The way to the stars
by the Master —, through Benjamin Creme
It will soon become apparent that humanity has come to an impasse through which there is no obvious pathway. The blind following of market forces has brought the nations to a standstill in their fierce battle for markets and profits.
Some tread more carefully as their economies falter, while others, especially the newly rich, soldier on, intent on even greater riches and growth. Slowly it is dawning on the more experienced that all is not well, that the future looks bleaker than it should, that the everdreaded slump may not be far-off, after all. One might almost say that a new realism is beginning to show itself.
In this situation there is only one way for the governments of the world to go – a way so new, so imponderable it would seem, that almost no thought has been given to its realization.
This new way is the cornerstone of Maitreya’s advice to the nations. It is a way untried and yet so obvious in its efficacy that men will be astonished by the success of their actions when it is implemented. The way is sharing, the straightforward demonstration of the oneness of men. The principle of sharing brings into manifestation the quality of divinity. When men share they will reveal themselves as potential Gods. Nothing is so truly divine as this great gesture of Brotherhood. When men see this they will enter into a new definition of themselves and will begin the establishment of the Era of Righteousness. So will it be.
When Maitreya enters the lives of men and brings His counsel, a new chapter will open for men. They will know that they are not alone in this vast universe. They will know that there are many other worlds in which their Brothers work for them, saving them from much harm. Maitreya will inaugurate the era of contact with these their far off Brothers, and will establish a future of mutual interaction and service. Thus will it be.
My friends, these are not idle dreams but the considered words of One who Knows. Take heart, therefore, and be prepared for this enlargement of your vision and capacity for service. Maitreya will show you that the way to the stars is a feasible journey of enlightenment. He will show that the units of the one life manifest themselves throughout Cosmos; that until now this knowledge has been withheld from men but will provide a sure path for future generations to follow.
Much depends, therefore, on men’s response to Maitreya’s guidance. Men have indeed the choice: to remain as men stunted in the growth of their magnificence, or to become what in Truth they are, veritable Gods. Maitreya is sure that men will respond from their hearts, and that He will guide them towards their Destiny.
(Read more articles by the Master)
Q. Is there any specific date for Maitreya’s appearance?
A. Most people imagine that world events (and the coming of a World Teacher is certainly a world event) take place according to precise dates. They imagine that all Hierarchical decisions are designed for dates written in stone. This is assuredly not the case. The Masters predict certain happenings to take place around a certain time but They know that humanity has freewill and therefore has an enormous influence on the precise timing of a given event. The Masters work in 2,000 year cycles, so for Them really precise timing is not a major consideration. No one knows the exact date on which Maitreya will take up His open work but everyone can understand that it is very, very soon.
Since Maitreya will not at first reveal His name and status the onus is on each one of us to recognize Him by what He says and does. In this way people will be recognising the expression of their aspiration for the future of humanity, rather than simply following ‘The Teacher’.
Q. Is it still expected there will be a worldwide stock-market crash before Maitreya’s public emergence?
A. No, not necessarily, but the economic movement of the world is towards such a slump, which would probably increase once Maitreya starts His public work.
Q. (1) Does the US administration truly believe that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon or do they just want to remove the Iranian president from power?
(2) Does the hypocrisy of trying to pressure other nations into not creating their own atomic weapons programme, while America has a large nuclear arsenal, not occur to those in power in the US government?
A. (1) Yes, I believe they do. (2) Presumably not!
Q. The US-backed Iraqi cabinet have approved a new oil law that is set to give foreign companies the long-term contracts and safe legal framework they have been waiting for, but which has rattled labour unions and international campaigners, who say oil production should remain in the hands of Iraqis. This means that Iraqi oil is up for grabs – and Iraq is now forced to consider all tenders.
(1) Was Iraq pressured into agreeing to this bill? (2) If there was such pressure was it exerted by the USA to benefit its own oil companies? (3) Were other countries also involved?
(1) Yes. (2) Yes. (3) No.
Q. If a new Messiah comes does this mean that the end of the world is near?
A. Maitreya is here, as the World Teacher. Is this the end? On the contrary – this is the beginning of a new time for humanity. But a humanity chastened and relieved of its illusions and destructiveness. For two thousand years, the Christian groups have taught this account of the return of the Christ, coming on a cloud in the last days of the world, the ‘end days’. This, I submit, is a completely wrong interpretation of Christian scriptures which has distorted Christians’ expectations of the Christ’s return. The so-called ‘end times’ are to do not with the end of the world but with the end of the Age of Pisces, inaugurated by the Christ through Jesus 2,000 years ago. He promised to return, at “such a time as you think not” – to inaugurate the new age, that of Aquarius. This time He has come Himself to expand the teaching given through Jesus and to prepare the world for the Aquarian experience.
What we have to look forward to is not the end of the world, which will not take place for millions of years ahead, but for the creation of a new civilisation based on higher and truer spiritual values than were possible for humanity at the time of Jesus. Jesus Himself, now a Master, works with the Christ on a daily basis and will reform the Christian churches and teaching, as His part in the Great Plan.
Q. We are asked, quite rightly, to tell as many people as we can about the emergence of Maitreya. Do we refer to him as Maitreya, or the ‘World Teacher’ or do we announce him as the ‘Christ’? It seems vital that those carrying out this task are ‘on the ball’ as it were, so that the knowledge given is accurately received and people know who we are actually talking about.
A. Maitreya is not concerned about which name you use to refer to Him. He Himself wishes to be known simply as the Teacher. But He is awaited by all religious groups as: the Christ by Christians, the Imam Mahdi by Muslims, by Jews as the Messiah, as Krishna by Hindus and as Maitreya Buddha by Buddhist. When speaking to these groups it makes sense to use the terms they understand. They all refer to the World Teacher for one humanity.
