B U L L E T I N

Happy New Year!

1. New Year Message - A purposeful life – Huffington post
2. A Note about Sean Hannity, Stuart Varney and Fox News –request
3. Note about Bridgette Gabriel’s comment on Fox News – upon request
4. American Muslims are proud of taking the right step - Link
5. Moderate Muslims Speak out? Link

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pluralism Goals for 2010

Wednesday, December 31, 2009
Pluralism Goals for 2010
http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2009/12/pluralism-goals-for-2010.html

The Foundation for Pluralism has been on the horizon for the last ten years and officially we are in our 5th year. Through the years we have done several programs, lectures, workshops, publications, radio Shows and Magazines, it is indeed Pluralism in practice while creating a place in the nascent academic world of Pluralism.

In the simplest of words, Pluralism is nothing more than developing an attitude of respecting the otherness of others. If we can learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of the 7 billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

The idea of Pluralism will gain momentum in 2010 and we are humbly preparing to give direction to it.

We are aspiring to recite the Pluralism Prayers at US Senate, Capitol Hill, Texas State Capital and a few area City Councils.

Three Pluralism events are scheduled for 2010; 15th Annual Thanksgiving Celebrations, 6th Annual Unity Day USA and 3rd Annual Reflections on Holocaust and Genocides.

In 2008, we conducted workshops on ten different religions we are resuming the work in 2010 under the same title “Wisdom of Religion, all the beautiful religions”, and it was also the title of our Radio show in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

Guest lectures on Pluralism will continue at places of worship, work, schools and Universities.

Pluralism articles will continue to be published in major Newspapers and Magazines.

The Journal of Pluralism is designed to express pluralism at work, society, governance, workplace, worship places, schools, family and daily life. We are planning on bringing out the hard copy.

Pluralism Membership is growing; we have added another 1000 members this month taking it to a total of 25,000 members and hope to reach out to 30,000 by the end of 2010.

We are looking to open up Pluralism Centers in other Cities. A conference on Pluralism is on the table and a research center to be in place upon completion of my PhD in 2011.

Mike Ghouse
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Monday, December 28, 2009

AVATAR – a movie about co-existence

AVATAR – a movie about co-existence
When it comes to visual effects, Avatar is the mother of all movies. However, it could have been made in two hours without losing an ounce of amazement. This movie is a good expression of living in harmony with nature exemplified by the indigenous people of Pandora. I would see this movie a few more times to absorb the special effects, nature, harmony, romance, beauty, thoughtfulness and the message of co-existence, aka Pluralism*.
http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/2009/12/avatar-movie-about-harmony.html
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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Integrity of Imams, Rabbi, Pastor, Pundits

Integrity of Imams, Rabbi, Pastor, Pundits, Shamans or Clergy.

A majority of the scholars, clergy men and women are honest about other faiths, they are respectful.

They do not denigrate or draw negative conclusions about other faiths to make their own faith look good, It is a question of personal integrity to them. Being truthful is more important than taking advantage of trends that put down other faiths. They will not rest until they uncover the truth, which is love and respect for every one of God's creation and God's religion, which is every religion.

My concern is always those few, who compromise their integrity. If a big financial supporter of their place of worship tells false things about other religions - those few will go along even though deep in their hearts they know it is wrong. It is time we stand for truth.

I admire those few men and women for presenting their faith in the most beautiful way, but I'm saddened that a few of them either present the other faiths negatively or hide the truth about other faiths. It is not religion any more, it becomes business of selling religion. Religion does not require selling.

Mike Ghouse is a thinker, writer speaker and an activist of pluralism, interfaith, co-existence, peace, Islam and India. He is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. His websites and Blogs are listed on http://www.mikeghouse.net/

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A tribute to Jesus

A tribute to Jesus on this Christmas;
What does it mean to be religious?

Mike Ghouse

This column is dedicated to Rev. Petra Weldes of the Center for Spiritual Living in Dallas. Some of my conversation with her inspired me to write this tribute to Jesus and what it means to be religious.

