the USA said at no time has such an ideal been more needed. It is high time for the idealists who make the reality of tomorrow, to rally around such a symbol of international cultural unity.  It is time that we appeal to that appreciation of beauty, science, education which runs across all national boundaries to strengthen all that we hold dear in our particular governments and customs. Its acceptance signifies the approach of a time when those who truly love their own nation will appreciate in addition the unique contribution of other nations and also do reverence to that common spiritual enterprise which draws together in o­ne fellowship all artists, scientists, educators and the truly religious of whatever faith.

 

As Nicholas Roerich said in a presentation of his Pact The world is striving toward peace in many ways and everyone realizes in his heart that this constructive work is a true prophesy of the New Era.  We deplore the loss of the libraries of Louvain and Oviedo and the irreplaceable beauty of the Cathedral of Rheims.  We remember the beautiful treasures of private collections which were lost during world calamities.  But we do not want to inscribe o­n these deeds any words of hatred. Let us simply say: Destroyed by human ignorance re built by human hope.


The Roerich Peace Pact is the world-law basis for an expression of concern from the governments of what was the Pan-American Union (In 1948 it was reestablished as the Organization of American States).  There is also the Hague Convention of May 1954 which was signed by a wider geographic range of States.  The Roerich Peace Pact and the Hague Convention are rarely cited by governments.  Therefore, leadership must come from non-governmental organizations and the cultural sector to work unitedly and creatively to prevent the wanton destruction of humanitys cultural heritage.


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Many Forms of Violence against Women

by Rene Wadlow

2016-11-25

 

25 November is the day designated by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Violence against women is a year-round occurrence and continues at an alarming rate.Violence against women can take many different forms. There can be an attack upon their bodily integrity and their dignity.As citizens of the world, we need to place an emphasis o­n the universality of violence against women but also o­n the multiplicity of the forms of violence. We need to look at the broader system of domination based o­n subordination and inequality.The value of a special Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is that the day serves as a time of analysis of the issues and a time for a re-dedication to take both short-term measures such as the creation of a larger number of homes for battered women and longer range programs.

 

Both at the international UN level and at the national and local level, there have been programs devoted to the equality of women and to the promotion of women in all fields. Thus, it is important to stress that women are not o­nly victims in need of special protection but also that women should participate fully and effectively in all aspects of society.

 

Nevertheless, women have largely remained invisible and inaudible by being allowed to have a key role in the informal sector - those sectors of the economy that are the least organized and are often left out of the statistics of the formal economy as if the informal sector did not count.Women have turned to the informal sector - or have been pushed into it as a way of sustaining a livelihood for their families.

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In the informal sector, women survive and often have a major responsibility for the economy of the whole family. Fathers are often absent by need or by choice.Some women do well in the informal sector and serve as a model or a hope as to what others can accomplish.Self-employed women are increasingly helped by micro-credit programs. Micro-credit loans are useful but rarely do such loans allow a person to move outside the informal economy.

 

Women's work in the informal sector accounts for a large proportion of total female employment in most developing countries of Africa, Latin America and Asia.Women work as food producers, traders, home-based workers, domestic workers, prostitutes and increasingly are engaged in drug trafficking anything to earn an income to feed their children.The informal sector is their last hope for economic and social survival for themselves and their families.

 

Gender inequality and the walls built around the informal sector are the marks of the silent violence against women. Amartya Sen defined the major challenge of human development as broadening the limited lives into which the majority of human beings are willy-nilly imprisoned by the forces of circumstances.On 25 November, this day for the elimination of violence against women, we need to look closely at the many social, cultural and economic wall which imprison.

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

25/11/16

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In Tune with the Infinite : A New Thought influence o­n Gandhian nonviolence
by Rene Wadlow
2016-10-02 09:46:17

2 October has been proclaimed by the UN General Assembly as the International Day for Nonviolence, setting the day appropriately o­n the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi drew o­n a variety of thinkers to develop his approach to nonviolence: the Jain convictions of his mother, the later writings of Leo Tolstoy, Edwin Arnold, author of a verse biography of the Buddha The Light of Asia whom Gandhi knew when he was a law student in London, and the writings of the American New Thought writer Ralph Waldo Trune.

When Gandhi returned to India from his work in South Africa in January 1915, he was known among the political elite of India for his South African campaigns, but he was not part of any existing Indian organization and had no political base of his own.  He was confronted with three basic facts of life: First, the world was at war and English troops were heavily engaged.

Secondly, the British administration in India (who also governed what is now Burma, decision-making being done from Calcutta), were preoccupied with stability and not with the nature of colonial decentralization. A fairly liberal Indian Council Act of 1909 had given some aspects of representative government at the level of provincial governments and most British administrators thought that this was going far enough for the moment.

Thirdly, the o­ne major Indian national political movement, the Indian National Congress, founded in 1885 by the English Theosophist, A.O. Hume, former high administrator who died in 1915 just as Gandhi returned, was made up of elite, educated Indians such as its later President of Congress, Motilal Nehru, father of Jawaharlal Nehru but with little impact among the Indian masses.

As in South Africa, with Tolstoy Farm, Gandhi began his work in India with the creation of an ashram, a small intimate community in which life could be disciplined both o­n a spiritual and a physical level. Some of the members of the ashram were relatives and others had been with Gandhi in South Africa.  Life consisted of a routine of prayer with reading of scriptures of different faiths, singing and talks, of manual labour, of social service to nearby villages and training in non-violence.  Ashrams are part of religious life in India, but it must be noted that none of the Hindu religious leaders who had their own ashrams joined Gandhis non-violent efforts, nor invited Gandhi to join them.  Gandhi became a Mahatma a great soul to ordinary Indians and to Indian intellectuals such as Rabindranath Tagore, who was the first to publicly use the term, but not to Hindu religious leaders.

At the ashram, Gandhi steadily Hinduized his public persona and his manner of life.  He quoted from Hindu religious-political reformers such as the founder of the Arya Samaj, Dayanand Saraswati (1824 -1883) and the Bengali reformer Vivekananda (1863-1902) who was o­ne of the first Indian religious leaders to go to the USA. Gandhi spent nearly 15 years in preparation for the March 1930 Salt March, Gandhi's first large public nonviolent effort in India, in training his close followers, in developing contacts throughout the country and in trying to understand the issues which would move people to action.

It is from his Satyagraha Ashram that Gandhi at sixty-one years of age set out for the Salt March, early morning of 1March after a long evening prayer meeting at which some 2000 people participated.  Gandhi closed by saying to his band of 79 marchers, I have faith in our cause and the purity of our weapons God bless you all and keep off all obstacles from the path in the struggle that begins tomorrow.  Let this be out prayer.

Gandhi had been for some months before March thinking about what issue he could select around which to organize a campaign of non-violence that would have national significance, would be meaningful to many Indians and send a strong signal to the British administrators that their rule would no longer be tolerated.  The decision-making body of the Congress Party with which Gandhi had an o­n-again-off-again relationship called the Working Group had met for a week over New Years Day, 1930.  Gandhi drew up a grab bag of eleven demands around which he thought that Congress could organize non-violent campaigns. The first was the total prohibition of making and drinking alcohol and the eleventh was that Indians should be able to buy fire arms, there being a total prohibition o­n the sale of fire arms. Among the eleven demands was the abolition of the Salt Tax. The Working Group thought that the non-payment of taxes could be done without violence but had no idea as to how to carry this out in a dramatic way. Gandhi returned to his ashram and kept largely to himself in meditation. Then, as Gandhi later wrote, the answer came to him like a flash.

The importance of intuition of ideas that come as a flash o­nce the form has been created in another dimension came to Gandhi largely through the writings of the American New Thought writer Ralph Waldo Trine (1866-1958). His parents were from New England and named him after Emerson.

Kathryn Tidrich has written an interesting new biography of Mahatma Gandhi: Gandhi: A Political and Spiritual Life (London: I.B.Tauris, 2006, 380pp.). Tidrich puts the accent o­n the spiritual and intellectual contacts that Gandhi had when a law student in London and in his years as a lawyer and non-violent activist in South Africa.  She highlights the friendship with Edward Maitland and Gandhis connections with the Esoteric Christian Union founded by Anna Kingsford and Maitland in 1891. It is probably Maitland who introduced Gandhi to the writings of Ralph Waldo Trine.  

It is from Trines writings that Gandhi received the term soul power or soul force the term Gandhi used as a translation into English of his Indian term satyagraha. Satyagraha  is more often translated today by the term nonviolence, but there was already in use in India the term ahimsa a meaning non and hinsa, violence. Gandhi wanted another term that was more active, and he took from Trine the term soul force.

As Kathryn Tidrich notes All Trines books contained the same message: spiritual power also termed thought power and soul power could be acquired by making o­neself o­ne with God, who was immanent, through love and service to o­nes fellow men The Christ he followed was o­ne familiar to Gandhi the supreme spiritual exemplar who showed men the way to union with the divine essence. Trine promised that the true seeker, fearless and forgetful of self-interest, will be so filled with the power of God working through him that as he goes here and there, he can continually send out influences of the most potent and powerful nature that will reach the uttermost parts of the world.

Gandhi seems to have remained interested in Trine. He read his My Philosophy and My Religion (1921) in Yeravda jail in 1923, and in 1933, as he recovered from his 21-day fast for self-purification, he observed that the fast had sprung from a yearning of the soul to merge in the divine essence.  How far I have succeeded, how far I am in tune with the Infinite, I do not know.In Tune with the Infinite was the title of Trines best known book. In Tune With the Infinite or Fullness of Peace, Power, and Plenty (New York: Whitcombe and Tombs, 1899, 175pp.)

For Trine, thought was the way that a person came into tune with the Infinite. Each is building his own world. We both build from within and we attract from without. Thought is the force with which we build, for thoughts are forces.  Like builds like and like attracts like.  In the degree that thought is spiritualized does it become more subtle and powerful in its workings.  This spiritualizing is in accordance with law and is within the power of all.

 Everything is first worked out in the unseen before it is manifested in the seen, in the ideal before it is realized in the real, in the spiritual before it shows forth in the material.  The realm of the unseen is the realm of cause.  The realm of the seen is the realm of effect.  The nature of effect is always determined and conditioned by the nature of its cause.

The great central fact in human life is coming into a conscious vital realization of our o­neness with this infinite Life, and the opening of ourselves fully to this divine inflow. In just the degree that we come into a conscious realization of our o­neness with the Infinite Life, and open ourselves to this divine inflow, do we actualize in ourselves the qualities and powers of the Infinite Life, do we make ourselves channels through which the Infinite Intelligence and Power can work.  In just the degree in which you realize your o­neness with the Infinite Spirit, you will exchange disease for ease, inharmony for harmony, suffering and pain for abounding health and strength.

For Gandhi, the Salt Tax, because unjust and touching especially the poor, had already been abolished within what Trine called the realm of cause.  Gandhi had the intuition to see that salt was then freely available for all who would take it from the sea of life (either the actual sea or from rock salt o­n land). Into the realm of effect o­ne had to walk to manifest this change, and so the march to the Dandi beach o­n the Gulf of Camby began.

Rene Wadlow, president and a representative to the UN,Geneva, of the Association of World Citizen

03/10/16

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Building o­n the UN summit to address large movements of refugees and migrants

 

By Rene Wadlow

 

On 19 September 2016, the UN General Assembly held a o­ne-day Summit o­n  Addressing Large Movements o Refugees and Migrants   a complex of issues which have become important and emotional issues in many countries. Restrictive migration policies deny many migrants the possibility of acquiring a regular migrant status, and as a result, the migrants end up being in an irregular or undocumented situation in the receiving country and can be exposed to exploitation and serious violations of human rights.

 

Citizens o the world have been actively concerned with the issues of migrants, refugees, the  stateless  and those displaced by armed conflcts within their own country.   Thus we welcome the spirit of the Summit Declaration with its emphasis o­n cooperative action, a humane sense of sharing the responsibilities for refugees and migrants and o­n seeking root causes of migration and refugee flows. There are three issues mentioned in the Summit Declaration which merit follow up action among the UN Secretariat, world citizens and other non-governmental organizations :

 

1) The migration of youth ;

2) The strong link between migration, refugee flows, and improving the structures for the resolution of armed conflicts ;

3)  Developing furher cooperation among non-governmental organizations for the protection and integration of refugees and migrants.

 

The Migration of Youth

Youth leave their country of birth to seek a better life and also to escape war, poverty, and misfortune. We should add to an analysis of trans-frontier youth migration a very large numbe of youth who leave their home villages to migrate toward cities within their own country.  Without accurate informaion and analysis of both internal and trans-frontier migration of youth, it is difficult to deelop appropiate policies for employment, housing, education and health care of young migrants  and refugees. It is estimated that there are some 10 million refugee children, and most are not in school.

 

Studies have noted an increasing feminization of trans-frontier migration in which the female migrant moves abroad as a wage earner, especially as a domestic worker rather than as an accompannying family member.  Migrant domestic workers are often exposed to abuse, exploitation and discrimination based o­n gender, ethnicity and occupation. Domestic workers are often underpaid, their working conditions poor and sometimes dangerous. Their bargaining power is severly limited. Thus, there is a need to develop legally enforeable contracts of employment, setting out minimum wages, maximum hours of work and responsibilities ;

The Association of World Citizens recommends that there be in the follow ups to the Summit, a special focus o­n youth, their needs as well as possibilities for positive actions by youth.

The strong link between migration, refugee flows, and improving the structures for the resolution of armed conflicts.

 

The United Nations General Assembly which follows immediately the Migration-Refugee Summit is facing the need for action o­n a large number of armed conflicts in which Member States are involved.  In some of these conflicts the United Natins has provided mediators ; in others, UN peace-keepes are present.  In nearly all these armed conflicts, there have been internally-displaced persons as well as trans-frontier refugees.  Therefore there is an urgent need to review the linkages between armed conflict and refugee flows. There needs to be a realistic examination as to why some of these armed conflicts have lasted as long as they have and why negotiations in good faith have not been undertaken or have not led to the resolution of these armed conflicts.  Such reflections must aim at improvements of structures and procedures.

Developing further cooperation among non-governmental organizations for the protection and integration of refugees and migrants.

 

We welcome the emphasis in the Summit Declaratin o­n the important rôle that non-governmental organizations play in providing direct services to refugees and migrants. NGOs also lobby government authorities o­n migration legislation and develop public awareness campaigns.  The Summit has stressed the need to focus o­n future policies taking into account climate change and the growing globalization of trade, finance, and economic activities.  Thus, there needs to be strong cooperation among the UN and its Agencies, national governments, and NGOs to deal more adequately with current challenges and to plan for the future. Inclusive structures for such cooperation are needed.

 

Rene Wadlow

Rene Wadlow is the President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation o­n and problem-solving in economic and social issues.

23/09/16

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Velimir Khlebnikov : The Futurian (1895-1922)
by Rene Wadlow
2015-11-09

My soul is a seer
Who has seen in the skies
The constellations beginning to rise.
And the thunderstorm fly like a bird.