Q. There seems, from all internet and general media reports, to be a lot of UFO activity over Latin American countries. Why is there so much UFO activity there?
A. Actually it is not confined to Latin America. There is an increase in UFO activity in many parts of the world. This will continue on an increasing scale up to and beyond the Emergence of Maitreya into the open.
Q. I keep hearing recently about ‘citizen journalism’ or ‘participatory journalism’ which seems to be about using the internet, blogging and mobile phones to record events. Do you think this is a significant development with regard to ‘people power’? Is it a vote of no confidence in mainstream media? Is it the basis for a network of activists?
A. At the moment it is only an expression of general participation in the growing communication technology. Eventually it will be a very useful way for people to co-operate and act together in a demonstration of ‘people power’.
Q. One of the most surprising facts I’ve learned from reading Share International is that Maitreya and the Masters seem to have a wonderful sense of humour. This makes Them more real and closer, somehow. I hope it is not disrespectful or offensive to say that some of the miracles are very amusing, like gems popping out from under someone’s big toe.
A. I quite agree. When people come to know the Masters more closely they will recognize that They are filled with the joy of life and have an extraordinary and quick sense of humour. The inventiveness of their imagination is one of the outstanding qualities of their activity.
(More questions and answers)
Letters to the editor
Over a number of years, some of the Masters, in particular Maitreya and the Master Jesus, have appeared at Benjamin Creme’s lectures and Transmission Meditations. They also appear, in different guises, to large numbers of people around the world. Some of these recount their experiences to Share International magazine. If the experiences are authenticated by Benjamin Creme’s Master, the letters are published. These experiences are given to inspire, to guide or teach, often to heal and uplift. Very often, too, they draw attention to, or comment on, in an amusing way, some fixed intolerance to, for example, smoking or drinking. Many times the Masters act as saving ‘angels’ in accidents, during wartime, earthquakes and other disasters. They use a ‘familiar’, a thoughtform, who seems totally real, and through whom the Master’s thoughts can be expressed: They can appear as a man, a woman, a child, at will. Occasionally They use the ‘blueprint’ of a real person, but in most cases the ‘familiar’ is an entirely new creation. The following letters are examples of this means of communication by the Masters. Please note: In the absence of any indication to the contrary, the editors will assume that your name may be printed. Unless requested otherwise, some of these letters may be reproduced on the Share-International.org website. Only initials, town and country will be used.
On Sunday 17 September 2006 when I was sitting in a park in Barcelona, a very kind man approached me. He asked me if I knew how to get to a certain fountain. I told him that I had never heard of that fountain before so he took out a map that he carried with him and opened it. It was a very rare and much detailed map, one such as I had never seen before. He showed me where the fountain was and out of curiosity I agreed to go with him to find it.
On our way to the fountain, we talked a lot about many subjects. He said that he came from England, and that he was a gardener and a violinist. All the way along, when we passed by a plant, he pointed at it and named it with its scientific name.
He asked me if I had seen the movie What the Bleep Do We Know? I told him that I had seen it a while ago and had had for a while the intention of seeing it again.
At one stage in our conversation, I told him about the presence of Maitreya, the World Teacher, His priorities, and what His presence means for the world and humanity.
He spoke for a while about music, then started talking about meditation and told me that it would be a good thing for me to practise.
Later on we talked about the world and how it was a chaotic time for humanity. At that moment he said: “You must have HOPE”. The word HOPE struck a chord in me as something very important to remember and have it present always.
Finally we managed to arrive at the fountain. It was an old fountain built in 1910 but it had been closed since 1985 because it was polluted. He commented that humanity wasted a lot of drinkable water, especially due to badly designed water systems.
We then went to a bus station and took a bus. He carried a small purse and started to look for coins, but I said to him that I would pay for both tickets. At my stop, I got down and went home. When I looked at my watch I was amazed. My tour with him had taken around 4 hours but I had the feeling that we weren’t together more than four minutes!
Was this man a Master?
M.C.P., Barcelona, Spain.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the man was Maitreya.)
At the end of November 2006 I was on my way to Transmission Meditation in Ukiah, California, about a one hour drive from my house. I had just passed through our little town when I noticed a hitchhiker standing at the side of the road. He was a young man leaning on one crutch.
Normally I don’t take hitchhikers and I had already passed him when on the spur of the moment I decided to pick him up. I circled around through a parking lot and came up beside him and when he got into my car I noticed that he was barefoot.
He said he was only going down the road for about three miles to the turn-off with the apple tree. We started talking and he said he had heard a lot of good things about me. Now I tried to find out where he could know me from. Probably through my son, I thought, who is 23 years old and graduated from our High School here. I asked him about his schooling and living in our town but could not get a satisfactory answer to my question. Finally I asked him how old he was to put a timeframe in relation to my son. He sat very quietly for a moment, then he chuckled and said: “I am about the oldest living thing on this planet.”
Before I could react to this statement we had reached the turn-off. He got out of the car and leaned back into the window, looked into my eyes and said: “Thank you and God bless you.” I got back on the road and when I looked into the rear view mirror, he was gone. Could you please tell me if this person was someone special?
B. E., Laytonville, CA, USA.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the man was Maitreya.)
Pennies from heaven?
Some years ago I had an experience that I often think back to, and wondered if the person I met might have been a Master?
Between 1996-1997 I was going through a very difficult patch in my life on all fronts; personal, financial, work etc. and had no security, nor any direction for where my life was going at that point.
