The first steps
by the Master —, through Benjamin Creme
When Maitreya appears before the world people will realize that they have known Him from before, and that His teaching is not strange or beyond their level of thought. Simple, indeed, will He be that all may understand.
Precisely His simplicity will astound. Nevertheless it will be found also that most people will experience what they hear in a new way, as a dawning truth, new and touching them at a deeper level. Simple the ideas may be, but they will resonate in people’s hearts and feel fresh and vibrant. Thus will it be. Thus will Maitreya touch the hearts of men, appealing to them to aid themselves by aiding their brothers and sisters across the world. When men hear Him they will ponder deeply on what He says, and feel strangely moved by the oft-heard words. Their hearts will respond as hitherto they have not, and a new understanding and urgency will potentize their response.
Thus will Maitreya galvanize the peoples of the world to action and change. Those who have stood back will come forward and join the clamour for justice and sharing, freedom and peace.
Many, of course, will ignore Maitreya. Many will find His ideas abhorrent and dangerous or utopian and impossible of accomplishment. Some, more sinister and afraid, will see in Him the antichrist, the embodiment of all their fears. Some would have Him crucified forthwith had they the power. Many will sit quietly on the fence, unable to take a stand, for or against.
Those who can respond will grow in number and raise their voices for sharing and justice. They will gather round and support Him, and see Him as their leader and mentor, teacher and guide.
Thus will form a powerful mass of world public opinion, calling for change. More and more, governments will find it difficult to resist these demands of the people and will be forced to implement some degree of change.
The people will grow in power and their voices, potentized by Maitreya, will grow in strength and clarity of demand. They will call for their Spokesman to speak to the world and the stage will be set for the Day of Declaration, the first day of the New Dawn.
The Day of Declaration, on which, for the first time, Maitreya will acknowledge His true stature and name, will stand out, through history, as the turning point in the evolution of mankind. It will be inscribed in the annals as the Day of Days, the Beginning of the New, the Sanctification of Mankind, the Portal to the glorious future which awaits humanity. That day is not far off.
(Read more articles by the Master)
Q. (1) Which country or countries attacked the World Trade Center (WTC) and the Pentagon in 2001? (2) What is the truth about the conspiracy theories?
A. (1) No country but a group from several countries attacked the WTC and Pentagon. (2) There is no truth in them.
Q. Will our generation, or rather, people alive now, experience Declaration Day?
A. Yes, it is really not far off.
Q. Which country or countries are responding most positively to the new energies of Aquarius?
A. Britain, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Finland, New Zealand, Brazil, Spain, Mexico.
Q. Is an American war against Iran more likely now than a year ago?
A. No, I do not think so. America has more than enough on her plate with Iraq and Afghanistan.
Q. A study, produced by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore and published online by the Lancet (one of the world’s leading medical journals), claims that the number of deaths in Iraq is more than 10 times greater than previously estimated. It is said the death toll in Iraq following the US-led invasion has topped 655,000 – one in 40 of the entire population. The US and UK reject the Lancet’s findings. Could your Master please say what the real death toll is as of October 2006?
A. The number of deaths in Iraq, as of October 2006, is around 800,000.
Q. What is the solution to Afghanistan and Iraq? The withdrawal of US and UK forces is becoming more popular among activists and some politicians.
A. America (with Britain) has started something (a chaos) that they have to resolve. If they withdraw their troops from either (especially Iraq) the situation there would become even more chaotic.
Q. Why don’t the Masters manifest themselves at a UN meeting?
A. That sounds very attractive and sensible to a lot of people but it would be an infringement of our free will which, to the Masters, is sacrosanct. When Maitreya is known and accepted He will be invited to speak to the UN and will do so.
Q. War in Lebanon ended when the international community co-operated to make an international peace force. Was this an example of using Aquarian energies?
A. Not exactly. When the Masters want to stop a war – and, of course, They want to stop all wars, although some wars must run their course – They don’t send energy. Instead, They withdraw energy from the crisis.
People have the idea of sending energies to problem areas in the world to try to help. They could be doing the wrong thing. The Masters stop the war by withdrawing energy from the situation and the war ends from lack of energy.
The Israelis thought their invasion would be a walkover. Hezbollah, they thought, was a small group of fanatics with a few out-of-date weapons. They found instead that Hezbollah is part of Lebanon, part of the people and the government and an important part of the society of Lebanon. They were well trained, well equipped and well organized, and could not be pushed around. So Israel wanted to pull out as soon as possible. Israel brought all its modern equipment and arms (given to it by the USA) to bear against Hezbollah but found they could make little or no headway and so there was stalemate.
Israel was given a month by the Americans (and the British Prime Minister, not the British people) to crush Hezbollah. The result was a defeat for Israel and they had to retreat and agree to bring in a United Nations Force.
There will never be peace in the world until there is peace in the Middle East and there will never be peace in the Middle East until the Palestinians have a true, viable homeland, already presented to them as the West Bank by the late King Hussein of Jordan at the request of Maitreya.
Q. After Maitreya officially announces Himself to the world on Declaration Day, how long will it be before He introduces the Master Jesus to the world – a matter of weeks or months or a year or two?
A. About three months.
Q. President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez addressed the UN General Assembly on 20 September 2006. He said that President Bush “came here talking as if he were the owner of the world” and, like the Iranian President earlier, accused the US of “domination, exploitation and pillage of peoples of the world”. He also claimed that the UN’s current system is undemocratic; the US government’s “immoral veto” let Israel bomb Lebanon for more than a month.
