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|Benjamin Creme at the Los Angeles press conference, 14 May 1982|
In 1975 Benjamin Creme began his weekly London lectures, and by the late 1970s was giving talks, by invitation, in Europe. In January 1980 Mr Creme was invited to the USA for the first time and by January 1982 had given over 90 lectures in 28 states, and over 70 radio and television interviews. In January 1982 Share International magazine was launched. It was a truly international, collaborative effort, produced by volunteers in the UK, Holland and the USA.
On 3 February 1982 Mr Creme appeared on the famous US Merv Griffin show alongside author Gore Vidal, which reached tens of millions. Afterwards, Tara Center, the US headquarters in Los Angeles, received around 200 new enquiries each day.
In March 1982, following intense US media attention, the Emergence groups embarked on a worldwide advertising campaign to alert the press and public to Maitreya’s presence. Within weeks $250,000 had been raised, mainly by small donations. On 24 and 25 April 1982 millions of readers of 18 major newspapers across the world saw the full-page advertisement. It began: “The world has had enough of hunger, injustice, war. In answer to our call for help, as World Teacher for all humanity, the Christ is now here.”
The advertisements evoked widespread interest, which continued for many years. People still remember, today, the renewed hope these advertisements gave them.
An invitation for Maitreya to speak was still needed from the media, to allow Him to declare Himself openly, and it was hoped that the advertisements and recent media coverage would bring this about. However, Benjamin Creme’s Master revealed to him that the Hierarchy had “a contingency plan”. Asked what that might be, his Master replied: “Hold a press conference. Tell the world what you know.”
A press conference, therefore, was organised at the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, on 14 May 1982. Over 90 journalists attended, from ABC, CNN, CBS, NBC, BBC, The Times, The New York Times, Newsweek and Time magazine, and other major media. The event was linked via satellite to the UK’s BBC Nationwide programme. Benjamin Creme announced for the first time where Maitreya was living – the Asian community of London, UK. The journalists were open to the information and even applauded about the need for sharing and justice. Mr Creme appealed for a small group of respected journalists to be assigned to go to London to “go through the motions only of looking for Maitreya”. Maitreya would then allow Himself to be discovered. Mr Creme recalls: “When the American media asked the BBC what they were planning to do, they replied: ‘Nothing.’ The Americans said: ‘But why not? It is a fantastic story.’ The BBC’s reply was: ‘We know, but we are waiting for more tangible evidence.’” No journalists were appointed to the task, so Maitreya could not come forward.
|Worldwide advertisement, 24 and 25 April 1982|
Although it was seen by the Masters as a “long shot worth taking”, it was hoped that Maitreya would be revealed after the press conference. As we know, the plan did not follow that timescale. Maitreya could not become public without an invitation, otherwise it would infringe our freewill. He therefore embarked on a slower process of emergence, which is now nearing completion. But the events of 1982 were seen by Hierarchy as a tremendous success for the Emergence work: millions were made aware for the first time of Maitreya and His message. The effort and energy expended in this extraordinary year of concentrated, service activity had profound karmic results. In the last 30 years thousands have found their life’s work in preparing the way for Maitreya. Enormous changes have taken place in response to His energies, and millions have been inspired to work for world transformation. Today humanity is awakening, and is ready to work together to build a new world.
Water into wine
by the Master , through Benjamin Creme, 15 April 2012
As is so often the case, Europeans are searching for an ever elusive unity. This time the problem is mainly economic. The Common Market, in this testing economic crisis, is fraying at the seams and losing its precarious unity.
The USA, in election year, treads carefully, anxious to see an upturn in trade and a down-turn in responsibility abroad. Israel, therefore is emboldened to take over the task of pressuring Iran. Meanwhile, China is booming and waxing rich while neighbouring Russia apes the USA of the 1930s. Thus the diehards of the old order struggle to keep the leaking ship afloat in the maelstrom of the new and more just energies of Aquarius. The Age of Synthesis is upon us, recognised or not, and every new day etches its stamp on the world.
Only the young, and the young in heart, it would seem, recognise the dimensions of this change. They alone know that justice and love can never be cast aside without pain. So it is with the young today who recognise a new note in Earth’s song and seek, by all means open to them, to make it heard. Vast numbers throughout the world are beginning to respond to this new theme and search for valid means to implement their longing for change.
Many are beginning to grasp the essentials of life and with courage bear witness to their truth: Sharing, Justice and Love, they comprehend, are the essential ingredients of a civilisation based on the understanding that all men are Gods. In this way the world is slowly being prepared for an entirely new conception of the meaning of life.
Tirelessly, Maitreya and His group teach the age old way to happiness and divinity, for these two are one. When men truly understand this simple law they will gladly renounce the patterns of the past: the unholy divide which sustains the greed of so many, the disdain of the rich for the poor and the lust for power and war.
They will put behind them this dross which has gripped their imagination for so long. They will listen keenly to the Masters’ advice and will, themselves, change water into wine.
A. 60 (as of 12 April 2012).
Q. (1) Have any of Maitreya’s interviews in Brazil been broadcast in other countries? (2) Considering the cultural and linguistic ties, have His interviews been broadcast in Portugal?
A. (1) No. (2) No.
Q. Are any other Latin American countries starting to take an interest in these interviews?
A. It is difficult to say at this point.
Q. Are there influential people in Brazil (not only in the mainstream but also within the alternative movements, such as the activists who take part in international conferences like the Porto Alegre social forums) who have heard Maitreya being interviewed and who are impressed and inspired by Him?
Q. Has Maitreya visited and spoken at any of the Occupy Movement rallies and camps in the US or the UK?
Q. In Tahrir Square, Egypt, Maitreya spent three weeks talking to and teaching activists; are any of those people now taking up positions in local or national politics?
Q. (1) Is the tension in the world particularly high at present? (2) So many people seem to be exhausted, or suffering some or other heart condition. Is this to do with world tension?
A. Yes, the tension is high for people all over the world. (2) Yes.
Q. Do the Masters sometimes manifest signs and so-called miracles or inexplicable phenomena in order to give humanity a hint about further realities to be discovered?
Q. I find it difficult to ‘empty my mind’ during Transmission Meditation – even when I think I’m aligned I still have all sorts of thoughts churning around in my brain. Is it possible to be aligned and still to be thinking? How do you get rid of thoughts?
A. The function of the mind is to think. Don’t worry about the thoughts, keep the attention at the ajna centre, and you will forget the mind and be centred there.
Q. Does the tetrahedron help to filter out thoughts and thinking during Transmission Meditation?
A. The tetrahedron earths all thoughts below the mental plane, that is astral thoughtforms, etc.
Q. Can you elaborate somewhat on what happens with the energies after they have been stepped down through the Transmission Meditation groups? For instance can we think of it as stepping down ‘higher’ thoughtforms in the mindbelt and thus making them more easily accessible for the human kingdom?
