This is an abridged version of
Share International magazine.
Through these electronic files, the magazine Share International makes available a compilation of its contents.
The views expressed by authors other than Share International correspondents do not necessarily reflect those held by the editors of this magazine.
By the same token, interviewees, and authors other than our own correspondents, do not necessarily subscribe to or support the information and approach which form the basis and context of this publication.
The magazine is published monthly, except bimonthly in January/February and July/August of each year.
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It has come to our notice that more and more people are receiving our information from the website alone, and thus forgoing the small cost of subscribing to Share International magazine.
Not everyone can, or does, use the internet, and it is essential to have an outer, physical expression, which can display with photographs, the events of which we speak. That means there has to be a magazine, which of course requires a lot of work from volunteers, and a lot of money to produce. There may be a notion that Hierarchy dishes out money for this work, but it is not the case. Subscriptions to Share International are an essential part of maintaining our work and reaching the public. The cost of the subscription is kept as low as possible, the magazine is not subsidised by advertisements and printing and postal charges are mounting all the time.
Surely we would all agree that all those who seriously believe in this work would want to support the magazine, whether or not they read the information on the internet.
Thank you for your support.
Since the inception of Share International magazine, Benjamin Creme’s Master has provided articles to be published not only at the time they were written, but also whenever appropriate according to world circumstances. Indeed, many of these articles seem more relevant now than when they were first published. In the following article, the Master does not flinch from asking, and answering, questions which may arise in times of heightened tension.
by the Master —, through Benjamin Creme
From where, one may ask, is the vision to come which will inspire men to relinquish the ways of the past – war, competition and destruction of the planet – and so lead to the creation of a path to sharing, justice and peace? For how long must men wait for a sign that this is even feasible? Where should men look for a glimmer, even, of hope? Without doubt, there is much happening in the world to strain the credence of all but the most convinced that this much to be desired event is not only possible but assured.
From what basis can such a statement be made? From what superior knowledge does it issue? How in this uncertain world can such confidence be maintained? The answers to these legitimate questions lie in the fact known to all Hierarchy (but not yet to all men) that Their Head and Leader, Maitreya Himself, is, for many years now, present in the everyday world; that many of Their illustrious Brothers, likewise, walk once more with men. This fact alone is quite without precedent. It betokens something wonderful and new for men. For the first time in countless thousands of years these ‘men without fault’ will teach men how to live, simply and well, in peace and right relationship.
Thus it may be said that the future for man is assured. Men, however, must accept and put in place the mechanism for peace: the recognition that all men are equal and one, each an expression of the divinity which permeates all Being. When this is clearly understood, men will have little difficulty in creating the path to peace. The divine aspects of justice and freedom will gain new meaning and importance, and hasten the day when sharing of resources assumes its natural, logical place as the answer to man’s present dilemma and strife.
Until now, all such ideas and demonstrations of spiritual living were made by men alone. Slow indeed has been the response to their heroic example. Nevertheless, circumstances are now exerting on men unusual and insupportable pressures – men must adapt and change, or perish.
As they search for answers to their problems they will find Maitreya and His Group ready to respond, ready to guide men away from danger and further folly. They have the answers which thus far have eluded men, the answers which alone will assure the future, the brightest possible future, for the race of men. (A Master Speaks, page 437)
[This article from Share International magazine, May 2017, is by a senior member of the Hierarchy of Masters of Wisdom. His name, well-known in esoteric circles, is not yet being revealed. Benjamin Creme, a principal spokesman about the emergence of Maitreya, was in constant telepathic contact with this Master who dictated his article to him.]
Benjamin Creme did not set himself up as arbiter of the authenticity of other groups’ activities and communications. Share International will continue to follow the same policy.
At every lecture he gave around the world, and virtually every day of his life, Benjamin Creme was asked numerous questions covering a vast range of topics. We are now drawing on this large recorded resource and publish answers provided by BC and his Master over the years, none of which have yet appeared in Share International.
Q. The Bible says that when the Christ comes back the dead shall rise. What does this mean? Is it meant to be taken literally?
A. It means really that those who have been spiritually dead will rise. It does not mean literally rise out of the graves. It means those who have been dead to the Christ Principle, the Christ consciousness, will awaken to that consciousness. That consciousness today is awakening in millions and millions of people all over the world. And it is this that makes it possible for the Christ to return to the world. (A radio interview, USA)
Q. In Hinduism they say if you suffer it is due to bad actions in your previous life or in this life. Could you enlighten us about that?
A. There are two great laws that govern all life on Earth – the Law of Karma, or the Law of Cause and Effect, and the Law of Rebirth or what we call reincarnation. By the functioning of the Law of Cause and Effect, every thought, every action that we have sets into motion a cause or causes. The effects stemming from these causes make our lives for good or ill. When it is for good we are happy. When it is for ill we are unhappy, we are suffering. But it is all caused by ourselves. Nobody is making us do this or that. We do it out of our inability to function as souls.
We are souls in incarnation. The evolution of these souls in incarnation takes place according to a Plan – a Plan in the mind of the Logos. But we have free will. We can go along with that Plan – live together without pain, without suffering, without war, without hatred and violence, without corruption, without greed, without all the nasty, horrible happenings in the world. It is all coming from us. None of it is coming from outside.
If the weather is not to our liking we say, “Oh, God is making us suffer.” God never makes us suffer. We make ourselves suffer all the time. From the very beginning of time, humanity has slaughtered one another, been greedy and selfish. Why? Because we are great, divine beings, souls in incarnation but wrapped up in matter. And that is the problem. The matter is unresponsive to the divinity, and so we incarnate.
Q. Do we always reincarnate in the same country and race?
A. Through the other great Law, the Law of Rebirth, we incarnate again and again, hundreds of thousands of times. Everybody in this room has had hundreds of thousands of incarnational experiences, as a man sometimes, as a woman at other times, in all the countries of the world probably. There is no pure race in the world. Everybody has been everything – black, white, brown, yellow, red. Everybody has been somewhere else in the world, has lived lives in various communities, traditions and races, and there is no pure race. Racial intolerance is absurd because everybody is mixed.
So great has been the movement of humanity throughout the world over the centuries that a pure race is a nonsense. You can be black one life, white another, brown another, red another, yellow another. It makes no difference. You are the same soul incarnating in a physical body that can be changed every time. It is not usually totally different every time but it can be totally different for long incarnational episodes. So the idea of being intolerant of one race or another race, calling another race less evolved, or not worth anything, or a second-class citizen, is a total nonsense, an aberration of consciousness.
Q. How does the Law of Karma help us evolve?
A. There are the two great laws – the Law of Karma, or the Law of Cause and Effect, and in association with that, the Law of Rebirth. That creates all that happens in the world.
Gradually the soul evolves and brings its reflection, the man or woman, into meditation in the first place, then into service, and continues to gradually evolve, becoming an aspirant, a disciple, an initiate, a higher initiate, until eventually he or she is a Master. When you are a Master, you have completed the evolution on Earth. Many of the Masters go out of the Earth, go to higher planets or occasionally out of the solar system altogether. Others, luckily for us, stay behind and help to oversee the evolution of the rest of us and the lower kingdoms.