(1) What percentage of the members of the General Assembly agreed with Hugo Chavez’s comments? (2) What percentage of Americans felt that he had some legitimate points?
A. (1) 75 per cent. (2) 58 per cent.
Q. During September and early October 2006, the US has seen a rash of school shootings involving adults going into schools and killing or wounding students or faculty. You once mentioned that where student violence is concerned it is the result of a society that teaches competition and retribution, as well as people (obviously unstable) responding to the new energies pouring into the world. Is this also a case where one act of violence ‘sets off’ other unstable people to act off their own ill urges?
Q. Germany’s neo-Nazi party was recently elected to seats in the state’s assembly in the north-east state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany, with 6-7 per cent of the vote. The neo-Nazi party seems to have established itself in the more depressed former communist area of (former) East Germany. Could we have your Master’s insight on the matter and the connection between poverty and radicalism – as we see globally with the issue of terrorism, and in Germany with the neo-Nazi party?
A. The reason for the resurgence of neo-Nazism is mostly to do with the large influx of ‘economic’ immigrants mainly from Eastern Europe and Turkey. Many people in the relatively poorer East Germany resent this immigration and the competition for work which it entails, and therefore vote for the nationalistic neo-Nazis.
(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.
While driving to work on 15 September 2006, I had what seemed like a miraculous escape from unavoidable collision. I was waiting at a road junction for the traffic lights to change. I could see that the lights had turned green for the oncoming traffic, as it had started to approach, accelerating towards me down a slight incline. The leading vehicle was a truck. Being familiar with the sequence of these lights, I knew there would be a delay before they turned green for me. I was not paying much attention to the oncoming traffic, since I was intent on watching the lights so I could pull away quickly once they changed.
Suddenly I saw, no more than 30 metres away, a car racing straight towards me in my lane. This had evidently pulled out from behind the approaching truck (by now quite close to me and still accelerating) and was obviously trying to overtake it in what appeared to be an impossible manoeuvre. In automatic reaction I pulled the steering wheel to the near-side, but since I was stationary this had no effect. I watched helplessly as the car sped towards me and, I have no idea how, just managed to squeeze through the rapidly narrowing gap between the oncoming truck and myself. There appeared to be too little space, and I simply could not understand how there was no collision. Afterwards, on reflection, I remembered having a strange sense that our two cars had somehow “passed through” each other. The whole incident seemed to last no more than about one second.
J.C., Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that He Himself made both cars narrower by several inches so that a collision was avoided.)
On 29 June 2006 I was watching a program entitled Reporters at War on the Discovery Times television network, with numerous journalists from around the world recounting their personal experiences covering wars over the past 40 or so years.
Toward the end of the program reporter Jon Steele was interviewed about his experiences during his reporting of the Hutu/Tutsi genocide in Rwanda. Steel said that he and his cameraman wanted to directly report on the crisis from a village currently experiencing the genocide, but decided that because it would be extremely dangerous, they would drive a truck loaded with food to the village in an attempt to appease the villagers.
As the men entered the village, approximately 1,500 villagers immediately surrounded them. People began pulling out clubs and machetes and imitating chopping off the heads of the visitors by making chopping motions with their hands to the sides of their necks. The crowd had become a mob and Steele said that he and his cameraman knew what would happen next.
Just then, a man emerged from the crowd, wearing a suit, carrying a briefcase and an umbrella. He came to the truck window, identified himself as a teacher, and asked: “Are you from Moscow?” It just so happened that another reporter in a truck filled with food was behind Steele’s truck, and this reporter had indeed just come from Moscow.
The teacher then addressed the crowd saying: “These people are not your enemies. If you kill them, there will be no more food.” He looked back at Steele and his cameraman and said: “Drive out slowly. Leave now.”
Later that evening, as they were recounting the day’s events, the cameraman asked: “Do you believe in angels?”
Was the ‘man wearing a suit’, who intervened, Maitreya?
K. P., Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the ‘angel’ was Maitreya).
By hook or by crook
My friend restored an old house in the mountains to make a small meditation centre. The house had been built of stone by his great grandparents who stayed there with cattle, making cheese every summer. I stayed there for about 10 days enjoying the magnificent view, the simple life (with rainwater only and food being carried up on shoulders) and the close relationship to nature.
One day my friend went down to the valley to get more food. My urban mind thought that the door should be locked while I was in the house alone, so I took the old long iron key from the outside lock and locked the door from inside. When the rain stopped I went out. The door closed behind my back. In a moment I realized what a terrible mistake I made: the door didn’t have a hook on the outside, so I couldn’t get in any more. I could only wait for my friend hoping that he could help.
As time passed, I became more and more upset and cold. He returned towards the evening, tired and hungry. He could do nothing either. It was a miracle that he found a piece of wire which he stuck on a stick, making a hook at the end. He pushed his hand through the iron grille, breaking the window closest to the door in order to get the stick inside and catch the key with it. The door was rather far and the stick movement could not be seen at all. What a desperate attempt!
In the silence of my soul I asked Maitreya and the Masters for help. The very next moment (at the first attempt) we heard a sound announcing that the key had got caught on the hook. My friend breathlessly guided the stick all the way to the grille and out. “It’s almost a miracle!” he said staring at the key in his hand. “It is a miracle,” I added, touched and flooded with gratefulness. I inwardly gave thanks for help, still hardly believing that we were saved and the beautiful old wooden door too.
