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The Treasured Wisdom of Religious, Spiritual, and Moral Traditionsis it in the tool box?

(part 3 of An Introduction to Community Peacebuilding and Cultural Sustainability) (All 3 documents in the series are accessible at http://cpcsc.info/about-this-website/ )

by Stefan Pasti, Resource Coordinator Community Peacebuilding and Cultural Sustainability (at www.cpcsc.info )
there are truths which none can be free to ignore, if one is to have that wisdom through which life can become useful. These are the truths concerning the structures of the good life and concerning the factual conditions by 1 which it may be achieved.

Introduction
Consider the above observation (from The Harvard Committee report) in relation to the List of Ten Critical Challenges offered as part 1 of this seriesand what comes to mind? For me, what comes to mind is that some of the challenges listed are the result of ignoring truths which none can be free to ignore. When there is a loss of the collective moral compass; when there is a marginalization of the treasured wisdom of religious, spiritual, and moral traditions; when cultures of violence, greed, corruption, and overindulgence are so common that most people believe them to be inevitablethere will be multiple challenges in any society, culture, or international circumstances. And if such deficits are not remedied? Then there does exist the possibility of unprecedented disaster. It is my view that we are now at a critical point in the evolution of spiritual understanding. In this part 3 of the 3 part series titled An Introduction to Community Peacebuilding and Cultural Sustainability, I will offer some indicators which illustrate the serious nature of our collective circumstances, and offer some suggestions for how we might recalibrate our moral compass, and remedy the deficits described in the paragraph above. I believe we are going to need all the treasures of cultural evolution we have, and make best use of all the skills and knowledge each one of us has, if we are to achieve the necessary degree of problem solving (i.e. problem solving on a scale most of us have never known before). For some readers, the List of Ten Critical Challenges will be enough evidence that we have lost our collective moral compass. For those readers, it will be enough to think over what they themselves have seen or read or experiencedi.e. what they have learned about lifeand they will know that the List of Ten Critical Challenges (or something closely resembling that list) is a realistic assessment of our current position. For other readers, their list of ten critical challenges may look different, but it will still be a list which requires problem solving on a scale most of us have never known before. For readers who do not see the serious nature of our collective circumstancesor who would need more evidence to see the serious nature of our circumstancesI offer (below) 13 insights into life on planet Earth at this point in time (mostly from the IPCR Critical Challenges Assessment 2011-2012: Summary Report), and 8 questions (in the following section)questions which may illustrate how prepared (or unprepared) we are to resolve the challenges of our times. In addition (for all readers, I hope), I also share some ideas and commentary on the theme of integrating spiritual wisdom into the everyday circumstances of community life (i.e. realistic and practical ways for making best use of the wisdom which has accumulated over 5,000 years of human history).

I offer this post as Part 3 in a Three Part series under the heading of An Introduction to Community Peacebuilding and Cultural Sustainability. Part 1 of the series is titled A List of Ten Critical Challenges, and Part 2 of the series is titled A Constellation of Initiatives Approach to Overcoming the Ten Critical Challenges. (All 3 documents in the series are accessible at http://cpcsc.info/about-this-website/ ) There are 13 sections to this 27 page document: Introduction Evidence of the serious nature of our collective circumstances (13 Observations) Why the above 13 Observations are included in this document (commentary) Are we prepared to resolve the challenges of our times? (8 Questions) The Great Responsibility on Representatives of Religious, Spiritual, and Moral Traditions 6 propositions which I believe will become self-evident truths in the years and decades ahead The Interfaith Peacebuilding and Community Revitalization (IPCR) Initiative Some Excerpts from Brief Descriptions of The Eight IPCR Concepts On the importance of surveys and questionnaires in determining workshop content 24/7 Peace Vigils Three Additional Observations Four short documents which summarize my work up to this point The Community Peacebuilding and Cultural Sustainability Website (at www.cpcsc.info ) Concluding Comments (Note: The same Concluding Comments section have been included at the end of part 1 and part 2 of this series. Thus, I am giving much emphasis to those comments.)

Evidence of the serious nature about our collective circumstances (13 Observations)
[Note: These observations are offered as additional commentaryto that provided in the List of Ten Critical Challengesand as signposts pointing to even more commentary and evidence in the documents Many Danger Signs Flashing Red (62 pages; Nov., 2012) and IPCR Critical Challenges Assessment 2011-2012: Summary Report (444 pages)] 1) the media do not merely reflect or reinforce culture, but in fact shape attitudes, values, behavior, preoccupations, and myths. From International Communications: A Media Literacy Approach by Art Silverblatt and Nikolai Zlobin M.E. Sharpe July, 2004 (most content accessible at Google Books) Popular programming reflects a level of acceptance and shared values among large numbers of people. People tend to watch programs that meet their approval. If they are truly offended by violent programs, they would not watch them. In that sense, media programming can be regarded as a text that reflects the attitudes, values, behaviors, preoccupations, and myths that define a culture. (p. 66) At the same time, media programming reinforces cultural attitudes, values, behaviors, preoccupations, and myths. Media messages are communicated through the countless hours of media programming that repeat, directly or indirectly, the cultural script. (p. 68)

Finally, the media do not merely reflect or reinforce culture, but in fact shape attitudes, values, behavior, preoccupations, and myths. (p. 68) The international market is saturated with American entertainment programming. Hollywood films account for approximately 85% of movie audiences worldwide. Further, American programming makes up approximately 65% of global prime-time TV viewing. (p. 69)
2) worldwide advertising spending will reach $421 billion in 2009.

From article Worldwide Advertising Spending by Media (July 22, 2009) at the website BitBriefs (Marketing Trends, News, Stats) (see http://www.bauer360.com/newsWatching%20the%20Worldwide%20Ad%20Spending%20Scuffle.html ) (confirmed September 8, 2013) According to the Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2009-2013 (PricewaterhouseCoopers) (PwC), worldwide advertising spending will reach $421 billion in 2009. (Also included: a Table which breaks down the spending into categories.) 3) What is basic is that advertising, as such, with all its vast power to influence values and conduct, cannot ever lose sight of the fact that it ultimately regards man as a consumer and defines its own mission as one of stimulating him to consume or to desire to consume. The following passages are excerpts from People of Plenty: Economic Abundance and the American Character by David M. Potter (first edition 1954) (p. 176-177)(partially accessible at Google Books) (confirmed September 8, 2013) we must realize at once that we are dealing with one of the very limited group of institutions which guide the life of the individual by conceiving of him in a distinctive way and encouraging him to conform as far as possible to the concept. For instance, the church, representing the force of religion, conceives of man as an immortal soul; our schools and colleges, representing the force of learning, conceive of him as a being whose behavior is guided by reason; our business and industry, representing the force of the economic free-enterprise system, conceive of him as a productive agent who can create goods or render services that are useful to mankind. Advertising, of course, is committed to none of these views and entertains them only incidentally. Representing as it does the force of a vast productive mechanism seeking outlets for an overwhelming flow of goods, it conceives of man as a consumer. Each institution is distinctive, again, in the qualities to which it appeals and in the character of the reward which it offers: the church appeals to the spirit of conscience of the individual and offers the rewards of salvation and peace of mind; learning appeals to the reason of man and offers the hope of a perfected society from which evils have been eliminated by the application of wisdom; free enterprise appeals to the energies and the capacities of man and offers the rewards of property, personal attainment, and satisfaction in the job. Advertising appeals primarily to the desires, the wantscultivated or naturalor the individual, and it sometimes offers as its goal a power to command the envy of others by outstripping them in the consumption of goods and services. To pursue this parallel a step further, one may add that the traditional institutions have tried to improve man and to develop in him qualities of social value, though, of course, these values have not always been broadly conceived. The church has sought to inculcate virtue and consideration of others 3