I was in Crouch End Broadway, north London, one afternoon with my partner, when we walked past a man who caught my attention. He was a black man, late middle-aged, dressed quite scruffily in an old mac, and just standing quietly on the pavement. I walked on but then stopped, got my purse out and turned back to give him some money. My partner, who is usually very generous to organized charities, told me ‘not to encourage him’ by giving him money. I replied that the man had not asked for anything at all, but something in his eyes touched me and I felt I knew him. The man, whose name was Joe, was appreciative but dignified and touched my hands looking deeply into my eyes. I was in a very vulnerable state at this moment in my life and his gentleness and love oozed from him.
I remember thinking of him for some time and then letting the moment go. A week or two later he was there again, and again I gave him a few pounds to get something to eat. This carried on for some months and I learned he came from Gambia, did not drive, lived in a little flat on his own and saw that he never asked anyone for money.
Over the next few months, I often took a detour to drive past the Broadway just in case I might see Joe and then I could say hello and give him something to eat. Whatever the time of night, I always knew exactly where Joe would be. One evening, my partner was with me and it was very late, and dark. Joe wasn’t on the Broadway and my partner thought he would be gone by now. I knew that Joe was around; I could sense him and said to take a side road and Joe would be down there. And there he was, about 50 yards down on a very dark road. We stopped the car and as I approached Joe he stopped, still with his back to us. He was pleased, but not at all surprised, to see us and I gave him a little more money than I usually did. He refused, giving me back some of the money and only took his ‘usual’ amount. This happened frequently and I often knew where he would be, whatever time or day it was.
My partner was also very down, and apart from me, got very little love from anyone else at that time in his life. One day I introduced him to Joe, and Joe gave him such a look of love that he felt quite emotional, saying he had received more love and tenderness from this stranger than from so many others in his life.
The weather got warmer and one day my partner and I were sitting outside a pub when we could see Joe across the road waiting for a bus. I invited him over to join us for a drink; he seemed very amused by this and declined, saying he did not drink but that we were to enjoy ourselves. He asked about my family and what plans we both had and seemed to take a real interest in how we were. I remember telling him that I was looking for somewhere to live, and had always wanted a little garden.
At one point I made up a box with clothes and tins of food but Joe explained that although it was a nice thought, he had no way of cooking in his little room so maybe it was best not to give him any tins in future. I imagined him either in a hostel or a small one room bed-sit somewhere. At one point he said he would be leaving soon and maybe going back to Gambia. I felt pleased for him but knew I would miss him very much.
Just as my life began to change, and some security in the form of a new house seemed possible, I saw Joe again and he was delighted for me, particularly that I would have a garden, something I had always wanted. He gave me another very tender glance, and held my hands.
In Woolworth’s one afternoon a few weeks later, I experienced a sort of cocoon of time – on the floor were some bank notes, just lying there. I looked down at them and looked around to see if anyone had their purse out, or was looking for money. But the strangest thing happened, it was almost as though there was a huge bubble around the scene. The notes lay on the floor, I just stood there looking around and no-one walked into the space or looked at me, the notes or anything nearby. Time seemed frozen. I picked them up and walked around with them in my hands and then realized it was more or less the exact amount I had given Joe over the last few months.
I never saw Joe again and missed him for a long time, but often think of his gentle, loving eyes, and the thought of those few months, even 10 years later, has never left me. I just wondered if this man was anyone special or just a very loving tramp with a big heart who finally went home to Gambia?
A. M., London, UK.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the man calling himself ‘Joe’ was in fact the Master Jesus.).
Signs of the time
Stars of light
On 5 October 2002, a visitor to the Woodbourne Reformed Christian Church in the town of Woodbourne in upstate New York discovered an extraordinary manifestation of light in the bathroom windows of the building. The luminous and seemingly holographic images displayed six-pointed stars inside circles. The guests in the church that evening were members of a Jewish congregation, granted use of the church for their services. They belonged to a sect of Jews who believe Jesus to be the Messiah. Rabbi Michael Zeitler discovered the phenomenon just after he and his wife Gail had finished a concert. He immediately recognized the window lights as Stars of David.
After four years, the church’s Christian congregation decided it was time to call a local newspaper, which published an article on the phenomenon on 10 December 2006. Upon reading the article, two local Share International co-workers arranged a visit to the church. Reverend Barbara Claypool, the church’s pastor, told the Share International volunteers she was inspired by the windows and definitely considered them a blessing and a sign of God’s presence. She found the Star of David windows most appropriate, saying they remind us that Jesus, who was directly descended from King David, is here for everyone.
Some members of the congregation have experienced an increase in healings and answers to prayers since the appearance of the stars. The Reverend Claypool recognizes the windows’ magnetic quality and believes the blessing has helped bring the congregation “closer to God”, and thus become more faithful and open to help. The normally sparsely attended church was full for Christmas Eve services. (Source: Times Herald-Record, USA)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that Maitreya manifested the six-pointed star, because of the orientation of the Jewish group for Jesus, recognizing Jesus as the Messiah.)
Dead child brought back to life
Half an hour after a baby boy had been pronounced dead following a heart attack he “came back to life” according to doctors and the baby’s parents.
Woody Lander had been dead for 30 minutes and doctors handed him to his parents to say goodbye. As he lay in his father’s arms, his nurses removing the tube from his mouth, medical staff heard a tiny cough and noticed him twitching. They immediately began resuscitation and his heart started to beat again.
Describing the extraordinary event Woody’s father Jon said: “After what seemed like an eternity the doctors came out and said, ‘I think we have done all we can.’” But after nurses took out the tube, Mr Lander said that Woody, who he calls their “little miracle”, “came back to life in front of us.”