Did the Masters help us, or were we just incredibly lucky?
J. J., Ljubljana, Slovenia.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the Master Jesus performed the miracle.)
Two letters from the same person:
(1) In July 1997 I was driving at 120 km on a motorway from Logrono to Zaragoza. At the end of a bend I saw a very tall monk who was very wrapped up despite the heat. He had a distinguished presence wearing a cross on his chest, and with his walking stick he seemed to be a pilgrim on his way to Santiago. From that moment I relaxed and slowed down. I had been feeling anxious because I was taking care of my parents whom I had had to leave at home alone due to my work.
Who was that distinguished pilgrim who made me feel so calm?
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the ‘pilgrim’ was the Master Jesus.)
(2) In a square called Las Torres in Zaragoza, Spain, when I was having a drink at a fountain, I watched two little girls, aged 4 or 6 years old, whose appearance and dresses made them stand out. I felt attracted by their presence and their glances were really charming. They kept looking in my eyes. Their glances impressed me despite the fact that they did not say a word.
Who were those little girls who impressed me so much?
L.T., Zaragoza, Spain.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the two ‘girls’ were a simultaneous appearance of the Master Jesus.)
Friends in need
On 15 December 1998 I was feeling a little down because money had been somewhat tight and my employment situation not secure.
I was driving to a store when I noticed a car in front of me that looked sort of odd. It was dark green and had no markings on it (such as make and model) and no license plate in its frame, but as I pulled up behind it at the stop light, I looked at the frame and in bright yellow letters read the following: ‘WE’RE ALWAYS WITH YOU”. I had to read it twice because it seemed like it was directed at me personally. The traffic light changed and the car took off onto the freeway. There were two people in the car that just looked like silhouettes or shadows. I couldn’t make out any details but I immediately thought that it was Maitreya and the Master Jesus. I got the impression that the color green of the car was symbolic of money and they were telling me not to worry because they are always with me even if I can’t see them.
Whenever I’ve gotten in tight spots before something has always come through at the last moment. There were times that it often seemed a miracle that I pulled through. It always seems like someone is helping me if I just follow the directions that I am given. I think that they were just reminding me of this fact.
Was it Maitreya and Master Jesus?
A. S., San Rafael, California, USA.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the two people in the car were, indeed, Maitreya and the Master Jesus.)
Some months ago, I asked, through the photograph of Maitreya’s ‘hand’, for help for a friend; the help came about a week later. I started wondering then if I had ever had an experience of Maitreya or the Master Jesus, and just a few days later something quite peculiar happened to me.
I was standing at a tram stop, when a man, quite tall, with a big, powerful presence, came and stood at the stop. He and the woman with him both looked Surinamese. (I’m afraid I didn’t pay much attention to the woman.)
The man had sparkly, very intense green-brown eyes; it felt as if he was looking straight through me. He was dressed in a remarkable way, in a slick yet slightly tatty suit (dark grey with pinstripes), ‘mafia mob’ kind of shoes, a few big chunky rings on his fingers, lots of bracelets and bangles on his wrists, and his dark hair slicked back.
He first made an exaggerated surprised and amused face at me – as if to say ‘what, are you still on the phone?’ Then he started making faces at me, and grinning, still maintaining his intense gaze.
I was on the phone with my boyfriend, and just before that I had been at the same friend’s house I had asked help for. We had had an argument about my boyfriend always phoning me when I was at her place, which she always found annoying. Often both phoned me at the same time.
So there had been a lot of phoning going on, and while I was standing there talking on the phone, the man pulled out his phone from his jacket and started imitating me in a teasing way.
While I was talking to my boyfriend another call came in so I had to put my boyfriend on hold. Then the man pulled out another phone and started making more fun of me – with a phone held to each ear – still fixing me with his piercing gaze. His teasing made me laugh, and his intense look made me feel ready to either burst into tears or laugh the hardest I had ever done. It felt as if I was nailed to the ground while all emotions possible flowed through me. I probably just smiled back at him. After a while the woman said, or gestured, something like: “Oh stop teasing the poor girl.”
By the time the bus came I had begun to wonder whether the man might be Maitreya (and the woman the Master Jesus), so to see what they would do I decided not to take the next bus. I waited. They waited. All three of us let the bus go by. When the next bus came I got on and so did they.
I was still on the phone – I had been all the time, still talking to my boyfriend. When it was time for me to get off, the man and the woman stayed on the bus; I looked to see if he would wave or do something else but he didn’t.
Was the man possibly one of the Masters, or was it was it just a nice experience?
S.C., Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the man was Maitreya. The ‘woman’ was the Master Jesus.)
Golden energy floods lecture hall
Amsterdam, September 2006 — A remarkable pair of ‘before and after’ photographs. At the beginning of Benjamin Creme’s lecture on 20 September in Amsterdam, a visitor from Germany took the photograph right of the overshadowing by Maitreya of Benjamin Creme, immediately after Mr Creme appeared on stage. This ‘overshadowing’ takes place at every lecture and from time to time someone is able to capture it on film. Here is the latest extraordinary example of this happening, showing the spiritual energies flowing into the lecture hall.
The overshadowing by Maitreya seemed to last almost continuously throughout the evening; this was palpable not only by those familiar with the outpouring of such energies but also by the entire audience. After the final overshadowing it was obvious that people were moved by the experience of the lecture and by the energies since no one seemed to want to leave or ‘break the spell’.