the golden rule; the schools have made it their business to stimulate ability and to impart skills; the free enterprise system has constantly stressed the importance of hard work and the sinfulness of unproductive occupations. And at least two of these institutions, the church and the school, have been very self-conscious about their roles as guardians of the social values and have conducted themselves with a considerable degree of social responsibility. In contrast with these, advertising has in its dynamics no motivation to seek the improvement of the individual or to impart qualities of social usefulness, unless conformity to material values may be so characterized. And though it wields an immense social influence, comparable to the influence of religion and learning, it has no social goals and no social responsibility for what it does with its influence, so long as it refrains from palpable violations of truth and decency. It is this lack of institutional responsibility, this lack of inherent social purpose to balance social power, which, I would argue, is a basic cause for concern about the role of advertising. Occasional deceptions, breaches of taste, and deviations from sound ethical conduct are in a sense superficial and are not necessarily intrinsic. Equally, high-minded types of advertising which we see more regularly than we sometimes realize are also extraneous to an analysis of the basic nature of advertising. What is basic is that advertising, as such, with all its vast power to influence values and conduct, cannot ever lose sight of the fact that it ultimately regards man as a consumer and defines its own mission as one of stimulating him to consume or to desire to consume. 4) The underlying assumption seemed to be that as research and rational reflection explained more and more of the world, religion would become an increasingly unnecessary part of human life. From Introduction to The American University in a Post Secular Age Edited by Douglas Jacobsen and Rhonda Jacobsen Oxford University Press USA February, 2008 (passage is from paragraph 1 of Introduction on p. ix) [accessible at Google Books) (confirmed September 8, 2013) For most of the 20th Century, and especially since the Second World War, higher education has been largely a secular enterprise. The goal of a college or university education has been to provide students with scholarly ways of understanding both themselves and the world around them that required little or no appeal to God, religion, or the sacred. The underlying assumption seemed to be that as research and rational reflection explained more and more of the world, religion would become an increasingly unnecessary part of human life. Higher education prepares students for the future, and religion was not particularly relevant for the future as it was envisioned at most universities. 5) From the processed food sold in grocery stores to the prepared food sold in fast food restaurants, we are surrounded with tempting options that arent good for us. From HBO Series: The Weight of the Nation: Confronting the Obersity Epidemic (Part 4: Challenges; 1 hour and 8 miinutes) (4 part series) (at http://theweightofthenation.hbo.com/films/mainfilms/Challenges ) (confirmed September 8, 2013) (from paragraph 6 of text overview of Part 4) One of the main reasons Americans eat as poorly as we do may be the ubiquity of low-priced, unhealthy foods and their promotion - not only everywhere, but at all times of day. From the processed 4

food sold in grocery stores to the prepared food sold in fast food restaurants, we are surrounded with tempting options that arent good for us. Highlights: 16:0020:35 (The modern food industryand automated societyhas caused changes in our lifestyle) 43:2547:45 (The real cost of the modern food industryand policy options) 6) Economics is one thing; morality is, quite clearly, another. The following passages are excerpts from the article Moral Disagreement, Moral Education, Common Ground by Warren A. Nord in Making Good Citizens: Education and Civil Society Edited by Diane Ravitch and Joseph P. Viteritti Yale University Press 2003 [only the first two paragraphs (below) are accessible at Google Books] (confirmed September 8, 2013) It is a little surprising that there has been no controversy over economics education, because economics is, in our culture, deeply controversial, often on moral and religious grounds.. A part of the problem is what the texts and the new national standards leave out. They say little about poverty, especially as a moral or spiritual problem. They are usually silent about the moral relation of the First and Third Worlds. They typically ignore the effects of economics and technology on the environment. They are oblivious to the moral and spiritual problems of consumer culture. They ask no questions about dehumanizing work. They emphasize the important of the profit motive and competition, but say nothing about the possibility of excess profits or the possible costs of competition. (Furthermore) the economics world (is) defined in terms of competition of self-interested individuals with unlimited wants for scarce resources. (and) decisions should be made according to cost-benefit analyses that maximize whatever it is that we value and leave no room in the equation for duties, the sacred, or those dimensions of life that arent quantifiable. Economics is one thing; morality is, quite clearly, another. (p159-160) The texts and the standards approach economics not as a subject, open to various moral, political, and religious interpretations; but as a discipline, as a hard social science. In the process, they convey uncritically to students a particular way of thinking about values, human nature, and social institutions that is deeply controversial. (p161) 7) our analysis of physical flows shows that these and most other so-called advanced economies are running massive, unaccounted, ecological deficits with the rest of the planet (Table 1). From Revisiting Carrying Capacity: Area Based Indicators of Sustainability, by William E. Rees (at www.dieoff.org/page110.htm ) (confirmed September 8,2013) [Note: article appeared in Population and Environment: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies Volume 17, Number 3, January 1996] Ecological FootprintThe corresponding area of productive land and aquatic ecosystems required to produce the resources used, and to assimilate the wastes produced, by a defined population at a specified material standard of living, wherever on Earth that land may be located. (in subsection
Footprinting the Human Economy; in Box 3 A Family of Area-based Sustainability Indicators)

Cities necessarily appropriate the ecological output and life support functions of distant regions all over the world through commercial trade and the natural biogeochemical cycles of energy and material. Indeed, the annual flows of natural income required by any defined population can be called its appropriated carrying capacity. Since for every material flow there must be a corresponding land/ecosystem source or sink, the total area of land/water required to sustain these flows on a continuous basis is the true ecological footprint of the referent population on the Earth. [see section
Appropriating Carrying Capacity and Ecological Footprints (paragraph 5)]

as a result of high population densities, the enormous increase in per capita energy and material consumption made possible by (and required by) technology, and universally increasing dependencies on trade, the ecological locations of human settlements no longer coincide with their geographic locations. Twentieth century cities and industrial regions are dependent for survival and growth on a vast and increasingly global hinterland of ecologically productive landscapes. [see section Appropriating
Carrying Capacity and Ecological Footprints (paragraph 4)]

Ecological DeficitThe level of resource consumption and waste discharge by a defined economy or population in excess of locally/regionally sustainable natural production and assimilative capacity (also, in spatial terms, the difference between that economy/populations ecological footprint and the geographic area it actually occupies). [see section Appropriating Carrying Capacity and Ecological Footprints (Box 3: A Family of Area-Based Sustainability Indicators)] .However, our analysis of physical flows shows that these and most other so-called advanced economies are running massive, unaccounted, ecological deficits with the rest of the planet (Table 1). These data emphasize that all the countries listed, except for Canada, are overpopulated in ecological termsthey could not sustain themselves at current material standards if forced by changing circumstances to live on their remaining endowments of domestic natural capital. This is hardly a good model for the rest of the world to follow. [see section Appropriating Carrying Capacity and Ecological Footprints (and subsection Footprinting the Human Economy, paragraphs 10-11)] Ecological Footprint Analysis supports the argument that to be sustainable, economic growth has to be much less material and energy intensive than at present. [in subsection Addressing the Double-Bind of
Sustainability, see Bullet #6]

8) The campaign to depopulate the countryside is seen as the best way to maintain Chinas spectacular run of fast economic growth, with new city dwellers driving demand for decades to come. From Leaving the Land (Part 1) Chinas Great Uprooting: Moving 250 Million Into Cities by Ian Johnson (June 15, 2013) (at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/16/world/asia/chinas-great-uprootingmoving-250-million-into-cities.html?hp&_r=2& ) (confirmed September 8, 2013)[Articles in this (New York Times) series look at how Chinas government-driven effort to push the population to towns and cities is reshaping a nation that for millenniums has been defined by its rural life.] The push has the support of the highest reaches of the government, with the new prime minister, Li Keqiang, a strong proponent of accelerated urbanization. The campaign to depopulate the countryside is seen as the best way to maintain Chinas spectacular run of fast economic growth, with new city dwellers driving demand for decades to come. (from paragraph 6)