We are not the only kingdom on Earth. All of the kingdoms, and there are many that we do not see, are subject to this evolutionary Plan of our Logos. The Masters, and those with whom They work, the Angelic evolutions, the Deva evolutions, help and guide humanity along that path.
Q. Could you describe the effect of the Masters being known in the world?
A. With this New Age that is opening up, and with the Masters living openly in the world, a tremendous new consciousness of the nature of life and the scope of evolution will be given to humanity. Our consciousness will magnify and expand until we too become Masters. And then we become co-workers with the Deity of our planet. Then we can gain control over the forces of nature. If you knew about the evolution ahead, just in this coming time, the 2,500 years of Aquarius, the science, which will give us control, the magic science that will allow us to know without thinking, to intuit, to know without sound, to speak to each other telepathically as a normal thing, you would be amazed. Speech will die out as people can telepath. Telepathy is a natural, normal human attribute. It just needs development. The evolution of humanity will expand when humanity sees itself as the recipient of tremendous energies, stimulus and guidance. We will create a civilization more brilliant than this Earth has ever yet known. (Lecture, San Francisco)
Q. Can Maitreya’s ‘handprint’ be used by anyone? May twelve year-old children use it?
A. The answer is yes, it can be used by anyone! Twelve years old or 112 years old.
Share International has a very large reserve of ‘Letters to the Editor’ which have been processed over the years, confirmed to be genuine, but not yet published. Some of the Masters, in particular Maitreya and the Master Jesus, appeared at Benjamin Creme’s lectures and Transmission Meditations. They also appear in different guises.
If the experiences were authenticated by Benjamin Creme’s Master, the letters are published. These experiences are given to inspire, guide or teach, often to heal and uplift. They also draw attention in an amusing way to some fixed intolerance to, for example, smoking or drinking. At 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.
On the evening of Wednesday 22 February 2017 after Transmission Meditation a group member and I were walking home in Amsterdam when I stumbled and fell. I hurt my head in the fall and was bleeding quite a lot. My friend stopped the traffic and asked a motorist if he could possibly give us a lift to my home – not that far away. He couldn’t – his car happened to be full of things because he was just moving house. She called her husband a minute later to ask the same question. She had only just ended the call when a taxi drove up to where we were sitting outside a shop but somewhat in the shadows; no one else apart from her husband knew where we were. He came right up onto the pavement right next to us.
The taxi driver got out and said that a man had asked him to come and find us to take me home. We said that was wonderful but we had no money on us. “Oh, the man already paid me €10,” he said. But that was pretty amazing because if it was the motorist we’d asked for help he had driven off in a different direction and there aren’t any taxi-ranks in the direction from which the taxi appeared. And, in any case, I doubt whether anyone could have contacted and paid the taxi in the literally 3 to 4 minutes since my accident. “How kind of you and the gentleman who paid you,” we said (both thinking this was surely not a normal situation!). The young taxi driver replied: “That’s why we’re in the world isn’t it – to help one another!” We’ve concluded that we had miraculous help – and at lightning speed!
J.K., Amsterdam Transmission Group, the Netherlands.
Two letters from the same writer:
(1) Four co-workers from the Paris Transmission Meditation group put on an exhibition of Share International magazine back-cover photographs on the weekend of 31 March 2017. The exhibition took place in a photographer’s studio and was entitled: ‘Sharing will save the world’. It lasted two days with an opening that attracted people because the event had been announced on the photographer’s social network. The exhibition and related activities took place in the cultural and artistic district of Beaubourg, that is to say in a street behind the main entrance of the Georges Pompidou Center. A co-worker had put up photographs, with a message from Maitreya, in the shop window of the studio. It attracted a lot of attention, even from children passing by.
Maitreya had once said [at a similar photo exhibition in Tokyo] that if people around the world could see these back-page photos and think about them the world could change for the better and towards justice. It is true that one of Maitreya’s hopes is to open our hearts to the suffering of others. This is how we will change the world. The photo exhibitions serve that purpose. There were two co-workers permanently on the site, and we were surprised twice by the energy flowing, which was exactly like a blessing from Maitreya on Christmas Day. Even if we are used to feeling energy during all our photo exhibitions, this is the first time we have had such an experience. We were very happy because there are many associations working there, and they all have been flooded by energy.
On Saturday morning and in early afternoon, there were no visitors yet and I remembered a question and answer from Share International magazine about visualizing the audience or visitors. Meanwhile, there was a constant stream of people looking at the six photos in the shop window. So, I visualized seeing the exhibition hall full of visitors. After a number of ‘visualizations’, I opened my eyes and saw Benjamin Creme on the threshold of the exhibition room. I rubbed my eyes, thinking that my imagination was playing me tricks, but it was not the case. He was there. I supposed that he was there because Benjamin Creme had been the editor-in-chief of Share International for decades.
(2) During a meeting on 11 March 2017, in Paris, co-workers in charge of various activities gathered in order to give them time to exchange ideas and communicate to strengthen the unity of the group. During the afternoon, we were talking about the decline in the number of subscribers to Partage [Share] International magazine, and what could be done to improve its promotion, when a co-worker said: “Especially now that Benjamin is no longer here”. At that moment I suddenly saw Benjamin appear; he was standing in the room just in front of me. I had no doubt about what I was seeing. I asked the group to keep silent for a few minutes. I hesitated to tell the group what I had seen because a friend of mine had seen Benjamin in another context and some of the people to whom she told the story started to make fun of her. The next day I decided to write my story to the magazine because I did not want to keep it only for myself because some people think that Benjamin is no longer there, while I know that it is clearly false, at least, as far as I am concerned.
M-A.A, Paris, France.
[Editors’ note: Asked for more detail about Benjamin Creme, the writer said he had looked younger, fit and healthy; he had simply stood and looked at her from the threshold to the photo exhibition.]
In September 2001 I was driving my car with my daughter-in-law Charlene and two children as passengers. We were going along, quite slowly, on a main road – a large silver car was approaching from the opposite direction (quite normally on the other side of the road). When it was about 100 yards away it suddenly changed direction and veered to our side of the road, driving straight at us at some speed. It was going to be a head-on collision. I remember saying, “Oh, my God”, as did Charlene. I tried to get as far as I could to the other side on the left. I just don’t know how it didn’t happen. Neither Charlene nor I could speak with shock. A few weeks later – we still can’t believe how it didn’t happen. We don’t know how the car missed us; and I said to Charlene: “All I can say is that we were being looked after.”
What I want to ask you is: Were we being protected in some way? We just can’t believe how else we could have got out of this without being either killed or badly injured.
B.F., Frimley Green, Surrey, UK.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirmed that they were saved by Maitreya.)
On 10 May 2001 I had an experience whilst in the Prince Charles Hospital at Chermside in Brisbane, Queensland. I was having a growth removed from my hand. Whilst sitting in the waiting room before going to the operating theatre a jovial young man with blonde hair stuck his head around the corner and was smiling and grinning at me and moving his head back and forth like a clown does to a child. It was similar to a clown performing to a child. He was dressed in a medical gown and hat. Afterwards, while I was lying on the operating table in the theatre, he came in to the room and came straight up to me and stroked my hand where the surgeon cut the hand, not on the growth. He then walked over to the surgeon after this and introduced himself as ‘Shaun’. I was surprised at this young man’s behaviour and thought it was certainly not something a young doctor would do to a patient.