Continued: http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2009/12/tribute-to-jesus.html


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An appeal to Indonesian Muslims

An appeal to Indonesian Muslims

Mike Ghouse

Friday, December 18, 2009 will be noted as a sad day in the history of Indonesia. On this day, a group of people on their way out from attending an Islamic New Year parade attacked the Santo Albertus Church under construction in Bekasi.

http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2009/12/appeal-to-indonesian-muslims.html

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mike Ghouse on National Public Radio

Mike Ghouse on National Public Radio
Monday, December 21, 2009

The National Public Radio invited Rev. Angie Buchanan, a trustee of the Parliament of the World's religions and Mike Ghouse as an individual to be on the air between 3-4 PM to talk about the Parliament event. It was a good interview and it will be available at http://www.wpr.org/hereonearth/ on Tuesday to download and listen to. Rev. Buchanan gave a wonderful analogy about religions being Islands and the need for the people in each Island to visit and build bridges.

Continued: http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2009/12/national-public-radio.html

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Indigenous Environmental Summit 2010

The International Summit on
Indigenous Environmental Philosophy 2010

The Purpose of The International Summit on Indigenous Environmental Philosophy is to provide an opportunity for Indigenous delegates from around the world to meet and discuss mutual environmental concerns!

Indigenous communities are perhaps the most impacted by Climate Change and the least responsible for causing it. Indigenous elders and environmental specialists have also been the first to warn of changes and offer viable suggestions for response strategies yet their critical messages have usually gone unheeded by dominant societies.

The International Summit on Indigenous Environmental Philosophy will provide a forum for Indigenous thinkers from around the world to gather in a retreat setting to discuss two important questions: - What distinguishes Indigenous Environmental Philosophy from Western Environmental Philosophy? - How should Indigenous Environmental Philosophy be incorporated in the international dialogue on Climate Change?

The International Summit on Indigenous Environmental Philosophy is a collaborative effort of:The Memnosyne FoundationThe University of North TexasThe Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma Environmental Program The Anadarko Indian School District. Details at: www.indigenousenvirosummit10.org

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Integration of Religion in the 21st Century

Integration of Religion in the 21st Century
http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2009/12/integration-of-religion-in-21st-century.html

By Dr. B.M.Sharma, Surat, India

Religions have served their best purpose for the humanity till date and shall continue to do so in all the times to come.

Thanks to the age of information that multiple kinds of information and expertise on religions is now available on just thinking and asking. Religions are the systems and ways of thinking and practices for the conduct of mankind in all respects as his inner journey and his relationships with his society where he dwelt and dwells. The world is evolving and with that its constituents, people of various countries and cultures and for one or other reasons, the religions have evolved by way of their positive interpretations. Still all is not well with the interpretations of religions and any of those interpretations which threaten the basic foundation of humanity and its sustained living need to be identified and peaceful measures taken to ensure that world humanity move towards enhanced peace, trust and love.

While full freedom should be provided for the evolution and development of all religions, there is still a need for the integration of religions, writing down a new rationalized codes of conducts which become the basis of posterity and evolving society and this integrated religion should install the global human community in better evolved state.

Integration of Religions shall involve the following:

A Integrated Religions Committee need to be formed representing expertise from each religion; Setting the organizational structure of Integrated Religions Committee ( herein after called the IRS);

  • Determination of the objectives and scope of integration.

  • Methodology for integration.

  • Documentation requirements of Integrated Religions.

  • Commitment of the IRS for religions integration.

  • Forming Integrated Religious Policy.

  • Integrated Religions Objectives.

  • Commitment of the IRS.

  • Global Human Being as a Focus.

  • Global Integrated Religions Document and its publication.

  • Provision of resources for promotion.

  • Peaceful Implementation.

  • Coordination with other religions as a continuous process.

  • Monitoring and measurement of Global peace, social peace and individual peace.

  • Improvement in the Integration of religion as a continuous process.

Integrated religion document shall be prepared and it shall be submitted in front of the World Forum of Religions and (may be United Nations) for its review and absolutely optional recommendation for buying, reading, following and further improvement.

Integrated religion document shall have the following characteristics:



  • Provide the basics of all religions.

  • Provide the inclusion of only positive values which help build future societies on

  • rationalized world brotherhood, love and peace.

  • Ensure that it does not have any element and any scope for negativism, fanaticism and non-peace element;

  • Provide encourage of global brotherhoods and a society which brings world and its people on mutual co-existence, sharing, enjoying and benefiting each other.

  • To lay down the foundation of Earth as one nation, one citizenship and total freedom to settle down anywhere on earth.