Mr Lander and his wife Karen had taken Woody to Leeds General Infirmary in Leeds, UK, in December 2005 when they saw he had stopped breathing. He had suffered a heart attack.
Woody is now 14 months old and has regular check-ups. He shows no sign of brain damage or other problems and has been told he can expect to live a full and happy life. “The doctors said they had never heard of anyone coming round after 30 minutes of apparent lifelessness let alone a young baby,” his father said. (Sources: BBC Online; The Guardian, UK)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the baby was “brought back to life” by the Master Jesus.)
Maine, USA – Many witnesses reported seeing unusual lights in the sky over northern Franklin County, Maine, on the evening of 13 February 2007. Local police authorities received numerous phone calls about the lights. “They were seeing, basically, a string of seven or eight lights low in the sky, that were fixed,” said police dispatcher Bill Hoyt. “There (were) also reports of jet engine noise low to the ground.” One witness, who works with jet airplanes, said “they were not like any lights he had ever seen,” according to Hoyt. The US Federal Aviation Administration office that monitors air traffic in the region reported there were only two routine flights that night, flying at 40,000 feet. (Source: Maine Sun-Journal, USA)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the sightings were of spacecraft from the planet Mars on routine flights.)
Phoenix, Arizona, USA – A group of bright, stationary lights were seen in the sky over downtown Phoenix, Arizona, on 6 February 2007. Numerous witnesses called radio, television and police stations to report the phenomenon. The lights appeared to be flying in formation, some witnesses said. Video footage of the lights taken by Phoenix television station Channel 3 showed “one of the lights almost flickering in place,” according to a report on the station’s website. “Some of the lights simply went out one by one after about five minutes.” Representatives of a nearby military base said the lights came from flares used in training flights over the area. (Source: CBS, nationalledger.com, www.azfamily.com)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the ‘lights’ were not flares but spacecraft from the planet Mars.)
North Carolina, USA – Many people reported seeing a turquoise-coloured UFO in the sky on 24 January 2007. Jamarus Crews, a resident from Kernersville, North Carolina, said he was sitting in his apartment when he saw something unusual in the sky. The object had many lights and made no noise, he said. Another witness, Charles Miller of Charlotte, took a photo of the unidentified object and sent it to CNN, who broadcast it. Miller told CNN: “From the first time I saw it until it was gone, it was 45 seconds and it crossed the entire sky.” According to CNN: “Some said it looked like a blue-green oval-shaped object. Some said it was blue and white. Others said it had a tail and streaked across the sky. All said it was something very unusual.” (Source: www.wxii12.com, www.cnn.com)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the sightings were a spacecraft from the planet Mars.)
Lord Hanuman statue weeps
Two statues of the Lord Hanuman, the Hindu deity with a monkey form, are said to be weeping. One statue was discovered weeping in a temple in Rajkot, Gujarat, in India. Priests and devotees in a local temple reported seeing tears rolling down the face of the statue, and devotees gathered to chant traditional hymns to Hanuman.
A similar incident was reported from Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, India, towards the end of January 2007.
Mahesh Gaur, a priest at the Ganga Temple on the Mathura-Agra road, said that a devotee told him that he saw the eyes of Lord Hanuman welling with tears when he entered the shrine in the morning.
As rumours and reports of the weeping deity spread, other temples dedicated to Hanuman were also filled with devotees.
Hanuman is the epitome of wisdom, devotion, courage, righteousness and strength. There is no blessing that he cannot bestow, but the greatest blessing one can ask of Hanuman is the spiritual qualities that he himself is known for. (Source: Hindustan Times, Daily News Analysis, India)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms this to be a miracle manifested by Maitreya.)
Face of Jesus appears in roots of plant
In May 2006 52-year-old Martin Gregory from Belvedere in Kent, UK, was tending his garden when he came across a remarkable sight: the face of Jesus in the roots of a plant. Mr Gregory removed an asparagus plant from its pot, which had been in the garden for 20 years, because he thought it was dying. But in the plant’s root system Mr Gregory saw the face of Jesus. It was “the most weird thing I have ever seen…. The roots are fantastic” said Mr Gregory. “You can actually make out a thorn crown around his head, his eyes and nose.” Mr Gregory is not religious but said the image in the roots “looked so much like his face it took my breath away.”
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms this to be an authentic miracle manifested by the Master Jesus.)
Moroccan ‘miracle healer’
A Moroccan miracle healer is drawing large crowds to his home in the village of Skhirat some 30 kilometres south of Rabat.
Torbi el Mekki attracts thousands of people every day – all hoping for a miracle. They queue up carrying bottles of water or bags of sugar which he touches saying that that will cure the people. As the hopeful approach, el Mekki shakes their hands, touches the bags or bottles and blesses them. He instructs them to drink the water later to “benefit from its curative properties”.
But Father Mekki, as he is also known, is quite clear: he does not accept any money for this work. “I do this in the name of God. I do not do it for money.” He is equally adamant that he has a responsibility to help and heal: “God gave me this talent so I have to use it.”
People who have been to see him are totally convinced of his ability to heal. “I was diagnosed with breast cancer – I had a lump that was 7 centimetres wide. But after I saw this healer I went back to my doctor and he couldn’t find the cancer,” one woman said.
Another woman reports that she is being cured of a cancerous brain tumour: “I went for an operation and although they took out a piece of the tumour, they could not remove all of it. But since I went to this man, 60 per cent of the tumour has now gone,” she said. (Source: BBC, UK)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that Torbi el Mekki is authentic and that the Master Jesus is healing through him.
