Thursday, 25 May 2017

Education, Education, Education...

I am sorry I have not written anything these last three months. Various matters have been involving my time, but today, in the wake of the Manchester disaster, the matter of education came to mind. 

Below is a message on the subject of education, given by a leading spiritual lady in India, and which I have just received. Yes, it is addressed to the Indian community, but in my view, the nature of the topic is relevant to us all in the world. It is about the two-part aspect of education: as a basis for (1) values and (2) of information. These days we seem to concentrate on the latter part, somehow believing that economic growth is the only part that matters. I somehow think that if we had learnt more about values we would not be putting Planet Earth through its pain.

I believe that the point in this essay is hugely important for the whole world.

N.B. This essay refers to a few Sanskrit terms which
should be understandable in the context of what is being written.

Divine Mother Srimad Sai Rajarajeshwari Amma talks on the ancient and modern education system of India and the drawbacks of the modern education system. Mother has also given valuable advice, guidance and suggestions to the educationists for reformation of the present educational system in our country.

Education is of two types - para and apara; i.e. for living and for life. The uniqueness of ancient Indian education system has focussed on both these aspects and has provided for all-round development in the student. In fact our ancient Indian education system set an example to the whole world as to how an ideal education should be.

In ancient days, education or vidya was considered and treated as very sacred. In fact in India, the first step of the child's education begins with a ritual called ''Akshara abhyasa". The first letter the child is made to write is the sacred letter 'Om' and then the blessing of Goddess Saraswathi, who is the goddess of knowledge, the dispeller of ignorance, is invoked.

The Gurukula system of education prevailed in the earlier days. The bond between the guru and shishya was built on the edifice of respect, discipline, devotion, obedience and surrender on the part of the student and love, selflessness, sacrifice and genuine concern on the part of the guru.

The primary focus and emphasis in this system of education had always been the moral development of the child along with procurement of knowledge. When the child enters the gurukulam, the guru takes the child completely in his fold, identifies the negative traits in him and then aims at imparting training to eliminate all these negative tendencies; similar to the way a gardener removes the weeds around a young sampling first, which otherwise is detrimental to the healthy growth of the plant and later nourishes and nurtures it. This is exactly how the gurus would mould the young disciples. The parents too keenly desired that their children should tread the path of righteousness. The common aim of the parents and the gurus would be that after the child completes his education, he is transformed into a good human being and a noble citizen of the country.

Eventually though the gurukula system faded, the basic principles of value education still continued in our country in the early part of the century. A peaceful atmosphere prevailed in the educational institutions, fees were not exorbitant, healthy competitions prevailed among the students. There was less of external distractions. Healthy and cordial relations existed between teachers and students and therefore students freely expressed their feelings to the teachers and parents. The students only desired to attain good marks and enrich their knowledge. The students were not under any pressure from the teachers and the parents and had the freedom to pursue their interests. Physical exercise, sports and games were a part of the curriculum and made compulsory. It was thus ensured that every day the student is involved in some physical activity. Good coaching and a combination of mental discipline and physical activity helped in improving student's concentration and enabled him to score well. The concept of tuitions and coaching classes were not prevalent at all. It is this harmonious atmosphere in all respects that helped the students to succeed academically without any tension, anxiety and stress either to himself or to his parents. When students graduated from such educational institutions they were not only well qualified but also had developed, self-confidence, strong will power, self-reliance and other good traits. They were placed in high profile jobs, were successful professionally and many went abroad to pursue further studies too. Thus on the whole, the all round personality of the student was completely developed, morally, physically, academically and emotionally.

Now, where does the present educational system in India stand? Divine Mother Srimad Sai Rajarajeshwari Amma is deeply saddened with the current state of our educational system. The sacred knowledge or vidya is sadly being commercialised.

Today's educational institution are aiming to become profit making centre. The sanctity of this ''temple of learning'' is lost and forgotten. They have become commercial establishments where prominence is given to Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. The educational institutions today which are centres of learning have failed to recognise the greatness and reverence for the goddess of knowledge. Then what kind of products can one expect to emerge from such institutions?

These institutions are more superficial and lay emphasis on external parameters like dress code etc rather than on code of conduct. In fact some of the institutions themselves entertain malpractices.