Glass appears from forehead of Nepalese girl
Glass pieces are appearing from the forehead of 12-year-old schoolgirl Sarita Bista, from Tikapur, western Nepal. More than 130 shards have emerged since January 2006, and since 7 August the extraordinary process has taken place daily. The glass pieces average 1.5 inches long by 0.5 inches wide, and as many as 12 come out in a single day.
"At the beginning, there was a blister at the side of her forehead. When we scratched it, a piece of glass came out," said her mother, Dhansara. Her daughter has no pain, she says, but sometimes loses consciousness when the process begins. Though there is slight bleeding when the shards emerge, the wound heals quickly on its own. The family emphasize that Sarita is in sound physical and mental health, and has never had an accident of any kind.
Nepalese medical professionals investigating the phenomenon include teams of senior professors and doctors from Kohalapur Medical College and the Nepalgunj Teaching Hospital (NTH) in Kohalapur. Despite CT scans and blood tests, they are at a loss for an explanation. “Something that looked like shining glass pieces could be seen coming out of her forehead skin,” said Dr Jitendra Mahaseth, deputy director of NTH, “but there is no glass inside the cranium.”
His colleague Dr Keduwai called it “a strange case”. “There are many examples where cranial bones have grown unnaturally to give the impression of horns,” he said. “But the human body does not produce glass.” (Source: www.kantipuronline.com; www.southasianmedia.net)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that Maitreya is manifesting this miracle.)
Note: In 1996 a 12-year-old Lebanese girl, Hasnah Mohamed Meselmani, produced razor-sharp glass crystals – sharp enough to cut paper – from her eyes. Benjamin Creme’s Master confirmed the miracle to be manifested by Maitreya. (See Share International, June 1997.) The phenomenon took place seven times a day over nine months, and was witnessed by ophthalmologists studying her case at the American University Hospital in Beruit. Laboratory tests in Saudia Arabia confirmed that the crystals were real and the miracle was reported by media worldwide.
From our own correspondents
See Share International magazine November 2006 for the complete interviews
The following excerpt is the first part of an interview by Andrea Bistrich with human rights lawyer and director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Raji Sourani.
No people can be suppressed for ever
Interview with Raji Sourani
by Andrea Bistrich
Raji Sourani, Gaza’s foremost human rights lawyer, is the founder and director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. In the 1980s he represented many Palestinians in Israeli military courts and was himself detained by Israeli military four times where he was subjected to mental and physical abuse. In 1988 he received worldwide support as an Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience. In April 2006 he was elected to the International Commission of Jurists Executive Committee. He is also a member of the International Federation of Human Rights and the International Council of the International Human Rights Law Group.
Unable to enter Gaza, he is currently living in Egypt. Andrea Bistrich interviewed him by telephone for Share International.
Share International: During his recent visit to Gaza, John Dugard, UN Commissioner for Human Rights, stated that Gaza is a prison and Israel has thrown away its keys. What is happening in Gaza?
Raji Sourani: All 365 square kilometres of the Gaza Strip is hermetically sealed and isolated from the outer world. We have no access to the West Bank, and also the internal crossing to Israel is totally sealed and closed, which means we can’t even import medicine and other goods that we need to survive.
The situation is very hard and very sad. Unprecedented. It has never been worse than this. Israel has also taken away our access to the sea; fishermen can’t even go out to sea – the fishing industry is dead. The Rafah crossing, our only connection to the outside world, has been closed for four months, except for two or three days.
Israel sends fighter jets to destroy our buildings and eradicate resistance fighters: it has bombed our Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the office of the Prime Minister, innumerable civilian targets and apartment buildings of Palestinians. Israeli Apache helicopters and drones are the self-proclaimed rulers over Gaza’s sky at night. On an almost daily basis 300 to 400 artillery shells strike just a few hundred metres from the residential area in Gaza – the people live in constant, indescribable fear.
The eastern and southern parts especially are invaded by the Israeli army day and night around the clock. Israeli soldiers raid the refugee camps and maliciously destroy Palestinian houses and gardens; they uproot thousands of olive trees, flattening whole fields and roads, viciously destroying electricity lines, sanitary and sewage systems. Water is only available for two or three hours per day.
Israel has bombed the main thoroughfares, roads and the only six bridges into rubble and ash and uses sonic bombs all over the Gaza Strip. Day and night, they terrorize 1.6 million men, women, and children. On 28 June Israeli F-16 fighters destroyed the only electricity station in Gaza leaving 60 per cent of Gaza without electricity which is catastrophic, especially for hospitals. The destruction of the electricity plant was illegal and must be seen as a war crime according to international law. There was no military reason for the attack – the electricity plant is a purely civilian object.
SI: What is the reaction abroad – especially from the international media – to the precarious plight of the Palestinian people?
RS: Nobody seems to be interested in what is actually happening in Gaza. That is our impression. For the first time ever we are experiencing that the international media are hardly reporting on the devastating situation in Gaza – and if they do, then insufficiently or even falsely.
Out of the total population 85 per cent of the people in Gaza are either unemployed or receive no pay, and 90 per cent are living below the poverty line. To live and survive in Gaza has been very difficult these past months and is an incredibly depressing matter. Gaza is very bleak, black and bloody. Yet the great need of the people and what it means to live under such conditions is not being heard since the media – with a few exceptions – are not reporting on it. We observe this with great dismay and incomprehension.
SI: When did the situation deteriorate so much? Is this related to the kidnapping of the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, on 25 June 2006?