9) which model of human settlements are more likely to be sustainable: 52 megacities with populations of 5 million people or more or 13,000 ecologically sustainable cities and towns? From IPCR Critical Challenges Assessment 2011-2012: Summary Report (by this writer) (and accessible from http://cpcsc.info/the-ipcr-initiative/ (see page 257-258 ) (confirmed September 8, 2013) There is evidence from many sources in the IPCR Critical Challenges Assessment 2011-2012: Summary Report (2012) (444 pages) which is pointing towards a need for: 1) a significant increase of people who can find contentment and quality of life while consuming much less material goods and ecological services 2) a significant reversal of the trend toward urbanization, and a transition towards ecologically sustainable cities, towns, and villages 3) a significant increase in initiatives working to redesign the human economy so that such activity supports the sustainability of associated ecosystems, instead of damaging the sustainability of such ecosystems Such evidence brings forward the following questions: a) If there is going to be a significant reversal of the urbanization trend, and a significant transition from megacities to ecologically sustainable cities, towns, and villages, what would such a transition look like? b) Given that there are now more than 400 cities with over 1 million people, how many ecologically sustainable cities and towns of 50,000 people would need to be created if there was a significant migration from megacities to small cities and townships? The following thought experiment is one exploration of what such a transition might look like. Since there are approximately 19 cities with over 10 million people, and approximately 33 cities with between 5 million and 10 million people, the calculations must be an estimate. Here is an estimate: if all the 400 cities (above) had only 1 million people exactly, an estimate would be 8,000 townships of 50,000 (400 million divided by 50,000). If we add to the 400 million figure an additional 50 cities with 5 million (as a rough method of approximating the total number of people living in mega-cities ), we arrive at 650 million. 650 million divided by 50,000 = 13,000. 13,000 ecologically sustainable cities and towns (which rounds up to an even higher number if many small villages make up many of the 50,000 segments). In circumstances of an urgent need to adjust to austerity measures associated with public debt; to reduce indiscriminate consumption as a response to the implications of global warming, peak oil, peak water, and the depletion of many other key resourcesand to conserve resources for emergency assistance; and in circumstances which require reducing extensive transport of food and other products, reducing extensive transport and processing of waste, reducing indiscriminant consumption, reducing carbon emissions, and approximating zero wastewhich model of human settlements are more likely to be sustainable: 52 megacities with populations of 5 million people or more or 13,000 ecologically sustainable cities and towns?

10) Unfortunately, the kind of economic growth which is most often being referred to includes a vast array of enterprises which require the continued exploitation of flaws and weaknesses in human nature, fragile ecosystems, and already significantly depleted natural resources. From an 8 page introduction to IPCR Critical Challenges Assessment 2011-2012: Summary Report (by this writer) (and accessible at http://cpcsc.info/the-ipcr-initiative/ (see page xi) (confirmed September 8, 2013) Again and again, in references to the debt crises, there is mention of the need for economic growth.... Unfortunately, the kind of economic growth which is most often being referred to includes a vast array of enterprises which require the continued exploitation of flaws and weaknesses in human nature, fragile ecosystems, and already significantly depleted natural resourcesand which are much of the reason why cultures of violence, greed, and corruption have become so common that most people believe they are inevitable. many of the issues which have resulted in the debt crises (and many other critical challenges) are problems which are at the very core of our difficulties with being human beingsand thus will require much more than the usual amount of problem solving, if we are to change course. The debts owed are not just monetary. The debts owed include the quantity of human effort which will needed in the future to remedy the destructive consequences of the tragic moral lapses in the pastand the destructive consequences of tragic moral lapses in our present circumstances. 11) A realistic picture of the human mind reveals many such primitive traits and survivals, which are still playing their roles just as if nothing had happened during the last 500 years. From Man and His Symbols by Carl Gustav Jung, Editor Dell Publishing New York 1968 (p. 85-86) (accessible at google books; search key word superstitious , choose first option) To be more accurate, the surface of our world seems to be cleansed of all superstitious and irrational elements. Whether, however, the real inner human world (not our wish-fulfilling fiction about it) is also freed from primitivity is another question. Is the number 13 not still taboo for many people? Are there not still many individuals possessed by irrational prejudices, projections, and childish illusions? A realistic picture of the human mind reveals many such primitive traits and survivals, which are still playing their roles just as if nothing had happened during the last 500 years. It is essential to appreciate this point. Modern man is in fact a curious mixture of characteristics acquired over the long ages of his mental development. This mixed-up being is the man and his symbols that we have to deal with, and we must scrutinize his mental products very carefully indeed. Skepticism and scientific conviction exist in him side by side with old-fashioned prejudices, outdated habits of thoughts and feeling, obstinate misinterpretations ,and blind ignorance. Such are the contemporary human beings who produce the symbols we psychologists investigate.

12) These cultural differences become even more problematic when groups have radically different expectations about what is virtuous, what is right, and how to deal with moral conflicts. From Maiese, Michelle. "Moral or Value Conflicts." Beyond Intractability. Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. Conflict Information Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. Posted: July 2003 <http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/intolerable-moral-differences> (confirmed September 8, 2013) Because systems of meaning and ways of thinking differ from one culture to another, people from different cultures typically develop different ideas about morality and the best way to live. They often have different conceptions of moral authority, truth, and the nature of community. These cultural differences become even more problematic when groups have radically different expectations about what is virtuous, what is right, and how to deal with moral conflicts. (Section What is Moral Conflict?, paragraph 7) Some of the problems: a) Each party may believe that its ways of doing things and thinking about things is the best way and come to regard other ways of thinking and acting as inferior, strange, or morally wrong. (Section What is Moral Conflict?, paragraph 4) b) They may form negative stereotypes and attribute moral depravity or other negative characteristics to those who violate their cultural expectations, while they ignore their own vices and foibles, perceiving their own group to be entirely virtuous. (Section Negative Stereotyping, paragraph 1) c) Participants in moral conflict often behave immorally, even according to their own standards of behavior, because they believe the actions of their enemies force them to do so.The demonization or dehumanization of one's opponent that often occurs in moral conflict paves the way for hateful action and violence. (Section Effects of Moral Conflict, paragraph 1) d) They may view any compromise about their most cherished values as a threat to their very identity and a grave evil. (Section Why Moral Conflict is Intractable?, paragraph 5) e) In some cases, one group may come to view the beliefs and actions of another group as fundamentally evil and morally intolerable. This often results in hostility and violence and severely damages the relationship between the two groups. For this reason, moral conflicts tend to be quite harmful and intractable. (Section What is Moral Conflict?, paragraph 8) 13) Who can we turn to to assure us that wecollectively will avoid an outcome in which many people learn of the challenges of our times in a way which leads to a loss of hope and feelings of desperation? From the document Peacebuilding in its Most Compassionate Form by this writer (Stefan Pasti) (2007) (see p. 9-10) (also accessible from http://cpcsc.info/the-ipcr-initiative/ ) And yet arriving at a full appreciation of the difficulty of our current circumstances is both difficult and risky, as arriving at such a point without also having sufficient faith and wisdomand access to appropriate resourcescould be overwhelming, and could lead to many people losing hope and becoming desperate. After all, consider that in one of the documents which has assisted many people to a fuller awareness of the implications of peak oil (the Hirsch Report), the suggestion is made that

successful risk management of such a profound change in human affairs will require that large scale mitigation activity commence ten years before the actual peak occurs. How much more time, might we imagine, will be needed for the profound changes in human affairs necessary to overcome all the challenges described in (A List of Ten Critical Challenges)? Who can we turn to to assure us that wecollectively will avoid an outcome in which many people learn of the challenges of our times in a way which leads to a loss of hope and feelings of desperation? How can wecollectivelyarrive at a point where a significant majority of the people currently living on this planet have sufficient faith and wisdomand access to appropriate resourcesto make genuine contributions towards overcoming the challenges of our times? This writer believesand hopes many other people share this beliefthat if we are to overcome the challenges of our times we will need not only the resources which innovators can prove the existence of by scientific method; we will also need the resources which people of faith believe exist as a result of inner experience. As an example of this point of view, consider the following: one proposition of The IPCR Initiative is thatfor the current generation to overcome the challenges of our timeseach person will need to do his or her part, and trust that the others involved will do their part. To repeat: each person will need to do his or her part, and trust that the others involved will do their part (thus) Are we really doing our part? When the going gets difficult in our personal lives, will we have enough faith to continue to do our part? And will we have enough wisdom to understand that it is just as important for others to maintain their faith, as it is for us to maintain ours? How will we be able to trust others, and others be able to trust us, if each of us sees our different pathways to wisdom as a threat, instead of a discovery from which we all might benefit? We are at a critical point in the evolution of spiritual understanding.

