Perspective

Something Extraordinary Is Happening in the World, And Most People Haven’t Noticed

by 

Most of us haven’t quite realized there is something extraordinary happening.

A few months ago I freed myself from standard-procedure society, I broke the chains of fear that kept me locked up into the system. Since then, I see the world from a different perspective: the one that everything is going through change and that most of us are unaware of that.

Why is the world changing? In this post, I’ll point out the eight reasons that lead me to believe it.

1. No one can stand the employment model any longer.

We are reaching our limits. People working with big corporations can’t stand their jobs. The lack of purpose knocks on your door as if it came from inside you like a yell of despair.

People want out. They want to drop everything. Take a look on how many people are willing to risk entrepreneurship, people leaving on sabbaticals, people with work-related depression, people in burnout.

2. The entrepreneurship model is also changing.

Over the past few years, with the explosion of startups, thousands of entrepreneurs turned their garages in offices to bring their billion dollar ideas to life. The vortex of entrepreneurship was to find an investor and get funded. To be funded was like winning the World Cup, or the Super Bowl.
But what happens after you get funded?

“Isn’t it absurd that we, 7 billion of us living in the same planet, have grown further apart from each other?”

You get back to being an employee. You may have brought in people not sharing your dream, not in agreement with your purpose and soon it’s all about the money. The financial end becomes the main driver of your business.

People are suffering with it. Excellent startups began to tumble because the money seeking model is endless.

A new way to endeavor is needed. Good people are doing it already.

3. The rise of collaboration.

Many people have figured out that it doesn’t make any sense to go on by yourself. Many people have awakened from the “each man for himself” mad mentality.

Stop, take a step back and think. Isn’t it absurd that we, 7 billion of us living in the same planet, have grown further apart from each other? What sense does it make to turn your back on the thousands, maybe millions, of people living around you in the same city? Every time it crosses my mind, I feel blue.

Fortunately, things are changing. Sharing, collaborative economy concepts are being implemented, and it points towards a new direction. The direction of collaborating, of sharing, of helping, of togetherness.

This is beautiful to watch. It touches me.

4. We are finally figuring out what the Internet is.

The Internet is an incredibly spectacular thing and only now, after so many years, we are understanding its power. With the Internet the world is opened, the barriers fall, the separation ends, the togetherness starts, the collaboration explodes, the helping emerges.

Some nations saw true revolutions that used the Internet as the primary catalyst, such as the Arab Spring. Here in Brazil we are just starting to make a better use out of this amazing tool.

Internet is taking down mass control. The big media groups controlling news by how it suits best what they want the message to be and what they want us to read are no longer the sole owners of information. You go after what you want. You bond to whomever you want. You explore whatever you may want to.

With the advent of the Internet, the small are no longer speechless. There is a voice. The anonymous become acknowledged. The world comes together. And then the system may fall.

5. The fall of exaggerated consumerism.

For too long, we’ve been manipulated to consume as much as we possibly can. To buy every new product launched, the newest car, the latest iPhone, the top brands, lots of clothes, shoes, lots and lots and lots of pretty much anything we could our hands on.

Going against the crowd, many people have understood that this of way off. Lowsumerism, slow life and slow food are a few excerpts of actions being taken as we speak, pointing out by contradiction how absurdly we have come to organize ourselves.

“With the advent of the Internet, the small are no longer speechless. There is a voice. The anonymous become acknowledged. The world comes together. “

Fewer people are using cars, fewer people are overspending, and more people are swapping clothes, buying used goods, sharing assets, cars, apartments, offices.

We don’t need all of that they told us we needed. And this consciousness of new consumerism can take down any company living on the exaggerated end of it.

6. Healthy and organic eating.

We were so crazy we even accepted eating anything! It only needed to taste good, and everything would be alright.

We were so disconnected that companies started to practically poison our food, and we didn’t say anything!

But then some people started waking up, enabling and strengthening healthy and organic eating.

This is only to get stronger.

But what has this got to do with economy and work? Just about everything, I’d say.

Food production is one of the basic fundamentals of our society. If we change our mindset, our eating habit and our way of consuming, corporations will have to respond and adapt to a new market.

The small farmer is getting back to being relevant to the whole chain of production. Even people are growing plants and seeds inside their homes as well.

And that reshapes the whole economy.

7. The awakening of spirituality.

How many friends do you have who practice yoga? What about meditation? Now think back, 10 years ago, how many people did you know by then who practiced these activities?

Spirituality, for too long, was for esoteric folks — those weird-like and mystic people.

But fortunately, this is also changing. We’ve come to the edge of reason and rationality. We were able to realize that, with only our conscious mind, we can’t figure out everything that goes by here. There is something else going on, and I’m sure you want to get hold of that as well.