A. No, nothing like that. The energies leaving the groups go straight to the New Group of World Servers, formed by Maitreya in 1922. (They use that energy without necessarily knowing that it is there.) These people, around 5 million, who in many cases have no conscious awareness of working with energies, employ these energies in their work of service to the world. They are specialists along various lines of service.
Q. Do the Masters use the Transmission Meditation energies for work in the animal or the vegetable kingdom?
A. Yes, as required.
Q. Do the Masters use the Transmission Meditation energies for healing purposes of individuals, groups, or nations?
A. Yes, as required.
Q. Are the energies also used on the physical and astral plane or only the mental plane?
A. All the planes.
Q. Since the energies are physically palpable during Transmission Meditation does that mean that in a way they are also physical, but on a higher etheric physical level?
A. No. They are not physical. They are spiritual, at various levels.
Q. Where do the energies enter the etheric body during Transmission Meditation when you are not present?
A. Through the chakras as always.
Q. Do the energies follow the same path through the chakras in each person during Transmission Meditation? For example, do the energies all enter through the crown centre, then flow to the ajna centre, then to the throat and so on?
A. No, it varies with each individual.
Q. Where is the ‘reservoir’ of energies that is built up by Transmission Meditation – is it in the mindbelt or is it on one of the etheric planes?
A. You could say mainly on the mindbelt.
Q. Do the energies flow out of the centres in the palms of the hands and from there into the tetrahedron, during Transmission Meditation?
A. From the palms of the hands, and then through the silver wire and into the tetrahedron.
Q. My Transmission Meditation group is quite small; usually there are only three of us. If one of us falls asleep during our Transmission is it still useful?
A. Yes, to a lesser extent.
Q. If the Masters are entering the world from their former hidden-away abodes, not being born of woman and growing up, then why does it say (somewhere, certainly not my invention) in the Alice A. Bailey books that “the Masters will incarnate for the first time since Atlantean days?” Could both be true, thus perhaps suggesting a different number than you said?
A. When it says They are incarnating They are stating a chronological fact. The Masters, as a group, are incarnating together for the first time since Atlantean days. This is quite apart from the incarnations of individual Masters over the years.
Q. What is a disciple of Shamballa? (1) Does he/she have a Master, like the disciples of the Hierarchy? (2) What makes a person be a disciple of Shamballa?
A. (1) Naturally, yes. (2) Their point in evolution.
Q. Although there is no particular cause of concern in my daily life in Tokyo, and although we still have quite often rather big or small earthquakes, which I am not particularly worried about, yet I feel unsettled and uneasy. Is it because the etheric field is disturbed and/or deva elementals are out of equilibrium?
Q. First of all, thank you people for your work, words hardly express my feelings and thoughts. Mr Creme you rock! I wonder about so many things and I would like to ask a question. Are initiates and disciples always conscious of the fact that they are indeed initiates and disciples?
A. Under a certain level, no. Even senior disciples, often engaged in major work in some important public field, can remain unaware of their connection with Hierarchy and do their work better because of it.
Q. Apart from revealing the reality of extraterrestrial life to Pope John XXIII, was the nearness in time of the advent of Maitreya explained to him?
Q. There is a huge storm on Saturn at present – the size so huge it’s never been seen before – how does this relate to the cyclones in Queensland and America?
A. They are all the result of ‘sun-spot’ activity.
Q. In the Agni Yoga book Aum, entry 277, it says: “The essence of blood thoroughly permeates the body and even the subtle body. Blood is so undesirable in the diet that only in extreme cases do We permit the use of meat which has been dried in the sun. It is also possible to use those parts of the animal where the blood substance has been thoroughly transmuted. Thus, vegetable food has a significance also for life in the Subtle World.” I understand that you have said that fish are neutral in a spiritual sense, and that therefore it won’t lower one’s spiritual vibration to eat them. Could you explain more about this? For example, why is it alright to eat the blood of fish, but not the blood of land animals?
A. Fish have little blood and the flesh of fish is not permeated by it. It is an historical fact that the Essene community, of which Jesus was the head, allowed the eating of fish. The diet of Jesus and his disciples consisted of fish, bread, goat’s cheese, fruit and mild wine.
In February 2012, I was working at the Information Centre in Amsterdam. At some point I was standing at the open front door when a tall black man in a postal company uniform walked past, obviously searching for a particular house number. I asked which number he was looking for. He indicated that he’d just found it – the next door building – but he grinned at me and gave me the peace sign as he went on his way.
Some time later he came back and started looking at the books on display in the shop window. I said jokingly that I was guessing that he was interested in ‘that book’ – pointing to The Ageless Wisdom Teachings (a book we’ve just decided to use for the next public book discussion evening). “How did you know I wanted that one?” he replied laughing, but added that he also wanted to buy The Awakening of Humanity.
He asked questions about who we are, what we do, were we a bit like Buddhists? Did we include the ideas of the ancient Vedas in our information? Do we meditate?
I explained about Transmission Meditation. “Yes,” he said, “I meditate too. I’ve been meditating for about 6 years. It’s hard to explain, isn’t it, but it does something to you. It’s important because otherwise it’s hectic.” That last sentence resounded in my conscience-stricken ears and sounded like advice.
As he left he said: “I’ll be back again some time.”
When he talked about meditation it was serious; I quite frequently feel too hurried and often lack discipline and so I rush off feeling bad about not meditating. He didn’t seem to need answers although he asked questions; he had a confident air and gave the impression of being completely himself in a simple, relaxed, easy way.
Was he an unusual postman or was he a Master?
Name withheld, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the ‘postman’ was the Master Jesus.)
At the Transmission Meditation workshop in Barcelona, Sunday 4 March 2012, I was standing at the hall entrance, at the side of book tables, before the screening of the video on meditation. Then a person surprised me due to his extraordinary resemblance to Benjamin Creme – a bit younger, in his 70s, similar stature, white hair covered by a cap, similar to the one Mr Creme wears sometimes, jacket and comfortable trousers – and, surprisingly, very fancy sports trainers, white with orange stripes. I looked again to confirm his resemblance, but could not continue with it as ‘Creme’s double’ (if I am allowed to use this expression), turned, walking slowly, taking notes in a small book. He walked and took notes as Mr Creme does with the same gesture of the hand.
He was with two women, one around 65, without any showy features, and a younger one, around 30, with soft Asian features. They sat down in a discrete place. I commented on the encounter with three co-workers. One of them went discreetly to confirm he was wearing those fancy sports trainers.
After the video, I verified that the three visitors were still there. They seemed determined to stay during the Transmission. The man removed his cap and you could see that the top of his head was bald. At the end of the meditation, ‘Creme’s double’ was still there, but disappeared quickly from my sight.
I didn’t have any special feeling or experience, but I got comfort from the idea that we are not alone, and of course, it was a splendid Transmission Meditation, worthy of remembering.
