The futility of war
by the Master —, through Benjamin Creme
When men engage in war, they endanger not only their own and others’ lives, but also the well-being of the planet on which they depend for life itself. The Earth is plundered recklessly for the metals of all kinds used in the ordnance of death. No thought is given to the needs of future generations who also have the right to the planet’s bounty. Countless millions of tons of twisted, rusting iron adorn the ‘theatres of war’ where men enact their deadly pageantry. Men cannot see, or even imagine, the devastation caused to their subtle bodies by endless hours of bombardment. The unprecedented levels of noise tear and shred these sensitive veils. The human frame is not constructed for such abuse. Thus do they do themselves irreparable harm. How long, therefore, will it take men to realize the futility of war? War solves no problem; it creates only chaos, and halts the progress of man.
Some, few, men, it must be said, relish the act of war. It is, for them, an act of valour, a test of their will and skill, but mainly, today, men are drawn into war for ideological reasons, for the cause. Hence it is the leaders of the nations who hold the reins of power, who legislate for war or peace. They must be carefully chosen to ensure a peaceful world.
Much thought must now be given to this problem. Recent events in the Middle East have shown how simple it is to transgress the rule of Law and let loose chaos; to rectify the transgression and bring resolution is quite another matter.
Maitreya watches these events with care. He calculates precisely the tensions and their relaxation as they occur and seeks always to establish equilibrium. In this respect, the energies of the Spirit of Peace or Equilibrium, focused through Maitreya, play a vital part. Potent and precise, they are turning the tide of hatred and warring instincts which so trouble the peoples of the nations.
The people themselves are beginning to play their part. Through ballot-box and demonstration they are making their voices heard, their demands for peace known. From this point there is no turning back. The people are sensing their power and are coming to understand that they must make the peace they all desire, and that only when justice reigns with freedom will blessed peace be assured.
This growing understanding will set the scene for Maitreya’s early emergence.
(Read more articles by the Master)
Q. How fair were the recent US elections, which saw the Democratic Party return to power in Congress?
A. About 35 per cent were fair, which means that had they been nearer 100 per cent fair it would have been a landslide victory for the Democrats.
Q. Were the electronic voting machines tampered with, as in the 2004 US elections, to give advantage to the Republicans, but just not enough for them to win?
A. Some of them, yes, but less than in the previous election. The other methods, intimidation, etc, were well in evidence.
Q. Does President Bush know of the full corruption in his voting system?
A. No. He leaves these details to his staff.
Q. Why would the man who is posing as Saddam Hussein go on so long with the lie? He is putting himself through much grief, for what?
A. The outrageous and sinister truth is that the poor man who has just been sentenced to hanging no longer realizes that he is not Saddam Hussein but a look-a-like cousin. For a year in the hands of the CIA he has been systematically brain-washed by chemicals and hypnosis to forget his own identity and assume that of Saddam Hussein, President of Iraq.
These methods have been used by many of the Intelligence agencies in the world for very many years, especially for transforming and using captured spies. It was for this process to be carried out that this stand-in for Saddam Hussein disappeared from public view, after his capture, for so long.
Q. Australia is suffering from severe drought conditions. Is this due to global warming, or is it just part of Australia’s natural climate? Does it come from any karmic causes, eg Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers or involvement in the Iraq war?
A. It is the result of all of these causes combined.
Q. I was raised a ‘born-again’ Christian, and am now a mother. For reasons of personal evolution on my part, I feel that it would be wrong to teach my children the Christianity that I was raised with, but I want to teach them something. I want to give them spiritual guidance in their lives, something that they can build on as they grow and make decisions for their future. Does Share International offer worship gatherings for families? Do you have any advice for me, on how to raise children to be progressive spiritual beings?
A. The best teaching (I think the only true teaching) is given by example. If I may dare to give you advice it would be this: give your children the gift of freedom from indoctrination and conditioning. Leave them free to be and become themselves. Keep them away from ‘beliefs’ and never smother their spontaneity – from it comes the expression of their uniqueness as souls.
Show them, by example, how to love people of all colours and traditions; how to be tolerant and just. Teach them, by example, the fundamental spiritual law of life, the law of Cause and Effect; in the simplest terms, “as you sow so shall you reap”, and hence the need for harmlessness in all situations. Imbue them, by example, with the energy of goodwill and show them how to be relaxed and happy.
The spiritual life is not to do with beliefs and/or worship. It is the moment to moment sense of connection with the divine, of not being separate from that or from its expression in others. Show this, by example, to your children and they will grow as examples of that divinity before your eyes.
Q. In 2000 my wife and I first found out about Maitreya and Share International. We even started a Transmission Meditation Group. One day my wife asked for a sign of the authenticity of Maitreya. That night or soon afterwards while we were sleeping, my wife was awakened by a glowing light in the hallway just outside the bedroom door. She called out my name but by the time I woke up the light was gone. Soon after this we noticed a circle of light that shone on our adobe wall every morning. Were either or both of these her sign?
A. Yes, both of them.
Q. I was reading about Transmission Meditation, and I like the analogy given about the electrical transformer, but I believe that a transformer does not “step down the power”, a transformer changes the power into a new form. It steps up or down the current, which lowers or raises the voltage, but maintains the same power. With my understanding of a transformer, it is my belief that the analogy is very strong.
