A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Equality of opportunity

 

One of the smartest people ever says they need each other!

Neither is woth anything without the other

With the pace of scientific advancement over the last hundred years, mankind should be living in paradise. Science has delivered ways to conquer many diseases, adapt food supplies to meet industrial requirements, and instant worldwide communication systems to name but three. Yet even in places such as Europe we see people rising up and complaining about the lack of happiness in their lives. In some other countries we have uprisings to access basic human rights, or over throw oppressive regimes. With all the scientific advances, why is happiness less prevalent today?

If we look at the rise in the number of people who state they have no spiritual or religious faith, it is 1 in 5 in Australia, almost 1 in 4 in China, and the number is climbing worldwide. Now if we look at the number of people who attempt to live according to the faith or religion they do claim, the numbers are not high either. Regardless of what world religion we look at, for many it is tradition, a cultural connection, but not something to pay attention to, except on Holy days, wedding or funerals. For many the culture of consumerism has invaded their practice of faith. They will follow this from column A, accept that from column B, and add a side of attendance from column C on occasion. It does not matter which of the world faiths we practice, we need to become engaged in the daily lives of those around us.

We can’t measure our own progress, unless we are helping others to be free from suffering as well. We can’t measure our success in practicing our faith by the number of verses, or mantra we can recite. Nor is it how many services we attend, that determine our progress. The world is going through a cycle, as it has before where individual life is meaningless, unless you are part of the nomenclature, or the hereditary ruling class, business men or investors. Human rights are being sacrificed for corporate aims, in the name of the God of Profit. Today it is not who you are, how you treat others, it is about how much wealth you create, and how much you can retain.

Even in nations such as Canada, U.S.A., all of Europe the number of people who can no longer meet the poverty level is growing. One of the simplest definitions of poverty is can the family find safe, adequate shelter at a cost of 1/3 or less of the family income. This avoids assigning a monetary figure that is ineffective. Here in Canada for example in Vancouver a small 1 bedroom apartment suite, if you can find one may cost over $1000/month, while in a smaller centre in another province you might get a similar sixed or even larger unit for under $400/month. So that is why I think the shelter as a percentage of income rule works best, as you need to earn more money to live in certain places.

Having access to good quality, nutritious natural food is another requirement that is becoming more difficult for many. Look at a bottle of most juices and you will find water, sugar then the actual juice. So you are paying for sugar water as the two most common ingredients, or the two that make up the largest volumes in you bottled juice. Look at apple juice; you don’t get one of the key components of the apple itself, fibre which most western diets are very low on.

Until the 1970s the trend worldwide was to increased standards for worker safety, environmental protection, product quality and safety. Today many countries are signing agreements to work on these issues, while streamlining regulations to go from punishment for infractions, to monetary fines for non compliance. The push to be the lowest cost provider of a good or service, means lower wages for workers, poorer quality or product lifespan, and lower regulatory requirements. If a country will not comply, corporations move the jobs to another that has the lower cost of doing business.  Currently in Canada Rogers Communications is mounting a Right’s challenge over a regulatory ruling that requires their ad claims to be validated as truthful, before they make the claims to the public. They want it changed to as long as the corporation believes they are truthful.

Tomorrow will look at how the world religions are facing these issues.

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