Would you be so kind as to comment who was ‘Creme’s double’ and his companions?
J.M., Andrade, Spain.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that “Creme’s double” was Maitreya. The older woman was the Master Jesus and her companion was a disciple of the Master Jesus.)
While reading Discipleship in the New Age Volume 1 (page 283), by Alice A. Bailey, I came across a few sentences concerning two types of art, and beauty, which were given by the Master Djwhal Khul. “There is a mystical beauty to be achieved, as we all know, through art. It conveys a general sense of beauty, colour and inspiration, and thus it clothes and veils ideas. There is an occult (hidden) beauty also to be achieved in the field of art. This conveys a different sense of beauty, colour and inspiration, clothed in those forms which reveal ideas. Mystical beauty veils, in beauty, the ideal. Occult beauty reveals, in beauty, the ideal.”
After reading this description, I could not help but think of Benjamin Creme’s body of esoteric art as one of the outstanding demonstrations, to date, of this second type of art and beauty. Thank you for your beautiful art.
O&S.C., Atlanta, GA, USA.
(Editor’s note: Thank you for your kind words. I just do my best!)
On Sunday 25 March 2012, during the public Transmission Meditation in Paris, I was in the second row of women, facing the row of men while the presentation of meditation was about to start.
Suddenly, I looked across to the left of the second row of men when my eyes fell on a man – an Indo-Pakistani, between 25 and 30 years. He had an olive complexion, beautiful black hair, half long and frizzy and black eyes whose white part seemed luminous.
At that moment, I had an intuition that it was Maitreya: he had a gaze of such depth. From the beginning of meditation, I felt intense radiations coming from this person when I had my eyes closed.
Can you tell me if this man was Maitreya?
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the man was the Master Jesus.)
On 11 June 2011, anti-nuclear power demonstrations and gatherings were held at 140 cities in Japan. I took part in one at Shinjuku. Before the demonstration started, I prayed to Maitreya’s ‘Hand’ for total extinction of nuclear power generation, and put the ‘Hand’ back into my handbag. I marched without any placards. I was physically tired and could not give a big voice. I was a little bit dissatisfied with my small capacity of appeal.
After the half way point of the demonstration, a remarkably strong voice was heard from behind: “Protect children!” When I looked back, it was a good-looking young man with a black T-shirt and a black hat. His eyes were very sharp and his sturdy will could be sensed from his face. With a resolute and sincere attitude, he held up a placard which said “Protect children’s lives!” As we walked along the road he repeated, with a loud, clear voice towards onlookers and others on the pavement, “Be concerned! Take action! Protect children’s lives!” I was very impressed and encouraged by him, affirming his words in my heart.
After coming back home, and even now, I remember him vividly, who showed me how important it is to be resolute in taking action. He has made my will much stronger than before. Was he a special person?
M.H., Tokyo, Japan.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms the man on the demonstration was the Master Jesus.)
It was a very cold, early morning 36 years ago, when I was asked to drive all by myself to help my family’s business since my husband was ill in bed. I was five or six months pregnant and very nervous because I rarely drove a car. I crossed over a big bridge and tried to turn left. Then it all happened. I lost control of the wheels due to the frozen surface of the road. I cried in my heart, “Help me! Lord Jesus!” Next moment I found myself in the car which had turned over and fallen into a concrete sluice, two to three metres below the road. I was not injured at all. I do not remember well how I got out of the car to walk to a police station. At the police inspection of the scene, I was told that it was miraculous for me to be totally safe without any scratches.
The baby in my womb has already grown up to be a parent of a child. I assumed that the Master Jesus helped me because I had been a Christian before my marriage. Would you please confirm it?
Y.T., Fukuoka, Japan.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that you were helped by the Master Jesus.)
The following two letters are from the same person:
(1) A demonstration for nuclear power phase-out was held at Shibuya in Tokyo on 24 September 2011. I came by myself and arrived at a meeting point a little bit late. At first I could not find other participants so felt lonely. Then a man emerged with a big placard covered with many explanations of how dangerous nuclear power is. He told me that he would join the demonstration and said, “I am glad to be part of this event today.” On the way to the main event site where many other participants should gather, he earnestly spoke of ‘people power’ in Egypt and Tunisia which had moved nations. He also mentioned another demonstration at Yokosuka the next day where a US carrier stopped at the port with two nuclear power generators inside.
When the march started, he shouted as loud as he could: “Think about children in Fukushima! Please consider children in Fukushima!” I noticed his unique intonation of Japanese as well as his warmth of heart even in his serious attitude, which made me smile. He was very energetic and I was so encouraged by him marching together with me. When I was lost along the way, he came up to me and asked, “Are you all right by yourself?”
I answered, “Yes, I am.” Then later he went towards the front.
He was wearing a sweatshirt with short pants, sandals and a small waist bag. He seemed to pay attention to his middle finger of his right hand which a bloodstained band-aid was put on. I remember this vividly since I myself had an injury on my middle finger of my right hand as well.
On the way back home, I remembered him and his words, saying that the actions of each one of us counts for the change, which made my eyes fill with tears. Would you confirm that he was a Master?
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms the man on the demonstration was the Master Jesus.)
(2) It was in the middle of publicity work for the video presentation (September 2011) of Maitreya in Warabi that I caught a glimpse of what seemed to be an Indian man on a bicycle. My fellow worker also noticed him at another place. About one hour later, he again emerged on a bicycle (with a radish in its front basket!) This time I did not hesitate to speak to him about the video presentation. He said to me in fluent Japanese, “I know Benjamin Creme. I have been in Warabi for 20 years. I would recommend my daughter to participate in the video presentation.”
This happened when I was a little bit worried about whether an audience would gather. I wondered whether a Master might come to encourage us. Was he a special person?
I.M., Saitama, Japan.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms the ‘Indian man’ was the Master Jesus.)
|The Skopje miracle from Easter 2012|
Easter miracle of Macedonian icons
Hundreds of people are crowding into the church of Sveti Dimitrije (St Dimitrija) in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, to see icons that began to shine brightly on Sunday 8 April 2012, a week before Easter was celebrated in the Christian Orthodox Church. Hundred year old icons and frescoes which had been covered in candle grease and stains from smoke started to renew their colour by themselves and glittered as if they had been newly restored, said witnesses. It began with some icons and halos on saints’ heads turning gold and spread to all the icons, the haloes, crosses, armour, clothes, and jewellery, and then some colours changed not only to gold but to green or red.
The chance of all those frescoes and icons being renewed by an artist or some “chemical”, say observers, are almost impossible since this phenomenon is happening in front of hundreds of people observing the “miracle” with their own eyes.
“It is really a miracle, it started Sunday in the central part of the iconostasis (a wall of icons and religious paintings), the golden colour is very visible and the phenomenon continues,” said Father Dimce Malinov. “Since this morning I have observed the phenomenon, half of the icons are already cleaned. First a red colour appears which turns golden. You can see the icons clearing up from top to bottom.”