RS: It is strange that the whole world mentions the abduction of Gilad Shalit yet no-one speaks about the family of Dr Nabil Abu Salmeya; nine of 11 members of his family were killed, including Dr Salmeya, when the Israeli F-16 fighter jets attacked his house at 2.45 in the morning. Like them, hundreds of innocent, defenceless people have been injured, maimed and killed and their homes destroyed. No-one seems to find it particularly disturbing that, since 25 June, 300 civilians have been killed, 85 of whom were children and 70 women. Hardly anyone cares how terribly the Palestinian people are suffering and that they are suffocating in such desperate need.
There is no holy or unholy blood, and there is no holy or unholy suffering. There is only human suffering and there is only equal human blood. Don’t misunderstand: I have no mandate for the protection of armed fighters or militant groups. I’m talking solely about the civilian population – about defenceless Palestinian citizens, who have been declared military targets by the Israeli army. This is state terrorism, practised by the state of Israel.
According to Article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the international community have committed themselves to respect and uphold the treaty, which means to guarantee the protection of occupied peoples. We are not talking about a privilege which Palestinian people hope to enjoy under Israeli occupation; no, the international community must ensure the protection of the civilian population and spare them from violent acts, terrorization and the collective punishments by their occupiers. The people in the occupied territories are exposed daily to war crimes and now they are even allowed to sink into abject misery and starvation.
SI: The international community seems to turn a blind eye to the situation. Why is the world so hesitant to implement concrete measures and take a clear stance?
RS: This could clearly be seen after 11 September 2001. The whole world hated terrorists and for good reason: because the attacks on the World Trade Centre targeted absolutely normal US citizens. They wanted to exchange international humanitarian law and the constitution for the law of the jungle.
Today we must note that, of all nations, America advocates the law of the jungle, and by stopping aid payments in April of this year Europe, too, has joined them. Together America and Europe have vowed to keep the conspiracy of silence about the crimes that Israel has committed against the Palestinians.
The people in the occupied territories aren’t awaiting a miracle – but they await the implementation of valid human rights and of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These essential legal agreements and humanitarian regulatory laws are not a Palestinian vision but a result of European experiences after two world wars. At that time, academics, socialists and diplomats got together in order to find ways of preventing or foreseeing such terrible atrocities, like war crimes against defenceless civilians. International human law embodies clear rules of conduct so that, in times of armed conflict, people who are not involved or no longer involved in the acts of battle are protected. What must not be forgotten is that the Holocaust against European Jews during the Second World War substantially influenced the birth of this convention.
Yet today, because we Palestinians demand the upholding and guaranteeing of these laws it appears as though we are demanding something special or even exclusive. This is deeply humiliating and totally unacceptable! International human law was not made for intellectuals or diplomats; it is not disreputable, forbidden or vague, something that one must discuss behind closed doors – it was purposefully called into life, because the world needs it, and so it should be implemented and adhered to.
Campaigning for water rights
Interview with Tony Clarke
by Jason Francis
The following extract is the first part of an interview with Tony Clarke – activist for democratic social change and co-recipient of a 2005 Right Livelihood Award.
Tony Clarke is director of the Polaris Institute, a non-governmental organization based in Ontario, Canada, which develops strategies to help citizen movements around the world fight for democratic social change. He has worked for the International Forum on Globalization, a San Francisco-based research and education institute opposing economic globalization, and was a co-recipient of a 2005 Right Livelihood Award. He is the author of Inside the Bottle: Exposing the Bottled Water Industry (2005), and co-author of Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water (2002). The books present a stark picture of the world’s dwindling water supply, the attempt of transnational corporations to turn the ‘right’ to water into a ‘need’ that is up for sale to the highest bidder, and the struggle waged by communities around the world to reclaim control of this resource. Jason Francis interviewed Tony Clarke for Share International.
Share International: What is economic globalization?
Tony Clarke: Economic globalization essentially has to do with the expansion of free market economies worldwide. With the collapse of the Berlin Wall in the late 1980s, a bi-polar global economy of communism and capitalism was suddenly replaced by a uni-polar global economy dominated by capitalism. As a result, the number of transnational corporations skyrocketed, opening up markets around the world. One of the ‘last frontiers’ is the public sector where governments maintain control over large amounts of capital on behalf of their populations. As far as for-profit transnational corporations are concerned, the method is to target the public sector as new potential markets and develop strategies for the corporate takeover of those markets.The public sector largely exists to preserve and protect what is known as the ‘commons’, that is to say, those not-for-profit spaces of our common life, which should not be subject to the demand and supply forces of the marketplace. They include the air we breathe, the water we drink, the seeds that grow food and plant life, and the genetic building blocks of life itself. In many countries and cultures it also includes the healthcare, education, transportation and many other public services.In the name of economic globalization, transnational corporations, aided and abetted by their governments, are vigorously engaged in privatizing these public spaces and services, transforming the commons into markets wherein literally ‘everything is for sale’.
Negative impact of privatization
SI: What impact is privatization having on communities and the environment around the globe?