You want to understand how these things work. How life operates, what happens after death, what is this energy thing people talk about so much, what is quantum physics, how thoughts can be materialized and create our sense of reality, what is coincidence and synchronicity, why meditation works, how it’s possible to cure using nothing but bare hands, how those alternative therapies not always approved by regular medicine can actually work sometimes.

Companies are providing meditation to their employees. Even schools are teaching the young how to meditate. Think about it.

8 . Un-schooling trends.

Who created this teaching model? Who chose the classes you have to take? Who chose the lessons we learn in history classes? Why didn’t they teach us the truth about other ancient civilizations?
Why should kids follow a certain set of rules? Why should they watch everything in silence? Why should they wear a uniform? What about taking a test to prove that you actually learned?

We developed a model that perpetuates and replicates followers of the system. That breed people into ordinary human beings.

Fortunately, a lot of people are working to rethink that though concepts such as unschooling, hackschooling, homeschooling.

Maybe you’ve never thought of that and even may be in shock. But it’s happening.

Silently, people are being woken up and are realizing how crazy it is to live in this society.
Look at all these new actions and try to think everything is normal we were taught so far is normal. I don’t think it is.

There is something extraordinary happening.

Gustavo Tanaka  is a Brazilian author and entrepreneur, trying to create with my friends a new model, a new system and maybe helping to create a new economy.

This post originally appeared on Medium.

See the article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gustavo-tanaka/something-extraordinary-happening-in-the-world_b_8820154.html?ir=Good+News&ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000023

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Perspective

Christians Talking to Muslims

Is Dialogue with Islam Possible?
By Thomas Reese
March 13, 2015 for the National Catholic Reporter

“It is dialogue and cooperation on the local level that makes a difference.”

Granted the Islamic State group and the multiple conflicts occurring in the Middle East, is dialogue with Islam possible? This was the question asked by Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, nuncio emeritus to Egypt and former president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
As a member of the Society of Missionaries of Africa and an Arabic and Islamic scholar, Fitzgerald is especially qualified to discuss this topic, as he did in a March 6 lecture at The Catholic University of America sponsored by the Institute of Policy Research and Catholic Studies and the Africa Faith and Justice Network.

Despite having spent most of his life in dialogue with Islam, Fitzgerald is not blind to the difficulties of dialogue. He began by examining three elements that make dialogue difficult with certain categories of Muslims.

First, “there is a great difference in the experience of Jesus and Muhammad, and thus in the foundational experience of these two religions,” he said. Both were prophets with a message of conversion to the world. Both gathered around them disciples.

“Yet Jesus preached the kingdom of God, a kingdom which was not of this world,” Fitzgerald explained. “His was an essentially religious message which, although it was designed to have an effect on people’s behavior in this world, could be lived out within any political setting.”

“[Muhammad’s] message too was essentially religious, the acknowledgement of the one God as against the prevalent polytheism, but it had a social dimension to it, which was to bring about the formation of a new community bound not by blood ties or tribal loyalty, but by religion: the Umma.” The Umma was both a religious and a political community, and it took up arms to survive. Muhammad was both a prophet and a statesman.

Pre-Constantine Christianity, on the other hand, was a purely religious movement that did not take up arms to survive.

“So although Christianity was, as it were, taken over and used by political entities, in the first place by the Byzantines and then afterward by various monarchs and rulers, in essence, it remains independent of any political power,” Fitzgerald said. “Whereas Islam, from its very beginning as a separate community, has been both religious and political, and one would be tempted to say that striving to defend the community, if necessary by force of arms, is a natural component of the religion.”

There is a tendency among Muslims to look back to its first period, that of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs, as the time of glory and true Islam. This has inspired numerous revivalist movements throughout history. Jihads against Muslims who did not practice a pure version of Islam became common. Most of these movements were local and short-lived, but the Wahhabi movement, which started in the 18th century, is still with us and finds sponsorship in Saudi Arabia.

The attraction of the caliphate is the second issue examined by Fitzgerald. He notes that Islam split into Sunni and Shiite factions after the death of Muhammad because of disagreements over succession.

The Shiite believe that Muhammad appointed Ali, his cousin, as his successor. For the Shiite, each imam designates his successor, who must belong to the family of the prophet. The Shiite believe that there were 12 imams following Muhammad and that the 12th imam went into occultation and will return at the end of time to bring about a reign of justice.

Sunnis believe Muhammad made no provision for succession and therefore succession would be determined through election by prominent members of the community.

Yet despite these divisions, the caliphate during its period of Islamic expansion and prosperity acted as a focal point of unity for Muslims. This lasted until the mid-10th century, when the caliphate began to lose its importance until Mustafa Kemal Ataturk finally abolished it in 1924.

Although an attractive ideal, the caliphate has not always been a dominant factor in the life of Islam and certainly for centuries has not functioned as a unifying political power. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s pronouncement that he is the caliph has been condemned by Muslim authorities. A leading scholar, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, has said that the title of caliph can “only be given by the entire Muslim nation.”

