A Message from Maitreya
“I am closer to you than you may think. No distance separates us. And I can tell you truly that it is not long before you see My face. Be ardurous in the task of telling the world of My presence and bring joy to humankind. Goodnight, My friends.”
On 29 December 2006 Benjamin Creme was interviewed by a well-known American television chat show host for a film about world religions. At the end of the interview Maitreya gave a blessing, accompanied by this message.
Message of hope
As we enter 2007, with the 25th anniversary of Share International magazine, we also look ahead to July which marks the 30th anniversary of Maitreya the World Teacher’s arrival in London on 19 July 1977.
In a recent article Benjamin Creme’s Master states:
“Short, indeed, therefore, is the time left to prepare His way, to tell men that help and hope are at hand, that the Teacher is here, eager to speak directly to the peoples of all the nations.
Speed, then, your efforts. Make haste to inform all who will listen that the destined hour has arrived, that soon mankind will rejoice in the presence of the Teacher. Tell them this and uphold their hope and courage. Many will listen now who before did not; anxiety and fear have taken their toll of men. The signs, too, have done their work and awakened millions to expected happenings and revelations. Never before in man’s history have so many sensed the coming changes nor understood their necessity.
Hence, into an expectant and prepared world will Maitreya emerge, sure in the knowledge that His presence is longed for and eagerly anticipated.”
(From: ‘Maitreya’s priorities’, SI October 2006)
Benjamin Creme advises: “It is up to all who believe in or hope for Maitreya’s presence to grasp the urgency of the task of preparation. So little time remains for this responsible and needed work. Spare no effort in this never-to-be-repeated opportunity to serve both Hierarchy and humanity, and bring Maitreya and His Group forward at the earliest lawful date.”
Maitreya steps forward
by the Master —, through Benjamin Creme
The emergence of Maitreya is all but accomplished. His open, public work will commence really very soon. From then will begin the process of teaching and becoming known, gradually, to the peoples of the world. The time that this will take remains unclear, but it should proceed relatively quickly. At first, of course, there may be much opposition to His views and the nature of His advice. This is only to be expected, so far from the prevailing thinking is His thought. Gradually, however, Maitreya’s incisive mind will cut through and expose the flaws in present beliefs about the environment and on matters social, economic and political. The logic and wise understanding of His words will convince many to listen and contemplate further, while His Ray will penetrate the hearts of millions and turn His simple words into revelations of Truth. No one, as yet, knows the loving power of Maitreya, nor can men fathom His inscrutable wisdom.
As millions rally to His cause, demanding peace and justice through sharing and understanding, men will be swept up and galvanized by new hope and a longing for brotherhood and right relationship. They will demand change on a scale hitherto unknown. The governments and men of power will be forced to respond to the demands, and bit by bit, the edifice against change will crumble before the onslaught of a now empowered voice of public opinion. Thus, by logic, revelation and the trust engendered by His love, will Maitreya harness the goodwill which exists, even if unknown, in every heart.
Maitreya will speak to millions of men through television and radio. All will have the opportunity to share in His blessing which will accompany every appearance. Thus the people worldwide will become familiar with His message and the uplifting of their hearts. Much speculation will surround His identity and many will be the theories presented, but all in their different ways will see Him as the harbinger of the new, a conveyor of wholesome truths and as a way-shower of a lifestyle close to their hearts.
Of course, there will be those who feel threatened by His ideas, and who will attempt to stop His progress but, more and more, the beauty and good sense of His words will inspire the people of all the nations to see Him as their spokesman and leader. Thus will it be. The people will call for Him to speak on their behalf to the world at large, and the Day of Declaration will be announced.
This day, like none other before or after, will give Maitreya the opportunity to reveal His name, title and purpose, as the World Teacher for the New Age, the leader of the Spiritual Hierarchy and the Expected One of all religious groups. As the friend and teacher of all who need His help will He present Himself; as a simple man Who knows the pain and suffering of men and seeks to ease their lot, Who loves all totally, without condition, and Who has come to show us the steps to joy.
Such a one is about to step before the world and give His advice to all. We may have heard the words before. Now, with His blessing, we shall understand their meaning, and act.
(Read more articles by the Master)
Q. Will the world ever find out the truth about the ‘wrong’ Saddam Hussein being executed?
A. Yes, I believe it will. I think that Maitreya, Himself, will bring the subject up, or, if not, someone is bound to ask Him relevant questions about it.
Q. Why didn’t the stand-in say that he wasn’t the real Saddam Hussein?
A. One has to understand that, in the time that he was in US hands (about a year), he was systematically ‘brainwashed’ by chemical drugs and long-term hypnosis until he actually lost sense of his own identity and believed himself to be the suggested Saddam. This terrible process was perfected during the Second World War by the intelligence agencies of all the major nations, especially by the CIA, FBI, the Russian KGB and the German Gestapo.
Q. Where is the body of the real Saddam Hussein?
A. It is buried in Tikrit, in the north of Iraq, which is the tribal home of Saddam Hussein.
Q. How much DNA is shared by cousins?
A. It varies, of course, but about 75 per cent. The only DNA the US authorities had to compare the stand-in Saddam with was Saddam Hussein’s sons’. So the DNA evidence claimed as proof of Saddam Hussein’s identity is false.
Q. What do you think about Hugo Chavez and the rising tide of the left-wing governments in Latin America? Is that the shape of things to come in the world, with politicians working to eradicate poverty more and pandering to the rich less?
A. For anyone who wants to see justice and the end of poverty and hunger the answer to the question has to be ‘yes’. Chavez is trying to help his people out of endless, traditional, poverty and suffering, using oil money to do it – and, at the same time, fend off the attempts of the US to undermine his work. Hierarchy hold the view that the ideal relationship for sound social cohesion and justice is 70 per cent socialism and 30 per cent capitalism.
Q. (1) Do you think Fidel Castro should name a successor or (2) should the Cuban people vote for a new leader?
A. I believe the Cuban people should choose their leader or representative. Castro, like most of the world’s leaders, is from the past.
Q. (1) Do you expect a sustained economic downturn this year? (2) Would it be sufficient to set the next step in Maitreya’s emergence in motion?
A. (1) Yes. (2) It depends on the extent and on how widespread it is.
Q. The world seems so awful now and even if I believe in your information and hope it is true it is very hard at times to be positive.
A. No doubt very true but not very productive for a better world. Try really making Maitreya’s presence known and all that that implies, and you will find yourself becoming much more positive. One has to act, not simply wait for the world to improve. If we set about improving the world by sharing the resources, simplifying our lifestyle to help the environment, Maitreya could emerge that much more quickly. Act. Act. Act!
Q. Commercialization seems to be winning – if you look at Christmas shopping and New Year fireworks around the world and all the spending in the sales. Popular culture (so-called) looks like a vehicle for commercialization. Your comments please.
A. Commercialization is not winning; it is, however, growing and reaching a climax of influence in every aspect of our lives. Because of market forces (which Maitreya calls the “forces of evil”), commercialization has entered into everyone’s life and Christmas is no exception to this trend. It will continue until we wake up and realize how the values of commerce are squeezing the sap out of every human act and reverence.
Sharing, we will eventually find, is the only answer to this growing alienation from the ‘eternal verities’. Maitreya says that commercialization is more dangerous than an atomic bomb.
Q. On 28 October 2006, at around 7pm, walking from my apartment in Berlin, Germany, to the subway, I saw a large, long, stationary light in the sky and three to five smaller lights which moved around in irregular patterns coming together and flying off again.
