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Many of the dominant currents in societies are pushing people apart, not drawing them together.

Discussion in 'Interfaith Discussion' started by adrian009, Oct 24, 2020.

  1. adrian009

    adrian009 Veteran Member
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    This thread is for anyone who is familiar with the Baha’i Faith or with the trend within religions generally to provide commentary on the conditions of the world today and meaningfully contribute to the betterment of the world through discourse and socioeconomic development. Please note the special rules that apply to the Interfaith discussion forum. This is a discussion thread, not debate. If you wish to debate any of the issues raised here you can start a thread in the religious debates section. If you want to quote anyone here in that thread be sure to ask their permission first.

    On 18th January 2019 the governing body of the Baha’i community wrote to the Baha’i community positively reflecting on the twentieth century and observing a rise in forces that were now dividing people. In that letter the Universal House of Justice states:

    “Today, many of the dominant currents in societies everywhere are pushing people apart, not drawing them together. “

    At the end of this paragraph they note:

    “And the will to engage in international collective action, which twenty years ago represented a powerful strain of thinking among world leaders, has been cowed, assailed by resurgent forces of racism, nationalism, and factionalism.”

    18 January 2019 – To the Bahá’ís of the World | Bahá’í Reference Library

    The letter isn’t too long and reasonably easy to read.

    Points I would like to discuss:

    1/ Are the observations in light of world affairs today, reasonable?

    2/ What are specific areas that we as individuals and our communities could focus on to counter these negative strands?

    3/ What other leaders of faith communities have made similar observations?

    4/ Is there diminishing will for collective action and cooperation amongst diverse peoples to rise above it all and promote the betterment of the world?

    5/ With the current trends how great is the risk of deepening crisis and chaos?

    Thanks in advance for your positive contribution to this discussion between peoples of good will across faiths and diverse world views.
     
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  2. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    I'm not such a pessimist. Nor am I some wishful daydreaming optimist. Progress or regression has many facets. In some areas of life there has been great progress. Hunger is an example. although the last couple of years it's leveled off. We also have less war.

    Hunger and Undernourishment

    Humanity has progressed in other areas like persecution of gays ... not everywhere but in some key places. Wealth inequality has changed for the positive in some countries, and not in others. I don't find gloom and doom particularly effective as a motivator for change. It's like constant criticism of a child in child rearing ... not helpful. It would take a lot of research into a lot of countries to determine just how things are.

    Edited to add ... The world's Gini coefficient (a standard measure of wealth inequality) has also been going down since 1988.
     
    #2 Vinayaka, Oct 24, 2020
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2020
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  3. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    1. Yes.
    2. Bahai's can help by encouraging the use of more private social networking products. One of the things that I think drives factionalism is that we are all easily enumerated, our buttons found out and pushed. Its perhaps time to fight back against big data and get new generations to stop letting their lives become databases.
    3. I don't know.
    4. No. I think that the will is there, including among those on the right even extremists in some cases and on the left and in the middle. People are busy, tired, distracted and we are too easily manipulated.
    5. I believe there are already people who have solved this kind of problem before, so its a matter of finding how its done. That may mean trips to the library or asking around. Very often misunderstandings can be straightened, so we eliminate those first. Then we go after those who are offended, and we wait for them to risk speaking with us again. We show goodwill. We ignore and we do not honor or repeat those who stir up trouble with exaggerations. We go after thrown away people who are thought useless or troublesome and include them. This can be introduced to the public directly by politicians in a 'Churchill' style speech. Its been so long that it will sound new.
     
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  4. Hockeycowboy

    Hockeycowboy Well-Known Member
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    I’m glad some are recognizing the trend! For us as JW’s, it continues to confirm that these are the Last Days. — Matthew 24:7-14 (verse 8 says these are a “beginning of pangs of distress.” We believe it began in 1914); Luke 21:25-26 is especially poignant for our day. (BTW, the “sea”, mentioned here, parallels the sea in Isaiah 57:20).

    This is what I’ve been taught...to me, it makes sense.

    To answer your questions,
    1/ Are the observations in light of world affairs today, reasonable?
    Answer: Seems so.

    2/ What are specific areas that we as individuals and our communities could focus on the counter these negative strands?
    Answer: Set an example...live by Bible principles, such as loving and caring for each other...which, btw, God considers part of our worship, imo.

    3/ What other leaders of faith communities have made similar observations?
    Answer: For my faith, I guess I answered this question, above.

    4/ Is there diminishing will for collective action and cooperation amongst diverse peoples to rise above it all and promote the betterment of the world?
    Answer: Yes, definitely. It was foretold...Jesus said, “Because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of the greater number will cool off.”
    Example: It used to be, if you had a flat tire, it wouldn’t be too long before someone would stop to help. Now, people are afraid.

    5/ With the current trends how great is the risk of deepening crisis and chaos?
    Answer: Well, I think it will get worse...”Unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved.”
    Ultimately, God will have to step in. (Although, 1 Thessalonians 5:3 says people will begin saying near what I believe will be the end of this System, “Peace & security!”, but it will be unfounded. This declaration, IMO, may come after Babylon the Great* is destroyed, giving people a false sense of peace.) We’ll just have to wait and see.

    * Babylon the Great, imo, is counterfeit religion.

    Take care, my cousin.
     
    #4 Hockeycowboy, Oct 25, 2020
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2020
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  5. adrian009

    adrian009 Veteran Member
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    Thanks for your response to this thread, You made some useful points. In terms of the general trajectory of world affairs, the capacity to ensure humanity is adequately fed is an important concern for anyone who is considering a global perspective. However we go about measuring hunger, malnutrition or extreme poverty, there has been significant progress over the last year.