TC: There are three main forms of privatization. First, there is the private ownership model whereby governments completely sell off public assets such as water delivery or other public services to a for-profit company. The second is the private concession model whereby governments turn over the control and operation of their water or other public services to a corporation for a period of time (usually 25, 50 or 100 years). The third is the private contract model whereby governments contract out certain parts of their public services such as their billing and collection of fees to a private company while maintaining control over the rest of their operations. The most frequently used model is the second one, the concessionary model, which is usually developed through ‘private-public partnerships’. Through this process, what have been understood by citizens to be ‘public goods and services’ are transformed into ‘private goods and services’. The mechanism for distribution becomes the market which, of course, is determined on the basis of the ability to pay: those who can pay get the service while those who can’t pay go without the service. When water services, for example, are taken over by for-profit companies, the water rates are always hiked up to ensure dividends for their shareholders. What’s more, water meters are usually installed which, in turn, can have devastating impacts on poorer communities. In the poor townships of Johannesburg, for instance, millions of people found their water delivery services cut off when they could not pay the increased water rates. The same thing happened in Detroit, where 40,000 people were suddenly faced with water cut offs.Privatization of a public service like water delivery essentially transfers power from local governments into the hands of for-profit corporations, which are often foreign-owned and controlled. Nor does privatization automatically ensure better protection for the environment. The major water service corporations are notorious for their poor environmental performance, mainly because making improvements in sewage treatment, disposal and dumping is one of the least profitable parts of their operations. Meanwhile, there are examples where water service companies have actually complained when rising water rates have resulted in reduced water use and consumption, primarily because this means lower revenues and profits.
SI: What is the impact of the bottled water industry?
TC: In many ways, bottled water is the cutting edge of the privatization of water services. It is the prime example of the commodification and the commercialization of water in modern society. Water is taken either from rural springs or municipal taps, treated and packaged in bottles (mostly plastic), and sold to consumers often at thousands of times what it would cost to take the same amount of water from the local public tap system. Fifteen to twenty years ago, most people took their daily drinking water from their municipal tap system. Now, one-fifth of the US gets its daily drinking water exclusively from bottled water. This is a significant shift in consumer habits resulting largely from mass marketing campaigns emphasizing the ‘superiority’ of bottled water over tap water. There is, of course, no real substance to this claim of superiority, yet an increasing percentage of the population seems to have bought into it. And, the more that people get into the habit of buying bottled water and thereby paying a lot more to satisfy their daily hydration needs, the more they are bound to accept arguments that their public water utilities should be privatized.
The example of Bolivia
SI: The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund offer conditional loans to nations that often include the privatization of that nation’s public services. Could you give us some examples of these loan conditions and the consequences faced when nations oppose them?
TC: The classic example is the case of Bolivia where the World Bank put conditions on the renewal of a loan to the Bolivian government in 1999, requiring that the water delivery systems in cities like Cochabamba be privatized. The public water utility in Cochabamba was then sold to a subsidiary of the US engineering and construction firm, Bechtel, who immediately raised the local water rates to satisfy their shareholders. They even charged the local people for the collection of rainwater!When the people of Cochabamba rebelled in the spring of 2000, Bechtel officials were eventually compelled to pack their bags and flee the country, and the water utility was returned to the community. But not for long. Soon after, Bechtel took advantage of an investment treaty between the Netherlands and Bolivia to sue the Bolivian government for $25 million for the loss of future profits and revenues. Bechtel was able to file a suit under the bi-lateral investment treaty through one of its subsidiaries in the Netherlands. In effect, a US corporate giant like Bechtel was able to use a bi-lateral investment treaty involving another country to demand financial payments of millions from the poorest country in Latin America. Moreover, if negotiations to include water services in the World Trade Organization had been successfully completed at that time, the US government would likely have been in a position to demand the Bolivian government reinstate the privatization of water services in cities like Cochabamba, or face the prospects of escalating economic sanctions.
Creativity – a compilation
The following is a short collection of quotations from various sources, including, unusually, a letter written by Mozart describing the creative process.
“There is nothing more simple than God, for behind all things rests that divine principle. When man sees this he will come into his true greatness, and from him then will flow a creative stream.” (Maitreya, from Message No. 54)
“Each one has a part to play in the complex pattern being woven by humanity. Each contribution is uniquely valuable and necessary to the whole. However dim as yet the spark, there is no one in whom the fire of creativity cannot be lit. The art of living is the art of giving expression to that creative fire and so revealing the nature of men as potential Gods.
“It is essential that all men share in this experience and learn the art of living. Until now, a truly creative life has been the privilege of the few; in this coming time the untapped creativity of millions will add a new lustre to the achievements of man. Emerging from the darkness of exploitation and fear, in true and correct relationship each man will find within himself the purpose and the joy of living.” (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The Art of Living’, A Master Speaks)
“… no creative art has ever been made without the function of the intuition. Since intuition is a soul quality, a demonstration of the soul working through its reflection – the man or woman who is composing or painting – it is the intuition, therefore, which is the creative fire behind the work of art. It comes from the soul. All the art and music of the past of quality – which stirs you, which lasts, has a meaning over hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years – is the demonstration of soul quality.