The present day education is trying to adopt the western system as a result of which the child at a very young age is overloaded with too many subjects to study. Computer education is introduced in the schools at a very early stage which is not required at that age. This causes strain on the mental capacity of the child, the after effects of which may surface at a later stage. Not only that they are overburdened by such impositions, they are exposed to the side effects of radiation from this electronic gadgets; it also weakens their vision and has an effect on the nervous system. Amma says it does not mean they should not be taught computers, but has to be introduced at an appropriate age.

Amma has given a beautiful example in this context. If a washing machine is run with clothes more than its loading capacity, it is bound to get damaged. Can we blame the manufacturer for its failure? Similarly, if the child's performance is not up to the parent’s expectation, can we blame the child alone?

Collection of hefty donations has become the order of the day. Earlier too donations very given by certain affluent people, with the noble intention to help in the development of the infrastructure of the institution and thus provide better classrooms to make it congenial for the students to learn. But today, donations have become binding and compulsory irrespective of financial status and affordability of the parents.

Amma says, a wealthy man easily obtains admission for his child in a good school by offering huge donation. The middle and poor section of the society too may desire to seek admission for their children in the same school. It is but natural for any mother to desire the best for her child. Indeed it is not wrong to have such desires. Unable to pay such huge donations, such families will have to compromise to send their child to the government schools which has a different standard of education. Alternatively, some parents make great effort and stretch beyond their financial capacities and obtain admissions in the so-called best institutions. Finally securing of this seat does not bring any sense of joy to the parents because of the huge financial drain and burden on the parents. 

Indirectly this stress is passed on to [the] child, as the parents demand that the child should perform well academically. Having invested huge amounts in the child's education, parents look for satisfaction in their child's performance. To cope up with the prevailing standard of living, both the parents take up jobs and as such neither have the time nor the patience to look into their studies. They hence send the children to coaching classes to escape from their duties. The child after long hours at school has to attend tuitions which deprives it even of the little time with the parents.

Apart from this, parents compare their child's performance with other children and pressurise them to score more. By such comparisons, the parents themselves sow the seeds of jealousy and rivalry in the innocent minds. In their anxiety to ensure that the children perform well, the parents at times threaten them. This creates fear in their minds. In the event of the child not meeting the expectation of the parents, the parents admonish the child many times in the presence of other family members and friends. The child may feel humiliated and hurt. It affects the self-confidence of the child too. Unable to face this, the child may attempt to end its life or may resort to drugs or may become aggressive or rebellious or may even go into depression.

In addition to all this, the educational institutions too, compete with each other to be recognised as the best with the highest achievers and rank holders with motive to have more admissions. All these builds tremendous pressure in the tender minds of the children. As a result, the child loses all enthusiasm to study and slowly unfavourable tendencies like distraction, attraction for undesirable things, and loss of concentration take root in the child.

We pride with the assumption that our children are educated in the most modernised way. But Amma sympathises with us and questions in what way do you think you are modernised? In reality it deterioration in all aspects.

We claim that our present education system is most modern and best, but even in the earlier part of the century, with the simple education system, did not India produce the finest personalities in various fields, be it in medicine, science, engineering etc? India also produced many great scientists.

The aim of good educational system is to see that the students graduate not only with academic excellence but also possess good character, noble virtues, strong willpower, emotional stability and are an asset to the parents, society and country at large.

Is the present day education able to deliver this? The youth today are weak minded and emotionally unstable and has left a void in them. The education institution today instead of imparting vidya are leading to avidya. Moral classes are no longer a part of the curriculum. Games, sports and physical exercises do not form a part of the daily timetable any longer.

Educational institutions, considered to be the sacred house of learning are also not free from crime. Many untoward incidents have occurred here. Even after paying hefty fees and securing admissions in the so-called good schools, the parents fear the safety of the child. When the innocent children become the victim of crime, the blame game starts. Each one accuses the other, the parents, the teachers, the school management and the police department. By merely blaming each other will the issue be resolved? Who is to be blamed for these crimes? Even the juvenile crime is rampant today. The element of trust is lost in the society today.

Another menace in modern educational institutions is ragging. Ragging has ruined countless innocent lives and careers. It is a crime which destroys the physical and emotional confidence and has led to an increase in suicide activities. At times it can became very brutal, inhuman and anti-social. Even some of the highly reputed colleges and institutions have a terrible history of ragging. There may be many regulations on curbing this menace of ragging. At the institutional level, the authorities have to take strict measures to avoid this and create a meaningful learning atmosphere free from fear.