Although the present church was built in the 18th century, it is believed that a church has stood on the site since the 13th century. Nearly two-thirds of Macedonia’s 2.1 million residents are Orthodox Christian and local people consider the phenomenon a sign from God.
(Source: Agence France-Presse; YouTube: mina89madcap)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that this was a miracle manifested by Maitreya and marks a new phase in the appearance of signs. See the article ‘The coming transformation’, SI March 2012.)
UFO recorded by police car
|Little River UFO 2012|
USA – A bright white light crossing the sky at 19.54 on 1 February 2012 over Little River, central Texas, was captured by chance on the dashboard camcorder of a police car which had stopped in traffic. Sightings of the light were also reported to the media by witnesses across Oklahoma and Kansas. However, the Federal Aviation Administration said that it was a meteor. (Source: msnbc news)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the light was a spaceship from Venus.)
|Maitreya's 'star' in Tolouse, France|
France – Toulouse, 31 March 2012 at 22.30pm. A bright darting sphere was filmed over Toulouse, France, on 30 and 31 March 2012, flickering rapidly through different colours around a bright central point of light. (Source: YouTube: pascal2503)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the sphere was Maitreya’s ‘star’.)
|The four UFOs seen over Volvic, France, make up Maitreya's 'star'|
France – Four UFOs over Volvic, 19 March 2012. Two flickering lights moving in tandem in the sky split into a rectangular shape of four lights, which continued to move rapidly together. (Source: gather.com; YouTube: kadiethedogg)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the four ‘stars’ make up Maitreya’s ‘star’.)
|Light blessing from Maitreya|
Photograph of a ceremony at Mount Shasta, California, USA, shows a light blessing from Maitreya. Sent by L.S., USA.
|Mysterious ‘ghosts’ in Passau, Germany.|
Mysterious ‘ghosts’ captured on webcam
After the mysterious light appearance in Vilshofen near Passau, Germany, on 9 February 2012 (see SI April 2012) another strange phenomenon in the area has been captured by a webcam. On 28 February at 10pm the webcam of the official website of the city of Passau in Bavaria registered strange light figures on the town hall square. “They look like luminous warriors attacking the town hall”, said the person who discovered the phenomenon. (Source: Wochenblatt Region Passau, Germany)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that this was a genuine phenomenon based on a real historical event: the figures were Roman warriors gathering for an attack on a church that was there long ago. The phenomenon was manifested by the Master Jesus.)
We present a selection of quotations on the theme of ‘World change’ from Maitreya (Messages from Maitreya the Christ), Benjamin Creme’s Master (A Master Speaks), and Benjamin Creme’s writings.
History reveals that evolution proceeds but slowly; nevertheless, in this coming epoch, man will outstrip, by far, the pace achieved by his most illustrious ancestors. Profound changes in man’s social life and organisation will release energies hitherto untapped, and unleash upon the world a whirlwind of transformation. Thus will it be. Thus will men meet the measure of their promise and unfold the powers for so long dormant and still.
Creative change will be the keynote of this future time, gathering to itself all possibilities for good. Creative change, men will find, is the basis of life and the origin of cycles. In harmony with the cosmic flow, men will construct a civilisation in which time will be no more; “where no two days are alike”; where the arts of life and Being walk together hand in hand. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The time ahead’)
We are about to enter an era in which the innate spiritual nature of humanity will begin to express itself in a mass form. Countless millions throughout the world will awaken to the true purpose of their lives. A deeper, more soundly-based attitude to life will develop and people will recognise themselves as souls – souls in incarnation. They will come to understand the purpose of their incarnation, and, more and more, they will take a conscious part in their own evolution, creating modes of freedom and justice which this world has never before seen. Freedom and justice, and therefore peace, will allow the divine, spiritual aspect of humanity to come to the fore and be given expression, not only as a religious experience, but in every department of life. In politics, economics and education, in art and science, the inner awareness of our spiritual nature will increasingly be demonstrated. (Benjamin Creme, Maitreya’s Mission Vol Three)
Allow Me to show you the way into the New Time; to outline for you the glories, which, if you will, can be yours. Man is made to serve both God and man, and only through that correct service can the path to God be trodden. Make it your task to take upon yourselves the task of reorientation, reconstruction and change.
Each man is a lighthouse and sheds abroad his light for his brother. Make bright your lamp and let it shine forth and show the way. All are needed, every one. No one is too small or young to take part in this Great Plan for the rescue and the rehabilitation of our world. Resolve to do this and be assured that My help will not be withheld. (Maitreya, from Message No.13)
Many expect Maitreya and the Masters to right all wrongs and to transform the world. That They will show the way, guide and inspire, cannot be gainsaid. That Their light and wisdom will be placed at the service of humanity is equally true. But the work of transformation must be undertaken by humanity itself, cheerfully accepting the changes and sacrifices which must ensue. Only through such willing acceptance can the changes take hold and create the conditions for a new and better life for man. To lead the way, and to build the foundations of the new age structures, are emerging now the trained architects of the coming civilisation. Recognise them by their desire to serve, their wisdom and their manifested love. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The emergence of greater servers’)
There is no doubt of the new spiritual awakening which is everywhere taking place, which must eventually lead to an era of world brotherhood – the keynote of the coming age of Aquarius. What is happening now is the outcome of inner forces, which are effecting great changes in human thinking and consciousness. This will result in the complete reorganisation of the world’s institutions and social structures which no longer answer man’s true needs.
Throughout the world the new approaches to reality are emerging, and the new values which should govern our life in the coming age are beginning to be defined. This will entail the reorganisation of our political, economic, and financial systems along more rational and just lines. (Benjamin Creme, The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom)
The time has come to begin the process of change, to transform the life of men in such a way that the God in man shines forth. This, My friends, is not difficult of accomplishment for within you all sits such a Divine Being. My task will be to evoke from you that Shining Light, and take you to Its Source.
My Masters work also in Their various centres and through Them proceeds the Plan. My work is to organise that Plan in such a way that the least cleavage results. Much that is loved must go. Cling not to the old forms. Much will depend on man’s ability to renounce these outworn structures and to create a new and simpler world. (Maitreya, from Message No.74)
The world is going to be changed, above all, by the countless millions of people, men and women everywhere, of goodwill. It is precisely the people of goodwill who, in the first place, will respond to Maitreya. He will potentise that goodwill. He will confirm in them their attitude to life and will so potentise it that He will build a world public opinion against which no government on Earth can stand.