Also, on 24 November 2006 at 11pm I saw another large, long, stationary light and a small light circulating in the sky. A strange thing happened: I couldn’t pass by the lights – they seemed to move with me! Were these sightings of UFOs?
A. Yes. In both cases the “large, long, stationary light” was a spacecraft from Mars, and the smaller, moving lights were from Venus.
Q. On 30 October 2006 the following letter was published in The New York Times: “A few weeks ago, I was riding the F train from Brooklyn to Manhattan. It happened to be my birthday, but I was dressed casually and not carrying anything suggestive of a special occasion. A tall, thin panhandler [beggar] entered the car, shaking a paper cup dejectedly and mumbling. He made his way through the car without receiving any contributions. When he got to me, I fished out a dollar and put it in his cup. He jumped in delight and began waving his arms over me as if in benediction. ‘God bless you,’ he said three times. He then paused, looked me right in the eye and added: ‘And happy birthday.’”
After reading the letter I wondered if the ‘panhandler’ was a Master?
A. Yes, the man was Maitreya.
Q. I was very impressed with the information offered in your honourable site. Are there any recommended books in Arabic anywhere in the Arab countries? Any Esoteric School in the Arab countries to start getting acquainted with the subjects? I have a VEC Encyclopaedia (printed 20 years ago) which states in the last volume that the Aquarian Age will start in 2013. Please advise if this date is accurate.
A. The Aquarian energies started to enter our solar system in 1675, but one could say the Aquarian Age will start with Maitreya’s Declaration of His identity and true status on the Day of Declaration which I personally hope and expect to be well before 2013, which date I expect is arrived at from the Mayan Calendar which ends in 2012. I am afraid we have no immediate knowledge of Arabic schools of esotericism, but I expect certain that the Alice Bailey Teachings (published by the Lucis Press) will be available in some Arabic languages.
(More questions and answers)
2006 Transmission Meditation Conference Keynote Talk
Unity in Diversity
by Benjamin Creme
The following article is the first section of an edited talk given by Benjamin Creme at the Transmission Meditation Conference held near San Francisco, USA, in August 2006.
This talk is based on the following article by my Master written for the May 2006 issue of Share International magazine.
Unity in Diversity
Throughout the centuries, men have adopted many different forms of government, ranging from the most despotic to the most egalitarian. Today, most countries have opted for a democratic form, that is, one elected by popular vote for one or other political party. It is assumed that the voting system used is fair, honest, free from malpractice and fraud.
Unfortunately, as recent history shows, this is often not the case, even in those countries which lay great stress on the probity of their election process. Deception and duplicity abound, men and factions are brought to power by chicanery and guile.
More authoritarian are those one-party states where decisions are made by a committee of ‘strong men’ backed by the army and police. The people have little say in the laws which rule them and often, as yet, do not feel the need to claim such rights.
Some countries are in the grip of cruel despots, hungry for power and the wealth which comes with it. Some are ruled by deluded zealots, sure that they and their followers are in the hands of God and are carrying out His plans. Others are struggling to help their people out of poverty and pain, and to fend off the demands of their wealthy neighbours.
Still others are fighting for their independence or are engulfed in chaos and civil war.
Men must take to heart the lesson from this evidence: many are the ways of organizing the needs of different peoples. Greater tolerance, therefore, is necessary in the approach to this vital matter. The energies of the rays governing the nations are different and require different structures in which to express their qualities. It is not the Evolutionary Plan that one form of government, democratic or otherwise, should prevail. The needs of men are more real and more important than ideologies. Tolerance of difference unites, while ideologies divide.
When Maitreya speaks openly, therefore, He will show that unity in diversity is the key to future harmony. That all the nations have a destiny, unique and sacred. He will point the way to achieving this blessed state and encourage men to open their hearts to a wiser understanding of the Plan. Under Maitreya’s guidance, men will come to appreciate and value the richness of the achievements of themselves and others. The urge to compete and to dominate will gradually subside and a new chapter will open for men in brotherhood and peace. Thus will it be.
Before I talk about my views on this article, and try to expand on it, I would like to refresh your minds about the perennial needs of humanity, listed under the title of Maitreya’s Priorities. I do this because if these are correct, and I believe that they are, these priorities, when held before our eyes and constantly engaging our attention, will be the more quickly fulfilled. Whatever our attention is withdrawn from will obviously not be fulfilled, and that is happening today.
Every few years there is a crisis – an earthquake, a tsunami, or a terrible famine engulfing parts of Africa or elsewhere. Immediately, the hearts of humanity are awakened to this crisis, and people pull out every stop to raise as much money as possible to meet the critical need of the time. While that crisis is given attention, that need is met. Enormous amounts of money are donated and directed to solving the needs of the stricken country. After a month or two the media stop asking for more money. The need seems to have been answered, whether the aid was correctly distributed or not. The thoughtform of need, of sudden, desperate urgency, disappears from our thinking and we go back to our own affairs.
How many fundraising concerts have we had? How many times have people raised money for charity, under the banner: ‘Save the Starving Millions’? It is a ‘one-off’ happening every few years, whereas the starving millions of the world need real economic justice. Maitreya, you can be sure, will face humanity squarely with the continuing need to end the catastrophe that occurs every day: 35,000 people die of starvation in a world of plenty. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year that catastrophe goes on and on. It is time to face this tragic situation for millions of people and end it for ever.
I believe it will take Maitreya to do that – not Maitreya Himself, but the presence of Maitreya, the teachings of Maitreya, the urgency brought to bear by Maitreya, the shame, as He calls it. “Nothing so moves Me to grief as this shame,” He says. “The crime of separation must be driven from this world. I affirm that as My purpose.” That is the first purpose, the saving of the starving millions in the world. It is useful for groups of this kind to concentrate on and always keep before them the priorities of Maitreya, not just at a talk, but always to be aware of the major needs of humanity at large.
I will remind you once again of the priorities of Maitreya as seen by my Master, given in the article ‘The Son of Man’. (Share International, June 1984)
“Let us look at His priorities: the establishment of peace; the inauguration of the system of sharing; the removal of guilt and fear; the cleansing of the hearts and minds of men; the education of mankind in the Laws of Life and Love; an introduction to the Mysteries [the mysteries of initiation]; the beautification of cities; the removal of barriers to travel and interchange of peoples; and the creation of a pool of knowledge accessible to all.”
That last one, “the pool of knowledge accessible to all”, you might see as the Internet when it is freely available to all, as it is not at the present time. When it is freely available to all, every country without exception, every people, nothing withheld that humanity needs, that will be like everyone owning all of the books in the libraries of Alexandria.
With that in mind, let us look again at the words of the Master in His article ‘Unity in Diversity’.
“Throughout the centuries, men have adopted many different forms of government, ranging from the most despotic to the most egalitarian.”
The most despotic we would hope to be in the past, and I think this is broadly so; the really big despots, the Genghis Khans and the like, are fortunately in the past, but there are still many despots around, some of very recent date. One could think of Hitler and Mussolini and company. One can think of the various right-wing, military dictatorships which this country, the United States, has foisted on South American countries like Chile.
Chile had a freely elected democratic government under Salvador Allende, which just happened to be left-wing. That was unacceptable to the government of the United States, so they got rid of him. The CIA created a coup, which overthrew Allende and his government, and installed a fascist-type dictator, a close friend of Mrs Thatcher, General Pinochet, well known for his despotic rule. When called before the courts for trial for his deeds, he always had a heart condition, could not walk, was too ill even to come to court to face his accusers.