Can you confirm for me who was this young man?
O.M., Kippa-Ring, Queensland, Australia.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirmed that the ‘young man’ was Maitreya.)
Two letters from the same writer:
(1)Around 1998 I was walking in the park with a girlfriend. I was caught in many thoughts and in despair. A man came towards us from a side path. He was 190cm tall, dressed in a wonderful light blue suit. His eyes shone (also blue), he had so much radiance that I did not want to look at him. He came between my friend and me and looked at me. A heartfelt love reached me, something that I had never experienced. My despair and worries disappeared. When we wanted to look at him again he had vanished – simply from the middle of the footpath. I wonder very much who he was. Could you tell me?
(2) Also at work in 2000 there was much happening to me with bullying and exclusion. Inwardly I called to God and for a love that would reach everyone. Suddenly I saw a man in the hall. Small and dressed poorly, so that I thought he must be a homeless person. As he turned around he had a beautiful rose in one hand and had a smile on his face. Then he was gone. The hope remained with me that something may change at my place of work. Was he Jesus?
J.D., Bottrop, Germany.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirmed that the ‘man in the light blue suit’ and the ‘man holding the rose’ were Maitreya.)
It happened to me at the Mind Body Spirit Festival in Sydney on 22 November 2001. While looking at Maitreya’s ‘hand’ card, I prayed to Maitreya for an experience with the Masters in order to make my reappearance work much more effective.
After talking with people about the reappearance of Christ and Masters, they sometimes ask about my personal experiences with Masters. But I have to say that I do not have such experiences. I sometimes feel awkward in conversation with people after such a question.
Two hours later, I was alone at our stand looking at the Emergence Quarterly newspaper. I had noticed someone standing at the small table where the miracle photos were displayed. When I looked up, a young man looked at me and said “Hi!” raising his right hand. I stood up and approached him. He said, “Who is she? Who is she?” looking at Maitreya’s picture in Nairobi. I felt very strange, because normally people ask “Who is he?” I said, “This is Mary Akatsa, a healer but I don’t know the correct pronunciation of her name. She helps a lot of people.” He said, “Thank you,” and was gone!
He had very beautiful black eyes with short hair and wore a checked scarf around his neck which Palestinian people wear. His raised hand reminded me of Maitreya’s ‘hand’.
Was this my personal experience with a Master? Was he Maitreya or Master Jesus?
S. F., Carlingford, Australia.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirmed that the ‘young man’ was Maitreya.)
The “Signs of the time” presented in this section have either been confirmed in the past by Benjamin Creme’s Master, resemble similar “signs” also confirmed or speak for themselves. Many phenomena have been witnessed by people who see them as confirmation of their hopes and faith. We present them for your consideration.
“Increasingly, men are becoming aware that the ‘age of miracles’ has not ended but, on the contrary, waxes strong throughout the world. Recent manifestations have shaken to the core the complacent certainties of millions.... Miracles abound, and will continue to astonish; the forlorn hopes of so-called scientists and experts will prove of no avail to discount the evidence of men’s eyes. Turning their minds to the hope which these manifestations engender, men will connect them with the wise words of Maitreya, and follow His lead.” (A Master Speaks, November 1995)
We would like to express our thanks for the many positive and encouraging comments received about Share International magazine in recent months. Your support is appreciated.
We are keenly aware of Benjamin Creme’s physical absence but we hope our equally keen awareness of his continuing help and guidance in our work will be welcome news to our readers.
Understandably, at times of great change questions arise, and supporters and critics alike hope for or expect answers. Articles by Benjamin Creme’s Master provide a source of insight as they deal with difficult issues and have proved their extraordinary aptness even when reprinted years after they were written.
In the new circumstances we think it important to revisit the aims and functions of this publication. Share International magazine is a vehicle for Maitreya’s and Benjamin Creme’s Master’s ideas, inspiration and insight. It is one of the main means by which we make known the presence in the world today of Maitreya and the Masters of Wisdom. The Master has explained the past, illuminated the present and outlined the contours of the brilliant future civilization, which can be humanity’s if we take steps to implement Maitreya’s priorities.
The Master’s articles, messages from Maitreya, answers given by Benjamin Creme to readers’ questions, the descriptions of meetings with Masters or Their representatives, the signs and miracles manifested by Maitreya and the Masters – all have given hope and inspiration to the world.
The needed changes are spelled out, possible solutions pointed up, difficulties highlighted; wise advice is given and a vision held up of a fair and sane world in which the needs of all are met, where sharing and justice are the norm, allowing all to evolve into the divine beings we are in potential.
Yet another function of Share International is that whenever these ideas elicit an intuitive response they have an effect on the mental planes where they are picked up by sensitive, creative minds. The ideas are implemented and so civilization proceeds. Similarly, ideas go out on the mental planes as information about the Emergence of Maitreya and the Masters is given out at public lectures.
A further aspect of our work has been to provide more than facts, to contribute to the development of a new way of thinking. It is through a change of heart that humanity will make the changes the world needs.
A subtle function of this magazine is the following: in the Master’s articles and Benjamin Creme’s answers to questions, the reader has a means to deepen his understanding of the nature of Reality and of his own nature as an integral part of that greater life. This promotes the growth of the intuition and the broadening of consciousness.
The Masters live outside of time: “Masters see reality in the complete absence of time,” to quote Benjamin Creme, who also talked of our, humanity’s, obsession with time. The Master’s very first article for Share International magazine dealt with the fact that time is a state of mind. Except when they were about a specific event, a particular moment in history, His articles are timeless. They were written from a far wider perspective than ours. They contain an insight into the sweep of history and humanity’s likely responses. We have no hesitation in recommending them for renewed reading and study.
Choosing an article appropriate for any given month and set of world circumstances requires protracted consideration of the main factors at play in the world at the time of the editorial process. The selection is made with a view to addressing the relevant current issues. Fortunately, Benjamin Creme’s Master has provided a vast number of articles.
Please see the introduction to each section for further explanation on how and why we present particular articles and various reports.
Maitreya’s priorities – the provision of enough food, adequate housing, healthcare and education as basic universal human rights – are another major focus of our work, but as non-experts we call in the specialist knowledge of many well-known figures.
The editorial team investigates current events and breakthroughs in line with Hierarchical insight. We choose experts whose ideas most closely approximate those of Maitreya. In this way, we can draw attention to very hopeful developments, which show clearly that humanity is responding to His presence and inspiration.
Benjamin Creme’s Master indicated in the past that Share International magazine could play an educational role in the future and He would continue His association with it. Benjamin Creme also appealed to its well-wishers to continue to support it by subscribing.
Some years ago, Benjamin Creme was asked by a journalist what would happen to his work when he died. The answer was humorous and clear: “There are thousands of people with whom I’ve worked over the years, people in groups throughout the world. They know what to do; they know the information. They will continue this work of informing the public about the imminent appearance of Maitreya and the Masters. They might not be so happy – because they won’t have my jokes any more, but they’ll carry on this work!”