Core focal elements of the integrated religion need to be spelled out. The core three elements of the integrated religion, to begin with, could be as below:

a. Science and history based account of the God. A Synthesis of the Total Global Humanity Experience on the God. as a reference standard.. so in this concept of God, the amendments can be done by the Global Human Community. Till date, the societies existed without being in relation to each other... and in each society the Human Being were endowed on the concept of the God, in their own manner as we know right now…So with respect to all religions, the final description of the God can be accounted, which is largely acceptable to the Global Humanity. Even a Historical flow on the Concept of God as it flowed in front of the human being. It has to be documented in a more authoritative manner for the future global humanity.


b. Code of conducts for the self, family and society and inter-societal relationships need to be documented and herein the best practices which promote love, freedom, peace, openness, sharing, cooperation and sacrifice for each other and absolute non-violence need to be filtered out and put in the Integrated religion for training, education and following by the future global humanity.


c. Provision and procedure for knowing the experiences of the Science and that of the individuals and others on religion and God and the social norms which evolve men further and relate with the God in more visible manner for peace, love and freedom and realization of the God, as the most absolute sacred goal of the humanity.

Integrated religion shall be a support resource for the human beings and it shall use the most peaceful methods for its adoption and shall never seek on its own delinks from the previous religion of the individual. Individual shall have full freedom to continue his own religion or blend the inputs of the integrated religion or switch over to integrated religion. Integrated religion shall provide nourishing inputs for the sustenance of the existing religion, coordination among religions and also an opportunity to live the life as per the guidelines for peace and love provided in the integrated religion.

A peaceful endeavor shall be made by the world forum that integrated religion finds its recognition from all nations for voluntary adoption in the short and long period as per the full rights and freedom of the mankind to live its life in absolute and relative love and peace with the self; his family and rest of the world.

Comments by Mike Ghouse:

Dr. Brijmohan Sharma and I interacted on face book on the issues of Kashmir. It gave me a lot of hope to see his wisdom at work in finding solutions, and respecting every one's space and rights. Then, I read a whole lot of his comments on issues and asked him to write one on Religion and I am pleased to read a fine document that is a seminal work in taking this further. If you'd like your friends to receive the Journal of Pluralism, please have them email their e-address to: thejournalofpluralism@gmail.com.

I share his sentiment about religious integration, however, I would like to add that integration can take the form of co-existence of different ways of living on this planet together with least conflict. We have to see the value in each one of the 250+ traditions and respecting the divinity in each. Each faith is valid and is part of the larger goodness it contributes to.

The purpose of religion if I may summarize is to bring spiritual wellbeing to an individual and facilitate a balance between the individual and what surrounds; life and environment. Most, religions contribute to the idea and hence, we can see the universality of each religion, without having one single universal religion.

As they say God created each one of us in his own image, I dare say that we have created God in our own image. Each individual is different, each thumb print is different and each leaf of a plant is different, and so should be the belief of an individual.

Religions highlight the idea of co-existence including one's belief or non-belief in the causer of creation, we have to dig deeper and find the truth in each beautiful religion. The interpretations (not the scripture) given to us over the ages need to be refreshed, they were as human as we are today and we need to see those values sync in with our values of co-existence. In the next decade, there will not be a major City in the world, where you do not find people of different faiths, traditions, races and ethnicities working and living together.

We have to differentiate between the religion and what the self appointed guardians of religions portray it to be. Finding the truth is our own responsibility as it gives us Mukti or freedom from assumptions about others, and removing false anxieties.

Please feel free to comments by clicking: http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2009/12/integration-of-religion-in-21st-century.html#comments

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Am I a Jew, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Pagan or a Maya?

The trends in spirituality and the emergence of a new conscience

Am I a Jew, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Pagan or a Maya?

Mike Ghouse

To be with 8,000 people representing 250 faith expressions is an experience of life time. From Atheists to Zoroastrians and every one in between, including the native and earth based traditions from every corner of the world attended the event to hear each other and heal the earth. Indeed, that was the theme of the conference and a whole lot of uplifting conversation took place, and we hope it materializes into service. We have to do our individual share of work.

The conference meant different things to different people, but most went home with a feeling that learning about other faiths enriches one’s own tradition without depreciating the other. The search paves the way to witnessing how others express their devotion to the creator in their own unique way. It was an awesome feeling.

The Pagan prayer circle tempted me to get on the loud speaker and tell every one to join and listen to the words that were being chanted; we appreciate the earth, the nature, the people and the food, it was a beautiful expression of gratitude. Many of us do not perceive Pagans, Wiccans and other earth based and native traditions to be as divine as our own. Ever think of it as arrogance?