Why the above 13 Observations are included in this document (commentary)


The above 13 observations are one way of trying to help readers understand the serious nature of our current circumstances. The source documents from which this writer derived the List of Ten Critical Challenges [Many Danger Signs Flashing Red (62 pages) and IPCR Critical Challenges Assessment 2011-2012: Summary Report (444 pages)] provide much more evidencebut it may be more difficult for readers of those documents to connect the dots. One of the difficulties in connecting the dots is the complexity of the issuesespecially the global warming issue. However, many people (including a majority of scientists in fields related to global warming) have examined the evidence on the global warming issue, and concluded that global warming is a very serious problem. Unfortunately, what many people do not see, and what the above 13 observations can help connect the dots with, is that there are many multi-faceted and interdisciplinary issues which contribute significantly to the global warming issueand that every one of those issues are being made much worse because of the marginalization of the treasured wisdom of religious, spiritual, and moral traditions. In the paragraphs below, I comment on the 13 observations above, in an effort to connect the dots. Consider:

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Observation #1 Who doesnt know from their own experience that popular mass media programmingwhether it be television, radio, newspapers, magazines, or visual media on the Internetcontains a significant amount of material which is unsuitable for use in educating people to become responsible citizens? Is there anything about our individual (and our collective) moral compass which urges us to remedy such circumstances (that many of our fellow human beings are not being educated to become responsible citizens)? Observations #2 and #3 Commercial advertising is an especially significant part of the experiences people have with mass media programmingand advertising has in its dynamics no motivation to seek the improvement of the individual or to impart qualities of social usefulnessit ultimately regards man as a consumer and defines its own mission as one of stimulating him to consume or to desire to consume (quoted passages from David Potter, above). Can a significant majority of people identify with such a definition of themselves (as a consumer), and quality of life on Earth continue on indefinitely, for hundreds of years? A very detailed No answer to this question can be found in an article titled Death by Consumption by Dennis Soron (March, 2005; Labour/Le Travail) (a review of three books, including State of the World 2004Special Focus: The Consumer Society) (review at http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Death+by+consumption.-a0132192567 ) Here is one of his concluding comments: The future of life on earth depends on our ability to resist being hoodwinked by the hollow enticements of consumer culture, to develop a more conscientious relationship to the stuff we consume on a daily basis, and to reorient our lives and identities around non-material sources of fulfillment. There have been societies in the past which benefitted from the wisdom which encourages people to a) sacrifice personal desires for the greater good of the whole and b) find contentment and quality of life while consuming less material goods and ecological services. But is such wisdom a value which is given much priority now? No, such wisdom is marginalized. Observation #4, #5, and #6 At the beginning of this document, there is the quote from General Education in a Free Society (The Harvard Committee, 1945): there are truths which none can be free to ignore, if one is to have that wisdom through which life can become useful. These are the truths concerning the structures of the good life and concerning the factual conditions by which it may be achieved. Observation #4 includes the quotes For most of the 20th Century, and especially since the Second World War, higher education has been largely a secular enterprise and The underlying assumption seemed to be that as research and rational reflection explained more and more of the world, religion would become an increasingly unnecessary part of human life. Here again, is evidence of the marginalization of the treasured wisdom of religious, spiritual, and moral traditionsfor if we do not hope to find, in those traditions, truths about the structures of the good life and concerning the factual conditions by which it may be achieved., where would we hope to find such wisdom? And yet what can we say about the modernized food systems and nutritional choices that are part of our everyday lives? Do we find ourselves in circumstances where we can easily apply rational reflection, and exercise wisdom, in the choices we make about food on a daily basis? Observation #5: The 4 part HBO series on the obesity epidemic in the United States provides evidence that our ability to apply rational reflection and exercise wisdom in the areas of food systems and nutritional choices has been significantly compromised. Consider the following example: There are now many communities of people who think of themselves as members of a religious, spiritual, or moral tradition, and who actively contribute to dysfunctional food systems and unhealthy nutrition choiceswhile at the same time trying to provide humanitarian assistance to hundreds of millions of people who cannot escape from the tragic cycles of malnutrition, 11

disease, and death? What can we say about such communities of people? Can they really be described as representatives of the treasured wisdom of their religious, spiritual, or moral tradition? We may have to conclude that they have studied economics from the textbooks Warren Nord is referring to in Observation #6: They say little about poverty, especially as a moral or spiritual problem. They are usually silent about the moral relation of the First and Third Worlds. They typically ignore the effects of economics and technology on the environment. They are oblivious to the moral and spiritual problems of consumer culture. They ask no questions about dehumanizing work. Observations #7, #8, #9, and #10 These observations areas a wholean effort to quantify some of the limits (or resource constraints) which more than 7 billion people on planet Earth will have to reckon with sooner, rather than later. Here are highlights from those observations: Observation #7: Ecological DeficitThe level of resource consumption and waste discharge by a defined economy or population in excess of locally/regionally sustainable natural production and assimilative capacity (also, in spatial terms, the difference between that economy/populations ecological footprint and the geographic area it actually occupies). most other so-called advanced economies are running massive, unaccounted, ecological deficits with the rest of the planet (Table 1).These data emphasize that all the countries listed, except for Canada, are overpopulated in ecological termsthey could not sustain themselves at current material standards if forced by changing circumstances to live on their remaining endowments of domestic natural capital. Observation #8: The push has the support of the highest reaches of the government, with the new prime minister, Li Keqiang, a strong proponent of accelerated urbanization. The campaign to depopulate the countryside is seen as the best way to maintain Chinas spectacular run of fast economic growth, with new city dwellers driving demand for decades to come. Observation #9: In circumstances of an urgent need to adjust to austerity measures associated with public debt; to reduce indiscriminate consumption as a response to the implications of global warming, peak oil, peak water, and the depletion of many other key resourcesand to conserve resources for emergency assistance; and in circumstances which require reducing extensive transport of food and other products, reducing extensive transport and processing of waste, reducing indiscriminant consumption, reducing carbon emissions, and approximating zero wastewhich model of human settlements are more likely to be sustainable: 52 megacities with populations of 5 million people or more or 13,000 ecologically sustainable cities and towns?
Observation #10: Again and again, in references to the debt crises, there is mention of the need for

economic growth....Unfortunately, the kind of economic growth which is most often being referred to includes a vast array of enterprises which require the continued exploitation of flaws and weaknesses in human nature, fragile ecosystems, and already significantly depleted natural resourcesand which are much of the reason why cultures of violence, greed, and corruption have become so common that most people believe they are inevitable.

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Such economic growth, urbanization, and ecological deficits cannot possibly be a rational approach to sustainability; unfortunately, another critical challenge of our times is that many of us have the impression that wetaken collectivelyare very rational beings. Observations #11 and #12 These two observations are probably the most worrisome of all. I have highlighted, here in this document, issues in the areas of advertising; the marginalization of the treasured wisdom of religious, spiritual, and moral traditions; food, nutrition, and health; urbanization; and ecological deficitsall of which are ongoing issues with no enduring solutions in sight (and all of which provide supplemental evidence to the List of Ten Critical Challenges). And the human beings we are talking about, who have, collectively, brought us to this point in timeand who would have to be the ones who eventually resolve these multi-dimensional challengesare (in many ways) the flawed human beings described by Carl Jung and Michelle Maiase in Observations #11 and #12. The same flawed human beings who (as a majority) are currently using significant amounts of time, energy, and money to partake in mass media programming which is almost certainly not conducive to the problem solving needed to resolve those challenges. What then can we expect as an outcome? Can readers now see why this writer is advocating for collaborative problem solving and citizen peacebuilding processes which are comprehensive enough to represent problem solving on a scale most of us have never known before? Can readers now see why this writer is introducing an initiative called Community Peacebuilding and Cultural Sustainability? We should be very concerned about our current circumstances. We are at a critical point in the evolution of life on planet Earth. Observation #13 Who can we turn to to assure us that wecollectively will avoid an outcome in which many people learn of the challenges of our times in a way which leads to a loss of hope and feelings of desperation? Does anyone who is now contemplating the question above feel confident that wecollectivelyhave leaders we can turn to who can provide such assurances? The next sectionAre we prepared to resolve the challenges ahead?highlights 8 questions, which will most likely convince even the most optimistic reader that, if measured by our current circumstances, we are very ill prepared to resolve the challenges of our times.