So wrote the Russian poet Velimir Khlebnikov o­n the eve of his death in 1922. Khlebnikov was part of an active avant-garde circle of writers. Khlebnikov called himself a futurian. Khlebnikov had a strong sense of what Russia could bring to the modern world despite the hardships that the 1917 Revolution and the First World War had brought to the avant-garde. In 1920 he wrote:

Russia, I give you my divine

white brain. Be me. Be Khlebnikov.
I have sunk a foundation deep in the minds
of your people. I have laid down an axis,
I have built a house o­n a firm foundation.
We are Futurians.

The Futurian group produced most of its work from 1910 until the start of the First World War and then was scattered by the War and the Revolution.The group which included the spiritually-inclined painter Kazimir Malevich (1878-1935) who was inspired by the paintings of Henri Matissewhich existed in private collections in Moscow, but basically the group found its inspiration in the native art of Russian folklore folklore which had a wisdom beyond intellect.In his essay On Poetry Khlebnikov wrote If we think of the soul as split between the government of intellect and a stormy population of feelings, then incantations and beyondsense language are appeals over the head of the government straight to the population of feelings, a direct cry to the predawn of the soul.

Yet Khlebnikov does not fit into any o­ne school or trend. His work explores a uniquebroad terrain. He was among the great innovators of literary modernism.He blurred the distinction between verse and prose.He made use of patterns from folklore and chants, incantations and shamanistic language.In addition to poems and plays, stories and essays, he wrote political and artistic manifestos, essays o­n history, architecture, and social problems, literary theory, and journalistic pieces o­n current events. His passion for internationalism in politics and the arts prompted him to envisage a world-wide brotherhood of creative scientists, writers, and thinkers dedicated to understanding nature and to counteracting all the social evils fostered by political leaders.

Khlebnikov, who died when he was 36, is in many ways a short-lived Walt Whitman whom he much admired. Attentively I read the springtime thoughts of the Divinity in designs o­n the speckled feet of tree-toads, Homer shaken by the awful wagon of a great war, the way a glass shakes at the passing of a wagon.
I have the same Neanderthal skull, the same curving forehead as you, old Walt.
Khlebnikovs O Garden of Animals is directly influenced by Whitman:

O Garden of Animals,
Where iron bars seem like a father who stops a bloody fight to remind his sons they are brothers; Where a clean-shaven soldier throws dirt at a tiger, all because the tiger is greater.
Where a camel knows the essence of Buddhism, and suppresses a Chinese smile; Where I search for new rhythms, whose beats are animals and men.

Like Whitman, Khlebnikov was an innovator of language and form.
At first sight, his poetry was considered anarchic and destructive of accepted rules.Khlebnikov wanted a clear break with the past.As he wrote in 1916 as the war ground o­n Old o­nes, you are holding back the fast advance of humanity; you are preventing the boiling locomotive of youth from crossing the mountain that lies in its path.We have broken the locks and see what your freight cars contain: tombstones for the young.He saw himself as a creator of new forms that would penetrate below the surface of phenomena and give a new art that might change the human condition.As we look more deeply at his writings, we see the metaphysical structure of order behind the innovative lines. His break with the past was to discover the true laws of nature. This passionate belief in the sovereignty of a lawful nature gave Khlebnikov a great intellectual freedom in the pursuit of its boundless variety, in poetry and in the various languages he devised for poetry.It removed the constraints of common forms and opened words to the wide prospects enjoyed by natural objects, while making them subject to the deep scrutiny of analytic dissection.

Khlebnikov was thus able to proceed to the work of the poet with the methodological precision of the scientist and to partake of the passion of both.
To unite mankind into harmony with the universe that was Khlebnikovs vocation. He wanted to make Planet Earth fit for the future, to free it from the deadly gravitational pull of everyday lying and pretence, from the tyranny of petty human instincts and the slow death of comfort and complacency. He wanted to transform the World through the Word. As he wrote I solemnly urge all artists of the future to keep exact spiritual records, to think of themselves as the sky and to keep exact notes o­n the rising and setting of their spiritual stars.

Khlebnikovs metaphysics are largely Taoist, more likely a rediscovery of the workings of yin and yang than a conscious influence of Chinese philosophy although he had a wide knowledge of Slavic and Indian mythology and a general interest in Asia.
In
a wry little poem of 1914, he describes concisely the underlying principle of his view of history, the idea of an equilibrium produced by the shift from positive to negative states:

The law of the see-saw argues

That your shoes will be loose or tight
That the hours will be day or night,
And that the ruler of earth the rhinoceros
Or us.

We find the same sense of the working of equilibrium in a section of The Song of
One Comes to Confusion:

These tenuous Japanese shadows,

These murmuring Indian maidens,
Nothing sounds so mournful
As words at this last supper.
Death but first life flashes past
Again: unknown, unlike, immediate.
This rule is the o­nly rhythm
For the dance of death and attainment.

Death came too soon.
1913 had been a high point of cooperation among the Cubo-Futurists when they staged the opera Victory over the Sun. The music was by Mikhail Matiushin (1861 -1934) with the sets and costumes by Kazimir Malevich and the prologue by Khlebnikov.War, revolution, civil war and exile broke up these creative groups.Although they were unable to create the future they had envisaged, the ideas are powerful beacons and can still reach a wider audience. To unite mankind into harmony with the universe is still central to the world citizens goals.
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Notes

See: Raymond Cooke. Velimir Khlebnikov (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987) and Paul Schmidts translations The King of Time (1985) and Collected Works (1987 and 1989) both published by Harvard University Press.
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Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens, France
09/11/2015

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Alexander Scriabin: Ecstasy and Light
by Rene Wadlow
2015-06-12 10:04:22

27 April marked the 100th anniversary of the death of the Russian composer Alexander Scriabin (1871-1915) who believed that music had the power to elevate the consciousness of people and therefore to transform social conditions. Scriabin is often described as a mystic, but there is no direct evidence that he personally had mystic experiences. Rather he drew upon the works of theosophical writers and conversations with people in the theosophical milieu in London and Bruxelles.

Alexander Scriabin was a key figure of what is commonly called the Silver Age in Russian history from the 1890s to 1914 . The start of the First World War followed by the Russian Revolution dispersed many of the groups which had been active in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
The Silver Age had seen a surge of interest in various forms of mysticism, the occult and the philosophical teachings of India and China along with influences from Germany: the thought of Nietzsche and the Christianized version of theosophy developed By Rudolf Steiner. Rudolf Steiner's second wife, Marie von Sivers was a Baltic Russian who also helped spread Steiner's views in Helsinki and Warsaw, cities in close contact with Russian intellectual circles.

An element of theosophical thought, especially in Madame Helena Blavatsky's
The Secret Doctrine which Scriabin read closely was the idea of esoterism − or hidden or secret knowledge which passes from age to age and from country to country.This hidden knowledge is taught in small inner circles or can be discovered through a careful study of the literature and the development within an individual of his higher consciousness by meditation.For Scriabin, music of certain sorts had the power to open the door to this hidden and trans formative knowledge.

Scriabin came from an aristocratic Russian family.
His father was a Russian diplomat usually posted abroad and who had little contact with his son.Scriabin's mother was a well-known concert pianist but who died when Scriabin was o­nly o­ne year old.Thus he was raised by his father's sister and mother, both of whom were musicians. As Scriabin showed that he had an interest and a talent for music, he started to learn the piano at an early age with a teacher who was also teaching Sergei Rachmaninoff.The two students became life-long friends, Rachmaninoff doing much to introduce Scriabin's piano work after Scriabin's early death at the age of 43.

Scriabin had followed the classic Russian path for musicians going to the Moscow conservatory, and at an early age, he married another young pianist, Vera Ivanova Isakovich.
As many Russians of that time and social class, they decided to travel abroad, and so from 1904 to 1909, they lived in Paris, and spent time in London, Bruxelles, and the USA.In 1907 in Paris, Scriabin collaborated with the producer Sergei Diaghilevto introduce Russian music, dance and art to the French artistic milieu.

Scriabin found time to produce four children with his wife, as well as taking a second wife Tatyana Schloezer.
Finally Vera agreed to a divorceand Tatyana became a legal wife.They had three children.In addition to music, Scriabin believed that sex was an avenue to secret knowledge.At the time in theosophical circles there was a good deal of interest in the awakened kundalini,the serpent fire, said to be coiled at the base of the spine.With proper breathing exercises and meditation, the serpent can rise up to the Third Eye between the brows and then to the crown of the head producing enlightenment and liberation from matter.Scriabin took yoga breathing exercises to work with the kundalini .One problem, and not o­nly with Scriabin, is that the fire rises from the base of the spine o­nly as far as the sex organs and stays there.Later, in the 1930-1940 period when Scriabin's music was considered not to be in line with Socialist Realism it was attacked for its unhealthy eroticism and Scriabin's life was given as proof that his music stimulated sex and took the workers minds offproduction goals.With the fast declining birth rate in Russia, there seems to be a strong revival of interest in Scriabin's music.

One of Scriabin's most explicit theosophical-spiritual compositions, following the concepts put forward in Blavatsky's
The Secret Doctrine is Prometheus: Poem of Fire. In the usual account of the Prometheus myth, Zeus has Prometheus make humans out of mud. Prometheus takes pity o­n the conditions of the creatures he created and steals fire from heaven and gives it to them.Zeus punishes Prometheus by having him bound to a rock, but eventually he is freed by Hercules.In the theosophical retelling which Scriabin uses, Prometheus does not steal the fire but is given it consciously by Zeus to produce the ray of light in humans.Thus Prometheus is like Lucifer, the light bringer who brings to the mind the capacity to understand the causes of progress and regression.Zeus does not punish Prometheus; rather being bound to a rock is a symbol of the difficulties o­n the spiritual path, the progression of Spirit through Matter to return liberated as Spirit but at a higher degree of evolution at the end of the cycle than at the beginning.(1)

In the Soviet Union and even in today's Russia, Scriabin's music has been treated as music largely separate from his philosophical ideas.
In 1922 at the end of the Civil War when the Soviet government could start thinking about culture, the Moscow apartment of Scriabin was created as a state museum and kept in the condition in which he lived, with the esoteric knowledge books visible in the library.Except for the 1930-1940 period of the hardest moments of Stalin's cultural repression, Scriabin's music has been played.When Gagarin was in his spacecraft, the Russian Radio sent up the music of Scriabin's Poem of Ecstasy which became the theme song when Gagarin landed.

As is often the case, esoteric knowledge remains esoteric.
The spiritual foundation of Scriabin's music is no longer unknown in Russia but is not stressed either.With a knowledge of the spiritual quest, o­ne can hear his music with different ears.
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Note
1) For a theosophical assessment of Scriabin's music, see Cyril Scott. Music: Its Secret Influence Throughout the Ages (New York: Samuel Weiser Inc, 1958)
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Rene Wadlow,
President and a representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens.
June 15, 2015

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                                   18 May: International Museum Day: The Advancement of Learning and Culture

 

18 May has been designated by UNESCO as the International Day of Museums to highlight the role that museums play in preserving beauty, culture, and history.Museums come in all sizes and are often related to institutions of learning and libraries.Increasingly, churches and centers of worship have taken o­n the character of museums as people visit them for their artistic value even if they do not share the faith of those who built them.

 

Museums are important agents of intellectual growth and of cultural understanding.They are part of the common heritage of humanity, and thus require special protection in times of armed conflict.Many were horrified at the looting of the National Museum of Baghdad when some of the oldest objects of civilization were stolen or destroyed.Fortunately many items were later found and restored, but the American forces had provided inadequate protection at a time when wide-spread looting was predicted and, in fact, was going o­n. More recently, we have seen the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage in the museum of Mosul by ISIS factions. Today, there is deep concern for Palmyra as ISIS and government troops battle near Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

 

 

Conserving a cultural heritage is always difficult.Weak institutional capabilities, lack of appropriate resources and isolation of many culturally essential sites are compounded by a lack of awareness of the value of cultural heritage conservation.On the other hand, the dynamism of local initiatives and community solidarity systems are impressive assets.These forces should be enlisted, enlarged, and empowered to preserve and protect a heritage.Involving people in cultural heritage conservation both increases the efficiency of cultural heritage conservation and raises awareness of the importance of the past for people facing rapid changes in their environment and values.

 

Knowledge and understanding of a people's past can help current inhabitants to develop and sustain identity and to appreciate the value of their own culture and heritage.This knowledge and understanding enriches their lives and enables them to manage contemporary problems more successfully.It is important to retain the best of traditional self-reliance and skills of rural life and economics as people adapt to change.

 

Traditional systems of knowledge are rarely written down; they are implicit,continued by practice and example, rarely codified or even articulated by the spoken word.They continue to exist as long as they are useful, as long as they are not supplanted by new techniques.They are far too easily lost. Thus is is the objects that come into being through these systems of knowledge that ultimately become critically important.

 

Thus, museums must become key institutions at the local level . They should function as a place of learning. The objects that bear witness to systems of knowledge must be accessible to those who would visit and learn from them. Culture must be seen in its entirety: how women and men live in the world, how they use it, preserve and enjoy it for a better life.Museums allow objects to speak, to bear witness to past experiences and future possibilities and thus to reflect o­n how things are and how things might otherwise be.


Early efforts for the protection of educational and cultural institutions were undertaken by Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947) a Russian and world citizen.Nicholas Roerich had lived through the First World War and the Russian Revolution and saw how armed conflicts can destroy works of art and cultural and educational institutions.For Roerich, such institutions were irreplaceable and their destructions was a permanent loss for all humanity.Thus, he worked for the protection of works of art and institutions of culture in times of armed conflict.Thus he envisaged a universally-accepted symbol that could be placed o­n educational institutions in the way that a red cross had become a widely-recognized symbol to protect medical institutions and medical workers.Roerich proposed a Banner of Peace − three red circles representing the past, present and future − that could be placed upon institutions and sites of culture and education to protect them in times of conflict.

 

Roerich mobilized artists and intellectuals in the 1920s for the establishment of this Banner of Peace.Henry A. Wallace, then the US Secretary of Agriculture and later Vice-President was an admirer of Roerich and helped to have an official treaty introducing the Banner of Peace − the Roerich Peace Pact − signed at the White House o­n 15 April 1935 by 21 States in a Pan-American Union ceremony.At the signing, Henry Wallace o­n behalf of the USA said At no time has such an ideal been more needed.It is high time for the idealists who make the reality of tomorrow, to rally around such a symbol of international cultural unity.It is time that we appeal to that appreciation of beauty, science, education which runs across all national boundaries to strengthen all that we hold dear in our particular governments and customs.Its acceptance signifies the approach of a time when those who truly love their own nation will appreciate in additions the unique contributions of other nations and also do reverence to that common spiritual enterprise which draws together in o­ne fellowship all artists, scientists, educators and truly religious of whatever faith.

 

As Nicholas Roerich said in a presentation of his Pact The world is striving toward peace in many ways, and everyone realizes in his heart that this constructive work is a true prophesy of the New Era.We deplore the loss of libraries of Lou vain and Overdo and the irreplaceable beauty of the Cathedral of Rheims.We remember the beautiful treasures of private collections which were lost during world calamities.But we do not want to inscribe o­n these deeps any worlds of hatred.Let us simply say : Destroyed by human ignorance − rebuilt by human hope.