Art comes from the soul and is a demonstration through the intuition of the fact that men and women are souls. The more they act as souls, the higher the quality of art they will produce. It is always subject to the degree to which the soul has been able to demonstrate its creativity through the man or woman who is making the art. Art and culture come from the soul.” (Benjamin Creme, The Art of Living – Living within the Laws of Life)
“Creativity exists in every single son of God. It is a God-given quality. Creative activity is the nature of life lived under the Laws of Life. The art of living is creative living, which entails all aspects of life.” (Benjamin Creme, The Art of Living – Living within the Laws of Life)
“Creativity and service are one and the same; service is the life of the soul creatively expressed on the physical plane. This, then, dominates more and more in the life of the individual, and so we get the creation of culture. It is not by accident that the culture of any nation is created by the disciples and the initiates of that nation; they are the ones who have already built the first stage of the connecting link, the bridge, between themselves and their soul.” (Benjamin Creme, Maitreya’s Mission Volume Three)
“It is said: Lose yourself in service. The process by which we do this is the building of the Bridge. It results in the creativity of service: creativity is service, service is creativity. It is the nature of the soul in the three worlds to express itself in some form of creative service, and as we do this we lose sense of the separate self. We deepen our experience of the Macrocosm and realize that that and ourselves are one. That is the growing experience of the man or woman who builds the Bridge, who creates that unity with the soul. Then the soul becomes in a singular life a reality. Beyond all controversy, all gainsaying, we know that we are the soul.” (Benjamin Creme, Maitreya’s Mission Volume Three)
Mozart on the creative process
“When I am, as it were, completely myself, entirely alone, and of good cheer – say travelling in a carriage, or walking after a good meal, or during the night when I cannot sleep: it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly. Whence and how they come, I know not; nor can I force them. Those ideas that please me I keep in my memory, and am accustomed, as I have been told, to hum them to myself. If I continue in this way, it soon occurs to me how I may turn this or that morsel to account, so as to make a good dish of it, that is to say, agreeably to the rules of counterpoint, to the peculiarities of the various instruments, etc.
“All this inspires my soul, and provided I am not disturbed, my subject enlarges itself, becomes methodized and defined, and the whole, though it be long, stands almost complete and finished in my mind, so that I can survey it, like a fine picture or a beautiful statue, at a glance. Nor do I hear in my imagination the parts successively, but I hear them, as it were, all at once. What a delight this is I cannot tell! All this inventing, this producing takes place in a pleasing lively dream. Still the actual hearing of the tout ensemble is after all the best. What has been thus produced I do not easily forget, and this is perhaps the best gift I have my Divine Maker to thank for.
“When I proceed to write down my ideas, I take out of the bag of my memory, if I may use that phrase, what has been previously collected into it in the way I have mentioned. For this reason the committing to paper is done quickly enough, for everything is, as I said before, already finished and rarely differs on paper from what it was in my imagination. At this occupation I can therefore suffer myself to be disturbed; for whatever may be going on around me, I write, and even talk, but only of fowls and geese, or of Gretel or Barbel, or some such matters. But what my productions take from my hand, that particular form and style that makes them Mozart’s, and different from the works of other composers, is probably owing to the same cause which renders my nose so large, aquiline, or in short makes it Mozart’s, and different from those of other people. For I don’t study or aim at any originality.”
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) Excerpt from a letter “To the Baron von P__” circa 1790.
Voice of the People
Americans march for peace in 230 cities
On 5 October 2006 thousands of Americans demonstrated in 230 US cities against the Bush government and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The organizing group ‘The World Can’t Wait’ reported: “Across the country, people young and old showed the heart and courage to confront the reality of the fascistic and warmongering direction the Bush Regime has been driving this country and the entire world. Together, we made a powerful and precious political statement – one that is being debated and seriously considered but that must still be acted on by people in a more massive way to actually shift the political dynamics in this country. The thousands who acted are the nucleus of a spreading movement that must now go on and win the argument with those who still are on the sidelines.”
In Washington protesters held up yellow police tape along a three-block stretch in front of the White House, and 500 demonstrators staged a mock crime scene to draw attention to issues ranging from global warming to the war in Iraq. “We are turning the corner in bringing forward a mass movement of resistance to drive out the Bush regime,” said organizer Travis Morales. Marchers wore colourful costumes, including a hooded prisoner in an orange jumpsuit, a devilish rendition of President Bush and two ‘grim reapers’. One protester said he was demonstrating against “the Bush administration, global warming, the decline of civil liberties and the reliance on war to solve problems”. A passer-by said the display achieved its goal of raising awareness: “If it’s not in front of you, you put it out of your head,” said Soulaphet Schwader, of Washington. “[Seeing] it makes you think more politically about what’s going on.”
In Seattle protesters rallied against President Bush, citing a litany of complaints, including the conduct of the Iraq war and the botched federal response to Hurricane Katrina. They said Bush’s recent signing of a bill authorizing tough detainee interrogation techniques amounts to legalizing torture. Protesters chanted, waved signs and wore costumes mocking administration officials. One woman dressed as a pageant queen with a sash that read: “I Miss America.”
In San Francisco hundreds of people shut down westbound Market Street in their protest where they carried banners, wore T-shirts and chanted slogans such as “Impeach Bush” or “Bush get out”. The people were of all age-groups: from high school students who had skipped class, to pensioners. One man carried a banner that read: “Citizens with portfolios against the war.” Sonya Guadalupe, from Berkeley, said: “We believe the Bush regime should stay out of Iraq and end the occupation. We should worry more about helping people around the world instead of fighting for oil. I’m not a radical, I’m just concerned about the kind of world my daughter will live in.”
In New York thousands of protesters blocked streets as the march stretched from the United Nations headquarters for five blocks as it made its way to Union Square. Some people lay down in the middle of the street while others carried signs saying “Expose 9/11” and “This war should be over”. They also handed out fliers declaring: “Drive out the Bush regime.”