Are we prepared to resolve the challenges ahead? (8 Questions)


Here are 8 questions which can illustrate how prepared (or unprepared) we are to resolve the challenges of our times. (These questions can also be used as preliminary survey questionsto 150 key leaders in the communityto highlight the need for Community Visioning Initiatives, and identify topics for workshops in Community Teaching and Learning Centers.] Special Note: While considering questions 2-8, readers may also consider also the following questions: a) How much do you know about how the nearest 10,000 people to the area you have designated as your home territory would answer the same 7 questions? b) Andare there any reasons why you might want to know how the nearest 10,000 people in your home territory would answer those questions?

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1) Home Territory Please name oneor twocommunities/towns/cities/regional areas which you would identify as your home territory [i.e. where you have the most significant personal reasons for making your home, and living many years of your life (even if you are not currently living there)]. Please list your 5 most significant personal reasons for identifying your home territoryand rank them as most significant, next most significant, etc., using 1 as most significant, 2 as next most significant, and so on. 2) Identifying Experienced Practitioners, Stakeholders, and People Needing Assistance Consider the List of Ten Critical Challenges offered in association with this 3 part series [or another set of ten critical challenges which you (the reader) feel more accurately represents your views]. a) Who are the Experienced Practitioners, who are most qualified to be educating people on how to successfully overcome each of the ten challenges you identified? (Special Notes: Please be specific, as in times of emergency, it will be most important for leaders to understand which people are perceived as most qualified by the majority of the residents in a particular community. Also, please be straightforward and honest: if you do not know who would be most qualified to respond, please respond accordingly.) b) Who are the Stakeholders (the people who will be affected by the education provided and guidance given by the Experienced Practitioners)? c) Who are the People Needing Assistance (the people who do not know how to respond to the challenges you identified)? 3) Arriving at Working Definitions of Right Livelihood Consider what ways of earning a living you would identify as right livelihood. Now imagine a local community resource guide relating to employment, apprenticeships, training, and volunteer opportunities associated with right livelihood. And further: imagine a committee commissioned to produce such a right livelihood resource guide. And the individuals who make up the committee commissioned to produce such a resource guide. a) What background (qualifications, experiences, etc.) would you like such individuals to have? b) What local institutions would you consider most appropriate to commission such a resource guide, and oversee its production?

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4) The Global Drugs Trade and the Global Arms TradePossible Solutions? Consider the following excerpt from the World Report on Violence and Health (World Health Organization Geneva 2002) in Chapter 9 The Way Forward: Recommendations for Action p. 254 (at http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/world_report/en/full_en.pdf ) (confirmed September 8, 2012) The global drugs trade and the global arms trade are integral to violence in both developing and industrialized countries. Even modest progress on either front will contribute to reducing the amount and degree of violence suffered by millions of people. To date, howeverand despite their high profile in the world arenano solutions seem to be in sight for these problems. a) Do you believe there are solutions in sight for the above mentioned problems, or do you agree with the authors at the World Health Organization? If you believe there are solutions in sight, please be specific and describe such solutions. Or, if you agree that no solutions seem to be in sight, offer your view on why we seem to be at a point where no solutions seem to be in sight for those problems. b) Please check the box (or boxes) which best corresponds to the way you view of the following statement. How much daily contact with the treasured wisdom of religious, spiritual, and moral traditions do you feel people in general would need before we would see noticeable progress on the above mentioned problems (the global drugs trade and the global arms trade)? __ __ __ __ more than is likely to happen a profound increase from current levels a lot more a little more

(X)__ additional solutions will be essential to make noticeable progress (Y)__ have different viewor different understanding of our present circumstances c) If you checked boxes (X) and/or (Y), please describe below any solutions to the above two problems (drugs trade and arms trade) which you feel would be helpful contributions to making noticeable progress on resolving these problems. _____________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ 5) Engines of Economic Stability Many people seem to be worried that the economy will collapse if there is widespread movement from consuming material goods and ecological resources indiscriminately to discriminating carefully about use of material goods and ecological resources and yet many of the challenges of our times are 15

very deeply rooted in cultural traditions, which suggest that it may require decades, generations, or even centuries to resolve such challenges. Surely, there will be work to do. Please carefully consider the above introduction to this question, and then respond to the following questions. a) Please name as many engines of economic stability and methods of economic conversion as you can which you believe would result in communities that minimize resource requirements maintain ecological sustainability maintain a high level of compassion for fellow human beings and which represent what a significant majority of community residents surveyed would describe as a high quality of life. b) Please check the box below which best corresponds to your view of the following statement: It is possible to create, support, and sustain communities which can minimize resource requirements, maintain ecological sustainability, maintain a high level of compassion for fellow human beings and which represent what a significant majority of community residents surveyed would describe as a high quality of life.
I believe it-- and there is much evidence to support it I believe it-- and there is sufficient evidence to support it I would like to believe it, but there isnt enough evidence to support it It is difficult to believe it, with the way things are going now I dont believe it there is no evidence to support it

6) Non-violence as a religious, spiritual, or moral conviction Consider the following excerpts from the Wikipedia entry for Conscientious Objector (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscientious_objector ) (confirmed September 8, 2013). During World War II, all registrants (in the United States; see section United States) were sent a questionnaire covering basic facts about their identification, physical condition, history and also provided a checkoff to indicate opposition to military service because of religious training or belief. Men marking the latter option received a DSS 47 form with ten questions. a) Describe the nature of your belief which is the basis of your claim. b) Explain how, when, and from whom or from what source you received the training and acquired the belief which is the basis of your claim. c) Give the name and present address of the individual upon whom you rely most for religious guidance. d) Under what circumstances, if any, do you believe in the use of force? e) Describe the actions and behavior in your life which in your opinion most conspicuously demonstrate the consistency and depth of your religious convictions. f) Have you ever given public expression, written or oral, to the views herein expressed as the basis for your claim made above? If so, specify when and where. 16

g) Have you ever been a member of any military organization or establishment? If so, state the name and address of same and give reasons why you became a member. h) Are you a member of a religious sect or organization? i) Describe carefully the creed or official statements of said religious sect or organization as it relates to participation in war. j) Describe your relationships with and activities in all organizations with which you are or have been affiliated other than religious or military Question: How many of us would qualify as someone who could legitimately be excused from a military service requirement based on our religious, spiritual, or moral convictions? 7) Identifying the Most Important Elements of Community Life and Cultural Traditions In the best of times, even the most profound challenges can be overcome; for in the best of times, ____________________ is/are nurtured, supported, and sustained by family, teachers, mentors, elders, and the everyday influences of community life and cultural traditions. Please brainstorm on the subject of what would best fill in the blank in the above statement. Then choose 5-10 items from the brainstormed list, and rank them according to most important, and next most important, using 1 as most important, 2 as next most important, and so on. 8) The most advanced societies are the ones which. Please check the response or responses which best express your view of the following statement: The most advanced societies are the ones which are successful at integrating spiritual wisdom into the everyday circumstances of community life. __ I believe itand there is much evidence to support it __ I believe itand there is sufficient evidence to support it __ I would like to believe it, but there isnt enough evidence to support it __ It is difficult to believe it, with the way things are going now __ I dont believe itthere is no evidence to support it __ have different viewor different way of understanding our present circumstances Your different view, or different way of understanding our present circumstances: _____________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________ [Special Note: (again, for emphasis): a) How much do you know about how the nearest 10,000 people to the area you have designated as your home territory would answer the previous 7 questions? b) Andare there any reasons why you might want to know how the nearest 10,000 in your home territory would answer those questions? 17

The Great Responsibility on Representatives of Religious, Spiritual, and Moral Traditions