We are fortunate to have had Benjamin Creme’s down to earth, humorous example: he took the work seriously but never himself. He was never ‘the leader’; and no one person is now in such a position. The following is a quotation from Esoteric Psychology Volume II ( p620) by the Master Djwhal Khul*. He describes the difference between a Piscean group with its over-reliance on the leader, and new Aquarian groups which allow for more self-direction, leaving group members to take responsibility as adult disciples. This ensures the continuity of the work. The Master DK also refers to the involvement of the leader even after death: “In the New Age the [umbilical] cord will be cut early in the life of the [Aquarian] group but the leader or group of leaders will remain for a long time (as does the mother of a child) the guiding inspiration, the loving protecting force and the source of instruction and of teaching. When this is the case, the group can proceed upon its way and live its life as a self-directing agent even when the leader passes over to the other side….”
The Masters know that we can manage for the short time remaining. We know we are not abandoned – neither by Benjamin Creme nor by the Hierarchy. The Plan is safe in the hands of Maitreya and the Masters.
*Alice A.Bailey, Esoteric Psychology Volume II, the Lucis Trust.
We present a selection of quotations on the theme of ‘The rise of people power’. The quotations are taken from Maitreya (Messages from Maitreya the Christ and Maitreya’s Teachings – The Laws of Life), Benjamin Creme’s Master (A Master Speaks and Share International), and Benjamin Creme’s writings.
The voice of the people is rising, nay, has risen, and is calling men to declare themselves.
The people, clear-eyed and unafraid, have looked into the future and have seen the possibility of the fulfilment of their aspirations for a just and peaceful world. They know that this will not happen by itself but that they must, together with their brothers and sisters, take the power of fulfilment into their own hands. They know too that the way may be hard and dangerous but that the prize is too precious for them to fail, for it is the prize of brotherhood, of justice and peace, and a better, simpler and truer life for all. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The people’s voice heralds the future’, SI July/August 2013)
Many today realize that the way to the future is through a new and just order, a new Brotherhood of man, a new spirit of co-operation between old enemies. All this is possible today and is being effected.
A new light, My Light, shines over the Earth, and in its dazzle many stand amazed. Working for Truth, for the benefit of all, they stand in awe of their power. Likewise, My friends, within you all is the power of Truth. (Maitreya, from Message No.128)
Humanity is powerful. It has no idea of its power. There is nothing more powerful than a properly educated massed public opinion. Maitreya counts on the formation of that mass public opinion to overthrow the present commercialization and to bring in the principles of sharing and justice. We owe it to ourselves to do it. (Benjamin Creme, The Gathering of the Forces of Light)
There is growing evidence, in the changes now taking place at an accelerating pace, that some force (or forces) guides the destiny of the world. Few can believe that the historic transformations, the upsurge of aspiration for freedom and participation now witnessed on a massive scale, result from mere coincidence and have no inner cause. Few would deny that the speed alone of these momentous changes suggests otherwise, points to the growing awareness by millions that their day of destiny has come, and that power, from now, rests with the people, and must be wielded for their good. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘Day of destiny’)
“By the will of the Lord, the seed of awareness is cracking open now.” People everywhere are becoming aware, and will be unwilling to be dominated by others when their destiny is to be free. Governments everywhere will have to listen to the people. “Government will be by the people, for the people.” No one will be able to explain or comprehend fully this new sense of awareness, but we will witness it and experience it. (Maitreya, Maitreya’s Teachings – The Laws of Life)
I shall sustain all who call for Peace, for Justice and brotherly Love. I shall call to My side all who love their brothers. From all parties and all nations they will come, gathering around Me. I shall fill their hearts with hope and Love, and in mounting numbers they shall conquer the world. This process has begun. Already the voices of the people are being heard. Louder and louder they cry for Justice, for Peace for all time. A renewed hope seizes mankind, and this gladdens My heart. (Maitreya, from Message No.131)
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. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The futility of war’, SI December 2006)
Eventually, organized, educated and inspired by Maitreya, the power of the people will manifest through a massed world public opinion against which no nation can stand. We are only at the beginning of this process but, in time, people power will be the strongest force on Earth. (Benjamin Creme, The Gathering of the Forces of Light)
My Teaching will show you that there is nothing in this world which, if needed, cannot be achieved by man. Man is a God and requires only to manifest that divinity to flourish. My Presence will assure you that this is so, for My Brothers, the Masters of Wisdom, and I shall show you the wonders of your divine nature. In this way shall you sense your potential and grow in Light. (Maitreya, from Message No.71)
The powerful events – now daily happenings – throughout the world are awakening men’s realization that they are witnessing the death-throes of a dying culture, and, by implication, the creation of a new.
The form that the new culture might take remains, for the most part, vague and unsubstantial, but one factor has already registered itself in the minds of public and media alike: the growing strength of the people’s voice and the growing determination to make that voice be heard. This is the most important political event of our time. Throughout the world, the peoples of the nations are taking control of their destiny and demanding their rights. The inner call for freedom, intrinsic to their divinity, unites people of all races and creeds, and, in growing crescendo, will echo and re-echo until the last bastions of tyranny crumble and men can inherit their birthright. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The people’s voice’)
People power is not about ‘bringing down’ the economic structure of any particular country. It is about the winning of freedom, justice and peace for the people of that country. The ultimate aim should always be kept in mind, which is the establishment of freedom, justice and peace throughout the world. It should be obvious that a radical reorganisation of the world’s economic structures must take place for this to be achieved. Sharing, you will find, is the paramount mechanism for this achievement. (Benjamin Creme, Unity in Diversity)
My simple Truth, that God and Love are One, is awakening man to the promise of the future. This makes simple My Task. My friends, show yourselves as men and women ready to act as heroes, as warriors of old, filled with Joy and Love, ready for the tasks of succour and love which will fall to you. Have no fear, My brothers: your shoulders shall be strengthened by Me. (Maitreya, from Message No.99)
Many there are today who, in their hearts, renounce the iniquities of the present materialism which pervades the planet. They long for justice and peace and march and demonstrate for their fulfilment. More and more, the peoples of the world are beginning to recognize that together they have the power to change the actions of powerful men. Thus does Maitreya trust the people and gives voice to their demands. Thus does He join their marches and adds His voice to theirs. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The end of darkness’, SI July/August 2005)
It is important to maintain a growing number of marches, not now and again but continually, and these sustained demonstrations will have a gradual impact on government thinking.
It is difficult for us to estimate the value of such demonstrations but the Masters are in no doubt that they are very powerful levers of change. We must organise them more and more frequently and with even greater numbers. ‘People power’ will transform the world. (Benjamin Creme, Unity in Diversity) ….