From our own correspondents
Web-based loans help the world’s poor
Interview with Matt Flannery and Premal Shah
by Monte Leach
This is the first part of an interview which explores the benefits of direct citizen to citizen involvement in micro-finance.
The word ‘kiva’ means “agreement” or “unity” in Swahili. It is an appropriate name for a nonprofit group that uses its website to allow individuals in the developed world to loan money directly to people in the developing world who want to start small businesses. Microlending, or small-scale lending, is widely considered one of the most effective tools available to help people out of poverty. It is estimated that more than 100 million of the world’s poor have access to microloans today. Since Kiva began its work in 2005, it has facilitated over $2 million in loans to more than 3,500 small business entrepreneurs in the developing world. Monte Leach interviewed Matt Flannery, co-founder and CEO of Kiva, and Premal Shah, president of Kiva, for Share International.
Share International: Could you describe what Kiva does?
Matt Flannery: Kiva is an online lending platform for microfinance. If you were to come to our website, you would see profiles and photos of entrepreneurs in the developing world who need loans to start small businesses. It might be a clothes-selling, a tailoring or a goat-herding business. These are people who can’t access financial services elsewhere, and are getting loans sourced on the internet from people like you and me in the developed world. All you need is a credit card to make a loan. If you loan to one of the entrepreneurs, you will get paid back over a 12-month period. You can then withdraw the money or loan it to someone else.
SI: What need is Kiva meeting in the world of microfinance that wasn’t being met before?
MF: Before Kiva, there was no way for an individual to participate in microfinance at a low price point. There are two primary innovations that we’ve contributed. One is that you can directly send money to a borrower the first time that you see them. Another innovation is that instead of just a donation, you can make an investment or loan, so you get your money back. Kiva is essentially a technology company. We’re not on the ground like Mohammed Yunnus’ Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, actually lending to people in the community. We’re sitting here in offices in San Francisco building technology to create and facilitate connections between people in the developed world and the developing world.
A loan for Elizabeth in Uganda
SI: Can you talk about a specific microloan that has had an especially dramatic impact on someone’s life?
MF: My family and I loaned to a woman named Elizabeth who lives in a village outside Turora, Uganda. She sold fish on the side of the street every day. Before the loan, she was selling three or four fish a day for a small profit. We traced the flow of money in her business and found that she was buying fish from a distributer who would come every day from the Nile River and deliver the fish to her. But he was selling the fish at an extreme markup.
We gave Elizabeth a loan of $500, which was a very large amount for her. She was then able to get to the Nile River, which was only a $10 bus ticket away. With the extra money, she could buy not only three or four fish but dozens, and also an apparatus like a freezer in which to store the fish. This allowed Elizabeth to have a longer term inventory and to increase her profit, because she was going to the source and buying fish at a much reduced price. She would sell the fish for the same price as before, but make three times the profit she used to make. That enabled Elizabeth to send her kids to school. Because she was making more money, she was able to save some and invest it in her family. She could buy medicine and prepare for emergencies. She has built an entire financial structure for her family to smooth out their lives so that the events that happen to people in poverty aren’t as extreme.
The following is the first part of an interview which examines a global approach to problems of economic injustice and related issues.
Global Marshall Plan – a planetary contract
The Initiative for a Global Marshall Plan (GMP) was launched in October 2003. Since then its basic concepts for global economic justice and sustainable world development have gained practical support from scores of NGOs, the business sector and society. The Global Marshall Plan is a pragmatic scheme to finance and implement the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations (eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, ensuring environmental sustainability, achieving universal primary education) along with the long-term perspective of an eco-social market economy as a global political framework. Such a “design of globalization” depends on the willingness of wealthier countries to co-finance development. One of the initiators of the Global Marshall Plan Initiative and prize winner in 2004 of the Planetary Consciousness Award of the Club of Budapest, is Professor Franz J. Radermacher. Dunja Müller and Dr Michael Stöger interviewed him for Share International.
Share International: For many years you have been engaged in various committees for the sustainable and just distribution of the world’s resources. The “Global Marshall Plan Initiative” has been in existence for several years now. What is the central aim?
Professor Franz Radermacher: The Global Marshall Plan is a long-term plan for a just world, possibly based on the European model, perhaps best described as an “Eco-Social Market Economy”. The Millennium Development Goals are an intermediary step. All the nations of the world and all the large international organizations, like the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have reached an agreement on these goals. The problem is that, as so often on the world stage, great plans are formulated and signed, and then nothing happens, because funds are limited and the priorities of the rich nations are completely different. At present the USA is marching across the globe shouting “homeland security” so the money that is needed for international development flows into “homeland security” instead. We should not be surprised that our planet is unsafe while basic problems are not being tackled. We need a worldwide coalition, which demands the implementation of the Millennium Goals.
SI: Can an Eco-Social Market Economy, as a concept for our planet, solve the truly burning issues facing humanity?
FR: It is my personal conviction that the only solution for the world’s problems is an Eco-Social Market Economy – the only peaceful solution based on consensus. There is a possible second solution, which is not peaceful and is not based on consensus – a resource-dictated system, in which the rich part of the planet forces a ‘solution’ on the poorer part through the use of incredible power, militarily as well as information-based, so that the poorer world is denied access to essential resources. Massive resistance could be expected which might express itself in [acts of] “terror”. This is the problem of resistance to a solution that is experienced as a tremendous injustice.
The truly successful countries are those that allow the benefits of capital yet also use the other primacy, that of politics, to set conditions for the market – to protect the environment, to provide education for all, which then ensures a high level of productivity. Open societies and correct democracy would be established which would respect cultural differences and promote peaceful communities of diverse cultures, and not force cultures into conflict with each other in hate and war. The provision of such conditions for an economy is the core of the Eco-Social Market Economy.