There are truths no people can be free to ignore about life on planet Earth (especially at this particular time in the course of history), and here is one of those truths: people who are not sufficiently informed about critical issues are everywhere, and they are investing their time, energy, and moneyvotingall the time and yetan exponential increase in compassion for our fellow human beings is not, currently, widely recognized as an essential and critical element of truly comprehensive response to the challenges of our times. Can such a set of circumstances be sustainable? I believe that there are many serious challenges before us now, and that we will need to invest our time, energy, and money very wisely to overcome these challenges. How can we do it? We must help each other. There may be many people in our communities who use irresponsible and disrespectful language in ways which do not suggest that their motive is to respectfully provide good service to their fellow human beings, and contribute to the greater good of the whole. And there may be people in our communities whoregardless of the difficulties and urgencies associated with resolving multiple criseschoose to focus their attention of trying to make money by preying of peoples fears, manipulating peoples trust, and/or encouraging people to abandon hope in higher aspirations, and indulge in unhealthy, or immoral behavior. Such behavior is clearly counterproductive to the building of caring communities; it can be very dangerous for community morale; and it can become a crippling obstacle in times of crises. Further, many people may think it is nave to imagine that people from so many diverse religious, spiritual, moral, and cultural traditions can decide to come together in such a way as to not only encourage, but participate in, a high percentage of constructive thinking and constructive action in response to the difficult challenges ahead (as in the high levels of participation and collaboration encouraged by comprehensive Community Visioning Initiatives). From my point of view, such skepticism and cynicism depend for their existence on doubts as to whether it is possible for people to achieve highly advanced forms of wisdom and compassion through genuine instruction and sincere effort. Thus it is that there is a great responsibility on those people who are in any way representatives of religious, spiritual, and/or moral traditionsto demonstrate what is possible along the lines of wisdom and compassion, to provide genuine instruction when sincere efforts are being made, to contribute to the greater good of the whole, and to help restore confidence in the higher values of life. And what is possible along the lines of wisdom and compassion? How many of us would say that we are fully aware of what is possible along the lines of wisdom and compassion? What would the everyday circumstances of our community life be like if many of us were fully aware of what is possible along the lines of wisdom and compassion? Many of us could be much more familiar with what is possible unfortunately, much of the real treasured wisdom of religious, spiritual, and moral traditions now seems to be hiddenand thus in need of being re-discovered. These hidden resources include teachings which inspire and encourage people to a) place a high priority on the development of truth, virtue, love, and peaceand on living disciplined lives for the purpose of adhering to truth, cultivating virtue and love, and maintaining the pathways to enduring peace b) sacrifice personal desires for the greater good of the whole c) find contentment and quality of life while consuming less material goods and ecological services 18

d) prefer peacebuilding which supports and actualizes mutually beneficial understandings, forgiveness, and reconciliationand which abstains from violent conflict resolutionas a way of bringing cycles of violence to an end e) use resources carefully, so that there is surplus available for emergency assistance f) support community life and cultural traditions which bring to the fore what is often hidden: how many good people there are, how many ways there are to do good, and how much happiness comes to those who extend help, as well as to those who receive it.

6 propositions which I believe will become self-evident truths in the years and decades ahead
a) Human morality is not a constantit is not something which is the same throughout the centuries of human existence; and thus it is something which can become degraded or raised up, depending on the leanings of human aspirations. b) It is becoming more and more likely that an exponential increase in compassion for our fellow human beings will need to become an essential and critical element of a truly comprehensive response to the challenges of our times. c) The challenges of our times are such that it is now critical for us to access the storehouses of wisdom which have accumulated over the many centuries of human experience, and which have been confirmed again and again as essential to individual well-being and social harmony by the saints, sages, spiritual leaders, and sincere practitioners of all religious, spiritual, and moral traditions. d) If we are to overcome the challenges of our times we will need not only the resources which innovators can prove the existence of by scientific method; we will also need the resources which people of faith believe exist as a result of inner experience. e) There is a more advanced and more benevolent spiritual entity than ourselves, and such an entity does actually count for something in overcoming the difficult challenges ahead. f) We cannot afford to exclude from our tool box (needed to overcome the challenges of our times) the time-tested sources which have helped people learn compassion over many centuries. What we need to do instead is to learn how to cultivate the time-tested sources so that the sources yield the treasured wisdom.

The Interfaith Peacebuilding and Community Revitalization (IPCR) Initiative


From 2001 to 2012, I gave much of my free time to creating documents and websites, and sharing such resources through outreach, in an effort to build The Interfaith Peacebuilding and Community Revitalizaiton (IPCR) Initiative. (Note: The IPCR Initiative now has a homebase at http://cpcsc.info/the-ipcr-initiative/ ). The IPCR Initiative is an effort to apply the accumulated wisdom now accessible to us towards the general goal of integrating spiritual wisdom into the everyday circumstances of community lifeand towards the specific goal of generating practical responses to the challenges of our times. 19

The IPCR Initiative recognizes the need for problem solving on a scale most of us have never known before, and highlights the collaborative problem solving potential of Community Visioning Initiatives and Community Teaching and Learning Centers (there is more about these concepts in part 2 of this Three Part series A Constellation of Initiatives Approach to Overcoming the Ten Critical Challenges). One of the key proposals of The IPCR Initiative: The 1000Communities2 Proposal The IPCR Initiative advocates organizing and implementing Community Visioning Initiatives in 1000 communities (communitiesor segments of rural areas, towns, or citieswith populations of 50,000 or less) around the world 1. which are time-intensive, lasting even as much as 1 years (18 months), so as to give as much importance to developing a close-knit community as it does to a) accumulating and integrating the knowledge and skill sets necessary for the highest percentage of people to act wisely in response to challenges identified as priority challenges b) helping people to deliberately channel their time, energy, and money into the creation of ways of earning a living which are directly related to resolving high priority challenges c) assisting with outreach, partnership formation, and development of service capacity for a significant number of already existing (or forming) organizations, businesses, institutions, and government agencies d) helping to build a high level of consensus for specific action plans, which will help inspire additional support from people, businesses, organizations, institutions, and government agencies with significant resources 2. which expand on the concept of Community Teaching and Learning Centers (created by the Teachers Without Borders organization) so that such local community points of entry function as information clearinghouses, meeting locations, education centers for ongoing workshops (on a broad range of topics related to the Community Visioning Initiative process, and building the local knowledge base), practice sites for developing teacher-leaders, a location for an ongoing informal Community Journal, a location for listing employment opportunitiesand provide a means of responding quickly (by changing the emphasis of workshop content) to new urgencies as they arise 3. and which suggestas a way of emphasizing the need for an exponential increase in compassion for our fellow human beingsthat communities (with the resources to do so) enter into sister community relationships with communities in other countries where there has been well documented calls for assistance with basic human needs. Preliminary Surveys (as preparation for such Community Visioning Initiatives)(administered to 150 local community leaders from a variety of fields of activity) may indicate that the local community recognizes the need for an exponential increase in compassion for our fellow human beings. In such circumstances, workshops at the Community Teaching and Learning Centers could include workshops on the following topics: Community Good News Networks, Community Faith Mentoring Networks, Spiritual Friendships, Questionnaires That Help Build Caring Communities, and Spiritually Responsible Investingtopics which are featured in the cornerstone IPCR document Brief Descriptions of The Eight IPCR Concepts. [Special Note: Much of the work I did to build The IPCR Initiative is highlighted in Part 2 of this Three Part series A Constellation of Initiatives Approach to Overcoming the Ten Critical Challenges. The key 20

difference between the constellation of initiatives approach highlighted by The IPCR Initiative, and the constellation of initiatives approach highlighted in Part 2 of this series is this: in Part 2, I provide an overview of collaborative problem solving and citizen peacebuilding processes which do not emphasize the interfaith piece (the critical need for an exponential increase in compassion for our fellow human beings). Here in Part 3, I am providing evidence for that critical need, and providing supplementary community building processesfor possible use by communities of people who do recognize the need for an exponential increase in compassion for our fellow human beings.]