In this way, through an educated, correctly led, potentised goodwill of the masses, the changes in the world will take place. (Benjamin Creme, Maitreya’s Mission Vol Three)
My Teaching is simple, as you know: Love, Justice and correct Sharing are necessary for man to live. Those around Me now, in My centre, are learning this, are responding to My Call and awakening to the promise of the future. For you too shall this be so, for within you now I see the same divine intention. Therefore, My friends, fear not for My Mission. My plan is to come before the world so soon that only the most abject mind will deny My Presence. Great, even now, are the changes which occur: the nations grow together in a new bond of harmony. Witness for yourselves these events. When My face is seen on a wider scale, this transformation will gain a new impetus, and much, quickly, will be achieved. (Maitreya, from Message No.83)
When men look back to this time they will see it as a stepping-stone to Grace. Today’s chaotic turmoil is nothing less. From this turmoil will emerge the new forms which will grace the new civilisation – new and better forms which will provide for men everywhere, and gratify the hearts of everyone.
Man, himself, is undergoing such stimuli that he may well feel nervous of the future. He sees and understands little of the enormous changes which are already under way and clings vainly to the past. Soon, this fear and nervousness will be replaced by courage and commitment to the work of transformation. Under the guidance of Maitreya and His Group men will lay the cornerstones of the new and better life of which, in their various ways, all men dream. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘Man’s emerging divinity’, SI June 2009)
This world is in process of change. It is going through a temporary period of extreme trouble and violence and manifested hatreds. But new energies are pouring into the planet all the time, particularly a great energy from a cosmic avatar called the Spirit of Peace or Equilibrium. This avatar works precisely with the Law of Action and Reaction, which we call the Law of Karma. Under this law, action and reaction are opposite and equal. Out of the present violence and discord, hatred and turbulence, we will enter an era of tranquillity and peace, mental and emotional poise, and an established harmony, which will transform the whole world. (Benjamin Creme, The Ageless Wisdom Teaching)
The new civilisation will be built upon the foundations of the past, but, necessarily, much of the old must be swept away, corrupt and useless as it is. For those with eyes to see, the new indications are already evident. Wherever men turn their eyes today, a new landscape presents itself, new ideas engage the mind, new structures take tentative shape. A world in flux is transforming itself, the growing pains of change are felt by all.
Into this situation has come the Christ, eager to assist men in their hour of need. That He can help there is no doubt, but men must want the changes He will advocate and implement them of their own free will. Naught will be forced and naught imposed, for otherwise the Law would be infringed. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The reordering of priorities’)
There is a complete transformation coming which has to take place at the grassroots level; and it has to satisfy and be real for everyone, otherwise it would not last. The changes have to be logical. They have to be fast but slow enough for people to accommodate to them, so that there will be the minimum disruption, at any given time, of the existing social order.
However, the changes will be so far-reaching that if you were coming from Mars in 25 years’ time, you would see a completely transformed world, a world in which the people have come of age, have made their voices heard. Who pulled down the Berlin Wall? It was the people, not the politicians. (Benjamin Creme, The Great Approach)
The world is poised between the old and the new; the past and the future, and people hold their breath for an indication of the outcome. The signs are there in abundance for all to see, yet many refuse to see in them the hope they crave, and diminish, thereby, their happiness and calm.
Have no fear of the future for it will be, if man so wills, greater and more beautiful than can be imagined, greater by far than man’s highest dreams. The uncertainty and anguish, the pain of loss and change, are but the birth pangs of a new and better world struggling to be born. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘Man’s birthright awaits him’)
All goes well, augurs well for the future. My plans proceed apace and galvanise mankind. Wherever you may look in the world today, you will find change. From top to bottom, the fabric of the old and decaying order is rent. From this can we derive much satisfaction, for despite the pain involved in this process, a new and better world emerges. Therefore, My friends, take comfort from this fact and look to the future with hope. (Maitreya, from Message No.130)
“We are the 99%”
Interview by Gill Fry (An excerpt)
The Occupy and the Indignados movements from across the world are calling for a Global Spring in May 2012, beginning with events to coincide with Labour Day marches. They are calling for the building of a broader coalition with many diverse groups working for economic and social justice and a better world for all.
Occupy Finsbury Square is the longest running Occupy camp in the UK, situated in a grass-lined square in the busy City of London. The camp comprises a large food tent, an information tent and many residents’ tents. Banners and flags fly in the breeze capturing the attention of passers-by. Visitors sit down in the information tent and read the literature, chat to the volunteers, and attend the many talks and meetings.
In early April 2012 Gill Fry visited the camp for Share International and interviewed Rosa, an undergraduate studying maths and physics at a London university. Since 8 November 2011 she has put her studies on hold, to live and work at the camp.
Share International: Why did you get involved in the Occupy Movement?
Rosa: I heard about Occupy Wall Street and the struggles they had to have their voices heard. I really admired their determination and commitment to the cause and wanted to find out more about why they were protesting. So on 15 October 2011 I got chatting to people and it inspired my interest.
SI: What was connecting all the people at the original Occupy Stock Exchange? What were you hoping to achieve?
R: Big businesses were given huge bailouts but had no agreements to pay the money back. It seemed grossly unfair. People began to wake up and realise the impact of the financial system on their day-to-day lives and how unjust and unnecessary it was. This is not capitalism, this is exploitation – there is a difference. More people need to wake up and realise what’s going on. A lot of people are in a state of shock and disbelief that Parliament does not really govern – it is not even the Crown that governs, it’s the City that governs. Most people are still unaware of that and the mainstream media do not report it factually….
SI: So you are trying to educate the public? Your banner reads: “We are the 99%”. Can you explain that?
R: The 1% own the majority of the wealth and property in the world, and for the 99%, property ownership is almost inaccessible. We aim to reach out to the 99% and provide information for people to make up their own minds, to inform people of what’s going on, their rights and their responsibilities. The 99% have a responsibility, and the majority realise this, but don’t know quite how to help, whereas the 1% know they have a social responsibility, but just don’t seem to care….
SI: How do you find a consensus in the groups?
R. It can be extremely frustrating. My concern with consensus is that it is quite good for majority rule but in terms of protecting the rights of a minority we need to look at the system more thoroughly so we can foster development of minority views more, to create more diversity. I have found that it depends how the question is phrased as to whether or not something reaches consensus.
Another issue with consensus is the wave of hands or “jazz hands”. [Hand gestures which denote agreeing/disagreeing with the speaker.] I believe that nobody should be personally targeted for their political view, and everyone is entitled to their opinion. But having the jazz hands, where everyone can see who is for and against, I think is a flaw in our working, and can lead to people being personally criticised for their view, which I think is unfair. I would prefer some tweaking of the system so that people have their privacy protected more.
SI: Could you explain about all the different people you have living in this small piece of land?
R: We have an amazing range of demographics: different races, ages, religions, levels of education – we’re quite a diverse bunch. We’ve all got our own ideas about how things should be done, but somehow, through the consensus model, we do manage to come to some kind of agreement, which is quite remarkable, really.
SI: Do you have meetings every day?
