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101. Want a safer world for your children?

Updated: Sep 29, 2022

"About 70,000 years ago Homo Sapiens was still an insignificant animal who made his own business in a corner of Africa... Today he is on the verge of becoming a god, ready to acquire not only eternal youth, but also the divine abilities to create and to destroy... Can there be something more dangerous than a mass of dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who do not even know what they want?"

--Yuval Noah Harari, "From Animals into Gods - A brief History of Humankind"

The 2019 terrorist attack on a Muslim Mosque in the distant corner of New Zealand caused great despair and confusion. A subsequent publication from NZ's neighbour, Australia, posed the question: "Want a safer world for your children?"

Encouraging readers to teach their children about diverse religions and world views, it quoted a national study of Australian Generation Z teens (those born around the mid-1990s to mid-2000s) which found around 80% of secondary school students who had classes about diverse religions claim to have positive views of Muslims. This compares to around 70% who had not attended such classes. Teens who had been exposed to education about diverse religions and world views were more tolerant of religious minorities, including Muslims and Hindus, than those who hadn’t.

General religious education taught informally by teachers or volunteers from religious communities is not the same as formal religious instruction. Religious instruction focuses on establishing faith in only one specific religion. There is growing need for a general religious instruction, fostering respect for diverse world views and religions, learning about major faith traditions and diverse perspectives.

Many national school curricula -- other than Catholic and specifically religious schools --provide some limited content in humanities subjects such as history, but they don’t necessarily provide opportunities to study diverse world views.

What does ‘secular’ education mean? The commonly understood meaning is the separation of church and state, influencing people’s views on the place of religion in society and in our schools. One calls for complete separation and removal of all religion from public life, including state schools. The other prohibits privileging one religion over others, arguing instead for respect for religious diversity.

Reflecting a simultaneous concern with environmental issues, a variety of views and educational programmes have emerged over recent decades. Roots & Shoots was founded by Jane Goodall, DBE. in 1991, with the goal of bringing together the young from preschool to university age to work on environmental, conservation and humanitarian issues.

The Virtues Project, which is not affiliated with any particular faith but draws from all sacred traditions including the oral traditions of First Nations, is an initiative begun in that same year, to empower individuals and families to live by their deepest values and enable families to counteract the rising violence in and around them.

It began with the conviction that all children are born with virtues - a moral compass - and that when parents and educators awaken these gifts of character, we can change the world. Using Five Strategies for activating virtues, from birth to death, they help people to raise kinder kids. The Virtues Project International ships virtues books and materials world-wide, and has spread to more than 100 countries, using thousands of facilitators who share its virtues-based principles.

The growing openness to development of an inner spiritual compass in the young generation calls for a philosophy that embraces and accepts all.

It is becoming apparent that the only remedy for this ignorant animal that is modern Homo Sapiens is recognition of the unity of humankind. This is found in

the teachings of Baha'u'llah which offer a common language by which to recognise the true value that lays within every religion, and they convey the recognition that divine Wisdom unfolds progressively. It is time for a True Religion - shorn of all superstition.

The bottom line is this: We are losing touch with our spiritual nature. We are destroying the natural world. And that means that we are destroying ourselves. Many people feel a growing sense of approaching collapse, either economic, environmental or societal. Any one of us who senses this destructive dissonance with the true spiritual reality of mankind must become awakened, and arise urgently to play his/her role in the reconstruction of the world.

"When religion, shorn of its superstitions, traditions, and unintelligent dogmas, shows its conformity with science, then will there be a great unifying, cleansing force in the world which will sweep before it all wars, disagreements, discords and struggles—and then will mankind be united in the power of the Love of God.

--Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, – 44 –The Fourth Principle—The Acceptance of the Relation between Religion and Science

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