Parents have a crucial role to play in moulding the child and in building its future. Hence, attention and sacrifice on their part is absolutely essential at this phase of the child's life. At this age the child should be handled with tenderness and gentleness. Parents should refrain from harsh words and harsh behaviour with the child as it could result in the child becoming stubborn or obstinate. Loving and kind words can have a positive effect on the child's mind in the formative years.

Parents send their children to music and dance classes. Music and dance is an art which is pursued for one's own joy and also gives happiness to others through their performance. Unfortunately this sacred art is misused by the media using various platforms and instilling unhealthy competition among participants. Undue recognition, heaps of praises, big money prizes which are part of the talent shows creates the desire for name and fame at an early age and also distracts them from constructive education.

Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita, the great celestial song, has taught Bharathiyas [i.e. people of India] to subdue the ego and realise the fact that God is the doer. It is not 'I' but 'HE' is the essence of His teachings. To practice this concept requires training from a very young age. Ironically today, children grow up breeding their ego and focussing on 'I', 'me' and 'mine'. Their very foundation is on a wrong footing. Children today are greatly attracted to the latest gadgets and are also exposed to high standard of living. 

With a tinge of humour Divine Mother says that the best gift for a new born will be a mobile phone. Today's youth have great fascination for the latest tech-savvy goods and have an irresistible desire to possess them, but it is beyond their means. This attraction does not deter them to even take law into their hands and go to any extent to fulfil their desires. The influence of mobile phones on today's children and youth is so high that it becomes their constant companion whether they are driving or are elsewhere. The youth are so engrossed in their phones that many times it has resulted in accidents or deaths.

Youth today are so weak minded that they lack mental strength to even face small challenges that they encounter in day to day life, be it poor academic performance, a reprimand from parents, peer pressure or any humiliation from teachers. They think that suicide is the only way to escape from these situations. The younger generation today lack the sense of discrimination and are impulsive in their actions. Suicide and crimes have become rampant in today's younger generation. From where does this instinct to indulge in crime originate? To a large extent television has a tremendous impact on their minds. At times the parents themselves allow their children to watch T.V. or play the video games so that the children are preoccupied and do not disturb them at home. At times a single scene watched on T.V. or single incident which they witness has such a deep impact on the child that it may change the very course of life. The mind is like a hidden camera which captures all it sees and absorbs like a bloating paper. This will surface at some other time resulting in crime and atrocities among the youth. Today's children lack proper guidance from teachers and parents.

Neither the parents nor the teachers have the time, patience and ability to identify the negative tendencies in the child and make an effort to eliminate them. In the olden days, the parents and grandparents inculcated the concept of "love for God and fear of sin" from a very young age. This helped them to tread the path of righteousness. It is said that if you cannot bend a sapling and you bend a tree? If you cannot mould a child, can you mould an adult, says Amma.

The parents should ensure that the child grows up in a congenial and harmonious atmosphere with joy and cheer. The child should be given healthy and nutritious food. The physical and the mental health of the child should be nurtured as a healthy body and a healthy mind brings success in every venture.

The importance of good health can be best realised in one of the compositions of Saint Meera Bai where she has emphasised on good health and prays to Lord Krishna to grant her good health so that at the last breath, the pain and suffering of the body and mind does not hinder and deviate her focus on God during the last moments. When saints who are beyond the confines of body and mind, themselves pray for good health, then for a common man leaving in a materialistic world, health is of paramount importance.

Divine Mother as the Mother of all Mothers and in genuine concern has suggested certain remedial measures which when implemented can certainly bring good positive results in the days to come. It is to be borne in mind that today's children are tomorrow's citizens. Amma advises that the day at any school or college should start with a prayer to Goddess Saraswathi invoking Her blessings. 

Management of every institution should make it mandatory to introduce a human value session once in a fortnight for children of all classes, right from standard 1 to standard 10. Compulsory participation for all including teachers, school bus drivers, attendants, subordinate staff and even school security staff should be ensured. In the forum, awareness should be given on the greatness of Indian culture, our value systems and moral stories from Indian mythology. Children and teachers should be encouraged to speak on topics like devotion, life of saints and some good personal experiences. Question and answers session should also be a part of this event which will set the children's mind thinking on the right lines. Such programmes help to build [a] healthy mind in the children, free from negative tendencies and inspires them to be good, do good and see good. These programmes help to inculcate basic values in a child and also to practise the dictum "Help ever, Hurt never". Such programmes help in restoring the glory of this great land. In addition to all these, efforts should be made to reduce the burden of too many subjects on the child and allow the child to have a healthy and cheerful childhood. Amma also strongly recommends that the use of Mobile Phones definitely needs to be restricted in school and college premises.