Some excerpts from the Brief Descriptions of The Eight IPCR Concepts document
I call The IPCR document Brief Descriptions of The Eight IPCR Concepts (26 pages) a cornerstone document, because from the ideas provided in that document an organic process can begin which would build a constellations of initiatives peacebuilding process in almost any variety of circumstances, in communities around the world (and that process would give much priority to integrating spiritual wisdom into the everyday circumstances of community life). Here are some passages from that document, to support the previous statement: On Community Good News Networks One way to begin creating Community Good News Networks is as follows: ongoing intergenerational programsprograms that bring together elders of the community with young people (ages 5-18) of the communityare created at appropriate meeting places such as local places of worship. Such intergenerational programs would include the following activities: a) collecting and sharing good news articles, stories, etc., and making contributions to Good News Reference Resources, specific to local communities and regions b) sending notecards of gratitude and encouragementand invitations to visitto people who are making good news in the local community or region c) inspirational sharing meetings featuring good news makers from the local community or region. On Spiritual Friendships One way of developing Spiritual Friendships is as follows Within a particular faith communityor among people from different religious, spiritual, or moral traditionssmall groups are formed which would include the following three elements: a) Participants (at least most participants) declare an intention to take a specific step towards achieving a goal associated with their personal spiritual growth (By making such a declaration, participants will thereby be motivated to do their homework before the next meeting that is, they will, by their desire to be true to their wordand by their desire to encourage the integrity of the process as a wholefeel some sense of urgency and responsibility about making an honest effort related to their declaration.) b) All participants are provided with an opportunity, in a respectful and considerate small group environment, to speak about their efforts they made in the interval between meetings c) Participants have the right to choose how they will benefit from the small group process (they can choose to speak about their efforts, or choose not to speak about them; they can seek feedback or encouragement, or prefer no response; they can remain silent and listen, etc.)

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On Community Visioning Initiatives for Peace We are in need of innovative and imaginative solutions. In 1984, the non-profit organization Chattanooga Venture [Chattanooga, Tennessee (USA)] organized a Community Visioning Initiative (Vision 2000) that attracted more than 1,700 participants, and produced 40 community goalswhich resulted in the implementation of 223 projects and programs, the creation of 1,300 permanent jobs, and a total financial investment of 793 million dollars. Well organized efforts to identify problems and brainstorm solutions are a universally recognized approach to problem solving which is commonly used in family, community, business, and government settings in every part of the world. The more comprehensive Community Visioning Initiatives (the Vision 2000 initiative mentioned above took 5 months) carry out a series of meetings which focus on five particular areas: identifying challenges, prioritizing challenges, identifying solutions, prioritizing solutions, and creating action plans. Combined with ongoing workshops and much formal and informal educational activity, these meetings, though only a part of the Visioning Initiative, may last 4-6 months. These more comprehensive Community Visioning Initiatives require steering committees, preliminary surveys or assessments, workshops, task forces, collaboration between many organizations, government agencies, businesses, and educational institutionsand seek to build up consensus in the community for specific goals and action plans by encouraging a high level of participation by all residents. One of the main goals of these kind of Community Visioning Initiatives is to maximize citizen participation in identifying challenges, and in solution-oriented activity. On Spiritually Responsible Investing As J.C. Kumarappa expresses it in his book Why the Village Movement?: A buyer hardly realizes he owes any duties at all in his everyday transactions.2 (And yet), every article in the bazaar has moral and spiritual values attached to it. Hence it behooves us to enquire into the antecedents of every article we buy.3 But, as we ourselves well know, the task of inquiring into the moral or spiritual history of every article we buy (and, similarly, the task of inquiring into the consequences of our investments of time and energy) is becoming increasingly complex and is, for most of us, simply beyond our capacity to accomplish. This level of complexity in our everyday circumstances should not discourage us to the point of abdicating our roles as responsible stewards of our time, energy, and moneyfor that would only increase the distrust and violence we are, hopefully, trying to minimize. Instead, we can make it a priority to careful channel our investments of time, energy, and money into activities which are in accordance with our spiritual convictions or core values (as indicated by a full disclosure of information which is readily available)and which are in accordance with circles of activity which are closer to the community we live in [The smaller the circumference, the more accurately can we gauge the results or our actions and (the) more conscientiously shall we be able to fulfil our obligations as trustees.] By including these excerpts from the document Brief Descriptions of The Eight IPCR Concepts, I hope readers will see that the workshops offered at Community Teaching and Learning Centers (in support of Community Visioning Initiatives) can be very helpful in guiding citizens along lines which will integrate spiritual wisdom into the everyday circumstances of community life. 22

On the importance of surveys and questionnaires in determining workshop content


There will be, naturally, many communities of people who see some value in Community Visioning Initiatives, and Community Teaching and Learning Centers, but do not see any need for integrating spiritual wisdom into the everyday circumstances of their community (whether because they have enough such wisdom, because they are skeptical about religious, spiritual, and moral traditions, or for any number of other reasons). This is just why preliminary surveys can be so helpful. By using questions which help people identify the issues which are most important to them, workshop topics can be identified which are most appropriate for that particular community. What is most important, given the critical challenges this writer sees, is that communities of people establish collaborative problem solving and citizen peacebuilding processes which they can trust, and believe in. However, because preliminary surveys (and ongoing questionnaires) can bring up observations and comments which may not have been part of the public discourse beforenew perspectives on issues can occur. And if readers were giving close consideration to the framing questions in the section Are we prepared to resolve the challenges ahead? (8 Questions) (p. 13-17) a) How much do you know about how the nearest 10,000 people to the area you have designated as your home territory would answer the same 7 questions? b) Andare there any reasons why you might want to know how the nearest 10,000 people in your home territory would answer those questions?]they may be very surprised by the responses that come up through preliminary surveys and ongoing questionnaires. Many people may be very surprised by responses that come up through preliminary surveys and ongoing questionnaires. Part of the reason is that we are living in at a very unusual time in the course of history. Consider the following observations: a) Some of the challenges of our times are at the very core of the difficulty of being human beings, and are challenges which people have faced since the beginning of time. b) Some of the challenges are circumstantial: during times when there is much prosperity many people may not recognize these fields of activity as problematic. c) And some of the challenges may be considered the result of a kind of spiritual sickness: people with clear opportunities for walking on a Great Road are instead greatly delighting in tortuous paths. Were I to have the least bit of knowledge, in walking on a Great Road, its only going astray that I would fear. The Great Way is very level; But people greatly delight in tortuous paths.
[From Chapter 53 of Te-Tao Ching (by Lao Tzu) (possibly 6th Century B.C.E.) Translation by Robert G. Hendricks]

Thus, because some of these challenges may be difficult to identify at firstand as a way to illustrate the need for such Community Visioning Initiatives (and supporting Community Teaching and Learning Centers)preliminary surveys and ongoing questionnaires can be very helpful. To summarize: preliminary surveys are a very important guide for what workshop content will be needed in the initial stages of a Community Visioning Initiative. In the preparation stages for a Community Visioning Initiative, well thought out preliminary surveys, circulated to at least 150 key 23

leaders from a significant variety of fields of activity in the Larger Community) (see 15 Sample Preliminary Survey Questions) can identify key consensus issues in the community (even before the Community Visioning Initiative process begins), create interest in the project, and set a tone that the project is seeking as much input from residents as possible. Further, when the results of a preliminary survey are posted in a local newspaper (and on a local visioning project website), the questions asked and the answers most often given will create interest in the project, help residents appreciate the usefulness of gathering such input, help residents understand that their input will help determine the workshops offered in the Community Teaching and Learning Centers (CTLCs)and help residents appreciate the need for the many meetings which make up the Community Visioning process. Then, as the Community Visioning Initiative progresses (see 15 Step Outline for a Community Visioning Initiative for more detail), input from the brainstorming meetings, ongoing questionnaires, and informal input from local residents (provided at the Community Teaching and Learning Centers) can identify other topics for workshop content that have not yet been identified. I believe that if there were more communities of people who made use of very carefully thought out preliminary surveys (and ongoing questionnaires) as part of their Community Visioning Initiative process, there would be much more appreciation for these consensus building tools. Thats why I give so much emphasis to preliminary surveys and ongoing questionnaires.

