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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Things we need to be afraid of ……………..

                “Having eyes, but not seeing beauty;

                Having ears, but not hearing music;

                Having minds, but not perceiving truth;

                Having hearts that are never moved, and therefore never set on fire.

                These are the things to fear, said the headmaster”.

                The headmaster’s name was Sosaku Kobayashi, a lesser-known Japanese educator. The quote is by Ms. Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, one of the students from the school, in her book Totto-Chan (The Little Girl at the Window), a Japanese best-seller and translated by Dorothy Britton.


Saturday, August 1, 2015

21st Century Wish-list for Peace and Harmony


“Mankind is always advancing; man is always the same” says William Osler in his book on “A way of Life” (Paul Hoeber Inc 1937). Looking at the recent world events, I wonder when humanity will ever learn to live in peace and harmony. One side of me says “never” considering the nature of some of the human beings. Another side says “It will, someday; look how far we have come!”  

That made me think about events around 500 and 600 BCE when there was so much flowering of intellect in India, China and Greece. I wondered what conditions should have been present for such intellectual flowering to occur. Here are some possibilities:
There was adequate food and shelter.

There were intervals of relative safety in some pockets, even though there were wars and skirmishes all the time.

At least, a few minds went past fears of the unknown and of natural phenomena, so that they could look for natural causes of events (rather than supernatural causes)

There was freedom to think (although some lost their life, notably Socrates)

Dogmatic traditions of Organized Religions had not taken hold yet

Language had advanced to a level at which communication was for more than food, shelter and mates. It was possible to make and express concepts.

Civilization had advanced to a state at which there were settlements of people with different skills and interests with whom it was possible to interact. There was intellectual stimulation. 

Fast forward to the 21st century: what conditions do we need for humanity to think like our wise ancestors and attain its full potential?  

Food for everyone – not a feast; but adequate nutrition

Education for everyone – not Ph.D s; but basic education to be informed, on thinking skills and skills to earn a living

Free flow of information

Ability and freedom to think

Education of children on Love, Compassion, Forgiveness, Open-mindedness and Tolerance

Education of parents so they can teach the children “their roots” and also give them “wings” to think on their own and fly

Encouragement of parents to teach their children about “tolerance”.

Education of religious teachers to renounce teaching violence against anyone, for any reason.

Education of political leaders to unite and fight against poverty, injustice and violence.

Development of a “shared sacred” item for all of humanity, as suggested by Scott Momaday.

 The only universally “shared sacred” item in this world is Life. Therefore, teach all children and adults to respect life, one’s own and that of others.