R: There’s been some disruption recently because we had a lot of refugees from the [evicted camps of] St Paul’s Cathedral and the Bank of Ideas so we had a sudden influx of population which has been disruptive to our previous structure of having a meeting ever day after dinner. We don’t tend to have a General Assembly every day, which is an important development because previously, at St Paul’s, some people got General Assembly fatigue and important decisions were made in their absence because they couldn’t attend every single day. So by having fewer General Assemblies which are much better attended, the quality of the decision-making is much improved.
SI: I saw that your General Assembly today is focusing on ‘Unity’.
R: Yes. It is quite important to encourage a polarity of approaches, of views and activities as well. That is something that we have struggled with over the past month or so. Some people believe that their way is the right way, and other people believe that their way is the right way!
So it’s about compromise, without being compromised. Somebody said to me: there’s no change without conflict and no conflict without change. We have to have processes of discussion and be able to disagree.
SI: How do you manage with resources? Are you getting enough donations?
R: We are currently struggling with donations and not receiving enough to sustain the camp, so that’s been quite a challenge. We’ve been feeding over 100 people, three times a day, on £77 a week. We have to go ‘skipping’ [collecting out-of-date food from skips] on a daily basis for what gets chucked out: sandwiches, muffins, salads and quite a lot of sushi! We can’t afford to splash out on anything exotic but we have one cooked meal in the evening, with rice or potatoes and some kind of vegetables, and if we can afford it, we have meat.
Our most pressing need in terms of financial requirements is sanitation – it costs a minimum of £90 a week to empty the toilets twice a week. We pay £60 a week for petrol for the generators, so we can have electricity to charge our batteries and have lighting in the kitchen. We also have solar panels and a pedal bike to charge batteries, so we don’t have to rely on 240 volts from the generators. The other expense we have is gas, to heat water, as it is not practical to rely on burning fossil fuels or wood in an inner city environment and around tents which are flammable. Those are our three main expenses, and then we have food to worry about.
SI: Are some members of the camp homeless people that you are helping?
R: Yes. Because of the eviction of St Paul’s and the Bank of Ideas, those who had places to go went back home, but those who didn’t have any other place of residence came here. How could we turn anyone away? You can’t say: “Go and sleep in a doorway.” A good proportion of people here have no other place of residence. So it is very nice to be able to help people to find shelter and access their primary needs. A lot of the people who are homeless are very functional members of our community who contribute a lot, so it would be really saddening to see them have no other option but to sleep on the streets and not contribute in such a constructive manner to society.
SI: How are relations with the local authorities?
R: We meet and discuss their complaints and grievances and do everything in our power to try and fulfil their requests. They would rather work with us and progress in a more constructive manner, rather than act in a destructive, authoritarian manner that is going to cause suffering for those who don’t have any source of shelter, or income or hope of getting affordable housing. Islington’s Fairness Commission has certain parallels with some of the core principles of Occupy, so as a council they have much more understanding and compassion for social inequality than other councils.
Rosa explained how the borough of Islington, being close to the City, has some of the most expensive properties in London, while at the same time having one of the highest levels of social housing. She explained how many homeless people living without any support are ‘invisible’ to the local authorities. By evicting the Occupy camp, Islington Council would then be responsible for providing housing for the homeless members of the camp, which would increase the already oversubscribed housing list.
R: Having a ‘local connection’ is a huge barrier for many people, particularly if they have been on the streets for a number of years, but have not been a registered rough-sleeper or engaged with any services. They may not have friends or family within an area who can give them that local connection. Without education or employment, how can they prove that they have been in an area? They become invisible. But now these people have the opportunity to participate within a community….
SI: You must think it’s important to take the time out of your studies to try to really change society?
R: The world’s resources are dwindling, getting less and less, and there might come a time where we have to function without money and with limited resources, work more with exchanges and sharing. So in terms of contingency plans, how do we feed 12 million people in greater London? These are questions we might have to face, sooner than we think. The amount of money spent per head on resources in the camp is very small. Being able to create a system where people can survive and thrive might have national significance in terms of what would we do in a national emergency or a complete financial collapse.
SI: Do you think young people are waking up around the world, like in Spain and the Arab Spring?
R: There has been increasing marginalisation and victimisation of young people over the past few years. There have become fewer and fewer opportunities than for previous generations. For example, in this country, it’s very difficult to access a degree-level education now, in comparison to how it was 20 years ago. And with the pay gap it is incredibly difficult economically for many people and that has prompted an awakening of what really matters.
SI: How is the Occupy Movement internationally? Do you have contact with others in the movement?
R: Yes, there is a global roundtable that happens weekly on an internet platform called Mumble where people can get together with Occupy groups from around the world. I believe it is a thriving movement.
by Gary Dorko (An excerpt)
Emma Swan has a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies, and is currently pursuing an MA in Human Security and Peacebuilding from Langara College in Vancouver, Canada. She has lived for extended periods in countries experiencing difficult economic and political conditions, including Palestine, Sierra Leone and Cambodia. In 2011, she started a library in Palestine. Gary Dorko interviewed her for Share International.
Share International: What inspired you to go to Palestine and start a library in one of the refugee camps in the West Bank?
Emma Swan: Though I had spent the last year studying the Palestinian conflict as part of my undergraduate studies, I didn’t understand it, and I couldn’t intellectually process what was going on. That’s what initially drew me to work in that area of the world.The library grew as an idea. Initially, I had intended to go to Palestine to teach English at the Karama Centre, which provides free English reading and writing skills to women and children in the Deheishe refugee camp in the West Bank. I was working on a funding proposal and I got into contact with the project co-ordinator, Yasser Al-Haj. When I asked if he had any success stories about women who had gone through the literacy programme so that I could write them into my proposal as tangible evidence of what the Centre was providing, he seemed to shy away from talking about long-term goals and what these women are actually gaining from the programme. That set off alarm bells because anything you learn in school with regard to development is about long-term solutions and not band-aid patch-ups. After many conversations with him, it was clear to me that he felt frustrated as to the next step because a lot of the women leave this programme able to read and write, but become illiterate again within a year. It is not sustainable for them to continue taking classes indefinitely, but after they graduate, they have no access to books, magazines and literature in general, so they have no way to practice their skills. It was clear they needed access to books, so opening a library seemed like such an obvious thing that needed to happen.
SI: The library that you started is bilingual – English and Arabic. How did you research what kind of books would be appropriate?
ES: The books that we brought in our luggage were English books, and we purchased Arabic books while we were there. We tried to find English books for children that were not culturally inundated with Western values that might be insulting or at least inappropriate to a child living in a refugee camp. Our first thought was to focus on books that dealt with peace or the peace process, but Yasser felt strongly about keeping politics out of Karama Centre, even though we thought it could be positive. He wanted it to be a place to play, to read and write, and not to focus on the conflict that was causing them to be living in a refugee camp.
SI: What are the challenges of starting a library in the Occupied Territories?
ES: Funding is the biggest issue, plus the very tight controls on getting supplies into the West Bank. There are numerous cases of volunteers who were refused entry and had educational material confiscated.