I very much like what I have seen here [on your website] and have come to many of the same realizations within myself. My desire, and my calling, is to be of service to humanity. I do this daily, but still not in the way my soul fully desires. I feel like there is more fear to release in order to have my true impact on humanity. But that will come at the time I am most ready.
I don’t know why I just wrote the above paragraph. Thank you for this wonderful website, and the words of love that come from this organization of beautiful people. Your impact on humanity is deep and unifies our hearts with love. Your spirit is felt with the words of truth.
A. Thank you for your appreciative response. You are, of course, quite correct in your description of a transformer. Our use of the term is only a loose ‘shorthand’ for ‘stepping-down’ the impact of the energies.
Q. Different people have told me that during Transmission Meditation it is in fact not compulsory to hold the attention exactly at the ajna-centre. That it can be held on any central point of the body as long as it is above the third chakra. So people who have difficulty keeping their attention fixed on the ajna could transmit the energies while keeping their attention on the heart or on the crown centre, eg, because they are used to doing so during their personal meditations and it is easier for them in this way to stay with a poised and positive mind. Is this correct?
A. No, it is certainly not correct. The meditation and the instructions for doing it are given by Hierarchy, the Master scientists, and should be followed strictly as given. It is simple to do but very powerful indeed. There are always some people who think they know better than the Masters and who cannot be told anything. They do themselves harm in this way, therefore.
(More questions and answers)
Letters to the editor
Over a number of years, some of the Masters, in particular Maitreya and the Master Jesus, have appeared at Benjamin Creme’s lectures and Transmission Meditations. They also appear, in different guises, to large numbers of people around the world. Some of these recount their experiences to Share International magazine. If the experiences are authenticated by Benjamin Creme’s Master, the letters are published. These experiences are given to inspire, to guide or teach, often to heal and uplift. Very often, too, they draw attention to, or comment on, in an amusing way, some fixed intolerance to, for example, smoking or drinking. Many times the Masters act as saving ‘angels’ in accidents, during wartime, earthquakes and other disasters. They use a ‘familiar’, a thoughtform, who seems totally real, and through whom the Master’s thoughts can be expressed: They can appear as a man, a woman, a child, at will. Occasionally They use the ‘blueprint’ of a real person, but in most cases the ‘familiar’ is an entirely new creation. The following letters are examples of this means of communication by the Masters. Please note: In the absence of any indication to the contrary, the editors will assume that your name may be printed. Unless requested otherwise, some of these letters may be reproduced on the Share-International.org website. Only initials, town and country will be used.
On 17 October 2006 I had a meeting with a member of our Transmission Meditation group. On the way there I reflected on the Master Jesus and group consciousness. I was just crossing the Stone Bridge in Regensburg when a little scrap of white paper (photo), located on top of the railing, drew my attention. This was quite unusual because it is always windy on the bridge. When I read the words on it I was more than just surprised:
Name six hindrances which can endanger the success of group work:
(1) Relationship influences activities
(2) Activities influence relationship
(3) Fear of engaging oneself
(5) Lack of motivation
Was this scrap of paper manifested by a Master?
J.A., Regensburg, Germany.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that it was manifested by the Master Jesus.)
The “little scrap of white paper” found on the Stone Bridge in Regensburg, Germany.
One morning in December 2005, podcaster (online audio reporter) Sage Tyrtle was surprised to see an old man pushing by Toronto rush hour subway commuters who were labouring up a steep flight of stairs. Moving very quickly, the old man poked fun at everyone, saying: “Move on now, move out of my way. I’m an old man – I’m getting up the stairs faster than you!”
Once seated on the subway, the old man cheerfully chatted about how uptight people from Toronto were, and that “you gotta go to Vancouver where everybody says ‘Hi’. In Vancouver, everyone’s relaxed. In fact I’m going right now to get me a couple of beers to help me wake up”.
The commuters exploded in laughter, said Ms Tyrtle, then everyone listened carefully to what he had to say. He explained that a little alcohol (“medicine”) is good for you, but too much makes you sick. He explained that Elvis Presley died young because his doctor gave him medicine and he overdid it. “Forty years old. I’m 70, you see? Shoulda lived to be 110, Elvis Presley, with all that money. Whap bop alloobop, whop bam boom,” he sang.
Everyone laughed again. The train lurched and Ms Tyrtle started to fall, but very quickly the man behind her caught her – something she’d never experienced in Toronto.
The old man went on to chide the audience about getting his teaching for free, because he was usually very expensive. “You look on TV, you’ll see me. You will know who I am. This is not my real face.” At the College Street stop he said: “I don’t go to college any more – I graduated! I’m a professor now. But I don’t teach, I prophesize. Oh, what is that? I never use that word myself. It’s new to me. That’s a big word, prophesize.”
Getting off the subway, the old man started singing: “Kansas City here I come. They got some pretty ladies, got to get me one,” adding, “I want more than one – I’m not satisfied with one lady. I gotta have more than one. I got an old lady, and a young lady. How do you like that? That’s not bad.” He started to leave the train. “Ok. Bye bye. I’ll miss you!” he chimed. Many said goodbye back. He sang the tune ‘Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think’, and called: “Bye bye, folks! Put an egg in your shoe and beat it!”