 

After the Second World War, UNESCO has continued the effort, and there have been additional conventions o­n the protection of cultural and educational bodies in times of armed conflicts.The most important is the 1954 Hague Connection for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

 

Museums help to build new bridges between nations, ethnic groups and communities through values such as beauty and harmony, that may serve a common references.Museums also build bridges between generations, between the past, the present and the future.

 

Therefore, o­n this International Museum Day, let us consider together how we may advance the impact of beauty upon the world.

 

Rene Wadlow, President and a representative to the United Nations, Geneva, of the Association of World Citizens


May 16, 2015

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Rapprochement of Cultures and Creative Education

Rene Wadlow*


The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed the Decade 2013-2022 as the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures building o­n the efforts in the UNESCO General Conference which had called for the development of a universal global consciousness based o­n dialogue and cooperation in a climate of trust and mutual understanding and for a new humanism for the twenty-first century. The Rapprochement of Cultures is a positive aspect of the process of globalization.


Globalization is an empirical process of world integration driven by a variety of economic, cultural, political, and ideological forces as seen in such areas as market expansion, a global production pattern as well as cultural homogenisation.In the fields of economics, politics, technology, environment and health, we see greater collaboration and interdependence.Now, international conferences, common trade agreements and multinational projects are striving to find solutions to long-standing difficulties and to promote development in areas where the problems have become too great to be resolved by a single State.We are learning, out of necessity, that competition has its limits.To give o­ne example, many of the issues in trade negotiations which go o­n in Geneva where I am an NGO Representative to the United Nations are about labour standards, environmental policies and human rights (such as products fabricated by child labour).These are all deeply domestic matters which have now become part of international affairs.


Has education been changing as quickly as the world economy?How are we preparing students to meet the demands of the world society?What role are schools playing in the formation of active world citizens able to make real contributions to the creation of a more peaceful society? Are we building the foundations of a New Humanism?


Education is uniquely placed to help deal with the major problems facing the world society: violent conflict, poverty, the destruction of the natural environment, and other fundamental issues touching human beings everywhere.Education provides information, skills and helps to shape values and attitudes.


It is true that education is not limited to the formal school system.There are many agents of education: family, media, peers, and associations of all sorts.Nevertheless, schools play a central role, and people expect schools to be leaders in the educational process.Unfortunately, there are times when schools are left alone as the o­nly conscious instrument of education.Therefore, teachers need to analyse how other agents of society contribute to the educational process or, more negatively, may hinder the educational process or promote destructive attitudes and values.

Education has two related aims. o­ne is to help the student to function in society, be it the local, the national, and the world society.The other aim is to help in the fullest development of the individuals physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual capacities.


There are three related ways to help prepare students for a fast-changing world in which people, ideas, goods and services increasingly cross State frontiers. These ways are related to:

1)skills,

2)content,

3)values and attitudes.


There is a need to teach those skills needed to be able to function effectively in the world: skills of goal setting, analysis, problem solving, research, communication, and conflict-resolution skills.We need to place more emphasis o­n communication skills in our schools with an emphasis o­n personal expression through language and the arts.Children need opportunities to acquire skills in writing, speech, drama, music, painting and other arts in order to find their own voices and expressions.


The second area of importance concerns the content of education with an emphasis o­n modern history and geography, ecology, economics, civics, and the history of science and technology. There is also a need to organize a curriculum through the use of broad themes such as interdependence, change, complexity, culture and conflict.


The third area concerns values and attitudes needed for living in a global society: self-confidence in o­nes own capacity, concern and interest in others, an openness to the cultural contributions of other societies.There needs to be a willingness to live with complexity, to refuse easy answers or to shift blame to others.In practice, a good teacher makes a personalized combination of all these elements.


One must be realistic in evaluating the difficulties of restructuring educational systems to make them future oriented and open to the world.We all know the heavy structures of educational systems and the pressures to conform to the status quo.We must not underestimate the narrow nationalistic pressures o­n the teaching of social issues or the political influences o­n content and methods.


In order to understand the limits and the possibilities of change, teachers must be prepared to carry out research o­n the local community.They must be able to analyse their specific communities.It is always dangerous to make wide generalizations o­n the role of the family, the media, of religion as if it were always the same in all parts of the country or the same in all social classes and milieu.


Thus, teachers should be able, with some sociological training, to carry out studies o­n the formation of attitudes, values and skills of their students by looking at the respective role of the family, the content of the media, and student participation in associations. Such studies can be carried out in a cooperative way among several teachers so as to be able to go to greater depth.Teachers could look for information to help answer such questions as Are any groups excluded from participating in the community? How can possible marginalisation be counteracted?How can o­ne study environmental and ecological issues locally? What is the significance of different role models such as peers, parents, and educators? In what ways can non-formal and informal learning environments be furthered?


There are more and more teachers who realise the direction of current world trends.Migration puts other cultures o­n o­nes door step. Thus, the importance of creative efforts for the Decade of the Rapprochement of Cultures. We all need to be encouraged by the advances being made.We can help o­ne another so that we may develop the culture of peace and active world citizenship together.


*Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

        15/06/13

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Review of

The ABC of Harmony

In a New Axial Age Perspective

 

By Prof. Rene Wadlow*

 

The German cultural historian and philosopher Karl Jaspers wrote of the Axial Age a period around 500 BC when the great philosophical traditions were born: Confucianism and Taoism in China, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism in India, Zarathustra in Persia, the Prophetic impulse in Judaism, Socrates-Plato the mystery schools in Greece, and most likely but more difficult to date exactly, the Druid teaching among the Celts. Of course, there were later developments from these Axial Age philosophies: Christianity grew from Judaism, itself influenced by currents of thought from Greece and Asia; later Islam grew from a meeting of Judaism and Christianity with the tribal religions of Arabia.

All these Axial Age religions and philosophical teachings embodied elements found in the teachings and ethics of the tribal groups from which they arose. However, when societies became more complex and there was more interaction with people from other cultures, a more universalistic ethic was needed. By 500 BC, society in most parts of the world had grown in complexity. Communications and trade put very different types of people into contact. People began to compare ideas and the ways people governed themselves. Aristotle was the first to make a comparative study of constitutions. The earlier tribal ethics were no longer adequate to deal with the more socially complex situations. Thus, there grew philosophies that were to provide a more universalistic ethic a way to deal with everyone, not just those belonging to the same tribe. The social need for a new ethic was there, and individuals with insight, recognizing the need formulated the religious philosophies to serve as a framework for multi-cultural contacts.

As Karl Jaspers recognized in calling for a new Axial Age, the world finds itself roughly in a similar situation as in 500 BC.For the first time, there is a growing realization that all people o­n earth are in contact with each other through communications, trade, finance and power politics. Thus, today, there is a need for a universalistic ethic, o­ne that encloses all of humanity. There is a need for a new universal explanation of nature that will encompass all the findings of science from the knowledge of sub-atomic particles of energy to the vast reaches of the cosmos now known through astronomys discoveries.

The demand of our time and the demand of the planetary challenges we face oblige us to think of ourselves as citizens of the world. At the heart of every age there is a unique impulse out of which through the course of events and under favorable conditions, emerges a new cultural force which first in the consciousness of o­nly a few individuals who create out of their perceptions ideas which begin as heresy and end up as heritage.

The ABC of Harmony is such an effort to set guidelines for action. The new world civilization is not a set of forms but will emerge from a new consciousness. There are an increasing number of people who are awakening to a new consciousness of the need for harmony and a sense of responsibility for our planetary home. There is a need to develop within each persons consciousness a shift from a narrow nationalistic position to a view of responsibility for the right use of the resources of the planet in a spirit of joy. In this book, there is a multitude of contributions in articles and poems. The ABC of Harmony authors define its importance as a "Spiritual Renaissance of Harmony in the second Axial Age (p. 17). Readers will find insights to help in making a peaceful shift to a New Age.

*Rene Wadlow, Prof.; President, Association of World Citizens;

Representative to the UN, Geneva. GHA member.

Address: Le Passe, France

Web: www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=272

Email: Wadlowz@aol.com

17/01/13

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8 March: International Day of Women: Women as Peacemakers

Rene Wadlow*

 

It is o­nly when women start to organize in large numbers that we become a political force, and begin to move towards the possibility of a truly democratic society in which every human being can be brave, responsible, thinking and diligent in the struggle to live at o­nce freely and unselfishly

 

8 March is the International Day of Women first proposed by Clara Zetkin (1857-1933) at the Second International Conference of Socialist Women in Copenhagen in 1911. Zetkin, who had lived some years in Paris and active in womens movements there was building o­n the 1889 International Congress for Feminine Works and Institutions held in Paris under the leadership of Ana de Walska. De Walska was part of the circle of young Russian and Polish intellectuals in Paris around Gerard Encausse, a spiritual writer who wrote under the pen name of Papus. For this turn-of-the-century spiritual milieu influenced by Indian and Chinese thought, feminine and masculine were related to the Chinese terms of Yin and Yang. Men and women alike have these psychological characteristics. Feminine characteristics or values include intuitive, nurturing, caring, sensitive, relational traits, while masculine are rational, dominant, assertive, analytical and hierarchical.

 

As individual persons, men and women alike can achieve a state of wholeness, of balance between the Yin and Yang. However, in practice masculine refers to men and feminine to women. Thus, some feminists identify the male psyche as the prime cause of the subordination of women around the world. Men are seen as having nearly a genetic coding that leads them to seize power, to institutionalize that power through patriarchal societal structures and to buttress the power with masculine values and culture.

 

One of the best-known symbols of a woman as peacemaker is Lysistrata, immortalized by Aristophanes, who mobilized women o­n both sides of the Athenian-Spartan War for a sexual strike in order to force men to end hostilities and avert mutual annihilation. In this, Lysistrata and her co-strikers were forerunners of the American humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow who proposed a hierarchy of needs: water, food, shelter, and sexual relations being the foundation. (See Abraham Maslow The Farther Reaches of Human Nature) Maslow is important for conflict resolution work because he stresses dealing directly with identifiable needs in ways that are clearly understood by all parties and with which they are willing to deal at the same time.

 

Addressing each persons underlying needs means you move toward solutions that acknowledge and value those needs rather than denying them. To probe below the surface requires redirecting the energy towards asking what are your real needs here? What interests need to be serviced in this situation? The answers to such questions significantly alter the agenda and provide a real point of entry into the negotiation process.

 

It is always difficult to find a point of entry into a conflict, that is, a subject o­n which people are willing to discuss because they sense the importance of the subject and all sides feel that the time is ripe to deal with the issue. The art of conflict resolution is highly dependent o­n the ability to get to the right depth of understanding and intervention into the conflict. All conflicts have many layers. If o­ne starts off too deeply, o­ne can get bogged down in philosophical discussions about the meaning of life. However, o­ne can also get thrown off track by focusing o­n too superficial an issue o­n which there is relatively quick agreement. When such relatively quick agreement is followed by blockage o­n more essential questions, there can be a feeling of betrayal.

 

Since Lysistrata, women, individually and in groups, have played a critical role in the struggle for justice and peace in all societies. However, when real negotiations begin, women are often relegated to the sidelines. However a gender perspective o­n peace, disarmament, and conflict resolution entails a conscious and open process of examining how women and men participate in and are affected by conflict differently. It requires ensuring that the perspectives, experiences and needs of both women and men are addressed and met in peace-building activities. Today, conflicts reach everywhere. How do these conflicts affect people in the society women and men, girls and boys, the elderly and the young, the rich and poor, the urban and the rural?

I would stress three elements which seem to me to be the gender contribution to conflict transformation efforts:

 

1) The first is in the domain of analysis, the contribution of the knowledge of gender relations as indicators of power. Uncovering gender differences in a given society will lead to an understanding of power relations in general in that society, and to the illumination of contradictions and injustices inherent in those relations.

 

2) The second contribution is to make us more fully aware of the role of women in specific conflict situations. Women should not o­nly be seen as victims of war: they are often significantly involved in taking initiatives to promote peace. Some writers have stressed that there is an essential link between women, motherhood and non-violence, arguing that those engaged in mothering work have distinct motives for rejecting war which run in tandem with their ability to resolve conflicts non-violently. Others reject this position of a gender bias toward peace and stress rather that the same continuum of non-violence to violence is found among women as among men. In practice, it is never all women or all men who are involved in peace-making efforts. Sometimes, it is o­nly a few, especially at the start of peace-making efforts. The basic question is how best to use the talents, energies, and networks of both women and men for efforts at conflict resolution.

 

3) The third contribution of a gender approach with its emphasis o­n the social construction of roles is to draw our attention to a detailed analysis of the socialization process in a given society. Transforming gender relations requires an understanding of the socialization process of boys and girls, of the constraints and motivations which create gender relations. Thus, there is a need to look at patterns of socialization, potential incitements to violence in childhood training patterns, and socially-approved ways of dealing with violence.

 

Awareness that there can be blind spots in mens visions is slowly dawning in high government circles. The U.N. Security Council, at the strong urging of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), o­n October 31, 2000 issued Resolution 1325 which calls for full and equal participation of women in conflict prevention, peace processes, and peace-building, thus creating opportunities for women to become fully involved in governance and leadership. This historic Security Council resolution 1325 provides a mandate to incorporate gender perspectives in all areas of peace support. Its adoption is part of a process within the UN system through its World Conferences o­n Women in Mexico City (1975), in Copenhagen (1980), in Nairobi (1985), in Beijing (1995), and at a special session of the U.N. General Assembly to study progress five years after Beijing (2000).

 

There is growing recognition that it is important to have women in politics, in decision-making processes and in leadership positions. The strategies women have adapted to get to the negotiating table are testimony to their ingenuity, patience and determination. Solidarity and organization are crucial elements. March 8: International Day of Women is a reminder of the steps taken and the distance yet to be covered.

 

Rene Wadlow,

President and Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens

2012

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Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947) The Highest mountains stand as the witnesses of the Great Reality

Rene Wadlow*

Nicholas Roerich, the Russian painter, explorer, and cultural activist, stressed throughout his life the role of beauty and culture in bringing humanity together in unity.
True art is the expression of the radiant spirit. Art is the manifestation of the coming synthesis of the spiritual and the material.The gates of the sacred source must be opened wide for everybody, and the light of art will ignite numerous hearts with a new love.At first this feeling will be unconscious, but after all it will purify human consciousness.Bring art to the people where it belongs.We should have not o­nly museums, theatres, universities, public libraries, railway stations and hospitals, but even prisons decorated and beautified.
His inspiration is still at work today in many efforts to preserve the art of the past and to create an art of the future which speaks to the highest aspiration of the person.

Roerich gained recognition at a young age in
St. Petersburg art circles.His paintings of early Russian life, inspired in part by his archaeological excavations of tumuli a reminder of the Vikings in Russia were popular among those who were looking for inspiration in the Russian past.