Those who are yet to graduate in spirituality, miss out the beauty and serenity of each tradition. Rejecting the stereotypes we ascribe to other groups, and finding the truth is one’s own responsibility as it sets one free. No matter what your Rabbi, Pastor, Imam, Pundit, Shaman or clergy tells you about other faiths and other people, ultimately it is you in your solitude who has to deal with your conscience. The responsibility is yours. Prophet Muhammad told his own daughter that she will not automatically get a free pass to heavens, she has to earn it through service to fellow beings (he did not say Muslims).

A few weeks ago, at the dedication ceremony of the Maya cultural center at Felipe Carillo Puerto in Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, a service initiative of the Memnosyne Foundation, people of different traditions like the Maya, Toltec, Shinto, Christian, Muslim and the Wicca gathered around the ceremonial fire to offer their supplication. Each one took turn to express his/her gratitude to the creator and mother earth that nurtures and sustains us. It was an awesome sight to see their devotion to the creator, they way they see it and feel it. If we are biased, tainted and brainwashed, we cannot see the beauty in each faith and miss out God’s creation.

Am I a Jew, Hindu, Muslim or a Pagan?

Many a members at the parliament are working to reach a higher level of consciousness and awakening. I just want to share the trends in spirituality and some of the efforts we are making. At the event in Yucatan, I was able to share the Hindu Prayers at one of the sacred Snotes (Underground well connected to a river stream) of the Maya people along with the Muslim prayers. Then the India Association in Dallas held a prayer vigil for the Mumbai blasts, I read the Jewish prayers, some of my Indian friends thought I was a Jew and it sort of confirmed for some of them that I must be a Jew.

Since Mayan traditions resemble closely with the Hindu traditions, I recited the Hindu prayers in Sanskrit and rendered its English translation. The Jainism's Namokar Mantra would have been ideal, but I had forgotten it, now after the parliament, I have it down. I had to quench the curiosity about Hindu Prayers by a Muslim. If we were to write the Hindu, Mayan, Muslim, Christian, Jewish or any prayer in Sanskrit, Maya, Arabic, Hebrew, Swahili or Latin by generalizing God's name - simply ‘God’ instead of Yahweh, Jesus, Allah or Brahma; then you do not see a whole lot of difference in each prayer. Try it, you may feel the serenity and the barriers built up by the clergy may fall and you may sync with humanity and feel the universality of your soul. If you put a noose around God, God gets constricted, but if you free God from your own imaginative clutches, God becomes free to be had and loved by every human. Ever think of letting God be free? No one owns God.

The wisdom is same no matter what language or where it originates or what religion expresses it. For nearly ten years I have been reciting the prayers of Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, Hinduism, Baha’i and Sikh Prayers when and where they are not represented. God willing, I will learn the traditions of the indigenous people as well. I have spoken in behalf of Atheists in the Unity Day Programs. The indigenous people focus on harmony ‘Armonia’ and balance as the centrality of their traditions. Indeed, that is the real purpose of religion; to bring balance to the self and what surround; life and environment.

A few asked me if it wasn't a conflict to recite Hindu prayers, heavens no, all religions want an individual to be peaceful with one-self and what surrounds him or her; life and environment. If you aspire for the spirituality, which every religion finally lifts you up to, then you do not see the conflict, but see the harmony, as the Mayans say "Armonia". I hope and request each one of the person reading this to be in others shoes and experience the essence of each beautiful tradition. Learning about other faiths does not mean infidelity to your own; indeed, it enriches your own faith knowing that all faiths bring freedom to one's soul.

The world is changing, people have been stuck with affixing labels to prayers, names etc, the change is coming; this is the century of co-existence, simply known as Pluralism. By the way Pluralism is not a religion; it is an attitude of respecting the otherness of other and accepting the genetic uniqueness of each one of the 7 billion of us. People will appreciate the essence and beauty of each faith. It is difficult for a few to cross the line, they find comfort in confining the religion to be an exclusive idea, it' ain't. If you see the wisdom and beauty of other faiths without prejudice, you have achieved the Mukti, Moksha, Nirvana, Nijaat, Salvation or freedom

I hope every human understands the beauty and wisdom of their own faith, and for the sake of sustainable co-existence they would value the principles of “we, we and us” that religions inculcate so beautifully and learn the co-existence aspect of their own tradition. I was reflecting upon the range of caring for minorities in United States, Saudi Arabia, Israel, India, Pakistan, Mexico, Uganda, Sudan, Australia, Belize the Amazon basin or elsewhere in the world. The problem is universal, let’s visit our own self and strip in us, what we think is evil in others. Peace begins with me, if I am not at peace, I cannot expect others to be. If my heart is not free from hate, prejudice or ill will, I cannot ask others to be free from it.