Today, most countries have opted for a democratic form, that is, one elected by popular vote for one or other political party. It is assumed that the voting system used is fair, free from malpractice and fraud.
If only that were true. One of the tragedies for the United States and for the world has been the extraordinary way in which the present administration was catapulted to power by the most fraudulent, corrupt, malpractice in the entire history of malpractices, going back to 18th and 19th century England.
That was a time when would-be members of Parliament would buy votes by the gallon – gallons of beer that is. They would go through all the little towns and give everybody pints, as many as they could drink, and a hearty meal in the course of it, and gold coins that were worth a guinea apiece. These gold guineas put dozens of men into Parliament for no better reason than that they were businessmen, and being a member of Parliament would be good for their business. It gave them power and influence, which otherwise they would not have had. Malpractice was just the name of the game.
Nowadays elections in Britain are much fairer. They are not 100 per cent clean, but they are fairer. Usually, during an election or afterwards, it arises that, not the party as a whole, but the local party in some town, has worked out a scheme in which they can snaffle more than their share of the votes; that happens. In Britain, the ‘mother of parliaments’, small-time electoral fraud still goes on, but we have never seen anywhere in modern times the kind of corruption that was practised in the US election for President Bush’s second term. We are all aware of the malpractice in the previous election that brought him to power in the first place. Al Gore won the first election and was denied it. Kerry won the second election decisively and was denied it.
I understand that one of the tricks played (only one of many) was that, in those areas of the country where electronic voting was used, one of the main suppliers of the voting machines was a key fundraiser for the Republican Party. His firm rigged the machines so that every fifth vote for Kerry was automatically turned into a vote for Bush. I know a woman in Massachusetts who used a machine for her vote. She voted for Kerry; the machine had an apparatus by which you could check that your vote had actually registered. She checked it and it came out Bush. She checked it again and it was Bush again. It gave Bush 18 times before it came up Kerry. You cannot imagine the scale of the fraud in the last US election. It has been for the world an absolute tragedy.
I cannot prove it of course, but I am convinced that if Al Gore had won the first election (which he did), 9/11 would not have taken place. I am sure it was planned before that. The planning would have gone on, but I think the actions of Gore would have been so different from those of the present administration that there would not have been the same sense of urgency and the same will to carry out 9/11.
If 9/11 had not happened, the world would be an entirely different place. 9/11 gave the present US administration the opportunity to invade Afghanistan. The Taliban are a very rigid, severe, fundamentalist Islamic regime, very hard to live with, but they were not, on the whole, terrorists. Now, having been defeated in the fighting in Afghanistan, they have regrouped and have come back, learning all the ways of terrorism. They are now terrorists, and they go into Iraq, which is wide open for anyone who wants to create mayhem.
An entire nation of terrorists has been created in Afghanistan quite unnecessarily. The attack on Iraq is a terrible tragedy for the world. They are now on the very brink of civil war. In fact, there is a small-scale civil war going on at this time. It is not all over the country, thankfully, at the moment, but it is civil war nevertheless. I think there is no kind of war more terrible than civil war.
During the Spanish civil war, one side of a street would support Franco and the other side of the street would be for the Republican government. They would fight and kill each other, just as was done more recently in Kosovo and Bosnia in the Balkans under the auspices of Slobodan Milosevic, then President of Serbia.
The world has come to a point not only of no return but of total crisis, total confrontation between good and ill, between that which produces harmony and that which produces the opposite. This is the result of the energy of the Sword of Cleavage. In the Christian Bible we read that Jesus said: “The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against his brother”, and so on, all very destructive. The Sword of Cleavage is, ironically it may seem, the energy of Love. That is what has been happening and is happening today, and will be focused to a fine point by Maitreya.
It is the energy of Love pouring out now through all the planes. It saturates the world, and its effect on humanity is to make you more of what you are. If you are a person of goodwill, that will be stimulated and potentized. If you are destructive, of bad will, you become more so. All, good and bad alike, are stimulated.
In this way humanity will see very clearly what it has to do. If this did not happen, we might feel that we could soldier on as we are. It would be difficult, but we might think that eventually, perhaps, things would subside and be all right again – as it never was in the past. The Sword of Cleavage sharpens the differences and makes clear the options before humanity. More and more people, with the sharpened vision that the Sword gives us, see that there is no alternative any more to peace. If we do not have peace, we will have complete destruction of all life on the planet.
Peace, then, is no longer an option for humanity: it is essential. This understanding is the result of the action of Maitreya’s energy of Love. It is the Sword of Cleavage, outlining clearly the way forward for humanity: through brotherhood, justice, sharing and peace; through freedom, right relationship and all that flows from these. It is either that, or continuing on the way of the present and destroying all life.
Maitreya’s Sword of Cleavage brings this black and white confrontation before humanity so that we see it clearly, sharply, with no woolly edges. We take one side or the other. We take the way of right human relationship, of construction and harmony, on the one hand, or the way of wrong human relations and eventually total destruction for everyone, on the other.
It is so important that before another election everybody in this country [USA] must insist on a completely different voting system. You should not accept the voting system of the last two elections. These I know with certainty were more fraudulent than those of any ‘banana republic’. They were outrageous, for you and the world, and something that you should never allow your government to do again.
There has to be a voting system with proof of your signature. That must be for every single vote. No machinery should be allowed to usurp the handwritten vote; none of the dodges that were used massively in the last election. Everybody knew that the vast majority of young people wanted change and would vote for Kerry. So in many places, they were grouped together in special rooms and not allowed to join the queues that were waiting to cast their votes. They were kept there for hours. If you keep youngsters of 18, 19 or 20 years of age for hours, waiting to vote, they do not stay. They drifted away in droves.
Such practices were widespread. It is so simple: you just keep the young away. Someone is denied those votes, perhaps thousands of votes, that could be crucial if the vote is close. It is a very simple, very effective ruse.
“Unfortunately, as recent history shows, this is not the case. Even in those countries which lay great stress on the probity of their election process.”
No country is more on the qui vive about the probity of other countries’ elections than the United States. The election has to be not only fair but ‘democratic’. It must be ‘democratic’, otherwise it is deemed unfair, automatically illegal.
Hamas was elected by a perfectly fair legal system of representational votes and became the freely elected government of the Palestinians. The United States administration refused to recognize or deal with Hamas. Israel (a lackey of the US) refuses to deal with the representatives of Hamas because they say it is not democratic. How much more democratic could it be than when the vast majority of people of the country voted for them? It was a landslide, almost 90 per cent. What can you do against such duplicity and double standards in the affairs of state?
Diversity of democratic forms
There are many forms, many types of democracy. The US administration thinks that the only legal election is one between two political parties. That is the case in Europe, Japan and elsewhere, but there are many different ideas of democracy, degrees and types of democracy.
China would claim to be a democratic country, very different from the democracy of Britain, America, France, Germany and Scandinavia. If you were to ask the average, educated Chinese person, especially on the eastern seaboard, if their government is democratic, they would probably say: “Yes it is. It is a form of democracy. I am free to do what I want. I can do this job or that job. There is no compulsion to do certain work. I can do whatever job I am good at and trained for, without restriction. We have democracy.”
It is not what we would call democracy, but it is a form of democracy, a mixed democracy. The Chinese are presenting to the world a very interesting form of government, which is an experiment and may not end up in the way it seems to be going. That is the nature of experiment. These experiments on the scale of a country like China take time to unfold. In China you have a group of strong men with the army and police behind them, so they can enforce what would be the rule of law as they see the law, and they do enforce it. It is a 1st-ray country. The soul of the country is 1st-ray; the personality is 3rd-ray. They are not very sentimental; that is not one of their faults.