There were some among the Slavophiles of the early 1900s who felt that
Russia had a unique culture and thus a special role to play in the salvation of humanity.They rejected anything coming from Western Europe.However, Roerich, while close to some of the Slavophiles, especially Princess Maria Tenisheva and her efforts at the experimental village Talashkino, was never hostile to artistic creation from non-Russian cultures.As he said The chief significance of an artistic education lies in opening up wide horizons to the pupils and in inculcating the conception of art as something infinite. Roerich believed that o­ne had to preserve and develop what was best in local culture as a contribution to a world culture in which the best of local cultures would be preserved. Culture is a constant becoming, a dynamic evolution of a living world.

Probably the most influential aspect of Roerichs Russian period was his cooperation with Igor Stravinsky for the theme and the music of the
SacreduPrintemps and with Sergei Diaghilev for the ballet, costumes and scenery of the Sacre in Paris in 1913, a music and dance which revolutionized ballet at the time.As Roerich wrote of Le Sacre The eternal novelty of the Sacre is because spring is eternal, and love is eternal and sacrifice is eternal. Then in this new conception, Stravinsky touches the eternal in music. He was modern because he evoked the future; it is the great serpent ring touching the great past the sacred tunes that connect the great past and the future.

The
Sacre is the most Dionysian of Roerichs inspiration. His painting of 1911 The Forefathers at the time of Roerichs collaboration with Stravinsky might almost be a sketch for the opening of the Sacre, whose early pages quiver with the sound of pipes.Here Dionysus-like, primitive man charms with his piping a circle of wild beasts, in this case, bears, reflecting the Slavic tradition that bears were mans forefathers.

Stravinsky was presented to Roerich by Sergei Diaghilev, the Russian with a holistic vision of art: music, painting, dance, and the publisher of
The World of Art magazine.Roerich had already designed some of the sets for Borodins Prince Igor produced by Diaghilev in Paris in 1909.Roerich produced the outline and the theme for Le Sacre and later designed the sets and the costumes.

In 1901, Nicholas Roerich had married Elena Ivanovona who shared his interest in art, music and the philosophy of
China, Tibet and India. Later, in the West she wrote her name as Helena and also published under the pen name Josephine Saint-Hilaire On Easterm Crossroads (1930). The Russian composer Moussorgsky was her uncle. The young couple cooperated with the Buriat Lama Dorzhiev in building a TibetanBuddistTemple in St. Petersburg.

Dorzhiev saw the possibility of an alliance of the Buriats, Kaimyk and other Buddhist tribes living in the eastern part of
Russia with the thirteenth Dalai Lama, who was the most politically aware of the Dalai Lamas.The alliance was to be headed by the Tsar Nicholas II and would have been a counter weight to English and Chinese influence in Tibet.
From Dorzhiev, the Roerichs learned of the Tibetan text and ritual, the Kalachakra

(The Wheel of Time) and of the coming of a new historical-astrological cycle The New Age to be marked by a new Buddha, Maitreya. (1) Nicholas II, however, was not to become the Bodhisatva Tsar. He was soon caught up by the 1917 Russian Revolution.
By 1918, the Roerichs left Russia foreseeing the Soviet policy of controlling all art forms for narrow political purposes.

After a short stay in
Western Europe, the Roerichs moved to the United States where his paintings had already been shown.With American friends, he created the MasterSchool of the United Arts in 1922 in New York City, where music, art and philosophy were taught. Students were advised to Look forward, forget the past, think of the service of the future.Exalt others in spirit and look ahead.

In 1924, the Roerichs left for
India and travelled especially in the Himalayan areas. For Roerich, mountains represented a path to the spiritual life. Mountains, what magnetic forces are concealed within you. What a symbol of quietude is revealed in every sparking peak. The highest knowledge, the most inspired songs, the most superb sounds and colors, are created o­n the mountains. o­n the highest mountains there is the Supreme.

The Roerichs undertook a number of expeditions to
Central Asia and the Altai Mountains of Russia (1923-1928 and 1933-1935) along with their son George, who became a specialist of Tibetan culture and language. George Roerichs Trails to Inmost Asia (Yale University Press, 1931) is a good and unsentimental account of these trips, George being assigned the hard work of running the logistics.Nicholas Roerich always remained convinced of the need to preserve local culture. He put an emphasis o­n collecting folk tales and traditional practices of medicine, especially the use of herbs. In every encampment of Asia, I tried to unveil what memories were cherished in the folk memory.Through these guarded and preserved tales, you may recognize the reality of the past. In every spark of folklore, there is a drop of the great Truth adorned or distorted.

Roerichs desire to make known the artistic achievements of the past through archaeology, coupled with the need to preserve the landmarks of the past from destruction, led to his work for the Banner of Peace to preserve art and architecture in time of war.
Roerich had seen the destruction brought by the First World War and the civil war which followed the 1917 Russian Revolution. He worked with French international lawyers to draft a treaty by which museums, churches and buildings of value would be preserved in time of war through the use of a symbol three red circles representing past, present and future a practice inspired by the red cross used to protect medical personnel in times of conflict.

Roerich mobilized artists and intellectuals in the 1920s for the establishment of this Banner of Peace. Henry A. Wallace, the US Secretary of Agriculture and later Vice-President, was an admirer of Roerich and helped to have an official treaty introducing the Banner of Peace the Roerich Peace Pact signed at the White House o­n 15 April 1935 by 21 States in a Pan-American Union ceremony.
At the signing, Henry Wallace o­n behalf of the USA said At no time has such an ideal been more needed. It is high time for the idealists who make the reality of tomorrow, to rally around such a symbol of international cultural unity.It is time that we appeal to that appreciation of beauty, science, education which runs across all national boundaries to strengthen all that we hold dear in our particular governments and customs.Its acceptance signifies the approach of a time when those who truly love their own nation will appreciate in addition the unique contribution of other nations and also do reverence to that common spiritual enterprise which draws together in o­ne fellowship all artists, scientists, educators and truly religious of whatever faith.

As Nicholas Roerich said in a presentation of his Pact
The world is strivingtoward peace in many ways, and everyone realizes in his heart that this constructive work is a true prophesy of the New Era.We deplore the loss of the libraries of Louvain and Oviedo and the irreplaceable beauty of the Cathedral of Rheins. We remember the beautiful treasures of private collections which were lost during world calamities.But we do not want to inscribe o­n these deeds any words of hatred. Let us simply say: Destroyed by human ignorance rebuilt by human hope.

After the Second World War, UNESCO has continued the effort, and there have been additional conventions o­n the protection of cultural and educational bodies in times of conflict, in particular The Hague Convention of May 1954 though no universal symbol as proposed by Nicholas Roerich has been developed.

Today, the need to bring beauty to as many people as possible is the prime task of developing a culture of peace. As Nicholas Roerich wrote
The most gratifying and uplifting way to serve the coming evolution is by spreading the seeds of beauty.If we are to have a beautiful life and some happiness it must be created with joy and enthusiasm for service to art and beauty.

(1)
See Alan Sponberg and Helen Hardacre Maitreya: The Future Buddha (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988, 304pp.)

Rene Wadlow, Representative to the United Nations,
Geneva, Association of World Citizens
03-09-10
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The Bridge of Beauty and Understanding

 

Only the bridge of Beauty will be strong enough for crossing from the bank of Darkness to the side of Light - Nicholas Roerich

 

The United Nations General Assembly in resolution A/RES.62/90 has proclaimed the year 2010 as the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures to promote universal respect for, and observation and protection of, all human rights and fundamental freedoms. Cultures encompass not o­nly the arts and humanities but also different ways of living together, value systems and traditions. Thus 2010 should provide real opportunities for dialogue among cultures. It is true that to an unprecedented degree people are meeting together in congresses, conferences and universities all over the globe. However, in themselves, such meetings are not dialogue and do not necessarily lead to rapprochement of cultures. There is a need to reach a deeper level. Reaching such deeper levels takes patience, tolerance, the ability to take a longer-range view, and creativity. Thus we are pleased to present the creative efforts of individuals who have helped to create bridges of understanding among cultures.



Jalal al-Din Rumi (1207-1273)

 

Rene Wadlow*

 

I am neither Christian, nor Jew, nor Gabr, nor Moslem. I am not of the East, nor the West, nor the land, nor the sea My place is the Placeless, my trace is the Traceless.

 

Rumi, a poet and mystic of Persian culture, was born in what is today Afghanistan and died in what is now Turkey. He used the image of a person as the flute of the Spirit. Man is a flute for the breath of God the instrument that the Spirit uses to express itself. The Spirit can use the flute of any quality. What is important is not the merit of the flute, but the strength of the wind of the Spirit. Thus, Rumi develops the idea of grace the Divine can come to fill the lowest of vessels. The coming of the Spirit, the blending of the individual soul with the Universal Spirit, does not depend o­n the good actions or piety of the individual. Here Rumi echoes an earlier Sufi writer al Bistani who called upon the aspirant to Be in the domain where neither good nor evil exists: both of them belong to the world of created things: in the presence of Unity, there is neither command nor prohibition.

 

Yet there is a dual motion of the human soul. The first is to wait in silence to be filled with the Spirit coming from without the image of the flute and breath. The opposite image is that of the soul rising through effort to a higher stage of being. For this motion, Rumi uses the image of a ladder, the steps of the ladder being the stages of development and purification. As he writes in Diwani Shams Tabriz A ladder stood whereby thou mightest aspire. o­n the ladder, someone else has climbed first and serves as a guide. For Rumi, this guide was his teacher and friend to whom the verses are dedicated: Shams al-Din of Tabriz. The Diwan contains profound verses o­n the function of a spiritual master and the relation between master and disciple.

 

The name Shams al Dion means the sun of religion, and Rumi uses the symbolism of the name which refers to the inner union of the master with God. (1) Three examples:

From Tabriz shone the Sun of Truth, and I said to him: Thy light is at o­nce joined with all things and apart from all.

The sun of the face of Shamsi Din, glory to the horizons, never shone upon aught perishable but he made it eternal.

From the sun, the pride of Tabriz, behold these miracles, for every tree gains beauty by the light of the sun.

 

By following the example of the teacher, the pilgrim begins to undergo those experiences which comprise different states and stations. As another Sufi writer Mahmud Shabistari states in The Mystic Rose Garden As for the saints o­n this road before and behind, they each give news of their own stagesSince the language of each is according to his degree of progress, they are hard to be understood by the people.

 

Little is known of Shams al-Din other than his having been the teacher of Rumi. He seems to have been part of a mystical tradition of Central Asia where influences of Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism and Buddhism from China has been in contact with Islamic thought. The Silk Road from China to the Middle East brought many cultures into contact, and thinkers, especially mystics, were led to see the unity of experience behind the forms of practice. As Rumi wrote in his best known collection of verses Mathnawi I have given everyone a peculiar form of expression. The idiom of Hindustan is excellent for Hindus; the idiom of Sind is excellent for the people of Sind. I look not at tongue and speech, I look at the spirit and the inward feeling. I look into the heart to see whether it be lowly, though the words uttered be not lowly. Enough of phrases and conceits and metaphors! I want burning, burning: become familiar with that burning! Light up a fire of love in thy soul, burn all thought and expression away!

 

The lamps are different, but the Light is the same: it comes from Beyond. If thou keep looking at the lamp, thou art lost: for thence arises the appearance of number and plurality. Fix thy gaze upon the Light, and thou art delivered from the dualism inherent in the finite bodyThe Faithful are many, but their Faith is o­ne; their bodies are numerous, but their soul is o­ne.

 

Rumi developed a form of combined mobile meditation, symbolism, and teaching which became the basis of the Mevlevi dervishes, popularly called the whirling dervishes and called the Mawlawi dervishes in the Arab countries. The participants enact the turning of the planets around the sun, a symbol of man linked to the center which is God, source of life, but it is also an internalized turning of the body toward the soul, likewise source of life. Rumi tried to map out a system in which sound, motion and o­ne-pointed concentration of thought would lead to an end to the personal self and union with the Higher Self.

 

There is a danger that the remaining Mevlevi dervishes become folklore in Turkey with attention paid primarily to the external music and motion, but we need to highlight the deeper meanings.

 

(1) See R.A. Nicholson Selected Poems from the Divani Shamsi Tabriz (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1952 re-edition)

(2) See R.A. Nicholsons translations of Mathnawi (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1926)

R.A. Nicholson 1868-1945) was a professor of Persian at Cambridge and a leading translator and scholar of Rumi. The translations have been republished at different dates.

 

*Rene Wadlow, Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens

06/04/10

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March 8: International Day of Women:

Women as Peacemakers

Rene Wadlow*

 

It is o­nly when women start to organize in large numbers that we become a political force, and begin to move towards the possibility of a truly democratic society in which every human being can be brave, responsible, thinking and diligent in the struggle to live at o­nce freely and unselfishly

 

March 8 is the International Day of Women and thus a time to analyse the specific role of women in bringing peace to areas of conflict. In this article, I set out some of the general areas to consider

 

Lysistrata, immortalized by Aristophanes, mobilized women o­n both sides of the Athenian-Spartan War for a sexual strike in order to force men to end hostilities and avert mutual annihilation. In this, Lysistrata and her co-strikers were forerunners of the American humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow who proposed a hierarchy of needs: water, food, shelter, and sexual relations being the foundation. (See Abraham Maslow The Farther Reaches of Human Nature) Maslow is important for conflict resolution work because he stresses dealing directly with identifiable needs in ways that are clearly understood by all parties and with which they are willing to deal at the same time.

 

Addressing each persons underlying needs means you move toward solutions that acknowledge and value those needs rather than denying them. To probe below the surface requires redirecting the energy towards asking what are your real needs here? What interests need to be serviced in this situation? The answers to such questions significantly alter the agenda and provide a real point of entry into the negotiation process.

 

It is always difficult to find a point of entry into a conflict, that is, a subject o­n which people are willing to discuss because they sense the importance of the subject and all sides feel that the time is ripe to deal with the issue. The art of conflict resolution is highly dependent o­n the ability to get to the right depth of understanding and intervention into the conflict. All conflicts have many layers. If o­ne starts off too deeply, o­ne can get bogged down in philosophical discussions about the meaning of life. However, o­ne can also get thrown off track by focusing o­n too superficial an issue o­n which there is relatively quick agreement. When such relatively quick agreement is followed by blockage o­n more essential questions, there can be a feeling of betrayal.

 

Since Lysistrata, women, individually and in groups, have played a critical role in the struggle for justice and peace in all societies. However, when real negotiations begin, women are often relegated to the sidelines. However a gender perspective o­n peace, disarmament, and conflict resolution entails a conscious and open process of examining how women and men participate in and are affected by conflict differently. It requires ensuring that the perspectives, experiences and needs of both women and men are addressed and met in peace-building activities. Today, conflicts reach everywhere. How do these conflicts affect people in the society women and men, girls and boys, the elderly and the young, the rich and poor, the urban and the rural?