I predict an emerging new conscience where we see us as a connected universal humanity.

Mike Ghouse is a thinker, writer speaker and an activist of pluralism, interfaith, co-existence, peace, Islam and civil societies. He is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. His websites and numerous Blogs are listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/

Next Blog - the overview of the week in Melborune

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Copenhagen is about Climate Justice

Copenhagen is about Climate Justice

Mike Ghouse, Pluralist

Climate Justice assures every one in the long haul that one can continue living and breathing regardless of being rich or poor. Protecting the environment is the right thing to do; indeed it is a sacred duty of every human. As an individual or a nation we cannot shut ourselves in a bubble; either we suffer the damage together or save the environment for all. None of us can live in silos.

I appeal to the religious and political leaders to take the responsibility to bring climate justice to the world. The purpose of religion and the purpose of governance is to bring balance (justice) to an individual and what surround one; the people and environment. Climate is not a monopoly, we cannot have good climate while others don't, what affects others affects us, there ain't no exclusive conclaves, a pluralistic approach guarantees safety and climate security for all.

Our responsibility for future is a critical decision, and I urge President Obama to do the right thing and not yield to the right wingers. We have to protect the planet including the lives of irresponsible Neocons who presume to live in bunkers for life.

Mike Ghouse is a thinker, writer speaker and an activist of pluralism, interfaith, co-existence, peace, Islam and India. He is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. His websites and Blogs are listed on
http://www.mikeghouse.net/

Click and Comment : http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2009/12/copenhagen-is-about-climate-justice.html#comments

# # #

Explaining basics of the Copenhagen climate summit
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jXR8d3rUcI7lBaUEoMTm4Ps34c9AD9CIK8O00

The future shock revisited Dr. Shariff. It was 1970 when Alvin Toffler’s book Future Shock shook the imagination of millions in developing countries as to how the western way of life and markets threatened the future of humanity. His shock was emanated not only from the western ‘waste’ or ‘greed’ but also from the ‘pace of change that took place’ since the second war and great depression - http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2009/12/healing-planet-dr-abusaleh-shariff.html

Developing Countries Say ‘No Money, No Deal’ in Climate Talks Envoys from 192 countries discussing a
climate-protection accord in the Danish capital released a draft on Dec. 11 that shows they cannot agree on how to police an agreement. The document contains no subsidies to help developing nations cut carbon-dioxide emissions and adapt to climate change.
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aqC.iVBrBGT8&pos=8

Climate Gate, who are the deniers now.
http://www.kansascity.com/275/story/1626919.html?storylink=omni_popular

Leaked document in Copenhagen seen as sidelining poor countries A document leaked late in the day at Copenhagen has threatened to further divide developing nations from wealthy countries during the conference in Denmark.
http://news.mongabay.com/2009/1208-hance_leak.html

The document -
http://www.osce.org/documents/odihr/2006/06/19392_en.pdf

Click and Comment : http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2009/12/copenhagen-is-about-climate-justice.html#comments

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dallas Holocaust Museum

Congratulation goes to Alice and hope she can get the different communities involved in the Museum. You have to earnestly make the effort, and you will find support.

I am happy to see Elliott Dlin focus on teaching respect for other traditions. The Dallas Muslims are pleased not only to visit the Museum, but the first ones in the world to commemorate the Holocaust for the third year now. We all have to learn to share the grief and joys of humanity, we have to fall the old political lines and come to gether on a greater purpose of looking to each other as God's creation.

The Muslim initiative will bring the 3rd Annual reflections on Holocaust and Genocides on Sunday, January 24, 2010.

You are invited to participate www.HolocaustandGenocides.com on 24th, followed by the event on 26th and the Holocaust Museum.

I say to Jews, you are not alone my friends, we are with you.
Mike Ghouse

Dallas Holocaust Museum chooses downtown real estate executive as CEO
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/stories/120909dnmetholocaust.337b113ee.html

01:40 PM CST on Wednesday, December 9, 2009
By BRUCE TOMASO / The Dallas Morning News
btomaso@dallasnews.com

The Dallas Holocaust Museum has selected Alice Murray, a longtime downtown real estate executive, as its chief executive officer.