Ms Tyrtle ended her podcast by saying that after the doors had closed one woman said: “Well, that put a smile on everyone’s face!” Thinking about the experience herself, she commented: “It felt like that smile had somehow stretched to include the entire city, so that the normally taciturn commuters were suddenly talking to each other, laughing and grinning, for no reason at all.”
(1) Was the old man Maitreya? (2) Was the person who stopped her from falling someone special, too?
L.McG., Nova Scotia, Canada.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the ‘old man’ was Maitreya; the man who stopped Ms Tyrtle from falling was the Master Jesus.)
(The podcast can be heard at www.quirkynomads.com/mp3/121605.mp3. In the last few seconds, the original recording is played of the ‘old man’s voice as he leaves the subway.)
Light in the darkness
On 1 February 2006 in the early morning before sunrise, I was still in bed and the room was dark, when I noticed an orb or circle of bright light, some 10 centimeters in diameter, by the window where there are many photos of spiritual masters and avatars such as Maitreya, Sai Baba, Paramahansa Yogananda, Anandamayi Ma, Ramana Maharshi and so on. The orb of light seemed to be shining on the photo of Swami Premananda. It was so bright that I could only see the light. I could not tell whether the light emanated from the photo or was reflected on it. I closed my eyes and opened them again; still the orb of light was there. I was sleepy and soon fell asleep again. What was the orb of light?
M.O., Yotsukaido-shi, Chiba-ken, Japan.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that it was a blessing from the Master Jesus.)
Driving to work on 3 February 2004 and worrying about an essay which I needed to write for my course work, I was talking to myself aloud about this and getting quite animated because I couldn’t get the idea for my essay straight in my head. I was talking myself into a mood, a very low one! Just then I heard a car horn and overtaking me was a white van with two young men in it. The passenger was laughing and waving and the driver was also laughing. It did make me feel silly and then to my surprise I burst out laughing which made me feel so much better!
The next thing that happened made me think: “This is really strange”. The van had pulled up ahead by about two cars’ length and I saw the passenger hang out of his window from the waist looking back at me and still laughing. By this point I was laughing out loud! It isn’t a mind-blowing experience but I can’t stop thinking about it!
Was this Maitreya conveying to me to “lighten up” and not be so serious about life?
L.W., Hullbridge, Essex, UK.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that, yes, it was Maitreya and the Master Jesus in the white van.)
Under the banyan tree
It was on 23 September 2006, the last evening of my visit to the ashram of Sathya Sai Baba, Prasanthi Nilayam.
I decided to walk up the hill outside the ashram to the meditation tree, which Sai Baba had planted back in 1959. It is a very nice place there, peaceful and conducive to meditation. Only two ladies were sitting there, meditating.
When I picked up a few leaves, as a souvenir for a friend in Vienna, a child came down the hill between the trees. I looked at him, he looked at me; I smiled at him, he smiled at me. Later I settled down near the trunk of the banyan tree for meditation and a little brooding.
The wind was carrying over the bhajans (songs) from the temple area, birds singing in the trees, a brilliant sunset shining like a cross of light through the foliage of the surrounding trees. This child came over and sat crosslegged on my right, reclining against the trunk of the tree. First I did not take much notice of him, just that he was about 5-7 years of age, with Asiatic facial features; I thought he could be the child of a Chinese couple visiting Sai Baba.
After a time I turned and saw how he had inclined his body/head towards me, nearly touching me, just as if he was listening to my thoughts.
When he noticed me looking at him, he sat back upright and played with a few pebbles and pretended to chase flies without actually catching them.
After a time I looked at him again – and he again had his head inclined towards me as if listening to my thoughts. He looked at me – silently: I smiled at him, he smiled back.
I wondered where his parents were – usually small children inside the ashram are under the charge of their parents or playing with other children inside the ashram compounds – but this small child was alone, just sitting there under the meditation tree. He was not restless, chattering, naughty or mischievous as I had experienced other kids. “He is behaving like an old rishi in the body of a child,” I thought to myself.
Was this child a special child?
H.H., Vienna, Austria.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the ‘child’ was Maitreya.)
On Friday 20 October 2006, local resident Catherine Austin and her sons visited the South Carolina State Fair in Columbia, USA, and took digital photographs of the night-time view from the top of the ferris wheel. At the time they noticed nothing unusual, but once home they found on one of the photographs a bright-winged figure hovering in the dark night sky.
“It looks just like an angel,” Catherine Austin told a local television news channel. “It even has a ray of light that comes from the bottom toward the body of the angel and it’s centered right in the middle of the picture – and I believe in angels. It’s just an angel.” Although some are sceptical, most who see the image immediately identify it as an angel, she says.
Her son Frederick agrees. “It’s got a head, wings, legs, and if that doesn’t look like an angel, I don’t know what does,” he said. (Source: www.wltx.com, USA)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the image of the ‘angel’ was manifested on the photograph by Maitreya.)
Healing springs in Switzerland
Reports appeared during August and September 2006 of the discovery of healing springs in Switzerland.
A local newspaper in Heiligkreuz, near Lucerne, carried the story of a spring at the home of a group of Franciscan nuns in Ingenbohl. The water was found to have curative powers when an old, sick cat drank from the spring and was immediately healed. Since then, local nun and health consultant Pauline Felder has noticed astonishing benefits in people and animals who drink the water.