SI: You also quote the European Union (EU) enlargement process as a model that one could transfer to the Developing nations, based on ‘co-financing’ and ‘standards’. Which standards do you mean?
FR: Standards to protect the environment and resources and social values; standards for a balance between cultures. The greatest difficulty with international agreements is their actual implementation, especially on an international level. For instance, for the environment we have the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP); for social and work-related issues we have the International Labour Organisation (ILO) which forbids child labour, passes resolutions governing unions and equal pay – all of which are not legally binding. Cultural questions are dealt with by UNESCO which works for the right to cultural diversity and independence. Yet all these organizations, which cannot apply sanctions, often find themselves in opposition to the WTO and the IMF which can apply sanctions.
The WTO regulates global trade but somehow allows the sale of goods produced by child labour. ILO guidelines do not apply to the WTO and refusal to import such goods could result in a hearing in the WTO court and heavy fines. Similar situations occur with regard to the environment. Environmental treaties are signed but it doesn’t stop the USA from shipping large amounts of electronic waste to poor countries – and this is called ‘global recycling’. The core of the problem is this: as in any well-functioning country, the global world economy must take away from where the most wealth is, in order to feed, educate and develop the poor world. As long as the rich world fails to do this we will have the conditions that we have today, namely exploitation and destruction.
The following is the first section of an interview with an indefatigable woman of great faith and compassion who found a way to help struggling fellow citizens in a wealthy European country – the Netherlands.
Food for body and soul
Interview with Regina Mac-Nack by Eva Beaujon
In a former snack-bar in south-east Amsterdam around 800 food parcels are put together weekly for residents in the nearby area of the city. Regina Mac-Nack runs the food bank with a group of volunteers, some of them former addicts. She started the initiative in 2001 from her own apartment in the same district, where she lives with her family.
Regina is a well-known and loved figure in the neighbourhood, and many call her “Mother of the south-east”. She is known throughout the Netherlands from her regular radio and television appearances, talking about her work. In 2005 she received awards for Amsterdam Citizen of the Year and Woman of the Year. Regina grew up in Surinam and came to live in the Netherlands when she was 19 years old. Eva Beaujon interviewed her for Share International.
The food bank is situated in a multicultural neighbourhood with large apartment buildings from the 1980s. The area and the buildings give a neglected and bleak appearance. Regina is sweeping the floor when I arrive. She gives me a warm welcome then continues sweeping, all the while telling me about the work and giving instructions to a volunteer helping that day.
Before our interview Regina has two meetings which she invites me to attend: one is with representatives of De Key housing foundation who, in 2005, donated the ‘snack-bar’ premises rent-free for Regina’s work. Now, as the work expands, Regina needs help to find a larger space. The second meeting is with representatives of the Amsterdam municipal government and the director of the newly-established Food Bank Foundation of Amsterdam.
Even as a young girl Regina was concerned with the problems of others and tried to help wherever she could, running errands, cooking, reading and so on. In 1989 something happened that led her to devote her life even more to those in need.
RM: During a pregnancy check-up the doctors saw a dark spot on the ultrasound. They suspected an extra-uterine pregnancy and wanted to operate immediately. It turned out to be a benign cyst, but the operation ended the baby’s life.
I continued having pain; the doctors said it would pass, but it only got worse. A scan showed that a nerve in my back had been severed. I was in pain 24 hours a day and only heavy medication helped. My health deteriorated further. Because of the pain I could only walk for very short periods and I ended up in a wheelchair.
When the doctors told me I had to learn to live with it, I refused to accept it. I called out to God: ‘Lord, if you exist you must help me. If all those doctors cannot help me, then you have to.’ And God answered my prayers, not right away, but a little later in a prayer service to which I was invited.
Regina tells me she felt a warm hand on her back at that service. She continued:
I looked behind me. There was no one there, but a warm hand definitely gave me a little push, exactly in the spot where I had the pain. This happened while I was still waiting for my turn for them to pray for me. While I was standing there I realized that I didn’t feel any pain. After the prayer I walked to my seat without any help. It still didn’t sink in. Going home, I walked down the steps without support from anyone and without pain even though I had needed to be carried inside. Since that day the pain has never returned. The doctors are baffled, because a new scan showed the nerve is still damaged. God healed me and because I had promised Him that I would do something in return, I wanted to start working for Him.
Voice of the People
Huge protests greet President Bush
In March 2007 President Bush’s Latin America tour of Brazil, Uruguay, Columbia, Guatemala and Mexico was met with widespread demonstrations as people came out at each stage of his visit to protest against US policies.
In Brazil’s financial district of Sao Paul around 6,000 people held an overwhelmingly peaceful march with some protesters carrying stalks of sugar cane in objection to the new ethanol agreement between the US and Brazil. “Bush and his pals are trying to control the production of ethanol in Brazil, and that has to be stopped” said Suzanne Periera dos Santos, of the Landless Workers Movement.
5,000 people gathered in a protest through the streets of Montevideo, Uruguay and later a smaller group marched to the US Embassy in the city. Around 2,000 people marched down the main avenue of Bogota, Columbia, just moments after President Bush landed in the country for a six-hour visit. Although a breakaway group clashed with riot police, the main group of peaceful protesters included students, trade unionists and members of the political opposition. They chanted: “Down with Bush” and “Bush is a terrorist” as his convoy drove past on the way to meet President Uribe.
