Three generations ago the United States, involved in a global conflict against the will of most of Americans – until the Japanese government attacked the U.S. Navy in Pearl Harbor – became a role model to the human family of courage, determination, and compassion in victory. Japan and Germany, the causes of World War II, were destroyed by Allied militaries and reconstructed by American largesse to become the most powerful economies in the world outside of the United States until the creation of the European Union and the recent emergence of China, India, and Brazil as nascent economic superpowers.
The men and women of that time were Citizens, charged with the responsibilities of Citizenship, guardians of a cherished political freedom later made more precious by the rise of the Soviet Union and the Cold War. Citizens came to the rescue as Nazi bombs fell on England and Japanese bombs fell on Hawaii, the Philippines, Guam, Wake and Midway Islands, British Malaysia, and Thailand in a single day. Citizens bought war bonds, worked in factories, and labored to defeat the greatest threat to civilizations east and west in human history. Inspired by the defiance of the British, courageous resistance on the continent, and the humiliating loss of so much of the Pacific fleet, Citizens set the intention to work together, do what was necessary to protect themselves and their children, and they did.
Today few Citizens remain. I do not mean old people who lived during those challenging times, but grateful inheritors of that great legacy. “Consumers,” who are often unaware of that legacy, have replaced Citizens who see themselves as responsible for its safe–keeping and further development. A nation of great Citizens, such as the United States and Briton once were, is not the same as a nation of indebted “consumers.” “Consumers” account for 72% of the American economy, and as we are seeing, when U.S. “consumers” increase or decrease their “consumption,” economies around the world expand or contract.
Does becoming a great Citizen inspire you, or becoming a great consumer? Which creates the legacy that you want to leave? Do you care enough about others to create a legacy? These are not questions for Americans only. They are questions for all people in all “consumer” countries. Consumers focus on themselves. Citizens focus on more. Consumers do not think about the effects of their actions. Citizens do. The transformation of consumers back into Citizens now lies at the heart of spiritual development, but not the transformation of national consumers into new national Citizens. It means the expansion of awareness, responsibility, and care beyond nation, culture, religion, race, and sex; the self–creation within each of us by each of us of a Citizen of the Universe whose allegiance is to Life first and all else second, including consumption. Spiritual development and the transformation of a world of waste, violence, and neglect into a world of aware, responsible, and grateful Citizens are not so different. In fact, they are not different at all.
Such a powerful, true story about Wilson High School teacher Erin Gruwell, and how she inspired both her students and American education forever.
When Erin arrived at Wilson High School, her first teaching position ever, she immediately realized that she was walking into a student body packed to the eye-balls with gang violence, racism, resentment, and hopelessness. She also found herself amidst colleagues and educators who were burnt out and had given up. They told her, "Don't expect much from the students. You'll find that your classroom will get smaller and smaller as the semester goes by anyway. Just do what you can to instill some discipline. It's just a job, you can't make someone want an education. Keeping them from killing each other would be a great success."
Even though she had no support, Erin Gruwell insisted otherwise. This was an opportunity to Be a real educator - to BE a real Citizen, if you will.
She began to find ways to give her students an education that they could relate to. She had to work two extra jobs to pay for the books she wanted to assign, because the school refused to provide the necessary funds.
When she exposed her students to information and historical figures they could personally relate to, it didn't take them long to aslo realize that they could certainly relate to each other. No matter what neighborhood they came from. Before they knew it, their classroom once emotionally segregated, began to merge into a student family. Hate was replaced with Love and Friendship. Assumptions and judgments based on clique and race were forgotten. Their beliefs about themselves and each other were beginning to heal. They were no longer a group of unteachable, angry teenagers. They were a group of human beings, a group of young Citizens who finally understood how much the use of their individual lives matter!
Each of the students in Erin Gruwell's classroom made it to their Senior year, and graduated from Wilson High School. Many of them graduated from college as well.
It's stories like this and blog articles like this that remind me how important it is for me to align my personality with my soul - to live as a Citizen, to use my life and my Citizenship in this country in ways that inspire and align with my soul.
In a few years, my children will go to school for the first time. Imagine if every classroom in this country inspired the same love and spiritual development as in "Freedom Writers." Then what kind of Citizenship would be installed?
posted by Sara E.: September 4, 2008 at 12:35 PM Delete:
posted by Sara E.: September 4, 2008 at 1:01 PM Delete:
posted by lisa williams: September 4, 2008 at 2:17 PM Delete:
The world is a collection of nation states with their own cultures. Not respecting your own is not respecting oneself.
I'm a proud Irish republican. To most people nationalism is a childish philosophy. HOWEVER, there is legitimate nationalism and there is childish nationalism. There are some people in the world who aren't childish when it comes to patriotism and nationalism. Depressingly they are a tiny number.
posted by Darren J Prior: September 7, 2008 at 8:28 AM Delete:
I believe there is a groundswell of Earthwide Citizenship already emerging, even in this day and age of apparent "Consumersism"
People are changing...they are seeing the devastating effect that rampant consumerism and greed can have on those who have little or nothing.