This country [USA], as devious and autocratic as your present government is, has a 2nd-ray soul and a 6th-ray personality, and is sentimental to a degree. However, I would rather have that than the more robust, to put it mildly, form of the Chinese democracy, because I think the 2nd-ray soul of America will eventually manifest itself, and the sooner the better for the world.
The world is really waiting for the soul of America to manifest. When it does, it will take to heart the needs of the world as a whole. For the first time it will broaden its viewpoint under the influence of the teaching of Maitreya, Who will invoke the soul aspect of America, and inspire America to share the resources which it has in such abundance. A new Marshall Plan on a world scale will be the result. That is one of the most hopeful things to hold before you as members of this nation. The American nation is a great nation. It has done some terrible things, but so have all the nations. It is a young nation, so in a sense it is to be expected that it gets out of hand at times; but it is so powerful, so big, so rich, that it has an enormous influence in the world.
That influence is the natural outflow of the intelligence and inventiveness of its people. It is also a planned influence, planned from Washington, from the White House and the Pentagon – which is the real seat of power in America. The Pentagon and the White House control the destinies of America and to some extent the destinies of the world. This should not be.
(For the full Conference Talk please see Share International January/February 2007)
Letters to the editor
Over a number of years, some of the Masters, in particular Maitreya and the Master Jesus, have appeared at Benjamin Creme’s lectures and Transmission Meditations. They also appear, in different guises, to large numbers of people around the world. Some of these recount their experiences to Share International magazine. If the experiences are authenticated by Benjamin Creme’s Master, the letters are published. These experiences are given to inspire, to guide or teach, often to heal and uplift. Very often, too, they draw attention to, or comment on, in an amusing way, some fixed intolerance to, for example, smoking or drinking. Many times the Masters act as saving ‘angels’ in accidents, during wartime, earthquakes and other disasters. They use a ‘familiar’, a thoughtform, who seems totally real, and through whom the Master’s thoughts can be expressed: They can appear as a man, a woman, a child, at will. Occasionally They use the ‘blueprint’ of a real person, but in most cases the ‘familiar’ is an entirely new creation. The following letters are examples of this means of communication by the Masters. Please note: In the absence of any indication to the contrary, the editors will assume that your name may be printed. Unless requested otherwise, some of these letters may be reproduced on the Share-International.org website. Only initials, town and country will be used.
In the afternoon of 20 March 2006, while driving from Tolmin to Ljubljana, I gave a lift to a hitchhiker. I was immersed in my thoughts, so I didn’t take much time to look at him when he entered the car, but I got a strange feeling that he was somebody I knew. I looked at him again in a quick, impulsive way, and met his shining pale blue eyes. He smiled at me open-heartedly and greeted me again.
At first we were mainly silent, until he asked me something about my car. He seemed to be very easy going, and soon we were talking about this and that. He looked very peaceful, sitting comfortably beside me. He was dressed very simply, had dark brown hair and a beard. He was emanating a pleasant smell of burnt wood. He told me he lived in a small village up in the hills, living a simple and satisfying life. (Later on he said he planned to go back to the city more often, even if he didn’t like the aggressive, competitive way of life there.)
Little by little our conversation grew more and more interesting. He said that science and technology had advanced to such an extent that it would soon be possible to produce cars that would be almost as fast as rockets. I replied that it would be better if the car industry would look for ways of producing cars that wouldn’t pollute the air so much. I was surprised by his enthusiastic response: “Yes, yes, yes!” From then on we began to talk about the problems of the world today.
He commented on the war in Iraq, saying that it was absurd that the US were sending their children to die there for the sake of oil. He said that the main interest for this war was to prevent the stock-market crash. (At that point, my heart speeded up, as I thought for the first time that he might be Maitreya.) I asked him to explain about the connections he was making, and he replied that this war helped the US war industry and in this way also the US economy which would otherwise collapse (which according to him had been about to happen before the war).
I remembered the things I had read about the stock market in Share International and said that the stock market had changed the world today into a global casino. He agreed and said that this system is very unjust, the lack of justice being the main problem today. So many people work so hard and gain so little, while others can be immensely rich, without contributing anything to the community. He pointed out that this problem can only be solved by justice and sharing. According to him, the stock market is to crash soon, in spite of the efforts of a group of very skilful and intelligent men who keep it going with their tricks.
He then told me how this problem of injustice shows in Slovenia: “Workers built factories after World War II, and contributed to the development of existing factories. They made big sacrifices. And now those who were skilful enough have taken hold of these factories by mere speculation. Those who really worked hard, now have nothing.”
He asked me about my job, and I told him I was a psychotherapist. He said that he was doing something similar: “I talk to people and their lives begin to change without them even noticing it.” He said that if I want to be happy, I have to give, give, just give to others all that I have and don’t need. In this way life can flow, and I will always have enough.
I asked him about his profession and he said that he was an economist. I asked him if there was any alternative to how the economy functions today. He smiled and made a gesture with his hand – he pointed to the heart and then to the mouth, repeating it a few times. I asked him to explain what he meant. “I call it handonomy.” He said it was already happening in the world. There are groups of people who exchange goods between themselves. Somebody has such-and-such skills and knowledge and he can do certain things, while somebody else can do something else. And they exchange and share what they have and can do directly. (A kind of barter, if I understood it correctly.)
Towards the end of our journey I asked him how the change in the world can happen. He answered that people have to talk about these things and spread them. It is spreading from individual to individual and that is how the number grows. But most essential is that people live what they talk about. It is not so important what you achieve. What is more important is who you are and that you are true to yourself. Then things can happen. This in itself is a powerful force and can produce change in the world.
When we arrived and he stepped out of the car, I looked at him for the last time, and he waved me goodbye. I felt inspired and kept thinking about this meeting and about what I was told. I feel like this even now, as I am writing these lines.
Was this unusual man Maitreya?
T.F., Ljubljana, Slovenia.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the ‘hitchhiker’ was in fact the Master Jesus.)
On my visit to the Dental Hospital in Manchester at the end of September 2006, I saw a man who caught my attention. He was tall and slim, sitting on top of a green electricity box, smiling cheerfully at all who passed. We smiled at each other, and this young man, dressed casually in jeans, jumper and jacket, spoke to me. I didn’t hear him properly and asked if he was talking to me. “Yes, hello.” He had a can in his hand, so I thought I’d better make sure he wasn’t a drunk! I replied: “Hello I’m Jenny,” and we shook hands. He beamed at me, and asked about my teeth. “Open your mouth, let me have a look … Oh yes, you’ll be alright now,” he said. I asked if he was studying in Manchester, to which he said: “Yes.” Something in his tone made me say: “But not in the university, are you?” “No, I’m studying the world!” he said.
I was so taken aback, thinking: “Is he a Spiritual Master or a drunk?” He answered this thought by offering me a drink from his can. We talked for about half an hour, about world peace for one thing. I said: “I wish Bush and Blair would go!” He gave me a gently exasperated look, and said: “Try not to be negative, we need them to be in place just a little longer.” He added: “You know the world has turned a corner now, for the first time ever, we have more positive people saying prayers around the world, at the same time!” “Have we?” I asked. “Oh yes certainly, and we need as many spiritual people to work for peace here, as we can.” He also said something about being aware of our thoughts, words and actions to each other, we must be peaceful.