There were further protests in front of the US embassy in Guatemala City, Guatemala, and Indian priests planned to purify sacred archaeological sites to eliminate “bad spirits” after the President’s visit to the Iximche Mayan ruins west of the capital. Nearby in Tecpan, protesters carried banners which read: “Out with Bush, the murderer, invader, fascist, criminal.”
Before and during President Bush’s arrival in Mexico, on 12 March, hundreds of people marched through the streets of Mexico City, carrying Mexican flags and chanting: “Bush is a murderer and he’s not welcome!” Security in the country was extremely tight – schools were closed and the area around the President’s hotel was heavily guarded. On the agenda for talks in Mexico were the issues of drug-trafficking and immigration, although the demonstrators were as much protesting against the Iraq War as the US government’s Latin America policies. The Mexican President Felipe Calderon has criticized the US decision to build a new 1,130 kilometres border fence between the two countries. He likens it to the Berlin Wall and argues that both countries need to improve Mexico’s economy to lessen the desire to seek work in the United States.
The protests even stretched to countries that President Bush was not visiting, with demonstrations against US policies in El Salvador and Paraguay, and in Argentina where a rally was attended by around 40,000 people gathered to see Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, on his ‘counterweight’ tour. (Source: The Guardian, The Independent, UK; The China Post, China; BBC News; Associated Press; channelnewsasia.com)
UK peace marches
On 24 February 2007 a huge peace demonstration in London was “one of the largest and most lively anti-war demonstrations since the invasion of Iraq four years ago”, according to the Stop the War Coalition. On the same day a peace march took place in Glasgow, Scotland, drawing a crowd of 2,000 people.
Although the authorities played down the London event, with police initially counting 2-3,000 people, the organisers claimed that around 100,000 people attended. Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the correct figure was in fact around 95,000 people.
The colourful, cheerful crowd was of mixed ages: some held large, beautifully-embroidered cloth banners, while others carried smaller hand-written placards with their own message. While the main focus of the event was to call for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq and to protest against plans to replace the Trident missile system, many people carried banners with broader demands for peace and justice;others carried “Don’t attack Iran” banners. Many banners called for justice and freedom for the Palestinians.
While the crowd gathered in Trafalgar Square to hear the first speeches, others were only just passing the first stage of the march, due to such a large turnout.
Peace campaigner and politician Tony Benn gave a rallying speech:
“Friends, who are we? We represent all political parties in Britain. We represent Jews, Christians, Muslims and Buddhists. We represent the majority of the American people who voted against Bush. We represent the overwhelming majority of the world who are opposed to these wars….
“We are not prepared to accept that the Prime Minister says he wants to develop weapons of mass destruction. He wants Britain to build more weapons of mass destruction in a world that desperately needs schools, hospitals, homes for old people, education and all the things that we need.
“We are in Trafalgar Square. A few yards down the road is Parliament and we are demanding that all of Parliament listen to what we are saying today.
“I’ve been in Trafalgar Square many, many times in my life. I came here over 50 years ago and spoke at the time of the Suez [crisis]; I spoke in 1964 when a very well-known man was sentenced to life in prison – Nelson Mandela; I spoke when Franco was a fascist leader in Spain. Women who wanted the vote spoke here; and the unions and the Irish.
“We are the voice of tomorrow and I congratulate all the people who came because I think the size of this demonstration indicates that our voice is not one that the government or Parliament dare to ignore.”
(Source: www.bbc.co.uk, www.stopwar.org.uk)
The new philanthropy
In the world of powerful media figures, the latest trend is making documentary films to highlight urgent problems in the world. Albie Hecht, former president of the cable television channel Nickelodeon, is a good example. Hecht has consistently been a generous contributor to children’s’ charities, but when he became concerned about the plight of young African war refugees, he decided to try something new. Hecht financed a documentary about schoolchildren in Uganda who compete in a national music contest in the midst of the traumatic 20-year civil war in that country. The film, ‘War/Dance’ won the award for best documentary directing at this year’s Sundance Film Festival in Utah.
Others have followed suit. Since the release of Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, which illustrates the causes and effects of global warming, the documentary film marketplace has seen a surge of financial backers like Hecht. The Los Angeles Times calls them “filmanthropists.” Although their individual goals may vary, each has used a nonfiction film to call attention to social injustices or government corruption, or even to present a different view of historical events in the interest of forgiveness and reconciliation.
These investors are not passive about their projects; one reason for taking this route is so that they can control both the process and the message. Ted Leonsis, Vice Chairman of the online service-provider America Online, financed “Nanking” in 2005. The film documents efforts by a group of Westerners to save thousands of Chinese civilians from being massacred by Japanese soldiers during the buildup to World War II. His ultimate goal with the film is to foster a Sino-Japanese cultural détente.
Likewise, Endgame Entertainment Chief Executive James D. Stern, who normally backs Broadway musicals, financed and co-directed “… So Goes the Nation” in 2006. The documentary exposes the political machinations that ultimately tipped the key state of Ohio in favour of George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election. “I thought the story could be incendiary,” he said. “But as a director, this is a story I was very interested in telling.”
According to Mark Urman, head of the theatrical division of ThinkFilms, the distribution company for ‘War/Dance,’ this form of philanthropy runs contrary to the normal Hollywood paradigm of profits before people. “While there’s always been a great deal of philanthropy in the film business, this is a new iteration: relatively inexperienced people entrenched in another part of the industry making accomplished feature films,” he said. “Rather than write a cheque, you can make a feature film exposing an ill or advancing things about human endeavour.” He adds that documentaries take much less time to make than fiction movies, so they can be more responsive to pressing public concerns.