Local media also reported a healing spring at the Benedictine monastery at Einsiedeln, near Zurich. Long associated with miracle healings, the monastery has for centuries attracted pilgrims, who continue to visit its Black Madonna statue which is believed to have healing properties.
Two further healing springs were reported: a mountain spring in the Alps near Braunwald, eastern Switzerland; and a spring at Flüeli-Rauft, in the canton of Obwalden, central Switzerland. This was the birthplace of Bruder Klaus, the 15th century hermit revered as the “father of Swiss neutrality”. (Source: Entlebucher Anzeiger, Süd-Ost-Schweiz, Zeitenschrift, Glüchspost; www.stacher.ch, Switzerland)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that all four springs were charged by the Master Who was the Madonna. He also confirms that the same Master is responsible for the miraculous healings associated with the Black Madonna statue.)
Wooden cross radiates image of Jesus
People of all religions have been flocking to see a wooden cross emitting light and radiating the image of Christ in a Presbyterian church in Shillong, Meghalaya, India, since August 2006.
Early in the morning of 5 August 2006, when the church was full of people singing, a young boy shouted: “Jesus, Jesus! Look, Jesus!” Looking up, people saw the cross shining above the pulpit and showing what appeared to be the form of a man on it. People from all walks of life thronged the Malki Presbyterian church when news spread that Jesus Christ was appearing on a halo emitted by the wooden cross.
Barkos Warjri recounts: “The cross glows even when the lights in the church are switched off. My nephew was one of those who mustered enough courage to test this and my sister was in the church on 1 October when the lights were switched off: the cross continued to glow, even brighter in a dark environment.” (Sources: Deccan Herald, Daily News & Analysis, India; BBC News, UK; OpenHeaven.com)
(Benjamin Creme confirms that the image of Jesus on the cross was manifested by Maitreya.)
Madonna statue drips perfumed water
Hundreds of people from different religious faiths travelled to a Catholic family’s house in Velli village, near Fort Kochi in Kerala, India, after news spread of miraculous perfumed water dripping from a statue of the Madonna.
The miracle was first noticed on 21 August 2006. An eyewitness said the water “smells beautiful”. Local shopkeeper Alexander Jacob said: “It is true. I touched the water that is dripping from the statue. It is a miracle from Mother Mary.” (Source: zeenews.com; indiancatholic.com)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the miracle was manifested by the Master Jesus.)
Cross of light in Indian hospital
On a television programme about Indian traditional medicine, broadcast on 3 September 2006 by Japan’s Channel 6, a viewer spotted a small cross of light appearing in the window of the medical centre director’s room at the Praja Ayurveda Hospital, a public hospital in Calicut, South India. The director, Dr Madavan, provides medical care at one-third the fee charged by other Ayurvedic clinics, only taking payment from people who can afford it, not from the poor. (Source: via SI website)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the cross of light was manifested by Maitreya. It appeared just as the centre was being photographed. Neither the Indian doctor nor the Japanese television staff noticed it. It is one of the miraculous signs of Maitreya’s presence.)
Holy relic of Bruges
The Basilica of the Holy Blood in the Belgian town of Bruges claims to be in possession of a relic – a crystal vial containing a drop of the blood of Jesus, reputed to have been brought there in 1149 by Dietrich of Alsace, on his return from Constantinople during the Second Crusade. Several times a day a brief ceremony is held where the relic is brought out for the faithful to approach it and touch it as they say a private prayer; and each May it is carried through the streets of Bruges in the Procession of the Holy Blood.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that it is not the blood of Jesus but of another saintly man – John the Baptist.)
Light – a compilation
We present a selection of quotations on the theme of Light from Maitreya, (Messages from Maitreya the Christ, and Maitreya’s Teachings – The Laws of Life), Benjamin Creme’s Master (A Master Speaks) and Benjamin Creme’s writings.
My Presence is causing such changes in the world that before long the knowledge of My existence will be ascertained. Men will raise the question: how can it be; from where does this new light shine? The divisions of old will merge and grow together; the sons of men will sense a higher Light and, turning their faces towards that Light, shall find Me waiting to lead them. (Maitreya, from Message No. 44)
Whenever a new Light enters the world the effects are far-reaching, if not always immediately perceptible. Subtly, through the planes, that Light engenders new relationships, affecting the very nature of substance itself. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The Fiery Light’, A Master Speaks)
Take My simple words to your hearts. There let them blossom and flower and bring forth the Light. Take, too, to your hearts My Love. Send this to your brothers and make Light the dark. Hold fast to My Purpose which is to take man to God. Help Me thus, My friends, and serve well the Plan. (Maitreya, from Message No. 95)
This coming time will be known as the Age of Light, and Light in all its meanings and manifestations will become the provenance of man. Already, the signs are there for the discerning that man is knocking on the door that leads to the Chamber of Light. Ancient darkness and ignorance are being banished as men grapple with the implications of new insights and technology. Soon, the Science of Light, the Divine Science, will be revealed to man’s astonished gaze, and a major landmark on man’s journey of evolution will have been reached.