The people’s voice is rising, imperious to be heard. It is the harbinger of the new time, the new dispensation, struggling to be born. Despite, nay, because of the plans and actions of dangerous men, the people are throwing off their ancient yoke and claiming their right to be heard. A new urgency and a new confidence invests their claim with power. The power of the people’s voice breaks through the age-old bondage and points the way to the future. More and more, the people are realizing that the role of government is to dispense the needs of the people, that there is no problem or difficulty in which war is the only solution. The sour voices of power-hungry leaders may, for the moment, seduce the fearful or unwary, but their time is limited, is drawing to a close. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The ending of bondage’, SI April 2003)
The voice of humanity as a whole is very powerful indeed. You would be surprised what a powerful impact comes from the manifestation of our free will on the events of the world. We do tremendous harm through the misuse of our free will. Likewise, we can do tremendous good through its correct use. It is largely in humanity’s hands; we have enormous power. Used wisely – and in this way you can see how quickly the world can change under the correct leadership and guidance of Maitreya – we can, if we will, transform the world. In two to three years we can transform the whole world in terms of the economic structure simply by humanity making known to the governments of the world that that is how we want it, what must be. (Benjamin Creme, Maitreya’s Mission Volume Three)
Today, a great new light is awakening humanity to its purpose and destiny. That shining brilliance will reveal to men the Purpose underlying the Will of God, and will galvanize mankind into the creation of those relationships and forms which will serve to demonstrate that Purpose in all its beauty and power.
Such a time as this has seldom been. Man is on the threshold of a new understanding of himself and of those forces which lie behind all appearances. Soon he will know, beyond all gainsaying, that God is, and that man is God. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The new revelation’)
I rely on all those with a knowledge of your brothers’ needs, a sympathy for the sufferings of so many, and a will to change all that. May you be among those upon whom I may call, that together we can usher in a new and better world.
My heart responds to the tremor of your aspiration. My Love kindles that fire. My friends, fan that into a blaze and come with Me. Hold fast to your vision of what may be, and reveal the God within you all. (Maitreya, from Message No.46)
by Victoria Gater
In 1984 an Irish Republican Army (IRA)* bomb planted in the Grand Hotel in Brighton, UK, killed Jo Berry’s father, Sir Anthony Berry. Jo knew she had a choice: to harbour feelings of hatred and anger or to seek understanding and so bring peace back into her life. She chose peace. Patrick Magee, the man convicted of planting the bomb, had joined the IRA after much considered thought, having seen this as the only way to respond to the oppression and suffering he witnessed in his community. Following his release from prison, Jo sought out a meeting with him. Since that meeting they have formed a remarkable friendship based on compassion and respect, and have travelled the world spreading a message of peace and understanding.
Jo founded the charity Building Bridges for Peace in 2009, which works to understand violence and resolve conflict around the world non-violently. She advocates empathy as the biggest weapon we have to end conflict. With political, religious and racial divides deepening as global and local events unfold, her words offer a message of hope and encourage us all to see the humanity in others.
Jo was interviewed for Share International by Victoria Gater.
Share International: When did you first start thinking about peace?
Jo Berry: As a teenager I thought a lot about peace and how I could contribute. I got very distressed with the wars and violent conflicts that were happening. I remember looking for a career that would help bring peace and couldn’t find one. Then I discovered meditation and inner peace, and that seemed a way to bring peace, and I spent a few years living in the Himalayas focussing on that. I became quite detached from the world, which didn’t feel quite right, but I didn’t know what else to do. And then the bomb went off and I couldn’t be detached any more.
SI: Please say more about that time.
JB: My father was a Member of Parliament attending the Conservative Party conference in Brighton on 12 October 1984 when the IRA put a bomb in the hotel and five people were killed, including him. I had been about to leave for Africa on a one-way ticket and had my rucksack packed but the bomb changed everything and an emotional journey started for me. I remember going to St James’ Church, Piccadilly, in London a few days later, sitting in a pew, and deciding that I was going to find a way of making something positive out of it: to bring meaning and to understand those who had killed my Dad. I knew it was the IRA and I wanted to understand them. I didn’t tell anybody of my decision. It was a silent, private commitment to do something different. I didn’t want to be a victim or to be bitter. I didn’t want to have an enemy. In 1984 the IRA were seen and portrayed by the press and politicians the same way as ISIS is seen today – as inhumane evil monsters, and I didn’t want to do that.
SI: So what happened next?
JB: I trusted that life would bring me the experiences I needed, to know how to proceed, and just a few weeks later I had the most extraordinary and transformative experience. I was on the tube [underground train] going home and I had a very strong sense I should get out, so I did and found myself at 1am in King’s Cross station in London, wondering what on earth I was doing and how I was going to get home, and looking for a taxi. There was a young man next to me also looking for a taxi so we started talking and found we were going to a similar area so said we’d share one. I could tell he was from Northern Ireland. In the taxi I told him that my father had been killed by the IRA and that I wanted to understand those who had killed him and bring something positive out of it. He said: “Well that’s a real coincidence because my brother was in the IRA and was killed by a British soldier last year.” So there we were, two people who should have been enemies, and yet we spoke of a world where peace was possible, where nobody got killed, where nobody got demonized, but where everyone respected each other. I remember leaving the taxi and thinking: this is one way I could create peace, by building a bridge across a divide, which hadn’t occurred to me before, and that was the first bridge that I built, with this young man. The meeting gave me the idea. I then went to Belfast, Northern Ireland and started meeting people, which helped me to rehumanize the other and to understand about the conflict. I started being asked to speak at prisons and various groups.
SI: Can you talk about the time you first met Patrick Magee?
JB: Patrick Magee was released from prison in 2000 as part of the Good Friday peace process [a major international Peace Agreement between the British and Irish governments]. He was no longer a member of the IRA. I met him in a private house in Dublin. He was willing to meet me because he was committed to the peace process and was open to meeting people he had hurt. He was very polite and respectful and shared with me why he had joined the IRA and I shared about my trips to Belfast and about my Dad. He definitely had sensitivity but he was justifying killing my Dad and that was hard to hear. But he then stopped talking and looked at me, he took off his glasses and rubbed his eye and said, “I don’t know who I am any more. I want to hear your anger and your pain, what can I do to help you?” And in that moment I knew he had taken off his political hat. He would say later that he had moved from his head to his heart, and he was no longer justifying, and from that point he recognized that he had lost some of his humanity through using violence. Many times later he said that he wasn’t expecting me to be so open. That’s what had touched him. He had been disarmed by my empathy.
SI: So it wasn’t just an impact in that meeting – you’re saying that something changed in him?
JB: Yes. He’s still on the journey, experiencing the implications of that change. One of the first things Pat said publicly with me was that he now knows he could have had a cup of tea with my Dad, but when he planted that bomb he wasn’t seeing human beings, only legitimate targets, and cups of tea with the IRA were not on the agenda for the Conservative government either; but the fact that he can see that is very powerful, because if people can have those cups of tea it means respect, empathy, dialogue, hearing each other’s stories. What happened for me through hearing his story was I reached an understanding that had I lived his life, I might possibly have made the same choices. I had a realization that there is no enemy, no judgement or blame, there is nothing to forgive.
SI: And the two of you now work together?