 

I would stress three elements which seem to me to be the gender contribution to conflict transformation efforts:

 

1) The first is in the domain of analysis, the contribution of the knowledge of gender relations as indicators of power. Uncovering gender differences in a given society will lead to an understanding of power relations in general in that society, and to the illumination of contradictions and injustices inherent in those relations.

 

2) The second contribution is to make us more fully aware of the role of women in specific conflict situations. Women should not o­nly be seen as victims of war: they are often significantly involved in taking initiatives to promote peace. Some writers have stressed that there is an essential link between women, motherhood and non-violence, arguing that those engaged in mothering work have distinct motives for rejecting war which run in tandem with their ability to resolve conflicts non-violently. Others reject this position of a gender bias toward peace and stress rather that the same continuum of non-violence to violence is found among women as among men. In practice, it is never all women nor all men who are involved in peace-making efforts. Sometimes, it is o­nly a few, especially at the start of peace-making efforts. The basic question is how best to use the talents, energies, and networks of both women and men for efforts at conflict resolution.

 

3) The third contribution of a gender approach with its emphasis o­n the social construction of roles is to draw our attention to a detailed analysis of the socialization process in a given society. Transforming gender relations requires an understanding of the socialization process of boys and girls, of the constraints and motivations which create gender relations. Thus, there is a need to look at patterns of socialization, potential incitements to violence in childhood training patterns, and socially-approved ways of dealing with violence.

 

Awareness that there can be blind spots in mens visions is slowly dawning in high government circles. The U.N. Security Council, at the strong urging of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), o­n October 31, 2000 issued Resolution 1325 which calls for full and equal participation of women in conflict prevention, peace processes, and peace-building, thus creating opportunities for women to become fully involved in governance and leadership. This historic Security Council resolution 1325 provides a mandate to incorporate gender perspectives in all areas of peace support. Its adoption is part of a process within the UN system through its World Conferences o­n Women in Mexico City (1975), in Copenhagen (1980), in Nairobi (1985), in Beijing (1995), and at a special session of the U.N. General Assembly to study progress five years after Beijing (2000).

 

There is growing recognition that it is important to have women in politics, in decision-making processes and in leadership positions. The strategies women have adapted to get to the negotiating table are testimony to their ingenuity, patience and determination. Solidarity and organization are crucial elements. March 8: International Day of women is a reminder of the steps taken and the distance yet to be covered.

 

Rene Wadlow, Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens

03/03/10

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Dear Leo,

Harmony is o­ne of the goals set out in the UN-General Assembly's designation of 20 February as the World Day of Social Justice. I thought you might highlight this wording and share the article with those you think interested. Best wishes, Rene

 

World Day of Social Justice: A Sense of Direction

Rene Wadlow*

 

On a proposal of the Ambassador of Kyrgyzstzan, the United Nations General Assembly has set 20 February as the World Day of Social Justice. It was observed for the first time in 2009, but is not widely known. As with other UN-designated Days, the World Day of Social Justice gives us an opportunity to take stock of how we can work together at the local, national and global level o­n policy and action to achieve the goals set out in the resolution designating the Day of solidarity, harmony and equality within and among states.

 

As the resolution states Social development and social justice are indispensable for the achievement and maintenance of peace and security within and among nations and that, in turn, social development and social justice cannot be attained in the absence of peace and security or in the absence of respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

 

The Preamble to the UN Charter makes social justice o­ne of the chief aims of the organization, using the more common expression of that time social progress. The Preamble calls for efforts to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom. However, in the preparation of the Charter during the last days of the Second World War, there was no definition given of social progress. There was agreement that social justice was definitely more than law courts plus a social policy. It was easier to recognize social injustice than to define social justice.

The societies created by Nazi Germany and the military in Japan with slave labor and the abolition of workers rights were the models of social injustice that the drafters of the UN Charter had in mind along with the consequences in North America and Western Europe of the 1930s depression.

 

Ideas concerning international efforts for social progress were drawn largely from the experience of the League of Nations and especially the International Labour Organization (ILO), which had been created in 1919. The representatives from the USA and Great Britain were most influential in the preliminary work o­n the UN Charter, other European states being occupied by Germany or still in the middle of fighting. Thus US representatives were strongly influenced in their views of social progress by the New Deal legislation of President Roosevelt and the British by the outlines of the 1942 Beveridge Plan, named after its main author, Lord Beveridge, which led to the setting up of the first unified social security system. By 1944, with the tide of war turning, the ILO met in Philadelphia, USA, and set out its aims of post-war world employment policies, freedom of association for workers and the extension of social security measures.

 

Thus from the start in 1945, the emphasis in the UN system had been o­n social justice as related to conditions of employment and the right to organize which was made manifest in the 1948 ILO Convention number 87 o­n Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize. Progressively, education was included as an aspect of social justice, in part because education is closely linked to employment. Later, health was added as an element, again because of a close link to employment.

 

It took much longer but ultimately, gender equality has been included in the aims of social justice as fair employment practices, good education, and adequate health services could often still overlook the existence of women. Even today, can education be the o­nly measure of womens empowerment? Does reproductive health and rights come under adequate health care?

It is likely that employment, education, health with equality between women and men is as far as government representatives are willing to go collectively in discussing policies and programs of social justice. Further advances will have to come from the non-governmental sector, though representatives from some governments at times can take a lead. Today, we can still see injustices due to social class, ethnicity, citizenship, religion, age, sexual orientation and disabilities. There is a reluctance o­n the part of governments to deal with these issues nationally and an even greater reluctance to deal with them collectively within the UN system.

 

However, it is too easy to throw back o­n others responsibilities for injustices, if at the same time o­ne does not realize how each of us shares personally in the benefits of injustice. Thus, we can use the World Day of Social Justice not o­nly to celebrate the advances made but to get a sense of direction for the road to be yet taken.


* Rene Wadlow, Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens

19/02/10

 

Dear Rene,

 

Many thanks for your very important information o­n the UN World Day of Social Justice and for your excellent article about it. This Day deserves the common attention, therefore I am glad to send your article to the GHA members and to publish it o­n your page: http://www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=272.

I think it will attract special attention of our related organisation: Center for Economic and Social Justice, with Dr. Norman Kurland, President.

 

I wish to remind, that GHA in the Harmonious Era Calendar (2006) at Rose Lords initiative established o­n January 12 the International Day of Justice and Eradication of Hunger and Poverty. In 3 years the United Nations has established similar day, a way to which has been paved by GHA. Our projects find practical realization.

 

I consider also very important, that the UN definition of social justice includes as a necessary element harmony within and among states. It is very important sign of the UN movement in a direction to social harmony. In this connection, GHA and others related to us the organisations, could suggest to recognise the UN World (or Global) Day of Social Harmony o­n June 21. You know that GHA for a long time recognized this day and included it in the Harmonious Era Calendar (2006).

 

Could you as the Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, collect the necessary information o­n procedure of an establishment of similar day at the initiative of the non-governmental organisations or at the initiative of o­ne of the states? Such state for the similar initiative, better others, in my opinion, is China which recognized harmony as a state policy that he established in the Constitution. I think, it will find support first of all Dr. Francis Fung as President of the World Harmony Organization. Your information will be very important for many organisations, related to GHA.

Leo,
19/02/10

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A Harmony Renaissance

 

At a time when humanity is increasingly working together to meet ecological challenges and to overcome ideologically-led strife, Dr Francis C.W. Fung has presented an important call for a cultural renaissance based o­n the concept of harmony. Rather than concentrating primarily o­n conflicts, struggles and suffering, Francis Fung suggests that the focus should be o­n cooperation, coexistence and visions of a better future. Harmony includes tolerance, acceptance, equality and forgiveness of past pains and conflicts. It leads to gentleness, patience, kindness, to inner peace and outward to relations based o­n respect.

 

Fung draws his framework for a harmony-based renaissance from the classical philosophies of China : Confucianism, the teachings of Master Kong (551-478 BCE) and Daoism, associated with Lao Zi who lived at the same time. Both put their emphasis o­n the Dao (the Way) and the working of the dynamic balance of Yin and Yang. (1).

 

As Fung stresses Harmony is a universal common value. In harmony we can find true belief that transcends all cultures and religions. The meaning of life is to seek harmony within our inner self. Humans are born with a spiritual soul that develops to seek self-fulfilment. Our soul has a conscience that elevates us. As our soul grows to its maturity, we achieve our own harmony. A person at the end of his journey reconciles with his own soul to achieve harmony and peace of mind. Each soul attaining its own harmony with itself is the meaning of life.

 

However harmony is not o­nly a personal goal of inner peace but a guideline for political, social and world affairs. As Fung notes Specifically at this moment in history, our action should enhance peace, reduce conflict and activate a harmony culture. The 21st century is the beginning of a Harmony Renaissance. Our world mission is to be ready for humans next creative wave to lead us to a higher level of common accomplishment. The World Harmony Renaissance will bring the whole world into action for this new millennium of peace and prosperity with unfettered collective energy.

 

There was an earlier period in Chinese thought when there was an important Harmony Renaissance. This was during the Sung dynasty (960-1279) which reunited China after a period of division and confusion. This was a period of an interest in science the extension of knowledge through the investigation of things. It was a period when there was a conscious effort to bring together into a harmonious framework currents of thought that existed in China but often as separate and sometimes hostile schools of thought: Confucianism, Buddhism, philosophical Daoism and religious Daoism. These efforts were called Tao hsuch the Study of the Tao an effort later called by Westerns Neo-Confucianism.

 

Chou Tun-yi (1017-1073), often better known as the Master of Lien-hsi, was a leading figure of this effort. He developed a philosophy based o­n the alternation of Yin and Yang, each becoming the source of the other. (2)

 

Thus today, after decades of conflict when the emphasis of the countries of the world both in policy and practice was upon competition, conflict and individual enrichment, there is a need for an emphasis o­n harmony, cooperation, mutual respect, and working for the welfare of the community with a respect for nature of which humans are a part. When o­ne aspect, either Yin or Yang, becomes too dominant, then there needs to be a re-equilibrium. This Yin/Yang alternation is best represented by the double fish symbol, often used by Daoists.

 

We see this shift most dramatically in the policy of the Chinese government. After decades when Marxist class struggle was the dominant internal policy and world politics was seen as a class struggle o­n a world scale, in 2006, Chinese President Hu Jintao adopted building a harmonious society at home and promoting a harmonious world abroad as the guiding State philosophy.

 

Obviously it takes time for a harmonious society at home and a harmonious world abroad to be put into place. The re-equilibrium of the energies of Yin and Yang do not take place overnight. Nor is this re-equilibrium o­nly the task of the Chinese. The cultivation of harmony must become the operational goal for many. As Mencius (372 289 BCE), a follower of Confucius said A trail through the mountains, if used, becomes a path in a short time, but, if unused, becomes blocked by grass in an equally short time.

 

That is why Francis Fungs call for a Harmony Renaissance is a call to each of us. (3)

 

Notes

1) See Arthur Waley. Three Ways of Thought in Ancient China (London: Allen & Unwin, 1939);

2) See Fung Yu-Lan A Short History of Chinese Philosophy ( New York : The Macmillan Co. 1950).

3) See Francis C W Fung, Chinas Harmony Renaissance, What the World Must Know (San Francisco: World Harmony Organization 2006, available at www.amazon.com )

 

*Rene Wadlow, Representative to the United Nations, Geneva , Association of World Citizens

February 3, 2010

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Dear Leo, Here is the hostage case o­n which I have working a good deal as the people involved in Pakistan had no experience of working with the international organizations and I was in touch with the International Committee of the Red Cross Office in Kabul and the UN system, though the hostage is still being held. Best wishes,

Rene

31/01/10

 

Cultural Heritage Conservation:

Challenges and Responses

 

Rene Wadlow*

 

The hostage-taking o­n 8 September 2009 of Mr Thanasis Lerounis from the Kalashadur Museum and cultural centre which he had helped to create has highlighted for many the issues of cultural heritage preservation. Professor Lerounis, President of the non-governmental organization Greek Volunteers is an outstanding example of a person devoted to safeguarding the rights and heritage of a small minority who carry with them an ancient culture. The Kalasha, most of whom live in three valleys in the Chitral District of Pakistan, number around 4000 people. They are believed by many to be related to the soldiers and merchants of the Asian empire of Alexander. Their religious practices have elements of the 4th century Helenistic faiths. As with all societies, the Kalash people have interacted with their neighbours so that the fire rituals of the Indo-European Vedic faiths play an important role in Kalash practice as does the role of shaman who are the living link between the spirit and the human world.

 

The hostage-takers have taken Lerounis to the Nuristan area of Afghanistan and are demanding $2 million in cash, the conversion of Lerounis to Islam and the release of three Pakistan insurgents from jail. The Kalasha negotiators, who have met the hostage-takers three times have no authority to deal with any of these demands and so for the moment, there has been no progress o­n the case.

 

Conserving a cultural heritage is always difficult. Weak institutional capabilities, lack of appropriate resources and isolation of many culturally essential sites are compounded by a lack of awareness of the value of cultural heritage conservation. o­n the other hand, the dynamism of local initiatives and community solidarity systems are impressive assets. These forces should be enlisted, enlarged, and empowered to preserve and protect a heritage. Involving people in cultural heritage conservation both increases the efficiency of cultural heritage conservation and raises awareness of the importance of the past for people facing rapid changes in their environment and values.

 

Knowledge and understanding of a peoples past can help current inhabitants to develop and sustain identity and to appreciate the value of their own culture and heritage. This knowledge and understanding enriches their lives and enables them to manage contemporary problems more successfully. It is important to retain the best of traditional self-reliance and skills of rural life and economies as people adapt to change.

 

Traditional systems of knowledge are rarely written down: they are implicit, learnt by practice and example, rarely codified or even articulated by the spoken word. They continue to exist as long as they are useful, as long as they are not supplanted by new techniques. They are far too easily lost. It is the objects that come into being through these systems of knowledge that ultimately become critically important.

 

Thus, museums, such as the Kalashadur, must become key institutions at the local level. The objects that bear witness to systems of knowledge must be accessible to those who would visit and learn from them. Culture must be seen in its entirety: how women and men live in the world, how they use it, preserve it and enjoy it for a better life. Museums allow objects to speak, to bear witness to past experiences and future possibilities and thus to reflect o­n how things are and how things might otherwise be.

 

*Rene Wadlow, Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens. Formerly he was professor and Director of Research, Graduate Institute of Development Studies, University of Geneva.

31/01/10

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16 October: World Food Day

 

A Citizens of the World Focus

 

Rene Wadlow*

 

16 October is the UN-designated World Food Day, the date chosen being the anniversary of the creation of the FAO in 1945 with the aim, as stated in its Constitution of contributing towards an expanding world economy and ensuring humanitys freedom from hunger. Freedom from hunger is not simply a technical matter to be solved with better seeds, fertilisers, cultivation practices and marketing. To achieve freedom from hunger for mankind, there is a need to eliminate poverty. The elimination of poverty must draw upon the ideas, skills and energies of whole societies and requires the cooperation of all countries.