Lydia Sugarman, 82, from Manhattan, who had also protested against the Vietnam War and for women’s rights, said she was a strong believer in the power of demonstrating. “That’s how we got our civil rights,” she said. “If we didn’t protest we wouldn’t be Americans.” (Source: Associated Press; San Francisco Chronicle, USA)
Thousands march in Mexico
In pouring rain, 10,000 people marched through Mexico City on 2 October 2006 to commemorate the 38th anniversary of the Mexican goverment’s 1968 massacre at Tlatelolco that killed hundreds of student protesters. Also in Mexico City, from 3-4 October, environmental activists gathered for their own ‘Climate, Justice, Dialogue and Convergence’ at the same time as politicians from the G8 and the ‘five emerging economies’ (Brazil, India, China, South Africa and Mexico) assembled in the northeastern city of Monterrey for a meeting on climate change. (Source: www.indymedia.org.uk)
US and British military criticize their governments
Army concerns over the conduct of the war in Iraq surfaced in the US, which currently has 140,000 troops deployed there. In a rare criticism in late September 2006, three senior retired military officers called for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to be replaced, accusing the Pentagon of bungling the war and failing to provide sufficent equipment for the troops.
Furthermore, Army chief General Peter Schoomaker openly defied his former ally Mr Rumsfeld, refusing to submit a budget plan for 2008 on the grounds that the military could not continue its operations in Iraq without additional funds – a protest made more significant as he had come out of retirement to take up the post at Rumsfeld’s request. His defiance revealed the extent of disquiet within the military over both the costs and the ongoing strain of the war.
At the same time, similar concerns surfaced in Britain, where senior army commanders urged the government to withdraw British troops from Iraq, because of concern about the pressure placed on troops conducting war on two fronts, the unpopularity of the war at home and the urgent need for more troops in Afghanistan. While army chiefs often complain about defence budgets, criticism of military deployment overseas is most unusual. (Source: The Guardian, UK)
A new political vision?
Between 19-27 September 2006, world leaders convened at the United Nations in New York for the 61st session of the General Assembly. Many gave powerful speeches tackling, among other issues, poverty, human rights, the threat of global war, and strengthening and reforming the UN. We present some brief extracts from a selection of speeches.
For a fuller version of these speeches see Share International November 2006.
Venezuela – President Hugo Chávez
“I think there are reasons to be optimistic. A poet would have said ‘helplessly optimistic’, because over and above the wars and the bombs and the aggressive and preventive war and the destruction of entire peoples, one can see that a new era is dawning.
“As [Cuban poet and singer] Silvio Rodriguez says, the era is giving birth to a heart. There are alternative ways of thinking. There are young people who think differently. And this has already been seen within the space of a mere decade. It was shown that the end of history was a totally false assumption, and the same was shown about pax americana and the establishment of the capitalist neo-liberal world. It has been shown, this system, merely to generate mere poverty. Who believes in it now?
“What we now have to do is define the future of the world. Dawn is breaking out all over. You can see it in Africa and Europe and Latin America and Oceania. I want to emphasize that optimistic vision.
“We have to strengthen ourselves, our will to do battle, our awareness. We have to build a new and better world.
“We want ideas to save our planet, to save the planet from the imperialist threat. And hopefully in this very century, in not too long a time, we will see this, we will see this new era, and for our children and our grandchildren a world of peace based on the fundamental principles of the United Nations, but a renewed United Nations.”
Brazil – President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
“Putting resources into social programs is not expenditure. It is investment. If with so little we have done so much in Brazil, imagine what could have been done on a global scale, if the fight against hunger and poverty were a real priority for the international community. Where there is hunger there is no hope. There is only desolation and pain. Hunger nurtures violence and fanaticism. A world where people starve will never be safe….
“Even strong as they are today, rich countries should have no illusion: nobody is safe in a world of injustices. War will never bring security. War can only generate monsters: bitterness, intolerance, fundamentalism, and the damaging denial of current hegemonies. The poor must be given reasons to live, not to kill or die. Peoples’ greatness lies not in bellicosity, but in humanism. And there is no true humanism without respect for the other. …“There is no lack of resources. What is missing is the political will to use them where they can make all the difference. Where they can then turn despair into joy and reason to live.”
Iran – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
“… a longing for peace constitutes the legitimate demand of the peoples of the world, particularly the new generations and the spirited youth, who aspire to a world free from decadence, aggression and injustice, and replete with love and compassion. The youth have a right to seek justice and the Truth; and they have a right to build their own future on the foundations of love, compassion and tranquillity …
“The present structure and working methods of the Security Council, which are legacies of the Second World War, are not responsive to the expectations of the current generation and the contemporary needs of humanity….
“Peoples, driven by their divine nature, intrinsically seek good, virtue, perfection and beauty. Relying on our peoples, we can take giant steps towards reform and pave the road for human perfection .…
Republic of Costa Rica – President Oscar Arias Sanchez
“We saw the emergence of the Millennium Development Goals, endorsed by 189 countries, as a palpable demonstration that, for the first time, humanity is capable of setting great common goals, that we are beginning to understand our interdependence, that, at last, our species is beginning to acquire self-consciousness and behave like a family, a dysfunctional family, perhaps, but a family nonetheless….
“With optimism and vehemence I propose to this Assembly that we take, today, three courses of action that can have powerful effects on the wellbeing of all people. First, we must denounce military spending, the arms race and the arms trade as offensive to the human condition. Second, we must make a reality, through free trade, the promise that the globalized economy holds for humanity and in particular for the world’s poorest people. And third, we must defend with all our strength and eloquence international law and the United Nations, proposing the reforms that will permit us to successfully adapt to the immense changes that the world is going through….