I told him about the peace march in London that weekend, and he replied: “Yes I know, I hope they stay calm and it is a peaceful march. People get very excited about what they think is ‘right’ and start to shout at each other. Just because they are right, does not mean they should forget we are all brothers and sisters.”
He then asked: “Will you help me with the work?” Like a yo-yo I said: “Yes but I can’t just now, I have to get home and feed my cat!” He gave me a hug, saying: “God Bless you.”
Later I saw a man sitting on the floor, in a doorway, with a flute in his hand; he asked me for money but I explained that I did not have any but could give him some of the blackberries I had just bought. He was tall, slim and had a wonderful smile, and looked very pleased with the blackberries. As I walked down to the station, I couldn’t stop grinning at everyone – and they smiled back!
Did I meet special beings on that day?
A.J.W., Oldham, Lancashire, UK.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the man sitting on the electricity box was Maitreya and the man in the doorway with the flute was the Master Jesus.)
I have been a volunteer for many years at the Theosophical Society, Gloucester Place, London, serving tea or coffee at Sunday lectures and generally looking after visitors.
On 1 October 2006 there was a lecture and afterwards people stayed for refreshments. I had taken some Benjamin Creme lecture cards with me so that I could hand them to people who might attend his lectures.
A very slim, elegantly dressed young-middle-age man came for a cup of tea. I had never seen him there before and have not seen him since. I felt that I wanted to let him know about Maitreya and I explained very briefly about the Spiritual Hierarchy of our planet, Maitreya and his role in it and his intention to come out into the open very soon.
He listened to me attentively and seemed to know what I was talking about, which surprised me because usually people express astonishment or even doubt when they hear this story. I handed him the card and said that he would not regret it if he attended the lecture on the following Thursday. He then said to me: “Perhaps I am Maitreya – there is a bit of Maitreya in all of us!” – with which I agreed but remarked that it has to be brought out.
Who was he?
C.S., London, England.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the man was Maitreya..)
In October 2006 I assisted at a Share International booth held in Montreal. As I am a bit timid, the day before I asked Maitreya to guide me. Being fluent in two languages sometimes gives me difficulties in expressing myself. That afternoon a South American couple approached our display of books and literature. The lady preferred explanations in French and the gentleman in English. They expressed interest in knowing about Maitreya and encouraged me to expand my answers to their questions. Finally they accepted the literature I handed them but did not attend the talk we held on the subject of Maitreya, the Masters of Wisdom and Transmission Meditation.
Were they Masters or just a very nice couple?
G.S., Dollard-Des-Ormeaux, QC, Canada.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the man was Maitreya and the ‘woman’ the Master Jesus.)
Sister of mercy
In 1999 I had an encounter with a nun that had an impact on a life-long habit: frequently losing or putting things in the wrong place. This is frustrating to myself, and irritating to those around me.
I had a day’s work in Manchester, in the North of England, a two-hour train journey away. Arriving rather early, I had a look in a clothes shop. Then, as I was leaving the station, I noticed an elderly-looking nun sitting on the ground. She was holding a round ‘collecting’ tin with a hand-written label on it: ‘FOR THE DEAF’. I stopped to give her something, but when I opened my bag, my purse wasn’t there: “I must have left my purse in the shop.” The nun replied in an Irish accent, sounding concerned and sympathetic: “Leave your things with me and run back and look for it.” In complete confidence, I left my case and coat, and rushed back to the shop. There, still on the counter, in full view of everyone, was my bright red purse. I picked it up, hurried back to the nun, put some change in her tin and thanked her. “Thank God I was here,” she said. It did feel like a blessing, because otherwise I would have been in a taxi before I noticed my loss, which would have been a terrible start to my working day.
Afterwards, I was suddenly struck by the thought: you wouldn’t expect to see a nun sitting on the ground, like a beggar, with a hand-made collecting tin. By now the event had taken on a slightly out-of-time quality. Could this nun be more than she appeared?
The more I thought about it, the more amazing it became. I felt I had been taken care of as if by a good parent, who, at the same time, brought my habit of ‘scattering’ my things clearly to my consciousness. Since then, losing things doesn’t seem to have been such an issue for me. I get less anxious, and I notice what I am doing with my things much more.
Who was the nun who helped me?
P.P., London, UK.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the ‘nun’ was the Master Jesus.)
Woman gives money away on bus
A woman in Spokane, Washington, USA, handed out envelopes containing $50 to passengers aboard buses during the Christmas holiday season, saying “Merry Christmas” to each passenger before stepping off the bus. Descriptions of the woman varied among passengers, as the woman did her work quickly. “She kind of kept her head down,” said bus driver Max Clemons. “I don’t remember ever seeing this lady before.” The woman was accompanied by one or two young boys. Each envelope containing money was sealed with a sticker that said: “To a friend from a friend.” According to another bus driver, Terry Dobson, who had two visits from the mystery woman on his bus: “There was a lot of excitement. People were making calls on their cell phones. The people on those buses really needed the money.”
(Source: Yahoo News, The Spokesman-Review, USA)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the ‘woman’ was Maitreya.)
UFO seen over Chicago airport
A group of about 12 airline employees say they saw an elliptical-shaped craft hovering over Chicago’s O’Hare Airport on 7 November 2006. The United Airlines workers, including several pilots, say the grey metallic object did not have lights and hovered motionless for several minutes over an airport terminal before accelerating straight up, noiselessly, leaving a hole in the clouds. The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) confirmed that a supervisor from the airlines had called the control tower at Chicago airport on that date, asking if anyone had seen a spinning, disc-shaped object. But the air traffic controllers said they had not seen anything, and an initial check of radar found nothing out of the ordinary, according to the FAA. (Source: Associated Press, Chicago Tribune, National UFO Reporting Center, USA)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the UFO was a spacecraft from Mars.)
“Spirit voices save a woman’s life”
According to a report in a UK newspaper, in 1984 a woman heard an inner ‘voice’ which told her not to be afraid, but warned her that she needed help for an illness of which she was unaware. The ‘voice’ gave her other, personal, information which in time proved to be true and convinced her that she was not simply imagining things.
Subsequently, two voices told her to seek immediate medical treatment for a brain tumour, which she did. Eventually the medical authorities agreed to give her a brain scan which showed a tumour, even though there had been no prior symptoms. An operation was performed immediately and was successful. The ‘voices’ returned one more time to say goodbye.
Her consultant psychiatrist, Dr Ikechukwu Azuonye, of the mental health unit of the Royal Free Hospital in London, reported the miracle in the British Medical Journal in 1997 under the title ‘A difficult case: Diagnosis made by hallucinatory voices’. He wrote: “It is well known that intracranial lesions can be associated with psychiatric symptomatology. But this is the first and only instance I have come across in which hallucinatory voices sought to reassure the patient of their genuine interest in her welfare, offered her a specific diagnosis (there were no clinical signs that would have alerted anyone to the tumour), directed her to the type of hospital best equipped to deal with her problem, expressed pleasure that she had at last received the treatment they desired for her, bid her farewell, and thereafter disappeared.”
After his report was published, Dr Azuonye said he “was contacted by numerous other psychiatrists who had treated patients with similar experiences. These doctors feared for their careers if they went public with cases which defied conventional medical explanation.” “It’s a miracle,” he said. “The patient regards herself as being helped by a guardian angel.”(Source: Daily Mail, British Medical Journal, UK)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the woman was helped by the Master Jesus.)
Most Americans believe in angels
More than 80 per cent of people in the US believe in the existence of angels, according to an Ipsos-AOL poll conducted in December 2006. A strong belief in angels was found among people of different backgrounds and religious convictions, and even among those with no religious affiliation.