The Divine Mother Sai Rajarajeshwari Amma has communicated to the world what ideal education is and emphasises the role of educational institutions and parents in producing good citizens to the country.

A careful study and understanding of this message can be an eye opener and help one to set right the defects and deficiencies prevalent in today's educational system and also in upbringing of the child.

Acceptance and implementation of this divine advice is purely left to the choice and decision of the reader.

Divine Mother conveys Her love and blessings to all.


Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

A New Renaissance Must Come


Dear Reader,

I am lucky enough to be close to and have access to our magnificent Library of Birmingham - the largest public library in Europe - and undertake research for whatever takes my fancy on a local note ... Aston Villa FC or Birmingham local history.

For some weeks now I have been trawling through the daily evening newspapers of this place for the 1930s period, and what strikes me in particular is that the local daily of that time has so much in it to read that is interesting. Today's local popular papers usually contain bite-size chunks for the reader to consume, and no major articles for the intellect to engage in other than advice about dieting and money-making. They say there are other newspapers that are produced for that purpose, and I suppose it's just an indication of how times have changed. But today we say we are more educated. I wonder if that is really true?

In the 1930s, local papers even talked in depth about real politics and also philosophy and philosophers, and also about local history as though it mattered that Birmingham had a past that we should be proud about.

On the same kind of issue, I listen to (and read!) what the statesmen of the world are now talking of and I am struck by the banality of the dialogue. What is their basis - their philosophy; is it just about how to deal with migration and how to economically grow? I wonder.

Well, I also have the good fortune to possess a book about Dr. Albert Schweitzer, entitled "A Treasury of Albert Schweitzer". It is a treasure, I assure you, as the great doctor reveals his inner thoughts and the history of his life; a man that started out studying theology and philosophy and yet at the age of 29 decided to study medicine and then practice charitable medical service in the depths of Africa. He and Winston Churchill were contemporaries and died at roughly the same time and at a similar age, but it is Schweitzer that resonates with me as the greatest. That may be slightly unfair as Churchill had his own fate to live, and he lived it his way, but Schweitzer comes over to me as the complete human being. And amongst his talents were his ability as an organist combined with real knowledge on how to actually build an organ using classical principles!

Schweitzer's notes convey just what he thought we should be addressing in the West. Please read this example entitled "The Goal Of True Thought":
Whereas the thoughtless modern world walks aimlessly about in ideals of knowledge, skills, and power, the goal of true and profound thought is the spiritual and ethical perfection of man. This requires a new ethical civilization that seeks peace and renounces war. Only the kind of thinking dominated by reverence for life can bring lasting peace to our world. All lesser efforts for peace must forever remain unsuccessful.
A new renaissance must come, and it must be much greater than the one that lifted the world out of the Middle Ages. This new renaissance must help mankind to advance from the pathetic sense of reality in which he lives, toward the spirit of reverence for life. Only through it can mankind be saved from destruction, from its senseless and cruel wars. It alone can bring about peace in the world.
Would that the world's leaders read and think on these words.

Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Truth Is Beyond Logic!


Dear Reader,

A debate ensued on another blog the other day, which started with the statement:
There is no truth other than your own life as I see it, living to a moral code that defines 'what you reap, you sow' seems to me the only way to live your life.
I supported the writer on that (the view is supported also in science, as one of Newton's laws) but I also said that the method does mean you have to put some effort in, otherwise you still become the sheep!

Subsequently, the debate developed into something of a slinging match against Islam, highlighting websites that show the superiority of Christianity over Islam, quoting from various verses of the books of the two religions (the Bible and the Qur'an).

But Christians tend to overlook the shortcomings and evils in their own (man-made) religion that have blatantly surfaced over the last 1,500 years, and such articles stem from a fundamentalist standpoint. But one participant on the blog made the point: "Fundamentalism comes from a misunderstanding in my opinion and is part of the outer makeup of any religious thought not the main point."

The intentions and origins of Christianity were quite different to that which emerged out of the Council of Nicea in 325 AD. It was that Council that decided to shut out the Gospel of Thomas, which up until then was as much relied on as the Gospel of John. Little did they know that the Gospel of Thomas would reappear at Nag Hammadi!