JB: Yes, we have become friends; it’s an unusual friendship. We have spoken to groups in prisons, schools, universities, at conferences, all over Europe, Rwanda, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine. We share our story and when we stop talking we open ourselves to questions. People take what they need from our story. Someone might make a decision afterwards to contact an estranged person. People also change how they see what we call the perpetrators in their lives or change something in themselves or maybe it inspires them to go on a journey to do something they need to do. It’s a privilege to have this story because of the huge impact it has on people. Straight away people get into a very deep place within themselves. It’s symbolic – you have two people on a stage who should be enemies and they’re not acting as you imagine they would. It’s giving a different point of view to the normal one.
SI: Can you say more about your work in Israel and Palestine?
JB: We were asked to go there by Parent Circle, who are parents on both sides who have had loved ones killed. The first day there was an amazing group called Combatants for Peace. I was aware of the struggles in the room. We shared our story and I remember thinking, “why have I come here, what am I doing? Our conflict is kind of sorted. We don’t have this kind of challenge on a daily level like these people”. But after we stopped talking they started a deep conversation amongst themselves about their challenges, having taken permission and safety for a new conversation to start. One man said that the fact that we were here meant that we care and they really appreciated that, and the fact that we didn’t impose a solution on them was fantastic. He said they were seeing their conflict mirrored back in a different way and that was a gift. So that’s when I thought: I’ve got to trust this process and carry on. I think it’s really helpful for people from different conflicts to visit and share. People can hear things that they wouldn’t hear if their own group said it.
SI: What are your thoughts on the concept of forgiveness?
JB: I no longer use the word forgiveness unless I’ve got time to explain what I mean. I think it puts inappropriate pressure on victims to forgive, that if they don’t, then they are not good people. Forgiveness is a journey and actually I think quite often when people say “I forgive you”, it keeps the person who has been forgiven in a place of having done something ‘wrong’ and puts the person who has said it in a place of ‘right’, and I’m looking at going beyond right and wrong, so I prefer to use the words “unbounded em_pathy”. It isn’t about excusing what people do at all but it’s about really understanding the roots of why someone does what they do. There are probably a few people in the world who are psychopaths with zero empathy but most people have a story and to understand that story is really helpful. I also know amazing people who say they can’t forgive, and don’t want to forgive, but it doesn’t stop them from doing really good work. So the idea that you are either really bitter or you forgive – I don’t think it’s as simple as that.
SI: Is there anything you want to say about the relevance of your work today, with the apparent rise of hatred around the world?
JB: I think more than ever that blame is seen as an acceptable way, and we all need to challenge this culture of blame. We need to have conversations with those we fundamentally disagree with, to create safe places to bring people together with different views to listen to each other and I believe it’s possible to do that. I’ve seen it happen and people change. There are many types of listening circles and forums. People can also just do it waiting for a bus or in a shop. But I don’t believe any more it’s OK to sit at home and do nothing; we need to be change-makers bringing love and compassion into the world.
For further information: buildingbridgesforpeace.org
*[Editor’s Note: The IRA is any of several armed movements in Ireland in the 20th and 21st centuries dedicated to the belief that all of Ireland should be an independent republic and believed that political violence was necessary to achieve that goal.]
“To aid men in their task, the Christ has formulated certain priorities. They cover the essential needs of every man, woman and child. The first priority is an adequate supply of the right food. Secondly, adequate housing and shelter for all. Thirdly, health-care and education as a universal right.” – Benjamin Creme’s Master, January 1989.
In this section, Share International addresses problems in the areas of Maitreya’s priorities, and also identifies related plans, solutions and projects.
More than 20 million people in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria face famine and starvation in what the UN’s top relief official called “…the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the UN”.
Without co-ordinated global assistance, “people will simply starve to death” and “many more will suffer and die from disease”, Stephen O’Brien, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, told the UN Security Council in March 2017.
O’Brien urged an immediate infusion of funds, plus safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid “to avert a catastrophe.” “To be precise,” O’Brien said, “we need $4.4 billion by July.”
According to a New York Times article by Jeffrey Gettleman, “The famines are coming as a drought sweeps across Africa and several different wars seal off extremely needy areas. United Nations officials say they need a huge infusion of cash to respond. So far, they are not just millions of dollars short, but billions.”
The article continues, “…Aid officials say all the needed food and water exists on this planet in abundance – even within these hard-hit countries. But armed conflict that is often created by personal rivalries between a few men turns life upside down for millions, destroying markets and making the price of necessities go berserk.”
Regarding the devastating drought facing the region, Gettleman adds, “Scientists have been saying for years that climate change will increase the frequency of droughts. The hardest-hit countries, though, produce almost none of the carbon emissions that are widely believed to cause climate change.”
The UN’s Stephen O’Brien said the largest humanitarian crisis is in Yemen where two-thirds of the population – 18.8 million people – need aid and more than 7 million people are hungry. Yemen is embroiled in conflict as Saudi Arabia and Iran wage a proxy war in the Arab world’s poorest country.
In South Sudan, which has been ravaged by a three-year civil war, O’Brien said, “the situation is worse than it has ever been. The famine in South Sudan is man-made. Parties to the conflict are parties to the famine – as are those not intervening to make the violence stop.” O’Brien said more than 7.5 million people need aid, up by 1.4 million from 2016, and about 3.4 million South Sudanese are displaced by fighting including almost 200,000 who have fled the country since January 2017.
In Somalia, which is in its third year of drought, more than half the population – 6.2 million people – need humanitarian assistance and protection, including 2.9 million who are at risk of famine and require immediate help “to save or sustain their lives”.
In northeast Nigeria, a seven-year uprising by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram has killed more than 20,000 people and driven 2.6 million from their homes. Over $1 billion is needed to meet the critical needs of more than 8.5 million people in three northeastern states.
“The situation for people in each country is dire, and without a major international response, the situation will get worse,” O’Brien said. But he added: “It is possible to avert this crisis, to avert these famines, to avert these looming human catastrophes. It is all preventable.” (Source: The Guardian, UK; The New York Times, USA; UN.org)
The Elders are expressing alarm at new measures adopted by the Israeli parliament, which retrospectively recognize Jewish settlements in the occupied territories that are built on confiscated Palestinian land. “This law is highly damaging both to the prospects for peace in the region, and to Israel’s international reputation as a state that respects the rule of law,” said Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, 1997-2006.
The so-called ‘Regularization Law’ is a provocative violation of international law that further blights the chances of a just and durable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It also runs directly against UN Security Council Resolution 2334, passed in December 2016, which reaffirms that “the cessation of all Israeli settlement activities is essential for salvaging a two-state solution, and calls for affirmative steps to be taken immediately to reverse the negative trends on the ground that are imperilling the two-state solution”.
Gro Harlem Brundtland, deputy chair of The Elders, and Prime Minister of Norway at the time of the Oslo Accords (1993 and 1995), added: “All settlements on occupied Palestinian land are illegal under international law – whether or not Israel chooses to recognise them. Settlements are a major obstacle to the two-state solution, which must be based on the 1967 border. I am dismayed by this new law, which aggravates existing tensions and compounds injustice, making the prospects for peace more remote.”