24/7 Peace Vigils


Much of what we see in the world today is more about people who have not learned from the best examples of what-to-do-with-this-gift-of-life that 5,000 years of human history has to offer, than it is about the perversity of religious, spiritual, and moral truths. So the question arises: how can the relevance of attaining advanced levels of wisdom and compassion be made crystal clearespecially since there is so much wariness in peoples perceptions about religious, spiritual, and moral practices which they do not in any way understand. This is where 24/7 Peace Vigils can help. Here I ask you to imagine sacred spaces in (a town or small city you know best), and around the world, which are dedicated to a 24/7Peace Vigilundertaken by members of as many as possible of the different religious, spiritual, and moral traditions within a given local community or region. A possible goal for representatives from participating traditions would be to have one member participating in the Peace Vigil at all times (24/7)(in such time intervals as they choose). With an emphasis on silence, participants could silently recite prayers for peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation; silently invoke the name of the spiritual personage who is their foremost inspiration; and/or carry on with any kind of silent practice or silent spiritual discipline which is relevant and appropriate for a sacred space dedicated to cultivating world peace. One inspiration for this idea is the Prayer Room (which I have visited many times to reinforce my own spiritual practices) at Kunzang Palyul Choling, a Tibetan Buddhist Temple in Poolesville, Maryland (USA). Here is a description of that Prayer Room (from http://www.tara.org/visit-us/maryland-temple/ ) The Prayer Room, the main shrine room at KPC, is filled with altars, prayer benches, and an extensive crystal collection. The express wish of KPC Spiritual Director, Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo, is that a sacred space for meditation and prayer always be available for those who seek it. For that reason, visitors are welcome to use the Prayer Room for prayer and meditation at any time, night or day. (If you come 24

between midnight and 6 a.m., please ring the doorbell.) Cushions and chairs for meditation are available. The Prayer Room is also used by KPC students to maintain the 24 Hour Prayer Vigil for World Peace which began in 1985 and continues unbroken to this day. If a non-profit organization unaffiliated with a particular religious, spiritual, or moral tradition were to take a lead role in establishing 24/7 Peace Vigils of an Interfaith Nature in (a town or small city you know best), and elsewhere, many positive and constructive results could be realized: a) the discipline required for each tradition to maintain a presence would sharpen the spiritual (and other) practices of many participants b) the Interfaith Nature of the Prayer Vigil would bring people from many different traditions together, with an emphasis on silent and respectful cooperation on a most sacred and meaningful project c) it would seem likely that, besides the immediate participants, there would be many other people, from various traditions and backgrounds, who would recognize these Prayer Vigil sites as inspiring places to reinforce their own silent spiritual (or other) practices d) much good fellowship and friendship could be created by such a projectfellowship and friendship which could result in many more common service-oriented projects, and much improved interfaith relations.

Three Additional Observations


1) We are in uncharted territory, for there is no culture or association of societies that ever existed on planet Earth which has had to resolve the kind of challenges the next few generations of people will have to resolve. In many ways, all of us are Stakeholders, and People Needing Assistance, and most of us are going to need to become Experienced Practitioners of some kind. There can be some consolation in the fact that if most of us become Experienced Practitioners in the art of being compassionate towards our fellow human beings, we will all have a better chance of accomplishing what no civilization has accomplished before. 2) If many people can learn to find contentment and quality of life while consuming much less, this limiting of desires at the root will save much trouble trying to respond to the symptoms as they materialize worldwide. This is part of the spiritual teachings element which often gets overlooked. 3) One of the most persistent ironies in life is that with so many opportunities to provide real assistance to fellow human beingsand with the potential for such assistance to result in happiness to those who extend help as well as to those who receive itthere are still many, many people in this world who cannot find a way to earn a living providing such assistance. I believe that there are many serious challenges before us now, and that we will need to invest our time, energy, and money very wisely to overcome these challenges. How can we do it? We must help each other.

Four short documents which summarize my work up to this point


Four short documents can serve as a summary of my past work (all accessible from http://cpcsc.info/key-documents/ ). 25

1) 2) 3) 4)

A List of Ten Critical Challenges (1 page) New Approach to Collaborative Problem Solving and Citizen Peacebuilding (6 pages) The Potential of Community Visioning Initiatives (in 500 words) (1 page) The Potential of Community Teaching and Learning Centers (in 500 words) (1 page)

The Community Peacebuilding and Cultural Sustainability website (at www.cpcsc.info )


Many of the documents and resources I created in the past which have lead to the four summary documents above are now accessible at a new website (August, 2013) (www.cpcsc.info )under the heading of Community Peacebuilding and Cultural Sustainability. The website includes homebases for The Interfaith Peacebuilding and Community Revitalization (IPCR) Initiative, Community Visioning Initiatives Clearinghouse, Community Teaching and Learning Centers Clearinghouse, a homebase for my Returning to College Coursework search, two Discussion Forums, and a Key Links section.

Concluding Comments
I hope that this post might be a starting point for one of a very long series of periodic re-examinations of our moral compassas we will need many such re-examinations if we are to make the transition from dysfunctional systems which are very complex to functioning systems which are much less complex. There are many positive outcomes which might arise from such re-examinations. One would be that if there were more people who understood how very serious the challenges ahead of us are, they would (I believe) be less likely to demonize others (and thus perpetuate the us vs. them scenarios especially when its mostly all of us who have got us here anyway),and much more likely to participate in collaborative problem solving and citizen peacebuilding processes (like the kind of community visioning initiatives this writer advocates for). Another positive outcome which might arise from a long series of re-examinations of our moral compass is increased understanding of the value of collaborative problem solving and win-win solutions. The constellations of initiatives approach I advocate for (described in detail in part 2 of this 3 part series) is not a narrative or agenda hidden as a problem solving approachit is a way in which narratives can be grown with no preconceived idea of which ideas will attract consensus, and which will not, and in contrast to a competitive match, with winners and losers. This kind of organic growth process is what the combination of preliminary surveys, Community Teaching and Learning Centers, Community Visioning Initiatives, sister community relationships, etc can offer, and it is appropriate to call such activity collaborative problem solving and citizen peacebuilding. Both the challenges to be addressed, and the solutions preferred, are grown from within the communityand by participating in such collaborative problem solving and citizen peacebuilding processes, citizens become stakeholders in that which is being grown. But what is being grown does not need to be named even before it is grown in fact, having a name before it is grown might stifle key elements of its growth. So, it could befor some communities, anywayenough that a majority of citizens know they are taking part in a kind of naming process. And it may be decades before the final outcome is well enough defined to be named. In the meantime, (in between now and a positive outcome some distance in the future), there will be more and more people becoming aware of the profound and 26

unprecedented nature of this time, in the whole course of history. And as more and more people appreciate the profound nature of this time, more and more people (I believe) will understand that the idea of fighting over the naming of the narrative twenty or thirty years before a positive outcome is assured is really something to be avoided in favor of the more urgently needed collaboration on issues which are much more critical to our common welfare. There are times for resistance and opposition as a part of non-violent protests and non-violent dialogue, and as a part of movement towards non-violent conflict resolutionbut in our current landscape of multiple critical challenges, we would be better off exercising such forms of personal expression in the wider context of collaborative problem solving and peacebuilding processes in our local communities... where it would become clearer and clearer that all of us need to do better at constructive, civil, courteous, and respectful problem solving and peacebuilding at the local community level and where it would become clearer and clearer that all of us need to be helping each other more, so that our collective efforts are enough to make a positive tipping point possible.

Notes 1. From General Education in a Free Society (The Harvard Committee, 1945)] (accessible in American Higher Education Transformed 1940-2005: Documenting the National Discourse Ed. Wilson Smith and Thomas Bender (accessible at google books; search truths which none can be free to ignore or see p. 20) (confirmed September 8, 2013) 2. J.C. Kumarappa in Why the Village Movement? Akhil Bharat Sarva Seva Sangh Rajchat, Kashi 1960 p. 72 (Note: The edition this writer has includes the 1939 edition foreword by Mahatma Gandhi, and was printed on handmade paper in Rajchat, Kashi (India) in 1960). Here also is some biographical information about J.C. Kumarappa: In 1935, the India National Congress formed the All India Village Industries Association (AIVIA) for the development of (the) rural economy (in India), with Gandhiji as President and Kumarappa as Secretary and Organiser. Between 1935-1939, Kumarappa established the AIVIA headquarters at Maganwadi, developed various experiments of rural technologies, and helped others to reorganize village industries all over the country. (At Maganwadi), he edited a monthly journal, Gram Udyog Patrika, and wrote a book, Why the Village Movement? for AIVIA. [Note excerpted from Brief Life Sketch of J.C. Kumarappa (1892-1960) at the website of the Kumarappa Institute of Gram Swaraj (KIGS) (see http://www.kigs.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=16&Itemid=20 ; paragraph 8) (confirmed September 8, 2013) 3. J.C. Kumarappa in Why the Village Movement? Akhil Bharat Sarva Seva Sangh Rajchat, Kashi 1960 p. 72

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