As a race, humanity can no longer hide from these things. We can no longer turn a blind eye.
Global communication means we are all now inundated with images from every corner of the globe...images captured on devices such as mobile phone cameras are now beamed across the world via news broadcasts, and internet streams.
The truths that were once repressed and hidden are now there for all to see.
The question now is...how will we respond to these images, these truths?
My belief is that we will respond with empathy, warmth, compassion and love.
I believe that....because I know that it is through this belief and trust that real change will come about.
Once we all realise the power that we have within oursleves to act with belief and trust, to empower ourselves with the knowledge that positive change is not only possible, it is an inevitable outcome of living a life of love, truth and trust...the groundswell of Earthwide Citizenship will continue to emerge and flourish.
The method of communication between humans is undergoing a radical transformation.
Where once, communication was driven primarily by the intellect...we are entering an age of integrated comunication where the head and the heart combine to produce a new kind of intelligence...
Intuitive, heart centred intelligence...where the head and the heart work together in a balanced and harmonious way.
We can see the results of this new intergrated form of communication right here in a blog such as this.
Readers and commenters from all around the world are being intuitively drawn to participate and communicate in this new form of connecting.
The connection between all of us is real....even though many of us have never met each other in person or even spoken to each other.
The connection we share is born of heartfelt intuition.
You can feel the reality and warmth of this connection not by reaching outwards, seeking response or affirmation....but by reaching inward, and FEELING it inside.
It is there...and it is real.
And it is the basis from which this new groundswell of Earthwide Citizenship is now emerging.
posted by ...being here, doing this...: September 7, 2008 at 8:39 PM Delete:
posted by : September 8, 2008 at 8:30 AM Delete:
Our Irish language television station TG4 is the only television station in Western Europe to be based in a rural area and the station through it's diverse programming and many young presenters has and does play a central role it making Irish more attractive.
There has been a big growth in all-Irish language schools, gaelscoileanna, in Ireland over the last 20 years which are set up by parents and not by the State.
Over the last five or so years there are a significant number of new residential developments being named in Irish/i nGaeilge in every county in the Republic today bar Dublin, Wickow and Kildare. In several counties there are a large number being named in Irish- 30%+.
We also have an Irish language community radio station in Dublin, Raidió na Life, and the relatively new community radio station in Belfast Raidió Fáilte has applied for a license to broadcast throughout the North.
Although most Irish people have always like Irish- particularly since independence- up until a generation ago most Irish people took as much of an active interest in it as do sadly the average American into the native American languages.
The glass is half full mind and promoting the Irish language can be a mine field I know from experience but the above are very encouraging even in the midst of negativity which some Irish people have to all things Irish.
posted by Darren J Prior: September 8, 2008 at 8:30 AM Delete:
"Seeing oneself as a Universal Darren J Prior said...
"Seeing oneself as a Universal Citizen though and not as a national citizen at all though is problematic.
The world is a collection of nation states with their own cultures. Not respecting your own is not respecting oneself."
I agree that it is important to have a healthy, balanced sense of national identity...so that one can embrace the world with open and welcoming arms....without fear that one's own identity and sense of self will be threatened.
Here in Australia, there is a groundswell movement where our ever growing cultural diversity is actually being incorporated as an intrinsic element of our national identity.
Our sense of identity is not being threatened....but it IS changing in a healthy way. It is expanding and growing to include people and cultures from all around the world.
We are beginning to address our mistakes of the past....including the treatment of, and attitudes towards our indigenous citizens. For the first time in our history, our National Government recently formally apologised to our indigenous people for the way they have been treated in the past.
There is still a long way to go...and many will still choose to focus their attention on the negative aspects that often are highlighted and portrayed in the media....such as culturally based riots, and examples of intolerance and discrimination.
But I truly believe these are in the minority....and the overwhelming intention of the majority of our people is to reconcile, integrate and move forward together in peace and harmony.
You can see examples of this movement in many walks of life...education, sport, politics, art etc.
One example that comes to mind is a wonderful project entitled "All of Us", a photographic project designed to graphically illustrate the amazing cultural diversity in Australia today.
We are not what we once were.
We are becoming better.
All of us.
posted by ...being here, doing this...: September 8, 2008 at 7:30 PM Delete:
Something else just occurred to me as I was re-reading Gary's post.
In the past, many of us may have equated being a "Great" anything...be it Citizen or consumer...with having great external power or influence, or with having great physical or mental strength.
This perception too is changing as we realise that true power comes from co-creating and contributing to life in a joyful and creative manner....regardless of our situation.
I have had an illness called ME/CFS for many years...and my ability to contribute to life in "traditionally accepted" ways (eg raising a family, working full time, being physically involved in community and social interractions) has been limited by the restrictions of the illness.
HOWEVER...although the flesh may be weak....the Spirit is still willing....and as they say, "where there is a will, there is a way!"