The Elders note that these measures are only the latest in a series of actions by Israel in support of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, including the approval in January 2017 to build 600 new homes in settlements in East Jerusalem. Such actions violate international law and are prejudicial to peace. (Source: TheElders.org)
From 27 to 31 March 2017, at the United Nations headquarters in New York, a conference was held to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons. Kim Won-soo, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, spoke to the delegates: “Let us all work harder and more creatively, so that we can achieve our common goal of a world safer and more secure, without nuclear weapons, and better for all.”
The majority of nations at the UN – more than 123 – voted in favour of negotiations to outlaw nuclear weapons, but a ban treaty has no support from the states that actually have nuclear weapons. The nine known nuclear states – the US, China, France, Britain, Russia, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea – all oppose a ban treaty.
Kim Won-soo also expressed the hope that the instrument will strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and bring the world closer to the total elimination of nuclear weapons; and that it would make an important contribution both to nuclear disarmament and to the ultimate objective of general and complete disarmament. According to 2016 estimates, more than 15,000 nuclear warheads remain in global stockpiles.
This is a considerable reduction from the stocks maintained during the Cold War, but the pace of the reduction has slowed in recent years, and concerns are rising over continued reliance on nuclear weapons in security doctrines and continuing programmes to modernize and improve nuclear weapons.
Kim Won-soo acknowledged that a sense of dismissiveness now permeates international deliberations on disarmament, and warned that the general public seems to be losing interest in the issue. “We need to find a new way to inspire and motivate the public in support of disarmament, in the same way that they have been energized to respond to the challenge of climate change, an existential threat facing humanity,” he stated.
“The possession of nuclear weapons, which are linked with the threat of their use, is fundamentally incompatible with humanity’s common aspirations for peace and security,” he said, and stressed that a “new and destabilizing” arms races could exacerbate regional and global tension.
A second conference will take place at the United Nations, New York, from 15 June to 7 July 2017. (Source: UN News; The Guardian, UK)
In this section Share International focuses on the rising tide of people power which will continue to swell until, under Maitreya’s wise guidance, the people will lead their leaders into the creation of a just society in which the rights and needs of all are recognized and met.
‘Demonstrations matter – they create the kind of power politicians despise’ is the title of a recent article in The Guardian newspaper (UK) by Paul Mason, a writer and broadcaster on economics and social justice.
Whether popular protests cause more than derision in political echelons is, of course, a crucial question; can protests really be said to matter? Mason is in no doubt as he presents a broad-brush picture of very recent demonstrations across Europe: “The tide is turning and you can feel it on the streets of the world’s capital cities. On Sunday, hundreds of peaceful protesters were arrested in Moscow and St Petersburg, after thousands massed in unsanctioned demonstrations against corruption.
“There were similar scenes in Minsk, where punitive taxes on the unemployed have driven people to the streets. In February, half a million Romanians forced their government to abandon a law pardoning corrupt officials, by taking to the streets.
“In Britain, in the month of March, three major protests have taken place: a demo to save the National Health Service that drew up to 250,000 people; a 30,000-strong march against racism; and, most recently, a protest in favour of staying in the EU, again numbering more than 100,000 people.
“And when Donald Trump’s repeal of Obamacare failed in Congress, although the blow was struck by rebel Republican lawmakers, the force behind it surely came from the thousands of people who swarmed into town hall meetings to berate their representatives in the runup to the vote.”
Mason writes “Mass action creates its own dynamics; they can be massive and far-reaching – despite the scant and bland coverage all demos get on television and in the press.”
Is protesting more effective than simply casting a vote? What makes demonstrations really powerful is that participants see and experience that they’re not alone and can find out in great detail what kind of people their fellow protestors are. It is a unifying and exhilarating experience: “On the NHS demo, it was obvious that huge numbers of NHS workers had turned out, alongside user groups often led by elderly people. Why is that interesting? Because in the modern, privatized and corporatized NHS, the staff are afforded few collective outlets for expression. Coming together – not just as ‘nurses from Doncaster’ but nurses, doctors and patients from Doncaster – breaks down the invisible walls institutional life creates.” [Our italics]
Gathering together with hundreds of thousands of like-minded fellow citizens is empowering, and politicians know it. “Such mass gestures are about finding each other, testing out arguments, and creating and transforming messages,” writes Mason.
Mason draws the global protest pattern more broadly, referring to the 21 January resistance to Trump in the US: the country “experienced possibly the biggest mass mobilization in its history – with an estimated 4.2 million people protesting against Trump’s inauguration in towns and cities across America”.
“What social media adds to such mobilizations is not just visibility but the intensification of the shared experience. Each block of 1,000 protesters on any demo in the developed world is really a thousand nodes on a network containing tens of thousands of other nodes. It is a moving and incessant information-distributing machine.
“And that is why the first move of any government that wants to curtail democracy is to curtail the right to demonstrate. Putin outlawed the majority of planned demos last weekend, but they went ahead regardless. Slammed into the police vans were not just brave but faceless Russians, but people with Facebook and Twitter followers all over the planet.
“That’s why demonstrations matter and why, in the name of resisting the growing kleptocracy, racism and authoritarianism of political elites, we should keep on demonstrating.” But Mason introduces a caveat: “Demonstrations are never enough. Just as 30,000 people on the streets usually merits only a colourful picture and a caption in the newspaper, what they did afterwards is barely recorded at all. This is why revolts and revolutions always surprise elites, and a media conditioned to see the world through the elite’s viewfinder.”
“When the people decide to live …” wrote Tunisian poet Abu al-Qasim al-Shabi, “chains will be broken”. Those words were widely shared in 2011 during the Arab Spring.
As the world can see clearly at present, revolt or protests happen when those in power make the lives of large numbers of people intolerable, leaving them no other option other than to rise up or at least resist. Yes, you can and should use your vote and use it wisely but, comments Mason wryly: “Some challenges require you to don a pink hat, or – as the Russians did – hang a designer sports shoe around your neck, paint an amusing sign, march, take pictures and tweet them to your friends.”
Mason hints at plenty of active citizenship ahead: “When the people decide to live, demonstrations are what they do: and there’s a lot of people demonstrating it as spring gets under way.” (Source: theguardian.com)
Jeffrey D. Sachs: Building the New American Economy
by Elisa Graf
Since last year’s presidential election, Americans are more anxious than ever. A survey conducted in January found two-thirds of Americans say the future of the nation is causing them stress. Jeffrey Sachs, one of the world’s top economists and a foremost expert in sustainable development, has a remedy. He’s on a mission to show that America’s problems are big, but solvable. In his latest book, Building the New American Economy: Smart, Fair and Sustainable, published on the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, Sachs writes that the keys to success in building a new American economy can be summarized in the three words: smart, fair and sustainable.
At a lecture at Columbia University New York to launch his book, Sachs says: “Americans are worried and we should respond in a way which really gives some clarity, some direction and doesn’t presume disaster, but shows how to build for hope. We don’t solve our problems by snarky [sarcastic] tweets. We don’t solve our problems by blaming other countries. The book is really about how the United States, with our wealth and our knowledge and our technology, … is able finally to come to grips with problems that we have been neglecting or exacerbating for decades.”