 

World Citizens have played an important role in efforts to improve agricultural production worldwide and especially to better the conditions of life of rural workers. Lord Boyd-Orr was the first director of the FAO; Josue de Castro was the independent President of the FAO Council in the 1950s when the FAO had an independent Council President. (The independent presidents have now been replaced by a national diplomat, rotating each year. Governments are never happy with independent experts who are often too independent.) The World Citizen, Rene Dumont, an agricultural specialist, is largely the father of political ecology in France, having been the first Green Party candidate for the French Presidency in 1974.

 

As Lester Brown, the American agricultural specialist says We are cutting trees faster than they can be regenerated, overgrazing rangelands and converting them into deserts, overpumping aquifers, and draining rivers dry. o­n our croplands, soil erosion exceeds new soil formation, slowly depriving the soil of its inherent fertility. We are taking fish from the ocean faster than they can reproduce.


To counter these trends, we need awareness and vision, an ethical standard which has the preservation of nature at its heart, and the political leadership to bring about the socio-economic changes needed. For the moment, awareness and vision are unequally spread. In some countries, ecological awareness has led to beneficial changes and innovative technologies. In others, the governmental and social structures are disintegrating due to disease, population pressure upon limited resources, and a lack of social leadership. Worldwide, military spending, led by the USA, dwarfs spending o­n ecologically-sound development and the necessary expansion of education and health services.

 

As Lester Brown has written The sector of the economy that seems likely to unravel first is food. Eroding soils, deteriorating rangelands, collapsing fisheries, falling water tables, and rising temperatures are converging to make it more difficult to expand food production fast enough to keep up with demandfood is fast becoming a national security issue as growth in the world harvest slows and falling water tables and rising temperatures hint at future shortages.


Yet there are agricultural techniques which can raise protein efficiency, raise land productivity, improve livestock use and produce second harvests o­n the same land. However, unless we quickly reverse the damaging trends that we have set in motion, we will see vast numbers of environmental refugees people abandoning depleted aquifers and exhausted soils and those fleeing advancing deserts and rising seas.

 

David Seckler of the International Water Management Institute writes Many of the most populous countries of the world China, India, Pakistan, Mexico, and nearly all the countries of the Middle East and North Africa have literally been having a free ride over the past two or three decades by depleting their groundwater resources. The penalty of mismanagement of this valuable resource is now coming due, and it is no exaggeration to say that the results could be catastrophic for these countries, and given their importance, for the world as a whole. Unfortunately, the International Water Management Institute does not manage the worlds use of water but can o­nly study water use. While there are some planners who would like to be able to tax or make people pay for water, most water use is uncontrolled. Payment for water is a way that governments or private companies have to get more revenue, but the welfare of farmers is usually not a very high priority for them.

 

Yet as Citizens of the World have stressed, ecologically-sound development cannot be the result o­nly of a plan, but rather of millions of individual actions to protect soil, conserve water, plant trees, use locally grown crops, reduce meat from our diets, protect biological diversity in forest areas, cut down the use of cars by increasing public transportation and living closer to o­nes work. We need to stabilize and then reduce world population and to encourage better distribution of the worlds population through planned migration and the creation of secondary cities to reduce the current growth of magacities. We need to encourage wise use of rural areas by diversifying employment in rural areas. We also need to develop ecological awareness through education so that these millions of wise individual decisions can be taken.

 

Lester Brown underlines the necessary link between knowledge and action. Environmentally responsible behaviour also depends to a great extent o­n a capacity to understand basic scientific issues, such as the greenhouse effect or the ecological role of forests. Lacking this, it is harder to grasp the link between fossil fuel burning and climate change or between tree cutting and the incidence of flooding or the loss of biological diversityThe deteriorating relationship between the global economy and the earths ecosystem requires an all-out effort to bring literacy to all adults in order to break the poverty cycle and stabilize population.

 

Education and vision require leadership, and it is ecologically-sound political leadership that is badly lacking today. Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has called for a new international consensus to protect our environment and combat the devastating impact of climate change. But it is likely that Blair will remain better known for participating in the war o­n Iraq than for leading governments to greater efforts to curb global warming. We have yet to see what European leadership will put forward at the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009.

 

Thus Citizens of the World are called upon to provide wise leadership to work for a redirection of financial resources to protect the planet, and to encourage ecologically-sound individual action.


October 8, 2009
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Nonviolent Action: Can There Be A Second Act?

 

Rene Wadlow

 


We are constantly being astonished these days at the amazing discoveries in the field of violence.But I maintain that far more undreamt of and seemingly impossible discoveries will be made in the field of non-violence.
M.K. Gandhi

 


Two October is the UN-designated International Day for Non-violence, the date chosen being the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the best-known figure of non-violent action. To honor seriously the day, we have to ask serious questions: What determines the success or failure of a non-violent movement for change? Are violent and non-violent methods competing or complementary strategies? Does help from outside sources matter?Today, the United Nations recognizes a collective responsibility to protect people threatened by genocide, ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity, but the way to respond to these challenges non-violently have not been set out.Does the example of o­ne movement influence others?Is non-violence o­ne possible strategy among others or is it as Gandhi thought a way of being in the world?

 


The recent death in August 2009 of Corazon Aquino, the former president of the Philippines, recalled to mind the Peoples Power Revolution of 1986 which non-violently overthrew the corrupt government of Ferdinand Marcos who had ruled the Philippines under martial law since 1972.A modest woman who overcame her fear to speak in public and who had been projected to leadership through the assassination of her husband, the prominent opposition politician, Benigno Aquino Jr. started a movement which showed that resolute non-violence can be a source of political change.

 


Robert Kennedy spoke during a visit to South Africa still under its apartheid government of each act of courage as a ripple sent forth to join with other ripples, ultimately to build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. Yet in Robert Kennedys America, there is a saying that in politics, there is no second act. If there is not success when o­ne has the first occasion, there will be no second chance. The Peoples Power Revolution of Corazon Aquino showed that political power could be overthrown by non-violent action.Many in the Philippines hoped that economic and social change would follow.But since Mrs Aquino left office in 1992, the Muslim and Communist insurgencies have continued. There are serious human rights abuses by the military in combating these insurgencies. The Philippines remains a collection of oligarchies and political dynasties. Much of the population is poor with a high unemployment rate and some eight million Filipinos work overseas.Many families depend o­n remittances from abroad, and an overseas job can be o­ne of the highest ambitions for the upwardly mobile.

 


Likewise, the death this summer of Kim Dae-jung, a dissident who survived a death sentence and an assassination attempt by military dictators before winning the South Korean presidency reminds us of the difficulties of keeping up a momentum of peaceful change through non-violent diplomatic methods.As president from 1998 until 2003, Kim Dae-jung was the first opposition leader to be elected in Korea.In 2000, he flew to Pyongyang for talks with Kim Jong-il of North Korea.The meeting led to a period of détante o­n the divided Korean Peninsula. However, inter-Korean relations have chilled as the North tested nuclear weapons first in 2006 and again in 2009. There was no second act after the first act of Sunshine Policy and a vision of reconciliation to overcome five decades of hostility.

 


For there to be successful non-violent action, o­ne has to keep in mind that there must always be a second act for which o­ne must be prepared. The actors may not be the same as in Act I, but they must be ready to continue a momentum, to build coalitions with new social forces and to be willing to undertake the long-term but often slow development of the socio-economic framework which many people expect from the exciting first act.

 


Rene Wadlow, Representative to the UN, Geneva, Association of World Citizens

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The Uyghurs : The Periphery Moves

 

Rene Wadlow*

 


The abrupt departure of the Chinese President, Hu Jintao, from the G8 Summit in Italy in early July 2009 is a sign that the Chinese leadership considers the unrest in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to be such that a collective decision of the ruling circle was necessary.The first decision was the classic o­ne of increasing the number of police and soldiers, of arresting people, and of blaming outside forces for having created the unrest.But longer term measures are needed and might be taken.However such longer-term reforms or modification of policies cannot be taken without agreement among the small number of people in the ruling circle. Thus there was the need for the presence of the President Hu Jintao.

 


Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Tibet Autonomous Region, and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region are the Western Periphery of the Chinese State, and are all inhabited by minority nationalities unable to make decisions or exercise any significant legislative or administrative powers in these communities.

 


The policies of the Central Government toward the three areas have been the same, spelt out by President Hu Jintao as the three inseparables in a May 2005 speech to the State Ethnic Affairs Commission.His arguments revolve around three basic ideas:


1)Giving absolute priority to economic development, portrayed as the key to solving all of Chinas problems and the most important task that justifies the Communist Partys exercise of power;

2)Reaffirming the importance of socialism with Chinese characteristics and the rule of the party in minority areas;

3)Consolidating ethnic cohesion to ensure the great revival of the Chinese nation.

 

He further recommended four steps to strengthen and impose the Partys leadership in ethnic areas:

1)Recruiting more cadres;

2)Re-enforcing political theory and patriotic education;

3)Strengthening grassroots-level Party organizations in minority areas;

4)Using pragmatism to implement policy.

 


However, there are inherent contradictions between the aims and the means.These contradictions lead to frustrations which can break out in violence as well as unforeseen consequences.Let us look briefly at the economic and social contradictions:


Expanded economic activities: How are the benefits to be shared?Xinjiang is to be a prime area for the Western Development Strategy proposed in 2000.The area is rich in natural resources, both minerals and oil.The area is under-populated some seven million people in contrast to the coastal and central areas of China. To facilitate economic development, migration to the area from Central China has been encouraged, with special benefits, especially higher salaries.The majority of these new migrants are what are considered Han Chinese that is, they are non-Uyghurs.The idea that the Han are of a common racial stock is an ideological myth developed in the years prior to the 1911 end of the Qing Dynasty as popular Darwinism spread from Europe with the concepts of evolution and races.The we are all Han was utilized during the Republican period of Sun Yatsen and Chiang Kai-shek but also carried o­n by the Communist government.Thus the current use by the government that 93 percent of the population are Han and seven percent are members of some 54 other nationalities.The myth ends up with the minorities considering most everyone else as Han and therefore a target when frustrations boil over.

 


In Xinjiang, there has also been an increase of the Hui Muslim Chinese, often small businessmen and traders who serve as go-betweens among the Han and the Uyghurs.There is a wide-spread belief among the Uyghurs that the Han receive the bulk of the benefits of economic development.Not o­nly are the natural resources developed for other parts of China where there is industry, but it is also the local Han who benefit most from the local economy with higher salaries.

 


Since the Party is important in the control of economic affairs and Party members help their own, the fact that there are few Uyghurs in Party positions increases their disadvantages.Urban modernization has led to the destruction of old Uyghur-style homes and streets and the creation of Chinese-style urban areas, though the building have a touch of what Chinese planners consider Uyghur styles. Most of the Uyghurs consider that their culture is being folklorized that is, removed from its original context and cut off from its broader cultural signification.

 


To make matters more complex, Uyghur culture is heavily influenced by the Sufi Islam of Central Asia that is an Islam not centered o­n Mosques and the legalistic forms of Islam but rather an Islam influenced by local wise men with ceremonies carried out in homes and organized through Sufi orders.As long as the Soviet Union controlled Central Asia, there was relatively little danger of cross-frontier contacts.Now that Central Asia has independent, relatively weak States, there is much more cross-frontier contact. Uyghur is related to the Kyrgyz language, and the Sufi orders are found throughout Central Asia.There is also relatively easy passage from Xinjiang to Pakistan where young Uyghurs go to learn English.When they return and want jobs as English teachers, they are not given such jobs and so increasingly set up private religious schools o­n the model of Pakistans madrassahs.

 


The Chinese authorities call all forms of opposition terrorism or potential terrorism and have joined the post-September 2001 anti-terrorist campaigns to justify generalized police surveillance.

 


With over-all Chinese economic development, Uyghurs have gone to other parts of China to find work in factories or as small traders. Thus, most Chinese cities have an Uyghur quarter where Uyghurs live and their social organizations follow relatively traditional lines.The demonstrations broke out o­n 5 July in Urumqi, the capital, over the treatment of Uyghur workers in southern China.

 


On 5 July, a protest march of some 1000 people had been organized by Uyghurs to demand a full government investigation of a brawl between Uyghur and Han workers in a toy factory in Guangdong Province o­n 25 June during which two Uyghurs were beaten to death and some 118 injured when an Uyghur dorm for workers was attacked while the police and others just looked o­n.A rumour had been spread that six Uyghur men had raped two Han women at the work site.The fact that neither the police nor Han workers had tried to stop the mob entering the dorm was cited as an example of the wide-spread discrimination against Uyghurs.

 


The protest march in Urumqi was broken up by the police and the military which led some of the protesters to attack Han shops and bystanders. Urumqui is now some 70 per cent non-Uyghur and has been segregated into ethnic districts.The following day, informal bands of Han Chinese armed with sticks and knives attacked the Uyghur quarters, though heavy police and military forces now try to keep people apart.

 


The police and army control has been instituted in most of the other Xinjiang cities.Protests are considered as criminal activity and not as signs of socio-economic contradictions. It is too early to know if the protests will move the Chinese ruling elite to take a more careful look at the Western Periphery.For the moment, the governments response has been to attack the three evil forces of terrorism, separatism and extremism and to warn that, as Li Zhi, the Party boss in Urumqi has said, To those who have committed crimes with cruel means, we will execute them.

 


However, some of the Chinese leadership may be able to read the hand writing o­n the wall and to call for a real examination of the socio-economic contradictions arising from the Western Development Strategy.

 


*Rene Wadlow, Representative to the UN, Geneva, Association of World Citizens.

 

31/08/09

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World Day Against Child Labour

Let My Children Go:

World Efforts to Eliminate

the Worst Forms of Child Labour

[http://www.newropeans-magazine.org/index2.php?option=com_content& task=view& id=8042&Itemid=85&pop=1&page=0#]

 

Written by Rene Wadlow

Thursday, 12 June 2008

 

June 12 is a red letter day o­n the UN agenda of events as the World Day Against Child Labour.It marks the June arrival in 1998 of hundreds of children in Geneva, part of the Global March against Child Labour that had crossed a 100 countries to present their plight to the International Labour Organization (ILO).

 

We are hurting, and you can help us was their message to the assembled International Labour Conference which meets each year in Geneva in June.One year later, in June, the ILO had drafted ILO Convention N 182 o­n child labour which 165 States have now ratified the fastest ratification rate in the ILOs 89-year history.

 

The ILO is the o­nly UN organization with a tripartite structure, governments, trade unions and employer associations are all full and equal members.All the other UN bodies are governments-only with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) playing a fifth wheel role.Yet NGOs within the UN system as a whole played an important role in highlighting children working in circumstances that put their physical, mental and social development at risk, children working in situations where they are exploited, mistreated and denied the basic rights of a human being.Today, millions of children, especially those living in extreme poverty, have no choice but to accept exploitive employment to ensure their own and their familys survival.However, the ILO is the UN agency most directly related to conditions of work. Thus the ILO has often been an avenue for unheard voices to be heard, usually through the trade union representatives; more rarely the employer representatives have played a progressive role.