In an Associated Press article reporting on the results of the poll, people were asked to explain what an angel is: “A presence that you feel around you,” said one person. “I accept them – to come whenever they want to.”
Another respondent, Edward Pelz, of Grabill, Indiana, said he believed angels were guiding him, but that they don’t necessarily have wings and wear robes. He told the story of a man who showed up to help him change his flat tyre in Ohio five years ago. He thought at the time: “Maybe I had an angel with me here today.” (Source: Associated Press)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that Edward Pelz’s ‘angel’ was the Master Jesus.)
A crucifix miraculously survived a fire in rural County Tyrone, Ireland, that destroyed a small cottage. After the home was engulfed by fire and reduced to ashes, it was decided that the remaining walls should be torn down as they were unstable. The workmen who completed the demolition found the cross on the back of the only door to escape the blaze. Neither the cross nor the door was even scorched and many believed it to be a miracle. Since then the owner, a deeply religious woman, has given the cross to many people, both old and young, who have received healing both spiritually and physically. Many can testify to its miraculous powers.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the crucifix was saved from the fire and spiritually charged by the Master Jesus.)
Weeping statue in California
An outdoor statue of the Madonna at the Vietnamese Catholic Martyrs Church in Sacramento, California, USA, appears to be shedding tears of blood.
A priest first noticed tears on the statue’s face on 9 November 2005, but thinking it was a stain, wiped them away. The tears returned more than a week later. Before Mass on 20 November, churchgoers noticed a reddish substance near the eyes of the white concrete statue. Parishioners said the tear stains streamed down the statue to its foundations, but that most were later smudged off by visitors and washed away by rains. The statue, however, has continued to weep.
Since the tears of blood first appeared, many visitors to the church say their prayers and petitions are being answered – Maria Huenguyen, for instance, who has suffered for years from impaired vision and since taking some blood off the statue and rubbing it on her forehead, her eyesight has improved so much that she can even drive at night. “I thank to God and I thank to Mary that help me my eye,” she says.
Large numbers of people have visited the statue, some bringing candles and flowers, many praying for blessings. “To me, personally, it is a miracle. You believe it or don’t believe it, that’s okay. But I strongly believe it,” said visitor André Nguyen. Many questioned why the Madonna was crying. Another visitor, Brenda Harris, said: “I think that at this time in history, in terms of what’s happening in the United States, what’s happening in the Church, that this is possibly a sign.”
(Source: CBS13 Sacramento, MSNBC News, USA)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that this is an authentic miracle from the Master Who was the Madonna.)
Miracles of Den Bosch Madonna
In St John’s Cathedral in the Dutch city of Den Bosch there is a small wooden statue of the Madonna and child that dates back to the 12th or 13th century. According to legend, when two labourers in the 13th century were instructed to throw it in the fire they found it was too heavy to lift. After the bishop had decided it must be a miracle, the statue was credited with many miraculous healings of people over the course of the next two or three centuries who came to it to pray. These miracles (thought to be no longer happening) were recorded in a book which is still on display in the cathedral. The wall of the chapel where the statue is on display is covered with small silver representations of limbs as tokens of gratitude to the Madonna.
(Source: A church official in St John’s Cathedral)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the Master Jesus performed the miracle when the small wooden statue could not be lifted. He is also responsible for the miracle healings, which have not stopped but continue to the present day – people have lost their faith.)
From our own correspondents
Sowing the seeds of peace
Interview with Janet Wallach
by Jason Francis
Seeds of Peace is a non-governmental organization bringing young people together from conflict areas around the world. Founded by John Wallach in 1993, and based in New York, USA, Seeds of Peace initially brought together 46 Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian teenagers to promote understanding, trust and empathy as well as to develop the conflict resolution and leadership skills needed to move reconciliation and coexistence forward in the Israeli-Arab conflict. The project soon expanded and to date has included over 3,000 young people from nations throughout the Middle East, the Balkans, South Asia and the United States.
Jason Francis interviewed journalist and author Janet Wallach, the president of Seeds of Peace, for Share International. This is the first part of that interview.
Share International: How does a young person enter the Seeds of Peace program and what does the program involve?
Janet Wallach: In most countries, potential participants are selected by their schools. There is usually an interview process and students must meet several requirements: we look for youngsters ages 14 to 16 who speak English, are leaders in their schools and communities, and are interested in meeting with the ‘other side’. Once they are chosen and accepted, they are invited to join their country’s delegation and spend three weeks at our camp in Maine, USA. The experience is challenging and stimulating for the teenagers, who come from opposite sides of a conflict region and find themselves living together in the same cabins, playing sports, eating meals, and participating in daily 90-minute dialogue sessions with their ‘enemy’. The key to all of this is getting to know the other and, in the process, getting to know oneself. This is a transformational experience which has a profound effect on everyone – campers, counselors, facilitators, delegation leaders – who takes part.
SI: Delegations from roughly 20 nations attend the Seeds of Peace program. How does it organize interactions among so many different national identities?
JW: The Seeds are organized at camp by their regions of conflict. For example, some bunks are for Israelis and Arabs, others are for Indians and Pakistanis. The dialogue sessions are also arranged by regional conflict, but sports and other activities sometimes include all campers. The highlight of the summer is Color Games, the camp Olympics, in which the entire camp is divided into two multinational teams, Green and Blue, to compete in every camp activity. Color Games encourages a co-operative spirit that rises above national and regional identities. In fact, many Seeds put their team color at the bottom of their email to identify themselves. The end of Color Games is a great celebration for everyone and a recognition of the power of being a Seed.
SI: How have the young people changed through participating in your program?
JW: Some youngsters come to camp because they are curious about the ‘enemy’. Others come because they are angry, hurt, frustrated and apprehensive and want to let their enemies know how they feel. These, of course, are the people who are most changed by the experience. Getting to know the other side and learning that your worst enemy is someone very much like you is an eye-opening experience that makes you rethink your perceptions and your understanding of yourself. One of our Seeds expressed it well when she said: “You have to go to war with yourself before you can make peace with your enemy.”For many of the Seeds, going home is more difficult than coming to camp. Although they have undergone a profound change, those at home have not, and the feelings of the Seeds are different and at variance with those of their friends and families, and even their teachers. Our staff are there on the ground to support them: we offer the Seeds the opportunity to talk about these problems with each other through email, workshops, peer group meetings, parent meetings and meetings with delegation leaders. We also encourage them to participate in service programs, which help establish their credibility in their own communities. It is important that they demonstrate the Seeds of Peace values of trust, respect and tolerance towards their own people before they talk about demonstrating these values towards the ‘enemy’.
A trip inside corporate media
Interview with Jeff Cohen
by Cher Gilmore
Jeff Cohen founded FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting), a US-based media watch group with a progressive perspective, in 1986. He later became a paid pundit on each of the three major US cable news channels – Fox, CNN, and MSNBC. Cohen’s columns have run in many publications, including The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and The Nation, and he has co-authored a number of books, including Wizards of Media Oz, and Through the Media Looking Glass. His latest book is Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media, about mainstream media’s failures in covering the most urgent issues of the day.
Cher Gilmore interviewed him for Share International. The following is a fragment from that interview.
Share International: You have said that all major US media outlets are tools of America’s most powerful corporations. How many corporations, and which ones, own the major news media in the US?