Some believe the growth of filmanthropy has much to do with the increasing profitability of documentary films. ‘The March of the Penguins,’ for example, cost $8 million to make, but eventually made $122 million in profits worldwide. Filmanthropists, however, insist that it is their hearts that drive their decisions rather than money. Charles Ferguson, for instance, who created the technology for Microsoft Front Page software, and sold it for $133 million in 1996, says he spent a “significant fraction” of that fortune to finance his first film, ‘No End in Sight,’ an Iraq war documentary he wrote and directed. Ferguson, like other filmanthropists, hopes his film will bring policy changes. (Source: Los Angeles Times, USA)
When women prosper society benefits
Give women access to financial services and the whole society will benefit, said the new General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa of Bahrain on the occasion of International Women’s Day.
Her Excellency Sheikha Haya told participants at a panel discussion on women’s economic empowerment in New York that “improving women’s access to microfinance and financial services is one important element of economic empowerment. It is also a basic human right, and one that can be achieved quickly. When women have opportunities to increase their incomes and reduce dependency on men, the benefits for family welfare and local development are striking,” she added.
At another event also related to women’s issues three top UN officials jointly briefed the press on the need for more concerted efforts to end violence against women and children. This is the theme of both the 51st session of the Commission of the Status of Women currently in session and of this year’s International Women’s Day.
“Violence against women is both a cause and consequence of discrimination against women,” said Rachel Mayanja, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women.
Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Director of the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), said that violence against women in peacetime is exacerbated during conflicts. “Rape is being used as a weapon of war on a larger scale,” she noted.
A UNIFEM Trust Fund – an amalgamation of 16 UN agencies, eight international and regional organizations and many women’s groups – has so far distributed nearly $13 million to 226 innovative programmes to help tackle violence against women in more than 100 countries.
The Deputy Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Rima Salah, who has seen first-hand the effects of sexual violence in times of conflict in countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone and Sudan, said it is a “weapon of war with a strategic intent to humiliate communities, to demobilize individuals, to really disintegrate the fabric of society.”
The three officials stressed that much more needs to be done to curb violence against women and girls which persists in contravention of numerous international legal agreements as well as national laws.
“Currently 89 States have legislative provisions on domestic violence, 104 countries have made marital rape a crime, 90 countries have provisions against sexual harassment, and 93 States prohibit trafficking in human beings,” Ms Heyzer said. “Implementation of these laws, however, is often insufficient.” (Source: UN News Centre; UNIFEM)
UN interactive website seeks to combat world hunger
The hundreds of millions of hungry people around the globe need help. To aid the process of providing that help the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently launched an interactive website aimed at helping to feed the hungry. The new website provides practical information for policy-makers, legal practitioners, civil society members, UN staff, academics and the general public
FAO Right to Food Unit, co-ordinator Barbara Ekwall said: “A right can only be claimed by people who are informed. Rights can only be respected, protected and fulfilled by a country that is aware of its obligations and of means to bring about necessary changes.”
The FAO interactive website provides information on the ‘Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security’, which were endorsed by the FAO Council in 2004, as well as practical advice to countries to help them eradicate hunger by adopting a human rights-based approach.
“The Right to Food website is an excellent resource and a fine example of internal and external collaboration – from capacity-building activities, such as the e-learning modules … to networking and successful case studies from around the globe,” FAO Knowledge Exchange and Capacity Building Division Director Anton Mangstl said. (Source: www.fao.org/righttofood/)
EU to reduce greenhouse gases
The 27-member European Union agreed on binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 20 per cent below their 1990 levels by the year 2020, and to generate 20 per cent of their power through renewable sources by the same year. The targets for greenhouse gas emissions and renewal-energy usage would apply to the EU as a whole, allowing national goals to vary.
The goal of reducing greenhouse gases by 20 per cent could increase to 30 per cent, the EU said, if other countries such as the United States, Russia, China and India join the effort. The EU agreement will form the basis of Europe’s position in international talks to replace the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions, which expires in 2012.
The EU agreement requires that 20 per cent of its energy be generated from renewable sources like wind and solar power by the year 2020. Currently, renewable energy accounts for less than 7 per cent of the energy used by European nations. The accord also requires member nations to fuel 10 per cent of their cars and trucks on biofuels made from plants by 2020.
The European agreement is “the most ambitious package ever agreed to by any commission or any group of countries on energy security and climate protection,” said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who currently holds the presidency of the EU, challenged the rest of the world to join Europe’s effort, saying there still was time to “avoid what could well be a human calamity” caused by an overheated planet. (Source: The New York Times, Business Week, USA; Associated Press, Reuters)
Science panel offers climate change recommendations
A report written by a group of 18 distinguished scientists from around the world outlines strategies for preventing avoidable climate changes and adapting to climate changes that can no longer be avoided. The report, Confronting Climate Change: Avoiding the Unmanageable and Managing the Unavoidable, was prepared at the request of the UN’s Commission on Sustainable Development.
“Two starkly different futures diverge from this time forward,” the report states. “Society’s current path leads to increasingly serious climate-change impacts … The other path … will reduce dangerous emissions, create economic opportunity, help to reduce global poverty, reduce degradation and carbon emissions from ecosystems, and contribute to sustainability. Humanity must act collectively and urgently to change course through leadership at all levels of society. There is no more time for delay.”
According to Professor John Holdren, a co-author of the report: “The global-average surface temperature has already risen about 0.8°C above pre-industrial levels and is projected to rise another 2-4°C by 2100 if CO2 emissions and concentrations grow according to mid-range projections. Prudence dictates limiting the average temperature increase to no more than 2-2.5°C above the pre-industrial level, and our report offers clear recommendations for achieving that goal.”