Until now, only the specialist few have access to this Science of Light, but, already, steps are being taken to make its benefits available for all. The needs of all for power and light will be met safely and simply, the sun itself being harnessed in this cause. United in love under the Banner of Maitreya, men will forge new pathways to the stars. As man explores her mysteries, nature will yield up her secrets, and reveal the ordered beauty underlying all. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The Age of Light’, A Master Speaks)
There will be a new technology called the ‘technology of light’.We will begin to use light directly from the sun. All forms of power used today will become obsolete. This new energy will supply every energetic need of humanity and, of course, it cannot be cornered by any individuals or groups. It is everywhere, free to all, and is endless in its ramifications. It will also have medical applications in connection with a more advanced aspect of the genetic engineering in which humanity is already engaged … Transport will become so apparently motionless, so silent, vibrationless, that fatigue will disappear, and we will be able to go on long journeys without feeling tired. (Benjamin Creme, Maitreya’s Mission Volume Three)
Down the ages, man has ever sought the light which he senses to substand his ignorance and fear. When threatened by some dark and awesome catastrophe, real or imagined, he instinctively turns inwards, invokes the light of his soul, and seeks guidance therefrom. Such action is but natural, for deep within the consciousness of every man, woman and child lies the awareness of being a soul. As progress upon the evolutionary path is made, that certainty deepens, the conscious link between the soul and its reflection strengthens, and the light of the soul the more readily is contacted and known. Thus the light of understanding grows. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The era of light’, A Master Speaks)
There is an occult statement: “And in that light will you see light.” In the light of the soul, we can see a higher light, a brighter, a more dynamic, a more creative light. Everything we receive from the soul fulfills the immediate need, the point that we have reached. But in receiving at the level where we are, we also receive from the soul the intuition that above it there is something else. (Benjamin Creme, Maitreya’s Mission Volume Two)
Joy must be understood to be the natural state, underlying happiness and sorrow alike. When uncovered, it radiates its light — the light of the Soul — on all around and makes manifest the love which is the nature of God. Love and joy coexist in the heart which is pure, unclouded by fear, hate or the anguish of despair. Remove fear from your heart and know joy. Release yourselves from hate and know the meaning of love. Cast from you dark despair and stand in your true light. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The joy of living’, A Master Speaks)
My friends, My children, I am here to show you that there exists for Man a most marvellous future. Decked in all the colours of the rainbow, glowing with the Light of God, Man, one day, will stand upright in His Divinity. This I promise you. (Maitreya, from Message No. 4)
Imagine then a future where no man lacks for aught. Where the talents and creativity of all men demonstrate their divine origin. Where war has no place in their thoughts and where goodwill casts its benevolent net over the hearts and minds of all. Imagine cities of light lit by Light Itself; nowhere to be found the squalor and deprivation of today; imagine transport, fast and silent, powered by light alone, the far-off worlds and even the stars brought within our reach. Such a future awaits the men and women who have the courage to share. Such a future awaits those brave ones who love Freedom. Such a glorious future awaits those who long to understand the meaning and purpose of life. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The Blueprint of the future’, A Master Speaks)
A cross of light manifested by Maitreya in a glass door of a hospital’s maternity wing at Kehl, Germany. First seen in January 2006 by Annemarie Binder, who sent the photograph.
Cross of light manifested by Maitreya, at the Sai Baba Ashram, Puttaparthi, India, March 2006. Sent by Dunja Müller.
From our own correspondents
The following is the first part of Adam Parsons’ interview with Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal, the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, whose personal history provides a unique insight into the conflict-torn region.
The shortest route to peace is through Jerusalem
Interview with Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal
by Adam Parsons
Of those who campaign for justice in Palestine and a recognized homeland, few are as uniquely qualified as Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal. An Anglican Bishop since 1998, he is the self-professed ‘five in one’: a Palestinian, an Arab, a Christian, an Anglican, and an Israeli citizen serving one of the most conflict-ridden communities in the world – Jerusalem. “Not the easiest of Anglican Dioceses in the Anglican communion,” he says.
After 41 years serving a ministry that covers Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, he has lived as a Palestinian Christian among a majority of Muslims, and as an Israeli Arab in a nation of Jews. He has endured the longest international travel ban ever meted out in Israel, has been accused of anti-Semitism (despite the Palestinians being Semitic) and of being a threat to national security, and has watched most remaining Christians in the Holy Land pack and emigrate. Yet his solution to the generation of conflict is simple.
In a meeting with Tony Blair in September 2006, Bishop Riah challenged the British government for a second time to take up the cause of Jerusalem: “The shortest route to peace in the Middle East,” he said, “is through Jerusalem. Once peace comes to Jerusalem, peace will come to the whole world.”
During a visit to London in October 2006 for a series of talks on the conflict, Bishop Riah – a captivating man in his late 60s who speaks with an oft poetic command of the English language in a pithy Middle-Eastern accent – acknowledged that his mixed identity gives him an unusual ability to “form a bridge between the two communities”. However the challenges, he says, “are way beyond the means available within the church, or even within you as an individual. You are there as a pastor; you are there as a socio-political person; you are there as a bridge; you are there as a fundraiser to keep the church and its institutions going, and you are there with others to continue the search for peace, for justice and for reconciliation. It’s not easy”.