Murray, who has served as president and CEO of DowntownDallas and the Downtown Improvement District, assumes the newly created post at the museum effective immediately, said Jim Hogue, president of the museum's board of directors.


Alice Murray At the request of the board, Elliott Dlin, the current executive officer of the museum, will assume the new title of museum director, focusing on educational, archival and other content-related programs.

The museum -- formally known as the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance -- is currently housed at 211 N. Record Street in downtown Dallas. It has purchased land for new quarters at Houston Street and Pacific Avenue, adjacent to the Sixth Floor Museum. Planning for a fund-raising campaign to make that move possible is under way, according to the museum.

Dlin will concentrate in part on preparing for the move, Hogue said.

Also Online

Link: Dallas Holocaust Museum
"When the new museum is built, we want it to be recognized as the finest teaching museum in the region, if not the country," he said.

Murray said of her new job, "I am thrilled, honored and excited to have the opportunity to work with the museum board and staff to take the museum to its next level, especially the construction of a new museum.

"The museum's mission -- to teach the moral and ethical response to prejudice, hatred and indifference -- is unduplicated in its importance for all residents of our city and region."

As a real estate developer, Murray was responsible for the remodeling of the historic Kirby Building on Main Street, which is now residences. She also worked on finishing out the W Dallas Victory Hotel and Residences.

In addition to her volunteer work with DowntownDallas, she has served on the executive committees of the State Fair of Texas and the Trinity Commons Foundation. She was a member of the Mayor's Task Force on Homelessness from 2004 to 2006.

Founded 25 years ago in the basement of the Dallas Jewish Community Center in North Dallas, the museum moved downtown in 2005. More than 55,000 people, including about 40,000 schoolchildren and their teachers, visit every year.

# Comments:

RepEd 2 days ago

As a Muslim in the DFW metroplex, I congratulate and support the Dallas Holocaust Museum and Alice for the vision they share of healing and coexistence in the face of hatred and bigotry. What a wonderful example you set for all of us!

Healing the planet - Dr. Abusaleh Shariff

Dr. Shariff,

Thanks for writing the following peace on Climate change. I remember reading Allwyn Toffler's Future Shock. I particularly like your sentence which says it is not a shame to lead.

The responsibility to secure the planet falls on every shoulder. At the Parliament of World's religions, we have had some critical decisions made and I will share the same in a few days.

The purpose of religion is to bring a balance to one, and what surround one; life and matter.

Mike Ghouse

The Future Shock Revisited:
India should Lead not Plead Climate Change Negotiations
Dr. Abusaleh Shariff

It was 1970 when Alvin Toffler’s book Future Shock shook the imagination of millions in developing countries as to how the western way of life and markets threatened the future of humanity. His shock was emanated not only from the western ‘waste’ or ‘greed’ but also from the ‘pace of change that took place’ since the second war and great depression – in other words the miracle of the free market. It is the same free market that we are now after to seek solutions for mitigating the impact of climate change; while the same western economies are contemplating ‘punitive’ carbon tariffs and taxes which can threaten the very development of the developing societies. Market disorientation and not just a psychological one, is round the corner which threatens the very development of emerging India.

At the turn of 21st century we are at the verge of another ‘Shock’ that will be felt directly not by us but our progeny. The scientists say that the current CO_2 emission concentration has reached 430 parts per million in 2008 which is 17% higher than 280 ppm before the industrial revolution. Such a fast change and given much larger and faster industrialization process it is likely to cross over 1200 ppm by the end of this century which can lead to 50C increase in global temperature. Note that the world have experienced about as much, 50C increase in temperature since the ice age which was long-long ago. Thus we are at the verge of another ‘Future Shock’ that too with ‘the pace of change that we have never ever experienced in the past’.

India’s position in global climate change can be gauged through two well researched numbers:

Comparative Energy Use Criteria: It is estimated that in 2005 India needed 201 Kgs per capita of coal equivalent to sustain its overall economy. Compare this with the USA which expended 60 time more coal equivalent energy per capita than India; The UK, Germany and USSR did about 30 times more; and , Brazil, China and Turkey about 3 time more compared with what India used.

The second comparison is of the direct CO_2 Emissions: India contributes just about 2 tonnes of CO_2 equivalent per person, compared with Australia and USA which contributes over 12 times more; Japan and the EU about 5 times, and China and Brazil about 3 times more than India. Even in such an outcome measure India stands out to be inconsequential. A good comparison however is between China and USA. While China, being most populous in the world, adds a total of 7.2 billion tonnes of CO_2 in absolute terms, and the USA adds 7.1 billion tonnes due to very high per capita use. India with least amount of percapita emissions does add 1.9 billion tonnes of CO_2 in absolute measure due to the second highest population size. On the other hand Australia which has the highest per capita amount contributes just about one half of a billion tonnes.