I firmly believe that of all Christian churches, the Unitarian and the Quaker movements are the nearest to the real teachings of Jesus in their approach. The Quakers are contemplatives and generally have a peaceful approach and (traditionally) have been socially highly constructive (e.g. (in the UK) Cadbury, Rowntree and Sturge) when other branches of the church shied away from responsibility on that issue.

The way of the Unitarian movement is based on the understandings of Origen and also Arius, who rather opposed Constantine and what he established as formal (catholic) Christianity.

In other words, each of us really should follow the dictum "seek and thou shalt find". Nothing is to be assumed as being provided on a plate: self-questioning and work is called for.

In fact, let us ask the question “what is the meaning of the word ‘Islam’?

The meaning is supposed to be “submission to God”, so a Muslim (a similar root origin) is “one who submits to God”.

The test question then is, “What is the true nature of God?”. If we were to hold the examples of Da’esh (so-called ISIL) as representing the true faith then we would have a picture of a rather horrible God, almost akin to the one often portrayed in the Old Testamant. But their Prophet Muhammed does not show signs of such a view, as the likes of Bernard Shaw, Carlyle and Irving attested.

Yes, if we were to examine the nature of the great teachers Krishna, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammed you find anything but their belief in a horrible God, and, instead, ways towards peace and wisdom.

The answer then becomes obvious to my mind … seek out the original teaching to determine what is meant. And, as another participant in the debate wrote: "To use logic only as a means to judge is fraught with potential misunderstandings. ... Logic is a great tool for getting an understanding of the layout of the land as it were, and very necessary, but it cannot be complete on its own as you also need a key that is beyond intellectual logic to anything that is not just linear".

One has to delve into the practices of groups such as the Vedantists, Essenes and the Sufis before glimmers of the truth can be seen, and taking precautions on what we sow in our lives.

Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

There's Only One True Way...


Dear Reader,

Yes, you can begin to feel the rumbles of discontent now that Trump endeavours to bring his policies to reality. And the sheer inconsistency and lack of integrity when our Prime Minister - knowing that her counterpart's views are favourable towards Britain - tells Trump that torture is not advisable, yet then meets Mr. Erdogan and says little about the same matter so that trade deals can be sown.

So are the seeds of world corruption allowed to germinate and flower. No-one seems any longer to have the heart to put in place a world structure to free people from tyranny as the ballot box is always at the back of the minds of political leaders.

But rather than look to others to do the job for us, let's look within our own selves to make the change. I speak of idealism once again, but what is the realistic alternative?

Paul Brunton, in A Search in Secret India (1934), wrote:
He who has once seen his real Self will never again hate
another. There is no sin greater than hatred, no sorrow worse
than the legacy of lands splashed with blood which it inevitably
bestows, no result more certain than that it will recoil on those
who send it forth. Though none can hope to pass beyond their
sight, the gods themselves stand unseen as silent witnesses of
man’s lawful handiwork. A moaning world lies in woe all around
them, yet sublime peace is close at hand for all; weary men, tried
by sorrow and torn by doubts, stumble and grope their way
through the darkened streets of life, yet a great light beats down
upon the paving stones before them. Hate will pass from the
world only when man learns to see the faces of his fellows, not
merely by the ordinary light of day, but by the transfiguring
light of their divine possibilities; when he can regard them with
the reverence they deserve as the faces of beings in whose hearts
dwells an element akin to that Power which men name God.
So be it.

Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Who Or What Is the "God" that Trump talks of?


Dear Reader,

In his inauguration speech a couple of days ago, Trump made reference to God on several occasions.
The bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity. We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity. When America is united, America is totally unstoppable. ...
There should be no fear. We are protected and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement. And most importantly, we will be protected by God. ...
Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America.
For me what could be said to be disconcerting is how Trump's view of 'God' is of that old man on a cloud who dispenses judgment, and how he just happens to be there to do what is right for America. It reminds me a little of how all the big European powers went into battle in World War One believing that 'God' was on their side.

Now I have tremendous respect for the founding fathers of America and the principles they enunciated, and the work and perspective carried on by the likes of Adams and Lincoln, but the Trump interpretation of what constitutes God-liness strikes me as being out of kilter with true teachings and which he asks of the American people to believe in.