Jeff Cohen: There are basically five corporations that dominate television: CBS/Viacom, which was once united, but was split into two separate companies; General Electric, which owns NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, even part of the History Channel; Disney, which owns ABC; Time-Warner which owns CNN and HBO; and Rupert Murdoch, who owns Fox Broadcast, Fox Sports, Fox FX, Fox News, 20th Century Fox, E-Fox Searchlight, New York Post, Weekly Standard, The Times and The Sun in the UK, and media across the globe. In radio, there’s one dominant player – Clear Channel Communications. In newspapers, the Tribune Company is very powerful, along with a couple of other corporations. If you listed the top dozen media corporations in the US, you would account for most of the mass media in our country.
SI: Is that the case for media in the western European countries as well?
JC: It’s all moving in that direction. Italy is worse. In Italy, former Prime Minister Berlusconi used to own the three biggest private channels. When he was the Prime Minister, he also had influence over the three public channels. That’s something we haven’t quite approached yet in the US. In some ways western Europe is worse than the US, but what is better there is that they still have strong public broadcasting in most countries. You can be well paid as a television or radio broadcaster or journalist and work for a public network. The public networks are some of the most watched networks in their countries, unlike in the US.
Media, money and power
SI: You say in your book that presenting objective news isn’t even a goal of corporate media.
JC: I don’t think it is. Business interests have always dominated the US media, but there used to be thousands of different businesses. They were often run by people who went into newspapering because they believed in newspapers. Today, the media are dominated by these huge conglomerates, and in the last 20-30 years conglomerates have become more profit oriented, more union-busting oriented, more political lobbying oriented. They are not what they were decades ago when they produced a good product, made a healthy profit, and were good for the community. That ethic is almost quaint.
The corporations that own the media today are very much cut-throat corporations. They have amassed tremendous political power because they’re so effective on Capitol Hill [lobbying the US Congress]. When they’re so good at building economic and political power, the last thing they want is journalists on their payroll who are exposing corruption in Washington, or corporate malfeasance. In television news, the trend has been toward tabloid coverage – Jon Benet Ramsey, OJ Simpson, sex scandals. Those stories never get a reporter into trouble. But I learned as a senior producer at MSNBC that being outspoken against the war in Iraq can get you into trouble.
SI: They basically just want what’s going to bring in the money and power?
JC: Yes. I think these corporations are very power-oriented. If you want to rise to the top at a news outlet owned by one of these conglomerates, you had better show your ability to play corporate politics, and not rock the boat. I describe that in the book as a ‘kakistocracy’. We say we’re all for a ‘meritocracy’, where you rise to the top based on ability or achievement. In corporate media you have a ‘kakistocracy’, which literally means rule by the worst, where the people who rise to the top are often the least talented, and especially the least principled. They often care very little about journalism. They just need to show ratings – in a way that doesn’t offend their bosses, or corporate sponsors, which is why a lot of stories are avoided or under-covered.
SI: Do you think they are simply trying to entertain, and lull people into non-thinking?
JC: Yes. If you look at who owns our media, including the news, it’s largely entertainment conglomerates. There is one military contractor, General Electric. I don’t think it’s far-fetched to say that the owners of those corporations are just as happy if we’re a nation of mindless consumers – easy marks for their ads – as opposed to a nation of informed, active citizens.
Alternatives to corporate media
SI: Can you see a time when corporate television, including television news, may lose most of its audience, with all the competition from satellite, the internet, etc?
JC: The audience for broadcast news is shrinking, especially the nightly news. There are more alternatives, but they are often owned by the same companies that own the three big news shows (CBS, ABC and NBC). The book is optimistic because it talks about the boom in independent media, in nonprofit media, in internet-based media.
SI: Will the internet be the main vehicle for progressives in the future?
JC: Yes, progressives have taken to that medium like a fish to water. It’s not an accident that progressives disseminate more information on the internet than conservatives, raise more money on the internet than conservatives, and organize more political campaigns on the internet than conservatives. Conservatives have dominated talk television and talk radio for years, so progressives have taken to this new medium because they have been so disadvantaged in television and radio, and because the internet is a medium of debate and democratic discourse. If you criticize something, you link to what you’re criticizing. If you refer to some expert or study, you link to the study you’re referring to, and then you welcome people to join the debate and attack you. It’s a truly democratic medium, which is why it’s been great for progressives and so unappetizing to more demagogic types. It’s a very exciting development, as long as we can save the internet as a free and open forum.
Making Globalization Work
by Joseph Stiglitz
Book review by Erik Hutter
Joseph Stiglitz, one of the world’s best-known economists, was chairman of President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, and Chief Economist at the World Bank until January 2000. He is currently Professor of Finance and Economics at Columbia University, New York, and in 2001 was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics. An American, he is the author of Globalization and Its Discontents and The Roaring Nineties. In 2006 he wrote Making Globalization Work: The Next Steps to Global Justice. Below we present the first part of the review.
In the early 1990s globalization received a warm welcome from many economists and politicians. Within six years the flow of capital to developing countries had increased six-fold. Globalization, it was thought, would make everyone a winner, both in the developed and in the developing countries.
The large-scale protests against globalization, in December 1999 in Seattle, came as a major shock to the advocates of the free market. Globalization had indeed successfully united citizens around the world – but against globalization.
Blue collar workers in the United States saw their jobs being threatened by cheap imports from China. Farmers in developing countries found their subsistence under threat from heavily subsidized agricultural products from the rich countries. Aids activists saw how new trade agreements drive up the prices of medicines to levels that most around the world cannot afford. Environmental organizations were focusing on globalization’s negative impact on the ecosystem. The Seattle protests were proof that many doubted that globalization makes everyone in developing and developed countries a winner.
Globalization can make everyone a winner, according to Joseph Stiglitz, but so far it has failed to live up to its potential. In 2004 the World Commission on the Social Dimensions of Globalization, established by the International Labour Organization, published the findings of a survey among 73 countries. Except in South Asia, the United States and Europe, unemployment had gone up everywhere between 1990-2002. Fifty-nine per cent of the world’s population lives in countries where inequality is growing, five per cent in countries where inequality is on the decrease. Even in rich countries the rich are getting richer, while the standard of living of the poor falls.
There are several ways in which the industrialized nations ensure that globalization serves their interests exclusively.
The two main financial institutions of the world, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), date back to the time when the US and Europe reigned supreme in the world (1944). Although colonialism has long been renounced, it is still very much the ‘old boy’ network of rich countries where decisions are made. The head of the IMF is always a European, the number two an American, and the US is the only country with a veto. The IMF voting rights are based on the economic balance of power of 60 years ago. The head of the World Bank is appointed by the President of the United States. This appointment has often more to do with American political interests than with financial expertise – witness the appointments of Paul Wolfowitz and Robert McNamara, who had both been US Secretary of Defence.
The World Bank and the IMF, as well as other international institutions, are making decisions which are not in the interest of developing countries. However, says Stiglitz, these institutions have only limited powers because they are controlled by the US, Europe and other industrialized nations. The governments of these countries, in turn, are only partially accountable because they are elected by an egocentric electorate which puts their own people’s needs before those of other countries. In a world where precise count is kept of the number of American casualties in Iraq but the number of Iraqi deaths raises considerably less concern, it is no wonder that the same inequality exists in terms of the economy. The loss of jobs and a decline in wealth at home are deeply deplored, but how many in rich countries will wave the flag for increased wealth in China, India and other parts of the world?
Globalization makes the world ever smaller and Stiglitz advises that we need to see ourselves more and more as part of one world community. We should ask ourselves: what would we consider fair if we lived in another part of the world? If we want another form of globalization we need to start thinking globally in a different way, he says.