The last point Fitzgerald examines is Shariah by which the Umma is to be regulated. He notes that there are four sources for Shariah: the Quran; the Sunnah, or tradition of the prophet; qiyas, or analogy; and ijma, or consensus among scholars. The multiple sources and textual ambiguity lead to debate and disagreements over Shariah so that there are at least four different schools of interpretation.

So when it is proclaimed that Shariah law is going to be applied, the question will arise as to which Shariah. Who is going to decide which type of Shariah law is to be applied, and who is to control its application, seeing that all the conditions are fulfilled before a judgment is given?

Fitzgerald concluded: “The takfiri jihadists who have proclaimed an Islamic State where Shariah law will be observed under the guidance of a self-designated caliph are not upholding Islamic tradition, whatever they may say.” He said he believes that dialogue is impossible with such people “who are convinced they hold the truth and therefore have no need of listening to others.”

But dialogue with other Muslims is possible, he argued. He pointed to four types of dialogue that are possible and encouraged by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue: the dialogue of life, the dialogue of action, the dialogue of discourse, and the dialogue of spiritual experience.

The dialogue of life, or what Fitzgerald calls harmonious living, takes place “where people strive to live in an open and neighborly spirit, sharing their joys and sorrows, their human problems and preoccupations,” in the words of the pontifical council.

Christians and Muslims have been living side by side for centuries in Africa and Asia, and now Muslims are present in increasing number in Europe and North America.

“Steps have to be taken in order to allow people to get to know one another and to create harmony,” Fitzgerald said. Increased violence has made this more difficult, but also more necessary.

Second, there is the dialogue of action where Christians and Muslims work together to face up to problems of society. Christians and Muslims have found common cause in the pro-life movement as well as in advocating human rights, social reforms, and care of the environment. Working together creates understanding and trust.

The third is the dialogue of discourse where, according to the pontifical council, “specialists seek to deepen their understanding of their respective religious heritages, and to appreciate each other’s spiritual values.” Themes such as justice in international trade relations, business ethics, problems of migration, media and religion, respect for the environment, and questions of bioethics have all been taken up in these dialogues. Some dialogues have also discussed purely theological topics like the foundations for holiness and reason, faith and the human person.

Finally, there is the dialogue of religious experience, where, according to the pontifical council, “persons, rooted in their own religious traditions, share their spiritual riches, for instance with regard to prayer and contemplation, faith and ways of searching for God.” Religious communities like the Benedictines and Trappists have been involved in such dialogues.

Fitzgerald concluded “that Christian-Muslim dialogue exists, and therefore it is possible.” But the situation is uneven. “There are places where there is very little or no interest at all in such dialogue, yet there are other places where relations with Muslim neighbors have become a normal concern for Christian communities.”

But at the same time that cooperation is growing, so too is mutual suspicion, which renders dialogue more difficult.

Fitzgerald puts little faith in international meetings of religious leaders and scholars. It is dialogue and cooperation on the local level that makes a difference. He said local dialogue should not be seen as a fire brigade for responding to a crisis, but as a preventive strategy that builds relationships that inoculate communities from being drawn into violence by suspicions and misunderstandings.

“It entails increasing mutual knowledge, overcoming prejudices, creating trust,” he explained. “It means strengthening bonds of friendship and collaboration to such an extent that detrimental influences coming from outside can be resisted.”

“Its aim is to build up good relations among people of different religions, helping them to live in peace and harmony,” Fitzgerald said. He noted that where Muslim and Christian leaders and communities have a history of cooperation, conflict is less likely to escalate into violence.

“It is the conflict that makes the news, not the absence of conflict,” he noted. “And yet this absence of conflict is really the good news.”

Where conflict has occurred, there will be a need for a purification of memories, which “means listening to the differing accounts of the same events, paying attention to both facts and perceptions, and trying to come to a common understanding,” he explained. “When the past is examined with honesty, it will usually be seen that all is not black and white. There can be wrongs on both sides. In any case, the acknowledgement of wrongs done, of injustices, of atrocities is an important step in any process of reconciliation.”

“Interreligious dialogue should lead to a common search for understanding, to a shared sympathy for those who are suffering and in need, to a thirst for justice for all, to forgiveness for wrong done, together with a readiness to acknowledge one’s own wrong-doings, whether individual or collective,” Fitzgerald concluded. “This would seem to be the true way forward for Christian-Muslim dialogue.”

***Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese is a senior analyst for National Catholic Reporter and author of Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church. His email address is treesesj@ncronline.org. You can follow him on Twitter: @ThomasReeseSJ

http://ncronline.org/blogs/faith-and-justice/dialogue-islam-possible

Christians Talking to Muslims