Trump's message, in general, has all through been about re-gaining America's physical and material strength, and to do achieve those things he sees a resurrection of the industrial age and also a pursuance of the rape of the earth's resources through fracking, oil and gas extraction. The Paris Climate Change agreement is to be thrown out of the window. Renewable energy - presumably - is to take a back seat.

"God" gave man dominion over the Earth, and to use its resources wisely. (Has Trump read that in the Bible?):
Numbers 35:33: You shall not pollute the land in which you live, for blood pollutes the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of the one who shed it.
Genesis 1:26-30: Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.
Therefore how is that Biblical message consistent with Trump's stated policies? And is the USA to be "protected by God" by following Trump's policies?

Forty or fifty years ago there began a tide of thought in the West that looked as though it was going to carry the Earth towards sustainability and, generally, green policies. Somewhere it has gone all wrong; people seem to have stopped right thinking and - via populism - let in the agents of the dark forces that have been waiting their chance.

What are we to do about this now? Do we simply go on protest marches or do we re-work and practise what we were intended to do - by God!

Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

A Memo To Donald Trump


Dear Reader,

As we move towards the 70th anniversary of Mahatma Ghandi's assassination, let's think a little of the issues he wanted to address, which were not (in their nature) specific to India.

Mahatma Gandhi fought a long - but peaceful - 'war' against injustices that he himself experienced. It was Gandhiji who observed there are seven social sins that create blockages to establishing real justice:

  • Politics without principle
  • Wealth without work
  • Commerce without morality
  • Pleasure without conscience
  • Education without character
  • Science without humanity
  • Worship without sacrifice

Surely Ghandiji struck recognisable chords? In the UK, what was the fight of the 19th c. fledgling Labour Party and radical Liberals (and the Fabian Society) but to remove gross injustices in this country? As our lives have become easier have we forgotten all that? Does Donald Trump think these are relevant issues?!
We should - if we are to call ourselves a civilization - also carry the fight to all those in need of support and succour, wherever they may be....until we realise that a decent world can't be built on a hierarchy of neo-liberal exploitation, and that we can't have everything unless someone else has nothing... Deborah Orr - lead article in The Independent, 16 Aug, 2005
Yes, we may help a little in trying to transform our political system and by cutting 'Third World' debt. Every little helps. But to 'see the light' and cause major transformation does require individual effort, perhaps aided by some personal experience (such as loss of a loved one). In a world where time is rapidly running out, the hungry, the dying, the oppressed - they are all crying out for love and understanding. Do we really hear? Do we modify our own way of living in sympathy and empathy with the donwtrodden? All peoples are our brothers and sisters, let's not forget.

Thank you for reading this.


Sunday, 8 January 2017

What Would 'Abe' Think Of Today's State Of Affairs?


Dear Reader,

The tail-end of what is said to be Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg address made not long after the American Civil War, was as follows:
... this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
What stirring words and words of hope that people then had to cling onto, but how, in the space of 150 years, that idealism was replaced by dominance from the top. And frequently cynical dominance at that.

It would appear that consciously or unconsciously there has been a decision made by the people that at least part of Lincoln's 'promise' is to be fulfilled. That reasoning - in Brexit and the election of Trump - appears to have been the intention by the surge of populism that has prevailed, but a great worry must be that perhaps the vote will not guarantee a political leadership that really means to honour the will of the people.

Further, and most importantly, the current lacking of one part of Lincoln's promise - that the people's will should prevail "under God" - means that populism for populism's sake is threatening to be the name of the game, and not what Lincoln appears to have intended, which is a system of governance under the framework of spiritual justice. There is a difference, for in today's world we are transfixed by gain and materialism and not by spiritual ideals. Any governmental system motivated by what is best for one's pocket and personal comfort is not the best government, and my fear is that we shall be in more of a mess than we were before as governments try to work out how to try to interpret what is the people's will.

The Victorian period - both in the UK and the USA - was replete with people of great virtue to safeguard the interests of the people. From Birmingham came Joseph Chamberlain, whose fine local government schemes had been driven by fiery and honest members of the non-established church, and the UK also had the ideals to admire in William Gladstone. The U.S. had the likes of Abraham Lincoln. But where are their equivalents today?

Our governments - and their electors - are in great need of people with wisdom to lead the populist mood, not self-interested businessmen and class-based interests to determine the route needed.

Just how to find those leaders is a very moot point. Perhaps we will have to endure disaster after disaster for such people to emerge from the chaos.

Thank you for reading this.