 

Child labour and the increasing cross-frontier flow of child labour did not have a high profile o­n the long agenda of pressing labour issues until the end of the 1990s. At the start of the 1990s, there was o­nly o­ne full-time ILO staff member assigned to child labour issues; now there are 450, 90 percent in the field.

 

Child labour was often hidden behind the real and non-exploitive help that children bring to family farms.However, such help often keeps children out of school and thus outside the possibility of joining the modern sector of the economy.The ILO estimates that of the some 200 million child laborers in the world, some 70 percent are in agriculture, 10 percent in industry/mines and the others in trade and services often as domestics or street vendors in urban areas.Globally, Asia accounts for the largest number of child workers 122 million, Sub-Saharan Africa, 50 million, and Latin America and the Caribbean, 6 million.Young people under 18 make up almost half of humanity, a half which is virtually powerless in relation to the other half.To ensure the well-being of children and adolescents in light of this imbalance of power, we must identify attitudes and practices which cause invisibility.


But statistics are o­nly o­ne aspect of the story.It is important to look at what type of work is done and for whom.The image of the child helping his parents o­n the farm can hide wide-spread bonded labour in Asia. Children are farmed out to others for repayment of a debt with interest.As the interest rates are too high, the debt is never paid off and bonded labour is another term for a form of slavery.

 

In Africa, children can live at great distances from their home, working for others with no family ties and thus no restraints o­n the demands for work.Girls are particularly disadvantaged as they often undertake household chores following work in the fields.Schooling for such children can be non-existent or uneven at best.There is often a lack of rural schools and teachers.Rural school attendance is variable even where children are not forced to work.Thus, there is a need for better coordination between resources and initiatives for rural education and the elimination of exploitive child labour.

 

There is still a long way to go to eliminate exploitive child labour.Much child labour is in what is commonly called the non-formal sector of the economy where there are no trade unions.Child labour is often related to conditions of extreme poverty and to sectors of the society where both adults and children are marginalized such as many tribal societies in Asia, or the Roma in Europe or migrant workers in general.

 

Thus, the task of both governments and NGOs is to understand better the scope of exploitive child labour, its causes, the possibility of short-term protection of children and the longer-range efforts to overcome exclusion and poverty.

 

René Wadlow

Gravières France

12 June 2008

Dear Rene,


Thank you for your memory of the UN World Day Against Children Labor o­n June 12 and for your good note about it, which I published o­n your page of the site "Peace from harmony" at the address: http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=272.

The problem of exploitive child labour exists hundreds years, as well as other children's problems. In our opinion they can be solved o­nLY under condition of the world legislative establishment of the children's priority, which, in part, requires the harmonious global social order and general harmonious education. These decisions are in details submitted in the documents of the Global Harmony Association: Magna Carta of Harmony (2007) and World Harmony/Peace Academy (2008).

Therefore, a final phrase of your note I would afford to edit as follows:

"Thus, the task and governments (including UN and UNICEF) and NGOs consists in that, realizing growing scale of exploitive child labour, to understand, that the true protection of children against it is provided o­nly with legislative establishment of children's priority in the world, which really will overcome child labour, their neglect and poverty. o­nly children's priority will put the end to their centuries-old humiliated and marginal plight in social structure of humankind. The project of a legislative establishment of children's priority is created in the Global Harmony Association and deserves discussion in the UN, UNICEFF, governments and NGOs".

It would be the real progress in the true decision of the global and eternal problems of childhood.

Sincerely Yours,

Dr. Leo Semashko
GHA President
14/06/08

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Dear Colleague,

 

I am pleased to send you a brief article o­n the US-Government-proposed conference o­n Israel-Palestine to be held in Washington probably in November 2007.This gives us two months, September and October, to build a strong momentum to get positive ideas o­n the agenda.

 

I set out three points I believe crucial, but which are not likely to be o­n the agenda of the Governments unless we make a cooperative effort in the next few weeks.Your ideas and help to reach policy makers are much appreciated.

 

Rene Wadlow, Representative to the United Nations Geneva,

Association of World Citizens

 

Israel-Palestine : Necessary World Efforts Prior to a US-sponsored Conference in November

 

Rene Wadlow

 

US President George W. Bush has proposed holding a conference o­n the Israel-Palestine conflict in November 2007.In addition to the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority, there would be representatives of the International Quartet: the USA, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations (which in practice is represented by members of the UN secretariat). It is also hoped that some or all the members of what is increasingly called the Arab Quartet would attend: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the Arab Emirates.Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is now a representative of the International Quartet, would probably be present.

 

The Israeli-Palestine conference would be held against the backdrop of other interlocking Middle East issues: the Iraq conflict, the resurgence of Iran, Lebanon-Syrian politics.However, although all these governments play a role in the Israel-Palestine conflict, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran probably will not be invited.

 

In a 30 August article A November deadline for Mideast peace(New York Times/ International Herald Tribune) Roger Cohen writes The upper echelons of the State Department are suddenly full of talk of a supreme effort for Israeli-Palestinian peace.The boldconvention of a conference in the United States in November demonstrates that an empty focus o­n the incremental has been replaced by a thrust for thefinish line: Palestinian statehood next year, or at least a detailed framework for that stateA political contest of immense importance has begun.

 

I believe that there are three points which we should stress in our effortsto influence the agenda.These three points will probably not be o­n the agenda if people outside the governments do not first raise these issues.

 

1) Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip needs to be invited and should be a full participant.Some would like to see life conditions in Gaza get worse so that the Hamas administration will fail.The idea is to leave Hamas out in the cold and to have Mahmoud Abbas negotiate for all the Palestinians.Such a policy is short-sighed and will lead to failure.

 

2) The second point is to stress the need for a wider economic zone so that prosperity will help integrate into a wider economic zone.Such a wider economic zone would include Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt.The return from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan of the Palestinian refugees to Israel is impossible for political reasons.The return of the bulk of the refugees to the West Bank and Gaza is impossible for economic and ecological reasons.Palestinians have been prevented from playing an active and positive political and economic role in Lebanon.This Lebanese policy should be modified if relative peace is established in the area.The economies of Jordan and Syria have been weakened by the flow of refugees from Iraq.While we can hope that this is a temporary condition, it is not clear when refugees from Iraq will be able to return home.Therefore we need to seek cooperative economic structures, taking into consideration the special needs ofPalestinians and Iraqis. Gaza, the Palestinians o­nly outlet to the Mediterranean, is critical to any economically viable Palestinian state. o­nly economic prosperity will build the foundations for greater cooperation in other fields as well.

 

3) The Israel-Palestine conflict needs to be placed in the wider Middle East context which currently lacks a security organization in which all States are members.There is a need to establish an Organization for Security and Cooperation in the Middle East o­n the lines of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe which played an important role in ending the Cold War.The creation of such an organization arose from proposals and discussions in the late 1960s as an effort to find ways for structured discussions between NATO, the Warsaw Pact, and neutral countries of Europe.In the late 1960s and early 1970s, it was a small number of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) who were first calling for a pan-European agreement.Then, governments began the negotiations which led to the creation of the OSCE in Helsinki in 1975.Once created, the OSCE took the lead in military confidence-building measures and arms control, economic cooperation, human rights, and cultural development.Today, the OSCE has a decentralized secretariat and a host of conflict-reduction missions as well as technical assistance programmes for strengthening civil society institutions and an independent press.It may be that there is such great suspicion of the motives of States in the Middle East that NGOs must again take the lead.The aim of active public opinion organized through NGOs should be to accelerate this process.

 

Rene Wadlow, Representative to the United Nations, Geneva,

Association of World Citizens

September 7, 2007



 

 

 

 

A Call

 

People who develop the habit of thinking of themselves as world

citizens are fulfilling the first requirement of sanity in our time.

 

 

A new world based o­n truth and o­n the refusal of the old slavery of falsehood is waiting to take birth.In all countries, there are people who know it.To them we call.

 

In this period of world transformations, independent voices are needed: to warn, to promote citizen diplomacy, to propose measures for the peaceful settlement of disputes. Often, such efforts are called Track II diplomacy, efforts to reduce violence and to create bridges carried out by persons who are not government officials. We will look in later editions of the Note Book at some of these Track II efforts in conflict areas.

 

Today, we see the rise of a new spirit of liberty and democracy throughout the world.The old structures of oppression and domination are crumbling those of caste, class, gender and nation.In place of repression, there are new institutions of popular participation.These efforts of transformation merit understanding and support.The path may yet be hard, but the direction is set.

 

For a long time, the international order was regarded as politically and firmly established.Now, we must learn to accept and to deal with a world that is both social and mobile.The movement of wealth, people, capital, and ideas is as important today as control of territory was yesterday.We must work within a framework which takes into account not o­nly political issues, but economic behaviour and social and cultural aspirations. Our aim is to stress the deeper, transnational trends in the hope that common interests may be more easily found.

 

Despite the prevalence of disunity, separateness, disintegration and conflict in many parts of the world, the deeper currents of evolution move toward wholeness and mutually-beneficial cooperation.As the cultural historian William Irwin Thompson recently wrote

Through Spirit, the world has always been o­ne, and now through electronic technology, the world has learned to look at itself as o­ne.But we do not yet have a politics in keeping with our spirituality, our art, our science or our technology.And this seems to be the work that is cut out for our generation.

 

Thus our task is to advance the ideals of an integrated approach to the development of body, soul and spirit; of a wholistic approach to well-being, of just and democratic forms of government, and of the care and healing of the Planet.

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The World We Choose

 

Today, a great awakening is taking form in the world.We are now crossing a threshold between our past national awareness and an emerging world consciousness;The concept and feeling of global o­neness of interdependence among all inhabitants of the dearth is recognized by concerned people in many countries: the human family must find a way to work together if human life is to be preserved and improved.

 

As in any period of great change, among some people there is a sense of hopelessness and resignation since there are many issues over which the individual seems to have no control.Yet in some ways, the world we have is the world we have chosen by our actions and our lack of actions, by our visions and by our lack of visions.

 

Thus, we have the duty and the possibility to choose a new world society, to work in a constructive way for a positive, harmonious future.We can bring something beautiful out of the present chaos if we work together.We need to combine our interest in positive attitudes and ethnics with specific policy proposals. While it is relatively easy to reach agreement o­n such values as the o­neness of all life, o­n accepting responsibility and o­n a spirit of cooperation, it is more difficult to translate these values into effective action.How do we make specific our values of kindness and of sharing?How do we move to a world economic system in which there is justice coupled with a sense of responsibility?

 

We need to hold in our mind a vision of a world in which human affairs would be quite different, without the stress, turmoil and conflict of today. We need to envisage a new kind of world,

a world for all humans coming together, acting as a whole for the common good.This clear image in our minds is what is called creative visualization.We consciously choose and create the image of what we want to see created in the external world in terms of relationships or physical structures.With a clear vision, we will also see the paths that lead to the manifestation of the image.

 

Resisting evil is not enough.We must also conceive and begin to build the new city.

 

-------------------------

The New Fire


The day will come when, after harnessing the ether, the winds, the tides, gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and o­n that day, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

 

Most of the worlds great religious and philosophical systems were formulated at about the same time 500BC.Confucianism and Taoism in China, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism in India, Zarathustra in Persia, the Prophetic impulse in Judaism, Socrates-Plato-the mystery schools in Greece, and most likely but more difficult to date exactly, the Druid teachings among the Celts.Of course, there were later developments from these religious traditions: Christianity grew from a Judaism, itself influenced by currents of thought from Greece and Asia; Islam grew from the meeting of Judaism and Christianity with the tribal religions of Arabia.

 

All these religious and philosophical teachings embodied elements found in the teachings and ethics of the tribal groups from which they arose.Confucius said that he was o­nly the compiler of earlier writings.The ethics of the earlier tribal societies were not necessarily inferior, but they were limited to rules for interaction among members of that tribe or ethnic group.When contact was made with an individual stranger, he was adopted that is made a member of the tribe for the time he was there, given a fictional lineage which made the members of that family responsible for his behaviour. We have had the same pattern until recently in Africa where the tribal structures have continued intact longer.

 

When society becomes more complex and contacts between tribes more frequent, it is not possible to adopt every stranger o­ne meets.Thus it is necessary to have a more universalistic ethic.You can not treat everyone as if he were a member of your family nor can you treat every stranger as a potential enemy.

 

By 500 BC, society in most parts of the world had grown in complexity.Communications and trade put very different types of people into contact.People began to compare ideas about nature because through travel they started to see natural sites, animals and plants to which they were not accustomed.They began to compare the different ways people governed themselves.Aristotle was the first to make a comparative study of constitutions.The earlier tribal ethics were no longer adequate to deal with this more socially complex situation.Thus there grew up philosophies that were to provide a more universalistic ethic a way to deal with everyone, not just those belonging to the same tribe.The social need for a new ethic was there, and individuals with insight recognizing the need formulated the religious philosophies that have served until today.

 

Now the world finds itself roughly in a similar situation as in 500 BC. For the first time, there is a growing realization that all people o­n earth are in contact with each other through communication, trade, finance, power politics.The religions and philosophies that have served until now have become limited to a country or cultural zone: Confucianism and Taoism helped provide a common ethic for all the tribal groups of China but remained limited to the Chinese-influenced areas; Hinduism and Jainism remained Indian; Zarathustra became identified to the Persian world and was then largely absorbed by Islam; Greek thought remains part of the classic heritage of the West but has long disappeared as an independent religious philosophy; Judaism has remained an ethnic religion which has never made an effort at conversion, and Buddhism remains largely colored by its Asian setting.Only the late starters Christianity and Islam make claims to being universal faiths.Although there are efforts to overcome cultural biases, Christianity remains Western and Islam, Arab.

 

Thus, today there is a need for a universalistic ethic, o­ne that englobes all of humanity.There is a need for new universal symbols a way in which people recognize that they are linked and in harmony with each other.There is a need for a new universal explanation of nature that will encompass all the new findings of science from the new knowledge of sub-atomic particles of energy to the vast reaches of the cosmos now known through astronomys discoveries.

 

The new beginnings of a world view and a world ethic will not come from destroying the old but rather by building o­n what is most universal in the old faiths. Robert Muller, the retired Assistant Secretary General of the UN, and Honorary President of the Association of World Citizens wrote In every epoch of history there are a few exceptional human beings who are blessed with a correct vision of the place of the human person o­n earth and in the universe.This vision is always basically the same:

it recognizes the o­neness and supremacy of the human family, irrespective of color, sex, creed, nation or any other distinctivecharacteristics;

it recognizes each individual human being as a unique miracle of divine origin, a cosmos of his own, never to be repeated again in all eternity;

it rejects all violence as being contrary to the sanctity and the uniqueness of life, and advocates love, tolerance, truth, cooperation and reverence for life as the o­nly civilized means of achieving a peaceful and happy society;

it preaches love and care for our beautiful and so diverse planet in the fathomless universe;

it sees each human life and society as part of an eternal stream of time and ever ascending evolution;

it recognizes that the ultimate mysteries of life, time and the universe will forever escape the human mind and therefore bends in awe and humility before these mysteries and God;

it advocates gratitude and joy for the privilege of being admitted to the banquet of life;

it preaches hope, faith, optimism and a deep commitment to the moral and ethical virtues of peace and justice distilled over eons of time as the foundations for further human ascent.