Ever since the 1970s his intimate knowledge of the conflict has led to invitations from different parts of the world to speak on the causes of the war, his views on the solution to a peaceful settlement, and the role of the Church and religion in the search for peace. “And now, because of the recent development vis-à-vis Muslims and the rest of the world, I have often been asked to speak on the topic of co-existence or confrontation,” he says. “I am for co-existence, I am not for confrontation. I don’t think that confronting the other will bring quiet to the world. On the contrary, this world which [President] Bush thought that by going to war would become a safer place, it’s no more that place. We see it day in and day out.”
When asked if he has always been involved in campaigning for justice in Palestine, Bishop Riah replies that at the age of 11, after fleeing to Lebanon in 1948 during the Arab-Israeli war that resulted from partition, he decided to walk home without his family “because I believed this is my human right”. Even at that age, he says, “my eyes were opened to the reality of the situation”. Walking for miles on foot with his young sister, crossing borders illegally under a false name, he reclaimed residency in Nazareth and has kept a home there ever since. Almost overnight, he says, Nazareth was transformed from “a sleepy little town of about 10,000 souls, all of whom were known to each other”, to a ‘city’ of nearly 60,000.
To understand the universal importance that Bishop Riah ascribes to Jerusalem, it requires an appreciation of the city’s unique status under the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan. While borders were carefully defined for proposed Arab and Jewish regions, Jerusalem was declared a corpus separatum or ‘separated body’, a supposed international city not part of either the planned Jewish or Arab state. This was intended to preserve what the Bishop calls “the beautiful mosaic” of all the major faiths and their shared religious history; the eastern part of Jerusalem, or the Old City, is surrounded by a wall separated into four quarters; one for the Muslims containing sacred mosques, a Jewish quarter with several famous old synagogues, an Armenian Quarter to the west, and the Christian Quarter containing the famous Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
After the war ended in 1949, however, the plan was never implemented and Jerusalem found itself split in two with the western part controlled by Israel, and Eastern Jerusalem taken over by Jordan. All Jewish residents were immediately expelled from the Old City, many synagogues destroyed, and the Jewish Quarter bulldozed. At the same time, many refugees from West Jerusalem’s Arab neighbourhoods fled into East Jerusalem.
Bishop Riah describes it today as “a divided city”, a melting pot of distrusting factions with stark differences between the comparatively wealthy and Israeli-funded western side, and the economically-deprived eastern area that is renowned not only for its tourists and pilgrims, but also for its high unemployment, its poverty and open sewers, and a late history of discord and violence. “Very few Jews come to East Jerusalem,” he says, “and very few Arabs go to West Jerusalem. There is also a psychological separation between the two. The Old City is sometimes crowded when things are quiet and tourists and pilgrims visit. But every time there is a war, even for a few days, cancellations come from all over the world, and tourism drops to nothing … people become bankrupt, they use their reserves, they have to pay their municipal tax on their hotels and the like, and this affects the whole community.”
This situation dates back to the Six-Day War in 1967 when Israel captured and established sovereignty over the entire city of Jerusalem, even though the international community and a UN Security Council Resolution declared this a violation of international law. The final issue of the status of East Jerusalem should be determined, they said, by future Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Nevertheless, in 1980 Israel set down its Basic Law declaring Jerusalem to be the “eternal, undivided” capital of Israel, thus enshrining the status of a united Jerusalem. Almost all member states withdrew their diplomatic representation from the city and relocated their embassies to Tel Aviv in a show of non-complicity, although key Israeli government buildings like the Knesset still remain inside Jerusalem, and most Jewish writers today only refer to East Jerusalem with a lower case ‘e’. The unification of the city in 1967, meanwhile, remains a celebrated Israeli national holiday.
Jerusalem’s unresolved status is therefore at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Palestinian National Authority insists that East Jerusalem must be the capital of any future Palestinian state, but Israel has rejected this possibility outright, declaring Jerusalem “one indivisible city under Israeli Sovereignty” and “Israel’s eternal capital”. In 1998, Israel announced a controversial plan to expand Jerusalem by annexing nearby towns. The only alternative so far offered to Palestine as a capital city was Abu Dis in 2000, a deprived village also used as a municipal rubbish tip by Israel.
Health as a bridge to development
The following is the first section of an interview highlighting the importance of health in rebuilding trust and community in post-war situations.
Interview with Willem van de Put
by Eva Beaujon
The Dutch non-profit organization HealthNet TPO, a merger between HealthNet International (HNI) and Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (TPO), develops healthcare in areas disrupted by war, disasters and poverty, where a complete breakdown of resources has taken place – no medicine, no facilities and no experienced personnel.
Working together, HNI focuses on reinforcing healthcare systems and on prevention, diagnosis and treatment of transmittable diseases, while TPO researches and provides expertise in the psychological effects of war and disasters. Director Willem van de Put specialized in medical anthropology and has researched collective trauma and rehabilitation in Cambodia. He is co-author of the Dutch film Deacon of Death, a documentary about the search for justice in Cambodia.
Eva Beaujon interviewed him for Share International at the HealthNet TPO head office in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Share International: HealthNet International was established in 1992 by the Dutch section of Doctors without Borders (Médecins sans Frontières). What were you hoping to achieve?