The asymmetry between rich, industrialized nations and developing countries is also apparent in the international trade and finance treaties, which unilaterally favour the rich countries at the cost of the poor. These treaties give developed countries access to the markets of developing countries, but not often the other way round. After years of negotiations within the World Trade Organization (WTO) an agreement was reached in 1994 that was so lopsided that the poorest part of the world, sub-Saharan Africa, incurred losses of $1.2 billion per year. The developed countries – 15 per cent of the world population – enjoyed the benefits of 70 per cent of the advantages, totalling $350 billion per year.
Stiglitz notes that the rules of the international trade game have changed to benefit the rich countries in other ways, too: trade tariffs imposed by developed nations on developing-world products are four times higher than those on products from other developed countries. The amount that poor countries pay for these trade barriers is three times as high as the amount that they receive in development assistance.
Stiglitz advocates a system of reciprocity between equal partners instead of reciprocity between all trade partners, as is currently the case: rich countries should open their markets to poor nations without demanding reciprocity. Average-income countries should also open their markets for the least-developed countries, but not for the richest countries. Industrialized countries can open their markets for each other, because their economies are sufficiently strong.
Voice of the People
World clamours for Guantanamo closure
Protests worldwide on 11 January 2007 marked the fifth anniversary of the first ‘war on terror’ detentions at America’s notorious offshore incarceration unit at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In Cuba itself, protesters at the US facility’s border included former British inmate Asif Iqbal, released without charge after two-and-a-half years, and relatives of current detainees, including US veteran activist Cindy Sheehan, whose soldier son was killed in Iraq. Zohra Zewawi, mother of British detainee Omar Deghayes said it was excruciatingly painful to be so close but not see him.
Across the world voices were raised against the detention centre. Newly-appointed UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon used his first news conference to repeat predecessor Kofi Annan’s calls for its closure. Protesters as far apart as Australia, Hungary and Greece were typical of those across the world who wore orange jumpsuits like those worn by Guantanamo inmates.
UK protesters delivered a birthday cake to the Birmingham firm Hiatt which manufactures chains and shackles for the prison. In London, orange-clad, shackled protesters sat, hands on heads and blindfolded, outside the US Embassy in London. Nearby, protesters staged a candle-lit vigil outside the Prime Minister’s Downing Street residence. Ten-year-old Anas el-Banna handed in his fourth letter to Tony Blair at Downing Street on the anniversary of his father’s imprisonment without trial; Jamil el-Banna (a UK resident and father of five) was seized and handed over to the US military while on a business trip to Ghana. Anas’ letter asked: “I want to know if Mr Blair cares after four years. No one knows what the meaning of four years without a dad is and is he still alive? Only God knows.”
In Washington hundreds dressed in orange overalls or military uniforms, some with black-taped mouths or displaying the names of detainees, gathered in freezing temperatures on the steps of the Supreme Court to stage political theatre and make speeches. “Guantanamo has brought shame to our nation,” said Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International. “There is no evidence that we have been made safer, but there is growing evidence that the moral authority of the United States has been severely diminished.” Elsewhere in the city 100 demonstrators were arrested in a courthouse for waving signs and wearing T-shirts with slogans “Stop Torture” and “Shut Down Guantanamo”.
In the same week, Charles D. Stimson, the senior Pentagon official responsible for military detainees suspected of terrorism, criticized top US law firms for representing Guantanamo inmates, and called for corporate clients to boycott the firms. His stance was echoed by Robert. L. Pollock, of The Wall Street Journal, who named the firms involved on the newspaper’s editorial page and exhorted CEOs to put legal firms under pressure to “choose between lucrative retainers and representing terrorists”.
Their comments were condemned as “repellent” by members of America’s legal profession. “Lawyers represent people in criminal cases to fulfil a core American value: the treatment of all people equally before the law,” said Karen J. Mathis, president of the American Bar Association. “To impugn those who are doing this critical work – and doing it on a volunteer basis – is deeply offensive to members of the legal profession, and we hope to all Americans.” Senator Patrick J. Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has asked President Bush to disclaim any support for the remarks.
Despite calls for its closure, the US military plans to expand the Guantanamo facility with a new $125 million compound to hold multiple simultaneous trials from the middle of 2008. But Congress has announced an investigation. “The new Democratic majority has every intention of conducting vigorous oversight on these issues and getting answers on the administration’s detention practices,” said Steny Hoyer, Congress’s House Majority Leader. “The administration has said it hopes to close the facility, an objective that I share.”
Currently about 430 detainees are held at Guantanamo Bay, including some recently transferred there from secret CIA custody. In the five years of its use, just ten detainees have been charged with crimes, with only a further 70 due to be charged under new US terrorism legislation. Fourteen inmates are on hunger strike, five of whom are being force-fed under US military protocols.
British ex-detainee Moazzam Begg said at the London protests that Tony Blair’s silence made him a “partner in crime” to the US. “The greatest travesty of justice in Guantanamo Bay is not the beatings, torture, swearing and the inability to communicate with family,” he said. “It is the illegal limbo you remain in, having no knowledge of when or if you will be charged, when or if you are going to be released and what crime you stand accused of that has earned you five years in the world’s most notorious prison.” (Source: BBC News, The Independent, UK; MSNBC, The New York Times, USA; commondreams.org)
Homeless campaign strikes a chord
Since the winter of 2005 Parisians and the inhabitants of major cities throughout France have seen tents shooting up almost everywhere, under bridges, along the Saint Martin Canal, under arches of the elevated metro tracks.
The new temporary housing scheme was set up by Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) which distributed 400 tents to offer them privacy and protection and to call attention to the plight of the homeless. They have somewhere to keep their personal belongings, to dress in privacy and protect themselves against rain and cold.
This winter a charity called the Children of Don Quixote took over the organization of the campaign. They made a film about the homeless and, shocked by the harshness of the living conditions, decided to invite members of the public to spend a night with the homeless out of doors – all shown on television.
Housing activist groups also made use of a law allowing local authorities to requisition unoccupied property to take over a vacant property in the heart of a chic neighbourhood near the Paris stock exchange. The squat became known as the ‘ministry for the housing crisis’.
The campaign has brought about greater awareness, reaching even those who had previously ignored the problem of homelessness. And in this pre-election period politicians have been quick to take up the issue and have already made firm promises.
French Prime Minister De Villepin promptly introduced a ‘legal right to housing’ in response to growing public and campaign pressure. In his New Year’s Eve address President Jacques Chirac said that the cabinet would approve a law by mid-January 2007 providing an extra 120,000 housing units per year. The legislation will take place ahead of the February elections. The Housing Minister Jean-Louis Borloo announced that €100 million (about US$130 million) would be spent on the homeless in 2007 and that 27,100 emergency housing spaces would be created as soon as possible.
Critics are sceptical, seeing this as a political move. In spite of the political promises the situation remains problematic: attempts are being made to move certain tents to the outskirts of Paris, so as to hide what some consider an embarrassing eyesore.
Only an acknowledgement of the real problems, such as high rents, unemployment and the lack of government housing schemes will make it possible to solve the problem of homelessness.
In 2006 three citizens’ movements influenced French policy to take a stand, for example: the movement against expulsion of schoolchildren whose parents do not have official documents; and the impact of indignation and anger aroused by the eviction of squatters in Cachan (in the Marne Valley) brought about change, as did the latest people’s initiative organized by the Children of Don Quixote. In the presidential election of 2007 these social issues will very definitely to be on the agenda. (Source: www.medecinsdumonde.org; Médecins sans Frontières; l’Humanité, Le Monde, Libération, France)