If You Saw A Child About to Fall in a Well…


Picture of the Confusian philosopher Mencius.

Mencius a fourth-century BCE Chinese thinker and disciple of Confucius, taught that human beings have within them everything they need to live together in harmony  – it’s just a question of developing these capacities in the correct way.

All men have a mind which cannot bear to see the sufferings of others.  My meaning may be illustrated this way: if men suddenly see a child about to fall into a well, they will without exception experience a feeling of alarm and distress—not so they may gain the favor of the child’s parents, nor to seek the praise of their neighbors and friends, nor from fear of a reputation of having been unmoved by such a thing.

From this case, we may perceive that the feeling of commiseration is essential to man…The feeling of commiseration is the principle of benevolence. The feeling of shame and dislike is the principle of righteousness. The feeling of modesty and complaisance is the principle of propriety. The feeling of approving and disapproving is the principle of knowledge…

Since all men had these four principles in themselves, let them know to give them their full development and completion, and the result will be like a fire which has begun to burn, or a spring which has begun flow. Let them have their complete development, and they will suffice to love and protect all. 

Modern science is tending to support Mencius’ two and a half thousand year old view – mirror neurons, oxytocin, automatic empathy – so, what are the steps we need to take in order to translate our innate capacities for peace, love and understanding into reality?_______________________________________________

The Moral Molecule


Creator(s): Department of Defense. Department of the Army. Office of the Chief Signal Officer. (09/18/1947 – 02/28/1964)

Persistent URL: arcweb.archives.gov/arc/action/ExternalIdSearch?id=531280

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Sacrifice


Sacrifice is defined as:
An act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy: e.g. ‘we must all be prepared to make sacrifices.’ (1)

Sacrifice is an old fashioned idea.  We associate it with punitive self-deprivation. It is a concept associated with misery and joylessness. However, the truth is that sacrifice is a natural phenomenon.  We can’t really have anything unless we are willing to sacrifice something else.

If you plant a seed in the ground, a tree will become manifest from that seed. The seed sacrifices itself to the tree that will come from it. The seed is outwardly lost, destroyed; but the same seed which is sacrificed will be absorbed and embodied in the tree, its blossoms, fruit and branches. (2)

There can be no change without sacrifice, therefore, sacrifice is an agent of change.

 

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Photograph – Sunflower – U.S. National Archives’ Local Identifier: 412-DA-2097.  Photographer: Reaves, Bill, 1934-
Persistent URL: arcweb.archives.gov/arc/action/ExternalIdSearch?id=544590

(1) Online Oxford Dictionary

(2) ‘Abdu’l-Bahá – Promulgation of Universal Peace p. 470

Desmond Tutu’s Message on Child Marriage


A message to men and boys about child marriage

A few months ago, in Northern Ethiopia, I met a group of young women who had been married around the age of 10 or 12. Many of them had their first children at 13 or 14. It was shocking for me to realise that there are millions of girls around the world who suffer the same fate every year.

I have to confess that I was simply not aware of the scale and impact of child marriage. 10 million girls a year, 25,000 girls a day, are married without any say in the matter, to men who are often much older than they are. These girls almost always drop out of school to attend to household chores, and when they become young mothers themselves face serious dangers of injury and even death in pregnancy and childbirth. Child marriage robs girls of their childhood, of their basic rights to education, security and health.

I thought I had a pretty good idea of the human rights landscape on this precious earth we share. What I have realised is that these girls are invisible and voiceless, making them some of the most vulnerable, disempowered people on our planet.

Child marriage occurs because we men allow it

It is not enough for me to simply say that their voices should be heard, that more money needs to go towards girls’ education or health services and be done with it. That alone will not change what happens to child brides.

Child marriage occurs because we men allow it. Fathers, village chiefs, religious leaders, decision-makers – most are male. In order for this harmful practice to end, we need to enlist the support of all the men who know this is wrong, and work together to persuade all those who don’t. I met religious leaders in Ethiopia, both Orthodox and Muslim, who speak out publicly against child marriage and teach their flocks that neither Christianity nor Islam endorses child marriage.

I want to find more faith leaders like them, men who will say that child marriage is wrong and should end. I want to find political leaders – also mostly men – and persuade them to empower girls, invest in them, and see the positive transformation that will occur throughout their societies as a result.

Harmful traditions must be challenged

I want to encourage boys to stand up for their sisters, and say that girls have the same rights to go to school, to develop and be everything they can be.

Child marriage is not a religious practice – it is a tradition. There are many good traditions that bind communities together. But traditions are also not static – they evolve. Traditions that are harmful, that have outlived their purpose, must be challenged.

Foot binding disappeared once social views about it were challenged and it was outlawed. Slavery was also defended as a ‘way of life’ – repugnant as that sounds. I remember those who defended apartheid on ‘cultural’ grounds. All these practices have, thankfully, largely disappeared.

Child marriage is also declining – but far too slowly.

Child marriage is not a ‘women’s issue’

At current rates 100 million more girls will be married in the coming decade.

We men cannot treat child marriage as a ‘women’s issue’ and avoid talking about the more sensitive issues associated with it; the sheer scale of this practice demands attention at the highest levels.

The world is blessed with the largest generation of young people in history. Imagine what would happen if the girls of this generation all go to school and had the chance to become teachers, doctors, businesswomen, politicians, religious leaders.

We men have to be bold, to speak the truth and stand up for the rights of girls and women to equality, dignity and the rights we all share.

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http://www.theelders.org/article/message-men-and-boys-about-child-marriage

Reflection


All animals – including humans – can use their brains to think and their thoughts can then be transformed into actions.  However, only human beings appear to have the capacity to reflect on their actions.

Conscience, free will, self-mastery, imagination etc., are all facets of reflection. When we think and act, we are like our fellow animals.  When we think, act and then reflect we begin to develop our uniquely human capacities.  This process gives us access to a vast ability that allows us to be in control of our actions and not simply driven by our physiology.

Seems a shame not to use it more.

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Photograph – Corean Beauty, c. 1904 – Collection: Willard Dickerman Straight and Early U.S.-Korea Diplomatic Relations, Cornell University Library.

Identifier: 1260.74.12.06

Persistent URI:  http://hdl.handle.net/1813.001/5xs8