82. We Are The World
Updated: May 20
I’m a positive person, occasionally accused of being an optimistic 'Pollyanna'. But I'm also an experienced counsellor so I'm well aware of the unpleasant side of real life.
For me, religion isn't being on some kind of religious high. It is more practical. It's an achievable, every-day, progressive way of being.
I frequently quote from the Holy Books of diverse religions, but I also draw upon ideas from songs and the popular press. So now I’m going to quote from a song that hit the spot with humanity so profoundly that it sold 20 million copies. I think it is a perfect song for this present holiday season of 'peace and goodwill'.
Michael Jackson’s ‘We Are The World’ expressed a thought that had been growing in the planet’s consciousness:
"There comes a time, When we hear a certain call
When the world must come together as one...
We are all a part of God's great big family And the truth, you know; love is all we need.
We are the world We are the children..."
I believe that the future of this war-weary world lies, not in the hands of politicians or international conventions, but in our own hands. Its future lies in the re-spiritualisation of mankind, beginning in the family. And from there, 'the world must come together as one'.
Such a radical goal requires a new model of family life that involves the ability for women and men - and especially for youth - to have greater, not fewer, choices which reflect and preserve the diversity of the human species, whether of age, gender, race, religion, colour or culture.
We need choices which acknowledge that not all women are mothers, that the actual period of hands-on mothering is only a relatively short time in a woman's life and that also allows opportunity for women to complement mothering with the fulfilment of other roles.
‘Abdu’l‑Bahá not only calls attention to the responsibility of parents to educate all their children, but He also clearly specifies that the “training and culture of daughters is more necessary than that of sons, ”for girls will one day be mothers, and mothers are the first educators of the new generation"---Notes, Kitab-i-Aqdas. 48
To achieve this requires us to identify, and progressively implement, a range of clear unifying principles, and to find ways of applying them, that reflect the diversity of our communities, whilst acknowledging that every family situation is unique.
We need to promote the high status of parenting, and develop a variety of models which reflect positive roles for the father as well as for the mother. We need to develop and apply the skill of consultation because this is the greatest tool to achieving agreement and unity.
We must continue to give consideration to how the principle of the equality of men and women can be applied in respect of the family, so that mothers can reconcile the high status of child-rearing on the one hand, with the need to participate fully and capably in the affairs of the world on the other. Precedence must be given to developing resources, services and training needed to support these principles.
For indigenous Maori, the unique and priceless role of women is so aptly expressed in the description of her child-bearing role - te whare tangata, the house of the people. The womb nurtures the first level of human existence. The placenta of the mother links the newly created soul to those presently on the earth, and further back to the ancestors, and to the land which nurtured them. The woman carries within her the first world of material existence. She is the link between past and future souls, between the first plane of physical existence and the next world.
The first few years of life are of crucial importance. The importance of timely provision of needs can be seen with kittens: if a kitten does not use its sight in the first 2 or 3 days of life it will remain blind.
The infant in the human world also has needs that are critical to each new phase of life. `Abdu'l-Baha said;
`A child is as a young plant: it will grow in whatever way you train it. If you rear it to be truthful, and kind, and righteous, it will grow straight, it will be fresh and tender, and will flourish. But if not, then from faulty training it will grow bent, and stand awry, and there will be no hope of changing it...Every child is potentially the light of the world-and at the same time its darkness; wherefore must the question of education be accounted as of primary importance."
In a world where men and their activities have historically taken priority, we face a unique challenge; to upend the social pyramid that places man at the top, and replace it with a kind of mental Venn diagram where the set of 'family' enfolds all possible subsets that constitute family; where all ages and generations are embraced. Where each may find a fullness of life purpose within its overlapping circles, and the world may come together as one.