The evidence that India is not a delinquent yet and its contribution to the global pollution is probably the least measured through both the ‘use’ and ‘outcome per capita’ terms gets somewhat dented when absolute contribution is looked into. This absolute contribution is what makes India an important player in the game of climate change, and it should use this as an opportunity. Although India is an economy which is trapped between the first wave (agricultural revolution) and the second wave (industrial revolution); it has shown its mark even in the third wave (IT based super industrialization) of economic growth. India appears unique where two-thirds labor force is trapped in farming and unorganized sector employment; but has fairly large industrial and manufacturing base (notwithstanding cars and steel) yet also in the forefront of services sector growth which now contributes closer to 60 % of GDP. No country on the earth faces all these three different economic growth phases that too at the same time! Large number of households follows sedentary agrarian lifestyle, burning wood, consumption of barely processed cereals; self produced food and other local items and so on; while at the same time India is now considered one of the largest market for modern goods and services. Indian enigma and puzzle continue in this modern age as well.

Now the Dharma Sankat is who should share the burden of global warming. It appears fair and logical that the per capita basis should be the benchmark; but there is danger lurking that Lord Brahma can get annihilated sooner than later. Since the Copenhagen Summit is more likely to put some acceptable benchmarks for the future policies, it is important for India to be leading rather than pleading. It is neither a matter of national shame nor will it mean abrogating national sovereignty to take a proactive role in international negotiations by announcing a willingness to do our bit to the World unilaterally. While doing so it is common and often needed to seek partners and promote coalitions and in this case it appears it is India, China, USA and possibly Russia. Note that India has done well by partnering with both erstwhile superpowers – (USA and Russia notwithstanding continuing rivalry between the two) through respective nuclear deals which are complimentary and benefitting India. In my view it is the farsightedness and firmness of Dr. Manmohan Singh that has prevailed in these missions not only to withstand the domestic opposition, but also negotiating with the outside world while keeping the interest of the poor and industry at the same time. If this is not a cleaver tight rope walking success then what else can it be? It would be fair to ask the opposition voices within the Indian Parliament not to behave like sulking kids while unaware of the pressures of future energy needs and responsible global partnerships in issues as sensitive as climate change.

Note that not far ago, it was India who took a firm stand against opening of the Indian Agriculture almost stalling the relevance of Doha round of WTO negotiations. It is difficult to judge whether this stand is good or bad, but a stand was taken which has maintained the statusquo with respect to the subsistence agriculture. But the weakness of India is in its ignorance - we have little if at all research and knowledge about our own way of life including way of production, consumption and sustenance of life. This can also be said about as to how we are drawing upon resources to meet the energy needs. Indian must take a lead in generating knowledge through research on as to how to mitigate and arrest the adverse impacts of global warming. Do we have a record of practices we follow which have promoted pollution and ill health; either due to our cultural practices or sheer poverty, and lack of modern knowledge including limited infrastructure and so on. Practically all our energy (electricity) needs are met by burning cheap and bad quality coal, our hearths are warmed up burning wood and agricultural residue, inefficient technologies are used to drain the ground water table causing desertification of large tracks of farming land and also causing salination in the coastal areas. We already are experiencing pressures on access to potable water even in such places which hitherto considered easy sources in our forest areas. Whether, all these cause and effects are due to climate change or not is not what we need to be debating about, but as to how to address these issues for our own good, lest climate change accentuates already prevailing adverse effects.