Recently, many of us with this illness from all around the world came together on an internet forum and co-created a wonderful, inspiring book of artistic works.
The book, entitled "Creative For A Second" is able to be viewed online in its entirety, for free!
Co-creating, sharing and leaving this type of legacy to the world is such a joyous and fulfilling thing to do.
None of us made any money from the project - if there were to be any profits, they would go to research into the illness.
But the intention that drove us to co-create this work was not born of consumerism and profit.
It was born of a desire to show how creativity can overcome adversity...and to inspire others around the world to embrace life and contribute joyfully and meaningfully, regardless of factors such as health and life circumstance.
The universal citizen seeks to follow the yearnings of their heart and soul....and is drawn naturally to co-create with the intention of contributing joyfully and fearlessly to life.
The rest, they entrust to the Universe.
posted by ...being here, doing this...: September 8, 2008 at 9:29 PM Delete:
posted by Darren J Prior: September 10, 2008 at 3:50 AM Delete:
posted by : September 10, 2008 at 3:15 PM Delete:
From an address given by Oren Lyons at the United Nations in 1977:
'I do not see a delegation for the four-footed. I see no seat for the eagles. We forget and consider ourselves superior, but we are after all a mere part of Creation...we stand between the mountain and the ant, somewhere and there only, as a part and parcel of Creation. It is our responsibility, since we have been given minds, to take care of these things. The elements and the animals, and the birds, they live in a state of grace. They are absolute and can do no wrong. It is only we, the two-leggeds, that can do this. And when we do it to our brothers, our own brothers, then we do the worst in the eyes of the Creator.'
posted by Marie-Ora: September 18, 2008 at 6:11 AM Delete:
posted by david1: September 24, 2008 at 7:42 PM Delete:
This is where Co-operation comes in. (One of the intentions of the Soul that Gary describes.) Cooperation is not the same thing as compromise. Compromise implies that the outcome works better for some than it does for others; it is an extension of external power. It implies an imbalance in energy. Cooperation means that the outcome works for everyone, not only the majority. It implies that everyone is on the same page and that there is a balance in the energy between everyone.
This is why it's so important to me, that I align my personality with my Soul. When the intentions of my personality become and are the intentions of my Soul, I witness myself truly creating Authentic Power. I create Harmony, Sharing, Cooperation, and Reverence for Life.
I live from that which I am - which is Love.
posted by Sara E.: September 25, 2008 at 11:26 AM Delete:
One example leapt to my mind as I thought about this.
For many years, I used to be a prolific purchaser and consumer of beer.
I used to buy beer by the carton...boxes and boxes of spirit...all of which were compulsively consumed, but none of which truly quenched the real inner thirst.
Every "box of spirit" I purchased eventually ran out. And I was always left feeling unrefreshed...and hankering for more.
I always had an inner yearning to connect more deeply with the spiritual part of my life...but would never be prepared to spend any money to purchase things that would help me in this area.
I took the view that all things to do with spirituality should be free...and that if we had to pay for it, then it was not legitimate spirituality.
I continued to purchase my "boxes of spirit", never making the connection between my spiritual intentions and my actions as a compulsive consumer.
Then one day, I found myself in a city bookshop browsing through a spiritual book. The circumstances that led me to pick up, and flick through this book were quite extraordinary. It was if that book had been placed there just for me...and I had found it at the moment I most needed it.
I bought that book.
From around that time on, my obsessive compulsion for buying "boxes of spirit" was gradually replaced with a quieter, more gentle and balanced, inner yearning for "books of Spirit".
And the incredible thing about these "books of Spirit" was that the Spirit contained within never ran out. And after each reading, I was always left feeling refreshed...and satisfied.
I don't buy "books of Spirit" at the same compulsive rate that I used to buy "boxes of spirit"...but I find I don't need to.
The books I have each contain infinite amounts of Spirit...and each book complements the other by illuminating an aspect of spirituality that helps me to grow.
I may still be a consumer...but my purchasing has become less compulsive. I think about things before I buy them. I buy things that will contribute in a healthy way to the enjoyment of and participation in life.
When I buy a music CD, for example, it is because I feel a connection with the artist and the music.
In the past, I may have bought a CD just to fill in the missing letters in my A-Z collection.
There is no real and lasting pleasure in compulsive consumerism.
Becoming a great Citizen requires becoming a conscientious and discerning purchaser of goods...rather than a compulsive consumer of whatever will temporarily satiate my immediate needs.
Imagine a world where the demand for "boxes of spirit" is replaced by a quiet yearning for "books of Spirit".
Instead of having a world of people left feeling unrefreshed...and hankering for more when their "boxes of spirit" ran out....we would have world where more and more people would feel refreshed...and satisfied.
We would have a world of Citizens.
posted by ...being here, doing this...: September 25, 2008 at 11:56 PM Delete:
"Money doesn't talk, it swears." Bob Dylan
posted by david1: September 26, 2008 at 11:54 PM Delete:
posted by Darren J Prior: October 9, 2008 at 11:58 AM Delete:
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