 

This élan for future human ascent is what Albert Schweitzer called reverence for life.In the same spirit Robert Muller writes We must restore optimism and continue to sharpen our inborn instincts for life, for the positive, for self-preservation, for survival and human fulfilment at ever higher levels of consciousness.We must conquer the duality, the somber, the bad, the negative, the suicidal.These all contain dangerous self-feeding processes of destruction.We must turn instead to the mysterious self-generating powers of hope, creative thinking, love, life affirmation and faith.

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Track II

 

Track o­ne diplomacy is diplomacy as it has always been carried out, ably or not, in good faith or not. Diplomacy has always had more than o­ne face, and diplomats have often been considered as an elite group distant from the real people of the country. There is the often quoted definition of a diplomat of Sir Henry Wotton as an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country.Much of the criticism of diplomats is unfair, but we will come back to the role of professional, governmental diplomats in another set of notes.These notes are devoted to increasingly important Track Two diplomatic efforts, written as Track II in the rest of these Notes.

 

Track II are discussions held by non-officials of conflicting parties in an attempt to clarify outstanding disputes and to explore the options for resolving them in settings or circumstances that are less sensitive than those associated with official negotiations.The non-officials involved usually include scholars, senior journalists, former government officials, and former military officers.Government and other officials, acting in an informal capacity, sometimes also participate in such talks alongside the non-officials involved.

 

Track II can also be defined by what they are not: neither academic conferences nor secret diplomacy conducted by government representatives.Track II talks are convened specifically to foster informal interaction among participants regarding the political issues dividing their nations and to find ways of reducing the conflict between them.

 

The purposes of Track II talks vary, but they are all related to reducing tensions or facilitating the resolution of a conflict.As a minimum aim, Track II talks are aimed at an exchange of views, perceptions, and information between the parties to improve each sides understanding of the others positions and policies.Such talks may also help participants familiarize themselves with o­ne another, increasing their understanding of the human dimensions of the struggle in which they are engaged.

 

Such talks help in awareness building.They often begin by personalizing the experiences of conflict an effort to explore personal concepts and impressions to see the face of the enemy.On return home, Track II participants can inform their respective publics, elites and governments of the perceptions and insights they have gained.

 

Thus, to be effective Track II participants need to have some relations with officials in their countries decision-making circles.The Track II efforts would be less effective if officials who can affect the course of national policy were not made aware of the information and impressions gained in such talks.

 

Track II talks can offer considerable scope for citizen diplomacy.Much depends o­n the calibre and dedication of the initiators of Track II efforts and their relation to national leadership.Track II efforts are needed to diminish the likelihood of future misunderstanding and miscommunication among government leaders.While Track II talks may not guarantee understanding, the absence of such talks is almost sure to pave the way to further crises and breakdown in communications;

 

World citizens need to be bridge builders.

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April 2, 2007

River Valley and Mountain Range

 

A bioregion is an area of land defined, not by political boundaries cities, provinces, states but by the natural, biological and geological features that create the real identity of a place. A bioregion is part of the intricate fabric of life.


Clean air, clean water, forests and fields are the right of all the inhabitants of a region.
All species plants, birds, animals and humans are essential parts of a bioregion. When we have an ecological perspective, it becomes clear that poor resource management and environmentally destructive practices are socially, economically and spiritually irresponsible. The spirit of the exploitation of nature needs to be replaced with that of maintaining and preserving, respecting and loving the earth for all time.


Bioregions can serve as a useful focus for education about the environment. Education for environmental awareness is a process to help students to deal with the interconnectedness of things from the individual to the biosphere. A bioregion is often of a size that a student can envisage and thus develop a sense of identity with the bioregion the river valley or the mountain range. From this sense of identity grows a caring attitude and a sense of responsibility for the well-being of the region.


A new vision, embracing plants and animals as well as people, is required for human societies to live in harmony with the natural world o­n which we depend for survival and well being. Such a new consciousness will stress a concern for community and satisfying human relationships. There should be an emphasis o­n the quality of face-to-face relations, based o­n mutual aid and reverence for all beings and their environment.


One of the conditions of our efforts for a harmonious planet is that we must see the earth as a whole while at the same time we must also care about geographic units small enough so as to be able to carry out effective action to preserve and restore. Bioregions are geographic areas defined by natural boundaries such as rivers or mountain ranges. Bioregional boundaries, being created by nature, often cross the arbitrary political lines drawn by humans in their creation of cities, provinces and states.


Yet a region is also created by a shared desire for common action a region of the will. Thus bioregions are also linked to human will, linked to a desire of a people to live together.


Bioregions are often trans-national, cutting across the frontiers of existing states. Today, the existence of trans-frontier zones does not require the re-drawing of national frontiers. Rather, the recognition of such zones should call forth political imagination to find mutually advantageous forms of cooperation in production, trade, energy, water and protection of the environment.


There are growing signs of such cooperation a pattern that is important for a more peaceful future.

April 7, 2007
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Dear Leo,

This is the first of what I thought of a short essays o­n harmony in Europe. I know that I do not like to read too long texts o­n the screen and I think that is the case of many people. The drawing and the first two paragraphs would be used each time as it symbolizes what is to follow, then as this time, there would be a short title and my name, identification at the end.

 

Rene Wadlow

 

The Light of Harmony in Western Civilization


 

Although often not visible in the fog of war and violence, the law of harmony, of equilibrium, of the golden mean is the major theme of Western civilization. Harmony is planted deeply in the psyche of Europe . We will look in short essays at the way in which the torch of harmony has been passed o­n from hand to hand, from country to country. We will look at the light of harmony as it shines through myths, through literature, through political writings, and through the creation of institutions.

 

The manifestation of harmony is the aim of the hero in the trials of initiation. Initiatic trials reveal, in a dramatic form, the way in which the spirit transcends a fragmented world in order to discover the fundamental unity of life.

 

Toward the Light

 

In the Cave Allegory of Platos The Republic, we learn of the strange prisoners living in an underground den who apprehended truth to be nothing but the shadows of the images that the fire casts o­n the walls of the cave. Plato explains that if the prisoners were to be freed from the darkened cave, initially they would continue to see the shadows. Next, they would develop the ability to see themselves and objects as reflected in the water; later they would be able to decipher the objects themselves. As these prisoners became accustomed to their growing sense of light, they would be able to gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars. Lastly, they could behold the light of the sun by day.

 

The allegory is probably based o­n some of the Orphic initiations practiced by Pythagorean communities which had been created some 50 years before Plato wrote The Republic and had their center at Tarentum, a Greek colony in what is now southern Italy . Disciples spent time in a cave or a dark place in order to meditate and to learn the deeper significance of ideas that they were being taught in more conventional settings. At the end of the period of instruction and meditation in the cave, the students would all return to the bright sunlight outside, a ritual symbolic of the light of new knowledge integrated into the full consciousness of the person.

 

There is for everyone coming from a dark place into bright sunlight a period during which the eyes need to adjust, when for a few moments there is a need to gain balance and to see objects as they are. There is a need to find a new harmony between the darkness and the light.

 

Plato is using this symbolism in his major teaching o­n the nature of the good state and o­n the nature of justice. He stresses the relationship between the nature and degree of enlightenment of the individual and the nature and enlightenment of the government.

 

Plato was writing at a time of political unrest and change. All of Platos childhood and youth were spent in the shadow of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta . The war was a clash between business interests for commercial supremacy, and it was reflected by a struggle between the rich and the poor within each state. However the conflicts for the sake of getting money were masked by an ideological coloring where o­ne side professed to be upholding the constitutional equality of the many, the other the wisdom of an aristocracy.

 

Plato believed that o­nly reason could bring an end to violence and division. Yet reason had to be embodied in people who had learned to think through a long process of study. Thus he created a school to train future political leaders. The school owed its name to the grove of a hero Academus in the garden where the school was built giving us the term academy for an institution of learning. The school was presided over by the Muses and their leader Apollo, symbolized by the sun. It was for the students in the Academy that Plato wrote his most famous dialogues such as The Symposium and The Republic.

 

Plato thought of his students as future rules of the state. Thus they had to be guided by reason. This required the transformation of the lower instincts into the higher qualities. Such transformation involves the elimination of the undesirable qualities which hinder the light. Yet if this opening to the light is done without balance, a condition of blindness and lack of equilibrium will follow.

 

Therefore, there needs to be an equilibrium between light and dark, between matter and spirit, between mind and body. As a poet has written

 

to seize the absolute in shapes that pass,

to fix the eternals touch in time-made things,

this is the law of perfection here.

 

Rene Wadlow is the editor of www.transnational-perspectives.org and the

Representative to the United Nations, Geneva , of the Association of World Citizens.

February 10, 2007

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 The Shanghai Cooperation Organization : A Balance of Opportunity


Rene Wadlow
  
Abstract
 
            There are major changes underway in Central Asia and its relations with Russia, China and India.  The Shanghai Cooperation Organization whose 5th anniversary was marked in June 2006 is a useful reflection of these new economic, social and political currents.  The SCO, which began with limited security objectives, has the potential to develop into a broadly-based framework of cooperation the start of a new Asian powerhouse.
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            The 15 June 2006 meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) marks the 5th anniversary of the start of a new Asian alliance which may be an important step in transforming the worlds political and economic structure.  The Shanghai Cooperation Organization began life 10 years ago as the Shanghai Cooperation Forum the Shanghai Five to its friends.  Its aim was to create permanent links between China and the newly independent states of Central Asia which had been part of the Soviet Union: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.  Turkmenistan has followed a policy of studied isolation and has not joined the SCO although its economic security and political interests are similar to the other Central Asian states. Russia was included as Russia has kept a dominant position in Central Asia and looks with suspicion at anything which might weaken its role.
 
            China builds with long-range aims.  Although 10 years ago Central Asia represented little in terms of the Chinese economy, it was important to start building links which might be of some use in the future.  Moreover, there are some among Chinese decision-makers who are worried about Islamic movements demanding greater autonomy in Xinjang Uygur Autonomous Region.  There are slightly over six million Uygurs in the Autonomous Region with half a million in Central Asia and 100,000 throughout Pakistan and Afghanistan.  The Uygur are a Turkic-speaking people related to others in Central Asia especially the Uzbek.  There have always been movements for independence or greater autonomy.  In the early 1940s, there was a short-lived independent Republic of East Turkestan which ended with the communist victory in the Chinese civil war. In order to prevent a renewal of independence movements, the Chinese government has encouraged the migration of Han Chinese the largest ethnic group- to Xinjiang so that today, about half the population are Han Chinese.
 
            Unlike the Tibetans who have a tradition of Buddhist non-violence, the Uygur are mostly Muslim and have been willing to use violence as a sign of protest.  The Chinese government fears that Islamic currents from Central Asia will cross over into Xinjiang.  The Central Asian governments also fear opposition from Islamic groups so that the fight against separatism, extremism, and terrorism was the most important common aim of the Cooperation Forum.
 
            In 2001, Uzbekistan, the most populated of the Central Asian states, joined the Forum and the name was changed to Shanghai Cooperation Organization.  Organization as a name sounds more o­n-going than Forum and a secretariat was formed in Shanghai and a small anti-terrorism center was set up in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
 
            2001 also marks the date of the US-led attack o­n the Taliban in Afghanistan, and a new importance was given to Central Asia o­n the World strategic map.  The United States needs allies in Central Asia for its Afghan policy.  There is a sense that things are moving in Central Asia, but the direction is not clear.
 
            At its start the SCO was seen as little more than an anti-terrorist alliance and as an element, but not a central o­ne, in the balance of power complex inspired by the words of Robert Bridges Our stability is but balance; and wisdom lies in the masterful administration of the unforeseen. The SCO began largely as an instrument of Chinese policy.  Beijing has invested resources and time to enlarge the scope and effectiveness of the SCO more than any other member.  The Russians had their own institutional links with Central Asia having in 1994 entered into a series of security agreements with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan o­n regional stability..
 
            However, for Russian policy-makers the post-independence insecurity and fighting in Tajikistan could have been a forerunner of broader troubles.  The Chechen demands for independence alerted Russian decision-makers to the rise of Islamic resurgence movements.  These were signs that o­nce again the issues of ethnicity, of state identity, of regionalism and religious sectarianism were coming to center stage in Central Asian politics.  Thus the Russian policy makers became more interested in multilateral mechanisms for the resolution of current problems such as trans-frontier terrorism.
 
            The societies of Central Asia were weak; the frontiers permeable.  The aim of the USSR had never been the creation of solid independent states. Thus today, for the Russian policy-makers, Central Asia was an area with a flow of drugs, guns and uncontrolled population movements from which many ethnic Russians were leaving.  Moreover, as the 1990s went o­n, Russian expectations of a key role in European affairs were increasingly limited.  Central European states were joining NATO and the European Union. Russia was able to play o­nly a limited role in the former Yugoslav conflicts.  For some Russian decision-makers, it was time to look east.  E. Primakov, as Foreign Minister, proposed in 1998 a partnership among Russia, India and China.
 
            While nothing came of the proposition at the time, it was a signal of a major Russian geo-strategic shift toward Asia, the Russian Far East and East Siberia.  Russian-Chinese relations were improving, and there was a slow improvement in Chinese-Indian relations.  The economies of China and India were growing which would have an impact o­n Central Asian economies.
 
            For the Russian policy-makers, the SCO shifted from being a short-term threat response to longer range possibilities of Asian complementarities from a balance of power to a balance of opportunity.
 
            As a new Asian focus was being put into place among Russian policy-makers, in 2005 there was a change in leadership in Kyrgystan the tulip revolution due to popular demonstrations and pressure.  Some Russian analysts saw this as a sign that Central Asian governmental leadership is not as solidly grounded as it seems.  Some Russians saw the tulip revolution as a Western effort to transform Central Asian governments into models of Western democracy and liberal values. The Western objective was thought to aim to curtail the influence of Russia o­n the o­ne hand and to generate pro-Western sympathies among the people of the region. Such a policy required an ever-stronger SCO as a response.
 
            Thus the 5th anniversary of the SCO was a time to evaluate trends, to make a strong statement against possible military action against Iran, and to widen the circle so that all states with an interest in the area could participate.  India, Pakistan, Iran, and Mongolia were invited as participant-observer states and will from now o­n participate in future meetings.  The President of Afghanistan was invited as a special guest as all realize that events in Afghanistan will colour Central Asian politics.
 
            In the SCO, we now have the key states of Asia an economic and political powerhouse.  At the anniversary meeting, the President of China Hu Jintao stressed that the SCO is based o­n mutual trust, equality, and respect for dignity.  Mutual trust may be too strong a term, more ritual than analysis. However, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has potential as a broad framework for action. The SCO merits watching closely.
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Rene Wadlow, Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens
Article published in Vol 10, N2, 2006, of World Affairs (New Delhi) in an issue devoted to Asian Security and Economic Convergence



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