    I'm not sure if you read the letter from the Universal House of Justice and I can appreciate why you wouldn't want to. There was an acknowledgement of the point you make in the paragraph I referenced in the OP:

    "Even as global poverty of the most extreme form has decreased, political and economic systems have enabled the enrichment of small coteries with grossly exorbitant wealth—a condition that fuels fundamental instability in world affairs."

    So we have reference to the extremes of wealth and poverty. You have quite astutely referred to the Gini coefficient, a measure of wealth inequality. That has been going down over the past few decades, probably on account of rapid development in countries such as India, China and Brazil with a sizeable growth of the middle class.

    Human rights has certainly seen great improvements, including gay rights as you mention.

    I agree it is important to avoid the extremes of doomsday like pessimism on one hand and naïve optimism on the other.

    So in that spirit its good to have an informed discussion about the state of the world, while acknowledging the complexity of key issues.
     
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  6. adrian009

    adrian009 Veteran Member
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    • Income inequality in OECD countries is at its highest level for the past half century. The ratio between the bottom 10% and the top 10% has increased from 1:7 to 1:9 in 25 years.[8]
    • There are tentative signs of a possible convergence of inequality levels towards a common and higher average level across OECD countries.[8]
    • With very few exceptions (France, Japan, and Spain), the wages of the 10% best-paid workers have risen relative to those of the 10% lowest paid.[8]
    A study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research at United Nations University reports that the richest 1% of adults alone owned 40% of global assets in the year 2000. The three richest people in the world possess more financial assets than the lowest 48 nations combined.[9] The combined wealth of the "10 million dollar millionaires" grew to nearly $41 trillion in 2008.[10] Oxfam's 2020 report on global inequality, while noting that 2,153 billionaires owned as much wealth as the bottom 4.6 billion people in 2019, highlighted the widening gap between genders largely as the result of unpaid care work performed by women, and it stated that "our economic system was built by rich and powerful men, who continue to make the rules and reap the lion’s share of the benefit. Worldwide men own 50% more wealth than women."[11]

    Wealth inequality in the United States increased from 1989 to 2013.
    According to PolitiFact, the top 400 richest Americans "have more wealth than half of all Americans combined."[13][14][15][16] According to The New York Times on July 22, 2014, the "richest 1 percent in the United States now own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent".[17] Inherited wealth may help explain why many Americans who have become rich may have had a "substantial head start".[18][19] In September 2012, according to the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), "over 60 percent" of the Forbes richest 400 Americans "grew up in substantial privilege".[20] A 2017 report by the IPS said that three individuals, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, own as much wealth as the bottom half of the population, or 160 million people, and that the growing disparity between the wealthy and the poor has created a "moral crisis", noting that "we have not witnessed such extreme levels of concentrated wealth and power since the first gilded age a century ago."[21][22] In 2016, the world's billionaires increased their combined global wealth to a record $6 trillion.[23] In 2017, they increased their collective wealth to 8.9 trillion.[24] In 2018, U.S. income inequality reached the highest level ever recorded by the Census Bureau.[25]

    Widening income inequality is the defining challenge of our time. In advanced economies, the gap between the rich and poor is at its highest level in decades. Inequality trends have been more mixed in emerging markets and developing countries (EMDCs), with some countries experiencing declining inequality, but pervasive inequities in access to education, health care, and finance remain.

    In October 2017, the IMF warned that inequality within nations, in spite of global inequality falling in recent decades, has risen so sharply that it threatens economic growth and could result in further political polarization. The Fund's Fiscal Monitor report said that "progressive taxation and transfers are key components of efficient fiscal redistribution."[34] In October 2018 Oxfam published a Reducing Inequality Index which measured social spending, tax and workers' rights to show which countries were best at closing the gap between the rich and the poor.


    Economic inequality - Wikipedia
     
  7. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    I've always found the Baha'i doctrine that humanity is proceeding (or should proceed) towards some sort of unification fundamentally problematic and flawed even as I recognize it has positive intentions behind it. I won't go into the details of that given this is a discussion thread and doing that might edge too close into debate; it suffices to say that since I don't share that foundational assumption I'm going to view this very differently.

    In general, contemporary Paganisms recognize that the universe in a constant state of change. Time isn't viewed as some linear progression towards some fixed destination or end point, but instead as cycles upon cycles with each story having its own season, so to speak. This truth is reflected time and again in nature, including in human history as humans are part of nature. Because of this perspective, I expect various forces to wax and wane like the cycles of Moon indefinitely. As one thing rises, another falls. And in time, that thing will fall and another will rise.

    However, one of the more complex Mysteries of Moon is continuity through change. While things wax and wane, rise and fall, Moon is still Moon. Humans are still humans. Earth is still Earth. Sun is still Sun. There are things that appear constant for the duration of our very short lifetimes, even though this continuity is something of an illusion. When thinking about waxing and waning social trends in humans, it is very important to keep in mind that humans are still humans who have to live on this singular planet. It'll sort itself out one way or another; or rather it'll sort itself out one way and another, and another, and another, and so on.

    The last thing I'll mention is that if folks think this is troubling they haven't seen nothing yet. Present human squabbles are nothing compared to what is coming. Scientists have been warning for decades that human mismanagement is going to cause serious challenges (and it already is). Perhaps the most well-known iteration of this is the World Scientists Warning to Humanity - https://www.scientistswarning.org/warnings/ - and the writing on the wall means big, big changes.
     
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