SI: So it isn’t illegal to bring in books, but they have been confiscated by the Israeli Defense Forces at checkpoints?
ES: Yes. We had about 420 books in very large roller suitcases completely full, so they just would have had to crack the zipper to see what we had but we managed to get through. We were lucky – others weren’t.
SI. You came with English books, and then you made trips into East Jerusalem to buy Arabic books, meaning you had to go through checkpoints several more times bringing books with you.
ES: We would do that about once a week. The refugee camp is just outside Bethlehem, about a 30-minute drive from East Jerusalem. The security is always more intense on leaving the West Bank because you are then entering Israel. They search everything and want to know why you are in the West Bank and why you want to come into Israel. We always left the West Bank with nothing, so that was fairly easy. And we always got different soldiers at the checkpoints, so they never got suspicious. When leaving the refugee camp or returning later with books, we would tell them we were coming to Bethlehem to check out the Nativity scene.
SI: What has been the response to the library from the children and from the adult community?
ES: It was beautiful to see the reaction of the children after they realised that they could actually take these books home. There was an enthusiastic line-up every morning of children who would give you a kiss on the cheek and excitedly tell you the new words they had learned. Sometimes as I walked in the refugee camp, a parent would come up to me and thank me for the library and comment on how their son or daughter was reading books every day. There are a number of teenagers who hang out at the Centre. One of them goes to the University of Bethlehem and another graduated from the literacy programme at the Centre. When I left, they were coming to help run the library four days a week. The next thing we need to do is to hire a full-time librarian. Right now, there are not the funds to do so, but that is my main goal for when I go back: to be in a position to hire someone for at least a one-year contract. Also, I would like to bring in 1,000 books for the library.
SI: How would you fit 1,000 books into your suitcase?
ES: (Laughter.) No, I would do shuttles into Egypt. I have a friend in Egypt who lives near the border with Gaza. So I would fly into Cairo and buy the books, store them at my friend’s place, and do weekly trips between the West Bank and Egypt bringing in books each trip.
SI: What inspired Yasser to open the Centre?
ES: He said he was tired of seeing his family being mistreated. He himself was not born in the camp but many of his nieces and nephews were and have not experienced life beyond the camp. He reflects on his experience growing up in Palestine, playing outdoors, climbing olive trees. He sees how these children are growing up in the camp that is overcrowded. There is nowhere to play soccer or kick a ball around, there is no space to play. His first vision for the Centre was to have a plot of land that children could play on and just be kids. From there, he expanded and was able to offer activities, raising funds to buy soccer balls and a badminton set. Then teachers began to volunteer after work and offer reading classes.
SI: What kind of opportunities do you see for the children as they learn to read and write?
ES: Although they still face huge daily obstacles, by closing the gap in education, they may have better employment opportunities. Also, literacy gives you access to different ways of thinking, broadens your horizons, your world view. As an example, the kids were reading an illustrated book for children on the life of Nelson Mandela. They loved it and asked: “Is this man real?” because they had never heard of him. Another book was called Children in Peace, about young activists. A young girl who was killed in Gaza, Rachel Corey, was in this book and they were able to see how these young people were doing things in the world. They were not rich or famous but they were informed and speaking out against things they did not agree with, so hopefully that offered the camp children some inspiration. Getting an education also fosters critical thinking in the children, which is a help as their situation can be very frustrating. Yasser was alarmed to see the increase in female suicide bombers and he attributed this to the fact that many were not educated.
SI: Would literacy also provide the children with opportunities for higher learning?
ES: Most definitely. Opportunities are there but they are very limited. There are places put aside for Arab students in Israeli schools, but because of the structural inequalities and the violence that the Arab students experience in their daily lives, they are not able to continue to fill the spaces provided, so the drop-out rate in the Israeli schools is about 50 per cent.
SI: Is there anything else you would like to add?
ES: Since I have been home in Canada, I have just wanted to talk to people about the situation in Palestine. When you see something resembling apartheid occurring and people are so afraid of the discourse, the language about what is happening, I think this is one reason why the situation has been sustained as long as it has. We need to acknowledge, recognise, address and label – to name what is happening.
I think once we do that, it will open dialogues in the international community that will hopefully lead to peaceful solutions. When I use the word apartheid, people shudder. If this is apartheid, then we can’t let it happen: the UN has made that abundantly clear.
It is important to get informed and to realise that is what is going on in Palestine. People tend to write the situation off as a religious conflict that has been going on for ever. They think: “I am not Muslim. I am not Jewish. I am not from that part of the world, so I am not allowed to have an opinion about it.” I think that way of thinking is dangerous and enables the conflict to continue.
For more information: www.karama.org
by Gerard Aartsen
From 23 to 28 March 2012 an international group of people gathered in the unassuming city of Caguas, Puerto Rico, to discuss principles and practices of democratic education. While none of that sounds earth shattering, the organiser, the city and the conference itself represent remarkable stories that combined to give participants in the 20th International Democratic Education Conference (IDEC2012) a profound sense of history in the making, almost like a peek behind the scenes where, according to Benjamin Creme’s Master, many changes have already taken place.
As a teacher educator at a mainstream school of education, I am aware of various long-standing experiments in educational practice, such as the schools founded by Jiddu Krishnamurti in India, the UK and the USA, Summerhill School in the UK and the Sudbury Valley schools that originated in the US in 1969, but I never expected that a conference about democratic education held in Puerto Rico would attract 800 people from around the world, representing institutes for both traditional and alternative education from 25 countries, including Turkey, South Africa, Australia, Japan, India and Burma.…
Young and old
As the organisers designed IDEC2012 in a way to have youth fully integrated into the conference, a substantial contribution was made by members of the Puerto Rican Youth Forum. Natalia Rosado, 18, and Diego Negrón, 15, were responsible for opening the plenary sessions, generating proposals, as well as facilitating workshops and the evening ‘dialogues’, where proposals for future editions of IDEC were discussed and agreed. It was inspiring, not only to see young people so actively involved and engaged in facilitating meetings that were attended by an average of 40 to 60 people, many of whom are stalwarts of the democratic education movement, but to see the process of participatory democracy alive and in action among young and old. Anyone who attended had the right to speak and to vote.
Not only the participants, but the organizing parties too made the Conference into a living example of true democracy. One of these was Nuestra Escuela, or ‘Our School’, whose amazing staff and students were responsible for the successful day-to-day running of the conference. Many also participated in plenary sessions or workshops, with a simultaneous translation facility as one of very few hired services.
Nuestra Escuela was founded in 2000 to provide educational opportunities for teenagers from disadvantaged backgrounds or former high school drop-outs who would otherwise be facing drugs- or crime-related problems. In his opening address at the conference founder and director of Nuestra Escuela Justo Mendéz said: “They are not drop-outs; the school system abandoned them. We rescue their interests and values.”