Willem van de Put:After a disaster or war, organizations like Doctors without Borders give aid to relieve the worst situations. After a while this emergency aid is no longer necessary and then you should leave; continuing emergency relief for too long leads to a dependency syndrome. Qualified local personnel move away because there is no work for them while emergency aid is being given. After the international relief organizations leave, healthcare systems collapse. Doctors without Borders established HNI to help bridge the gap between humanitarian relief and structural support for health sector recovery as soon as possible.
Mr van de Put outlined why it is important to develop mental healthcare, particularly in low-income countries where psychiatric care is virtually non-existent. “Zimbabwe has one psychiatrist and Cambodia has eight. This means that there is no healthcare for people with anxiety disorders, depression and so on. If there is enormous poverty somewhere and it is combined with a long war, the psychological damage is huge.”
He explained that violations of human rights, rape, violence and kidnapping can leave deep scars that seriously hinder a person’s capacity to function in daily life.
These traumas make it difficult to rebuild and develop the country.
WvdP: It is essential to set up programmes to tackle the problem of trauma. At first, it was not recognized – or possibly just denied. This has changed over the past 10 years, partly due to the attention we have given to it.
Because these countries have very weak healthcare systems it is impractical to set up a mental healthcare system along Western lines. You cannot call in specialists to treat every individual problem. That is why we chose community-based programmes, where mental healthcare is integrated into existing health structures where local doctors, nurses and midwives are trained to recognize and treat emotional and psychiatric problems. Serious or rare cases are referred to specialists. Key figures in the community such as traditional healers, village elders, teachers and monks are also trained to recognize problems, and self-help groups are also given extra support.
Another reason for implementing community-based mental healthcare is that you often do not know to what extent the distress is experienced by the individual. You are dealing with a different culture where people are less focused on themselves than we are. It would feel strange to them to talk to someone else, one to one, about their problems, because these problems relate to the outside world, to other people. It is more practical, and intrinsically better, to see people as a group. You try to repair the community, the ties between people and the trust that was destroyed by the war. This is what people need to be able to start rebuilding.
Voice of the People
People power is bringing about real change across the globe
Thousands march for action on climate change
Around 25,000 people gathered in London on 4 November 2006 to demand from world leaders urgent action on climate change. They came from all over the country to attend the carnival-like event, travelling by bike, canoe, and biofuel green taxis. Organizers ‘Stop Climate Chaos’ joined a broad range of groups, including green activists, development organizations and charities, urging the government to push for a global treaty to cap global warming at two degrees Celsius or less. The demonstration, part of the “I Count” campaign, came ahead of a two-week UN conference on the issue in Nairobi, Kenya.
Ashok Sinha, of Stop Climate Chaos, called the climate change “the biggest threat the planet faces” and highlighted the broad range of people gathered at the rally. “I think people have realized that climate change is a humanitarian, a peace and security issue, an economic issue as much as it is a green issue and that’s why we have such a diverse range of voices here today. It’s a moral issue in the end and that’s what I think is bringing people together.” Sharon Looremeta, a Masai woman from Kenya told the crowd about the devastating impact climate change is having on food and water supplies in her country effecting millions of peoples’ lives.
One of the participants, Joan Durran, 72, who travelled from Dorset, said she was here for her grandchildren who would “really feel the effect”. She said: “Climate change affects everybody. We’re causing massive destruction and once something’s gone you can’t go back.”
(Source: BBC News, The Guardian, icount.org.uk, christiantoday.com, UK)
Millions stand up against poverty
More than 23 million people in over 100 countries took part in a UN-led “Stand Up Against Poverty” initiative during a 24-hour period to remind world leaders of their promises to dramatically reduce extreme poverty by 2015.
In what was declared the “largest single co-ordinated movement of people” by the Guinness World Records, some 23,542,614 people stood up at the same time and then recited an anti-poverty pledge on 15-16 October 2006.
The Stand Up Against Poverty event was timed to coincide with the International Day for Poverty Eradication held on 17 October 2006. Among the highlights of the initiative:
• Malawi’s President, Dr Bingu wa Mutharika, joined thousands at a rally against poverty in the capital, Lilongwe.
• In Jaipur, India, 38,000 cricket fans ‘stood up’ at the start of the India versus England match.
• In the US, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown, Queen Noor of Jordan and HH Swami Ramdev ‘stood up’ with thousands in Times Square, New York.
• Hundreds of thousands stood together for one minute at an anti-poverty music concert in the Mbare slums of Harare, Zimbabwe.
• Schoolchildren across Lebanon, Jordan, Gaza and the West Bank ‘stood up’ together to highlight the injustice that not all children can afford to go to school.
• Organizers in Bangladesh reported that over half a million young people stood united in gigantic human chains across 64 districts of the country.
• In the Philippines, more than 10,000 people ‘stood up’ and marched against poverty to assert that ‘36 Pesos is Not Enough’ for a Filipino to live on per day.
• In Mexico, several hundred thousand people ‘stood up’ at several football matches.
• On 21 October 2006, thousands of people took to the streets in 40 major cities throughout Spain as part of ‘Stand Up against Poverty’ campaign to demand that governments take action against poverty and social misery. Popular movements are insisting that the Millennium Goals must be met, as agreed by 189 countries in 2000. Demonstrators called for total debt cancellation, an end to injustice in international trade relations, the allocation of more of the GDP to foreign aid, and end to corruption – they called for more action and fewer words on behalf of the poor.