As a guide for the ideas he outlines, Sachs refers to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the world’s governments in September 2015 as the basis for global co-operation on economic and social development for 2016-2030. He says: “The world actually adopted some big goals for the world, … they could be misunderstood as goals for someone else, or goals for Togo or goals for Chad, or goals for Vanuatu but they’re really goals for the United States – rather urgently goals for the United States.” Outlining these goals, he points out thatthe 193 member states of the UN agreed “something’s really wrong in how the world economy works”. He explains: “They also agreed that a decent world has three crucial attributes: It should be a prosperous world, so that economic needs can be met – so that people have food security, they’re not in poverty and they have access to safe drinking water and safe air to breathe. Secondly, societies ought to be fair – fair in the sense that it’s not the overall size of the economy that counts, or even dividing that by the population to measure the per-capita income, but it’s ensuring that people within this society can each meet their needs – that every child has a chance; that poor people are not scrambling to stay alive, or not scrambling to preserve their little dignity in an economy that takes away their dignity every day; where women have the same chances as men – so that we have justice.” And the third feature is that we should not destroy the planet in our pursuit to build the economy. “Yes,” he says, “we want economic growth, but if it’s not distributed so that most people are benefiting – if it’s only going to the top, what’s the point? And if it’s destroying the environment at the same time, really how can one even call this, in any sense, economic progress?”
In his book, Sachs presents these aims as “...smart, fair and sustainable: ‘smart’ meaning to deploy our technology so that we have the productivity to live nice lives, so that we can have leisure, we can escape from arduous physical back-breaking labor, so that we can have security in our economy. That’s what our technologies and advances in technology make possible.” He points, secondly, to the need for fairness, “so that the lion’s share of this so-called growth isn’t showing up in a stock-market boom that is in such concentrated ownership that for most Americans this is basically meaningless.” Third, as we rebuild our infrastructure, he says it should be environmentally sustainable. He calls these three aims “our generation’s moon shot,” adding, “That is a big challenge. But it is a vital challenge that is, yes, the most impressive thing that mankind could achieve but it’s also a challenge within reach.”
As a leader for the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Sachs and his team created an index, using indicators of all 17 of the Goals measuring where countries currently stand, in terms of poverty, health access, death rates from various disease categories, gender equity, tons of carbon dioxide emissions per capita, and the so-called ‘Gini coefficient’, which measures the inequality of income within a society, noting the progress that the countries will need to make to achieve the recently-adopted SDGs. He says the results were eye-opening: overall the United States ranks 22nd out of 34 high-income countries, far behind the lead held by Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Switzerland.
What is the difference between these high-functioning economies, such as Sweden and the United States? Sachs points to two key factors. He explains: “The simple truth is that America doesn’t raise enough tax revenues to finance the key public investments for our future.” The Scandinavian social democracies, which tax around 50 per cent of GDP have smaller budget deficits, modern infrastructure and much greener economies, as well as a host of public services, including free college tuition, free public healthcare, guaranteed maternity leave – and quality healthcare, as a result. While the idea of increasing tax revenues has long been outside of the American political mainstream, Sachs remarks that Bernie Sanders, who decisively rallied young voters during the US presidential elections, ran his campaign on mobilizing vastly more revenues for much greater public investment.
Another key difference is that the US spends far more on its military, the scale of which he calls “remarkable”: $900 billion in annual spending, or roughly one quarter of all federal government outlays representing 5 per cent of US national income (as of a 2014 inventory). Sachs says: “The United States is incurring massive public debt and cutting back on urgent public investments at home in order to sustain a dysfunctional, militarized and costly foreign policy.” At a time when the new US Administration is calling for an increase in military spending, Sachs says, “…we should instead end the perpetual Middle East wars, cut back sharply on America’s overseas military bases and negotiate sharp global limits on nuclear arms rather than invest in a new, costly round of the nuclear arms race.”
America’s poverty rate of 17 per cent is the highest among the high-income countries. On this, Sachs comments: “…the United States is the most unequal in our modern history, at least for the last century, and this is a grim fact of life that we feel in our society, and it shows up in so many of the ills that beset so much of our population.” He laments: “Of course poverty is the word not mentioned in any campaign, except Bernie Sanders’. It’s not mentioned in any presidential debate, because the poor are supposed to behave themselves and be out of sight, or be locked up in prison. But why don’t we set a goal for fighting poverty?” Recounting the war on poverty adopted in the US during the Lyndon B. Johnson Administration (1963-69), he says, “If you look at the data, it had a tremendously powerful effect of lowering the poverty rate – and then Johnson went and blew it by fighting the Vietnam War, and destroyed his own war on poverty. But not because it can’t be done.” In his book, Sachs suggests a goal to reduce poverty by 50 per cent.
He contends that the sharp widening of inequalities, which started in the 1970s, is a direct cause of a societal collapse in trust, something pollsters have noted as an ever-rising trend. More than any other threat facing the country at this time, he says it is the “…collapse in civic virtue, meaning the honesty and trust that enables the country to function as a decent, forward-looking, optimistic nation.” He adds that the defining characteristic of American society in our day is that Americans trust neither their political institutions nor each other, and counsels that we need a conscious effort to re-establish trust by making fair play an explicit part of the national agenda.
Among the world’s high-income countries, the US government offers the lowest share of development assistance to the world’s poor nations, just 0.17 per cent of GDP compared with the global target of 0.70 per cent of GDP. Sachs notes that this is one-thirtieth of the American military budget. He asks, “Would it really be too much for America to live up to the international standard of spending 0.7 of 1 per cent on helping poor children stay alive and get education – and so make a safer world?” He calculates that the gap between the official figure and what it should be, which is about a half a per cent of GDP, is $90 billion a year – enough to end the AIDS epidemic, end deaths from malaria, and fund schooling for every child on the planet up to and through secondary education. He adds: “So if you want to know just where the financing comes from to solve the problems of extreme poverty, the United States by itself could close that gap, and not even through heroism, just through a modest commitment that lives up to the international standards, which our country refuses to recognize.”
The data laid out in Sachs’ book points to tragic ironies when one considers how rich a country the US is compared to most countries of the world. The United States has the highest obesity rate among high-income nations and American life expectancy lags behind that of the world’s leading nations by at least four years. The US has the highest rate of imprisonment of any advanced economy with 716 inmates per 100,000 people, compared to 65-75 per 100,000 people in the Scandinavian countries. The US is one of the highest emitters of greenhouse gases, with annual CO2 emissions per American at 16 tons, roughly three times the world average. While he agrees there’s plenty of room for pessimism, Sachs is optimistic that these ills can be addressed. He offers clear guidelines and salient policy recommendations, explaining that none of the goals he outlines is utopian or out of reach. In closing, he writes: “By setting ambitious Sustainable Development Goals, and by engaging thought leaders across the country, the United States could once again set the standard for policy boldness and innovation, and inspire other nations, even today’s adversaries, to work together for a better world.”
Jeffrey D. Sachs is Professor of Sustainable Development and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University, New York, and is Director of Columbia’s Center for Sustainable Development and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
Book launch for Building the New American Economy, lecture at Columbia University: www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfuX_ZupLjk
Sachs, Jeffrey D., Building the New American Economy: Smart, Fair and Sustainable, Columbia University Press, 2017.