About a year after his daughter Ana Mercedes died in a car accident, Mr Méndez had a dream in which she appeared to him, saying: “Papi, we’re going to make a school.” Justo answered: “My dear, how are we going to make a school?” Ana Mercedes replied: “Yes, daddy, we’re going to make a school, Our School. Just let yourself go.” When he shared his dream with his wife Ana Yris, she noticed a sparkle in Justo’s eyes for the first time since their daughter’s death.
The school’s approach is based on human contact and at the start of every semester new students as well as staff are taken for what is called a ‘vital essence’ retreat, meant to find or reconnect with their essential selves and their purpose in life. The educational model is personalised and teaches basic civic, ethics and academic skills and attitudes to improve the physical, psychological and social conditions that enable them to contribute to the construction of a democratic society.
Since its inception, Nuestra Escuela has expanded to four schools in Puerto Rico – Caguas, La Barra, Loíza and Vieques – as well as a preschool, Nuestra Escuelita, in the capital San Juan, that serve as sustainable support centres to over 300 young people and their families. Nuestra Escuela has an extremely high retention rate of 98 per cent of students, all of whom graduate and find their way into college, university or the job market. In contrast, the traditional education system in Puerto Rico has a retention rate of 60 per cent, only 30 per cent of whom will have acquired basic skills.
Another of the remarkable features of the conference was the hosting city of Caguas. The previous mayor, William Miranda Marín, had declared Caguas “The New Country”, involving people in government and spearheading education, and his son, William Miranda Torres, who was elected mayor after his father’s death, said in his opening address that education is the experience that constructs the human being and should allow him an experience in democratic participation. His aim is to strengthen the life of the citizenry for the renewal of social cohesion and peaceful coexistence and to promote critical awareness. To this end, the mayor has designated Caguas an Education City, where comprehensive opportunities for education engage both students and the whole community.…
The underlying aims of democratic education exceed the traditional goals of merely transferring knowledge and skills, to include the development of the whole individual, with a focus on self-knowledge or self-discovery, student-directed learning or self-determination, social responsibility and sense of community, human values and collaboration. Ginny Marxuach Lausell, founder of Espacio A, a democratic learning environment in San Juan, said in the opening plenary that students should be involved in designing their own curriculum: “Educators need to shift from ‘power over’ to ‘power with’ in order to create an authentic learning community of students, educators, parents and the wider community.” Her words were echoed by Pedro Subirats Camaraza, professor of Philosophy and Education at the University of Puerto Rico and the Interamerican University, who said in one workshop: “Democracy can exist in words without action. Education can only exist in action. Community is where both can be linked when the people take action to regulate themselves.”
The conference concluded with an artistic closing ceremony in front of the city hall with a dazzling mix of song, dance and acrobatics, designed, choreographed and performed by students from Nuestra Escuela and other schools in Caguas, who had been practising every day for a year and drew a standing ovation from the audience.
Like many other conference participants, I felt that for four days I had had the privilege of experiencing how the world will be healed and transformed.
Youth Forum leaders Diego Negrón and Natalia Rosado (center left) listen as the Korean delegation deliver their pitch during one of the evening ‘dialogues’.
“We ♥ you”
Their countries may be dangerously close to confrontation but the citizens of Israel and Iran are extending a hand of peace across cyberspace and across borders. Israeli graphic designer Ronnie Edri recently launched a quirky campaign to build peace with the Iranian public.
Posted on Facebook and YouTube the campaign’s logo is “We ♥ you”. The message is clear: “Iranians, we will never bomb your country.” The sites were an instant success with thousands of hits from Israelis and Iranians.
Edri’s initiative reaches out to all. His stance is explicitly anti-war: “I’m not an official representative of my country. I’m a father and a teacher. I know the streets of my town, I talk with my neighbours, my family, my students, my friends and in the name of all these people … we love you. We mean you no harm. On the contrary, we want to meet, have some coffee and talk about sports.”
The first postings were of a simple and direct message and also showed a picture of himself and his young daughter on the Facebook page of Pushpin Mehina, his Tel Aviv design school. Speaking into the camera Edri says in English: “For there to be a war between us, first we must be afraid of each other, we must hate. I’m not afraid of you, I don’t hate you.... I don’t even know you. No Iranian ever did me no harm. I never even met an Iranian… Just one in Paris in a museum. Nice dude.”
In a later YouTube video he appealed for reason and addressed the most charged issue between the Muslim and Jewish governments. “I see sometimes here, on the TV, an Iranian. He is talking about war. I’m sure he does not represent all the people of Iran.
“If you see someone on your TV talking about bombing you … be sure he does not represent all of us.”
Within days the campaign got dozens of messages and comments on Facebook – and even a new Iranian Facebook page in response. The Iranian page says “We love you Israeli people” and features a picture of Abdol Hossein Sardari, an Iranian ambassador to Paris in the 1940s who has been called the ‘Iranian Schindler’ for his efforts to save Iranian Jews in France from the Nazis.
Speaking to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Edri said that an Iranian had sent him a private message: “We also love you. Your words are reaching us despite the censorship…The Iranian people, apart from the regime, do not hold a grudge nor animosity against anyone, especially not the Israelis….We never saw Israelis as our enemies. As such, the regime cannot gain public support for war.” (Sources: Haaretz, Israel, www.facebook.com/israellovesiran; www.facebook.com/Israeli.People.We.Love.You; YouTube.com)
Palestinian sympathiser on Israeli Big Brother
Saar Szekely, 27, became a household name in Israel recently, after appearing on the popular television programme ‘Big Brother’. Recruited as a wild-card candidate, his objective was to voice his left-wing views on prime-time television. The Tel Aviv-based artist, against the odds, made it to the final, and became something of a heart-throb. Entering the house in January 2012, after nine weeks of the show Szekely’s conversations started to get more airtime, and then became the focus of the series.
“I like the way he expresses himself,” says one viewer, Shelly Malnick, 23, from Haifa. “I don’t agree with everything he says. There are harsh things he has said about soldiers that were really hard to listen to. But he doesn’t stoop to bickering – he has a backbone and he never steps down from a well-mannered discussion. That is why most Israelis love him.” It helps, she says, that he is “very good looking”.
An unlikely friendship developed between Szekely and Eran Tartakovsky, a former Israeli army officer. Maariv Daily’s deputy editor, Shai Golden, wrote: “Eran embracing him was like giving him a kosher stamp.”
Co-creator of 972 magazine, Ami Kaufman reported: “They just have the most amazing conversations; very calm, very un-Big Brother-like. I think that’s one of the only things I like about this reality show: the dialogues are very representative of the political discourse that goes on in this country. Percentage-wise, it’s probably the equivalent to what’s going on outside the house as well. It is very symbolic of what is going on in Israel.”
The series received some of the highest viewer ratings Israeli television had ever had with an average of three in 10 Israelis a night, because of the controversy created by Szekely. (Source: The Guardian, UK)