It is important also to know that we are not alone in this world of 7 billion and growing. The El Nino/La Nina effect of southern Pacific can reach as far as India and this natural phenomenon has been scientifically validated. There is no reason to suspect that ‘climate change’ is not going to affect us Indians in a global context. Then let us build upon the national pride and economic might that India has acquired during last two decades, and be a change agent and leader in the context of Copenhagen not be apologetic about it.

~~~

Healing the Planet- Jewish perspective

The purpose of religion is bring balance in one's life and what surrounds him or her; life and environment. I will be sharing different religious perspective on the topic, here is a Jewish perspective.

Mike Ghouse
http://www.mikeghouse.net/

Op-Ed: Seven Principles to help heal the planet
http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2009/12/healing-planet-jewish-perspective.html
By Arthur Waskow · December 7, 2009

PHILADELPHIA (JTA) -- As the U.S. Senate is taking up the issue of climate policy, the world’s governments are trying to shape international policy at a crucial conference starting this week in Copenhagen. The governments will take vigorous action only if the grass-roots public insists on serious change.

Chanukah, the festival of energy conservation, will overlap the Copenhagen conference. It is a period when we recall that one day's oil met eight days' needs; when we honor grass-roots action that transformed society despite elephantine top-down power centers; when we celebrate "Not by might, not by power, but by the Spirit, Breath of Life."

We encourage you to take action -- before, during and after Chanukah -- rooted in the following Seven Principles that should underlie Jewish and interfaith efforts to shape U.S. and world policy on healing the climate crisis.

1. Our planet has always been a living demonstration that “YHWH Echad” (“the Breathing Spirit of the universe is One”) -- but the climate crisis invites us into the clearest awareness in all human history of that truth. The planet is in this as One; policy must reflect that. (Underlying Jewishprinciple: the Sh’ma, especially the traditional second paragraph on rain and crops, etc.)

2. The cost of spewing carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere must be greatly increased, by taxes and/or “cap & trade” that require payment from the carbon producers according to the damage they are causing. (Underlying Jewish principle: Exodus 21: “If a bull gores a man or a woman to death, the bull must be stoned to death, and its meat must not be eaten. But the owner of the bull will not be held responsible. If, however, the bull has had the habit of goring and the owner has been warned but has not kept it penned up and it kills a man or woman, the bull must be stoned and the owner also must be put to death. However, if payment is demanded of him, he may redeem his life by paying whatever is demanded.)

3. The pool of money this brings in must be used to prevent damage to the poor and middle class through higher costs of fuel and energy. The climate healing fund should be used in rebates, more for the poorer people, etc. (Underlying Jewish principles: tithing, gleaning and obligatory tzedakah toassist the poor, orphans, widows, the landless)

4. Big Coal or Big Oil have great political power, but their power must be limited so they cannot distort needed policy in order to expand their own power and profits. Important example, the EPA must continue to have power to enforce carbon dioxide limits upon coal-burning power plants. (Underlying Jewish principle: resistance to top-down unaccountable powers Pharaoh, Antiochus, Rome)

5. Inside the United States, industries and regions that are specially endangered by climate/energy reform (e.g. coal mining, oil drilling, autos) must be given special help for retraining in green jobs. (Underlying Jewish principle: Maimonides' eighth and highest approach to tzedakah: Help the poor to end their own poverty by providing capital, etc.: a fishing rod, not just a fish.)

6. Outside the United States, poor nations must be given major help by the rich for two purposes: pursuing economic development through non-fossil pathways, and meeting urgent crises already swamping/flooding/scorching them. (Underlying Jewish principles: Again, Maimonides eighth and highest approach to tzedakah: Help the poor to end their own poverty by providing capital, etc.: a fishing rod, not just a fish.)

7. Public policy must start encouraging what we usually think of as “personal” choices for non-climate-destroying practices: Much more restful and reflective time for family and neighborhood, much less “production/consumption” time. Frugality in energy use, eating less meat. Simplicity in life-path. More money for learning, arts, etc.; less for making Things. Taxes, subsidies, wages/hours laws, etc., are all ways of encouraging these directions. (Underlying Jewish principle: Shabbat, traditionally an earth-healing as well as human-healing practice, was a communal commitment, not just individual choice.)

Of these principles, we suggest the following yardstick for measuring proposed U.S. policies: Do they promote American energy independence and security, and the healing of our planet by: Immediately ending all governmental subsidies to the production of oil and coal? Radically andswiftly reducing the burning of oil and coal from all sources, foreign and domestic? Simultaneously using all possible measures to build an energy base for the American economy on solar, wind and other sources of waste-free, sustainable energy and on urgent steps for energy conservation? Making “green jobs” and the creation of a green infrastructure the central focus of transition to a new American economy? Giving aid to poor nations to pursue a non-fossil path for economic and social development?

If the Jewish community and other American faith communities undertake this effort, not only Chanukah, which means "dedication," but our lives as a whole can become a practice of Rededication to the One.

(Rabbi Arthur Waskow is the director of The Shalom Center, as well as the author or editor of many books on Jewish practice, eco-Judaism and U.S. public policy.)