The international effort was co-ordinated by the UN Millennium Campaign and the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP). The UN Millennium Campaign is working to meet the Millennium Development Goals agreed to by 189 government leaders in 2000 to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015 – and to achieve other goals for hunger, child health, and diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis. GCAP represents a coalition of groups from more than 100 countries that pressure governments to eradicate poverty, dramatically lessen inequality, and achieve the Millennium Development Goals. (Source: www.un.org, www.whiteband.org, www.oxfam.org; El Pais, Spain)
‘Stand Up against Poverty’ pledge
“We stand up now because we do not wish, years from now, to stand in front of the next generation and say ‘we knew that millions of people were dying unnecessarily every year – and we stood by, doing nothing….”
“To the leaders of the wealthy countries – “be great – fight to keep your promises – debt cancellation, more and better aid, and trade rules that help fight poverty – you know what needs to be done – do it”….
“Every generation has mighty battles to fight against evils such as slavery and apartheid which seem as though they cannot be defeated. But history proves time and again they can, if enough people stand up against injustice….
“We are six billion Voices. We want justice now. No more excuses. We will not stand for them.”
Facts and forecasts
A small selection of reports which bear out earlier forecasts published in Share International
Economic impact of climate change
“The environment will become the ‘number one’ issue throughout the world.” (Maitreya’s associate, SI June 1989)
The central finding of a 16-month study on climate change by head of Britain’s Government Economic Service and former World Bank chief economist Sir Nicholas Stern, is unequivocal: take action now or face dire consequences both environmentally and financially later on. The Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change details in 700 pages the effects of continuing on the current environmental course. An increase in atmospheric temperature will cause melting glaciers, rising sea levels and devastating droughts that could threaten 15 per cent of the world’s population, and will result in social and economic costs on a scale not seen since the two World Wars and the Great Depression. Immediate steps need to be taken because, as British Prime Minister Tony Blair stated: “This disaster is not set to happen in some science fiction future many years ahead, but in our lifetime”. Despite the dismal forecast, Stern is optimistic that a collective global effort to move from fossil fuels to new climate-friendly initiatives can be accomplished. These steps must, however, include both financial incentives and disincentives. Commitment to research in cleaner technology and investment in the development of non-polluting options such as wind and solar power should be a priority. This can only occur if a higher price is attached to carbon emissions in the form of taxation and regulation. Because this study was undertaken by an economist rather than a scientist, it attempts to quantify the economic costs of global warming. Unchecked climate change would cost an estimated $7 trillion in lost output, the report states: the industrialized world must accept the need for carbon taxes or emission regulations or face the impending calamity. Disaster can be averted, Stern suggests, but the longer we wait, the more expensive it will become. (Source: The New York Times, USA; www.CTV.ca)
Overconsumption destroying Earth’s ecosystems
“Our prime task now is to look after the environment. This will become the responsibility of every individual, politician, guru, saint and scientist.” (Maitreya’s associate, SI May 1989)
The demand people place upon the planet’s resources has increased to the point where the Earth is unable to keep up in the struggle to regenerate, according to a report released by WWF, the global conservation organization, and Global Footprint Network.
The 2006 Living Planet Report concludes that if current trends continue, humanity will be using two planets’ worth of natural resources by 2050 – if those resources have not run out by then.
Global Footprint Network calculates that in 2003 humanity’s Ecological Footprint – its demands on the Earth’s resources – was 25 per cent larger than the planet’s capacity to produce these resources. This ‘ecological overshoot’ means that it now takes about one year and three months for the Earth to regenerate what people use in a single year. Overshoot has increased by 4 per cent since the last Living Planet Report, which was based on 2001 data.
“Humanity is living off its ecological credit card,” said Dr Mathis Wackernagel, executive director of Global Footprint Network. “While this can be done for a short while, overshoot ultimately leads to liquidation of the planet’s ecological assets, and the depletion of resources, such as the forests, oceans and agricultural land upon which our economy depends.”
Analysing individual nations, the report finds that almost no country today meets the sustainable development challenge – to have both a high quality of life, as defined by the United Nations Human Development Index, and an average Footprint that doesn’t exceed the biological capacity available per person on the planet. But the report goes on to suggest that meeting this challenge may be possible, using scenarios to show two future paths that, in contrast to business-as-usual, could end overshoot and help restore depleted ecosystems and support a healthy biodiversity.
Getting out of overshoot will require political negotiations to support the necessary Footprint reductions; the report explores three ways these Footprint reductions might be allocated among the world’s regions. Ending overshoot will also require economic, social and technological innovations as we learn to live well on a smaller Footprint. One key to this, according to the report, is to avoid building long-lasting infrastructure that requires a large amount of resources to operate. “It is time to make some vital choices,” says WWF’s director general James Leape. “Change that improves living standards while reducing our impact on the natural world will not be easy. The cities, power-plants and homes we build today will either lock society into damaging over-consumption beyond our lifetimes, or begin to propel this and future generations towards sustainable living.”
Leape says the report’s message is clear and urgent: “We have been exceeding the Earth’s ability to support our lifestyles for the past 20 years, and we need to stop. We must balance our consumption with the natural world’s capacity to regenerate and absorb our wastes. If we do not, we risk irreversible damage.” (Source: WWF; Global Footprint Network, USA)