OUR COSMIC QUEST
By John McConnell, 88 year old founder of Earth Day
For United Nations Earth Day Ceremony, March 20, 2004
We are at the point in history where we may discover better answers to basic questions that have puzzled the great minds of the past. What's the purpose of the vast Cosmos? Why are we here? Where are we going? Is there life on other planets? Are there other dimensions of reality? We are overwhelmed by the magnitude of the mysteries.
In the present explosion of information and knowledge, from discovery in Space of immense black holes to finite quarks, the one thing that keeps coming back is the mystery of love. When we see a mother holding a baby, when in the most tragic things that happen, here and there we see individuals of compassion and love, the mystery strikes home to our heart.
While there are many unanswered questions, many scientists believe that love is a part of the Cosmos. It has been shown in an intriguing way how molecular and biological elements often come together, attracted to one another for mutual benefit and creation of something new. When we work together for mutual benefit we are building on the very nature of the Universe. Consciousness of this fact will enhance our efforts. Love of God and of His creation leads to actions that bring personal and global benefit.
There must be a self-conscious Creator, otherwise I am in some sense superior to the source of all that is. There cannot be a creation without a creator. God must have infinite wisdom. And we know the greatest wisdom is love. God must be a God of Love.
There are many facts that seem to refute these views. The world is also filled with pain, greed, and injustice of every kind. At the conclusion of his great book, "My Life and Thought," Albert Schweitzer said "The world is filled with inexplicable mystery and suffering."
Religions and scientists present many conflicting explanations of the enigma. Whatever the explanation, we do recognize we have a planet with land, water, air and an amazing skin of life covering our globe. With our new technology and a vigorous effort -- a moral equivalent of World War II, we could rejuvenate our planet and provide a great future for the human family.
To make this work we need to tap the power of prayer. Scientists as well as religious institutions have now documented evidence that prayer often gets results. Confidence, positive attitudes, heartfelt prayer have all demonstrated their benefit. Recognizing this can change the way we think and act.
But here again, we see charismatic leaders with money and institutional backing, misusing these facts to make money and succeeding by appealing to peoples greed.
We must keep going back to the meaning of love, defined and demonstrated by Jesus -- and in varying degrees by many others throughout history.
There are many aspects to our global problems. While we in America celebrate Independence Day, its claims of freedom and opportunity are marred by our terrible misallocation of power. The billions we spend on weapons is a challenge to other countries and to terrorists to increase their weapons. Were this amount spent on education in non-violence and incentives for peaceful resolution of differences, we would have no more wars.
We talk about equal opportunity. But our laws favor the rich and the corporations that have the most money.
To achieve a stable global society we must recognize the nature of people and the nature of their institutions. When individuals practice creative altruism (divine love) in their daily life, everyone benefits. When institutions (colleges, churches, businesses, banks, Stock Brokers, governments) apply creative altruism in their decisions, everyone benefits.
In addition, most people don't realize how many of their decisions are the result of what they have seen on television, or heard on the radio, or seen in the newspaper. Unfortunately, most mass media programs are garbage. They are funded by advertising and get attention by appealing to the worst in human nature. A TV anchor man told me they keep up their ratings by focus on hate, fear, greed and lust.
In every sector of society there are those who want to do the right thing. And there are well meaning foundations who seek to fund altruistic ventures. A great number of these are aided by their religious beliefs.
My personal religious beliefs -- and much time spent in prayer -- were a major factor in my successful efforts to promote joint ventures in Space, and cooperation that would aid peace, justice and the care of Earth. [See (1) Star of Hope -- (2) Minute for Peace -- (3) Earth Day -- (4) Earth Magna Charta]
As we probe the great mysteries of the Universe -- both physical and metaphysical questions -- we are at a point in history where we have the basic answers to how life on this planet can be improved. If we do what is needed to continue the human adventure, the amazing new technology may provide new answers to metaphysical mysteries. There seems to be the possibility of getting some fundamental, practical answers to the basic questions about who and what we are and the role of our planet in the scheme of things. Humanity and the global web of life may play an important role in the destiny of our galaxy! It is of great importance that we continue the human adventure. To do this we must correct the things that we know are wrong in our attitudes and actions, so that we can continue to explore the unknown.
As we proceed in the New Millennium, everyone should think and act as an Earth Trustee - seeking choices in all they do that will replace pollution and injustice with responsible nurture of people and planet. Then our differences will diminish as we pursue a common goal.
Let us do all we can to promote a sustainable future and observe Earth Day this year and every year in a great global celebration on Nature's special day -- the March Equinox.
I believe that enlightenment is a possibility on our planet. Earth Trusteeship (policies and actions for peace, justice and the care of Earth) will enable us to avoid catastrophe, rejuvenate Planet Earth and continue the human adventure.
Projects initiated by John McConnell
1. Star of Hope
McConnell achieved a national following in 1957 through an editorial he wrote in the North Carolina Toe Valley View newspaper. The article discussed the launching of the first Russian satellite. McConnell proposed our satellite have a bright flashing light and be launched to further global understanding and peace. It would be called The Star of Hope. The article was picked up by the wire services and was printed in hundreds of newspapers.
2. Minute for Peace
GLOBAL MINUTE FOR PEACE DAY - December 22
December 22 is the Winter Solstice. In 1963 it was designated Minute For Peace Day. Efforts by world leaders to speak out for this annual event can result in new hope for humanity.
In ancient history the Winter Solstice was a time for rejoicing. The days before that kept getting shorter. There was fear this would continue and leave the world in darkness. But on the December Solstice they started getting longer. Now people knew the dead leaves on the trees would yield their place to new leaves in the Spring.
On this great day of opportunity a new faith, hope and love can replace the dead leaves of the past millenniums with truth, justice and cooperation for our common good. Together we can provide a new beginning for the human family -- a time to forgive, forget and start anew.
A look at the Minute for Peace observed on December 22, 1963, can increase our vision of possibilities.
December 22, 1963, was the first Minute for Peace Day, a universal radio and TV broadcast which ended the period of mourning for President John F. Kennedy. On that occasion (December 22, 1963, at 1900 GMT) the recorded voice of President Kennedy speaking the year before at the United Nations implored, "Together we can save our planet."
The idea of Minute for Peace became popular and played a role in ending the war between Pakistan and India in 1966. United Nations Delegates from both sides publicly joined in silent prayer as they were asked to meditate on peace and good will with determination to overcome hatred and injury with the power and benefit of reconciliation and cooperation.
Minute for Peace became the centerpiece of Earth Day, when we invite people World-Wide to join in two minutes of silent prayer or reflection as the Peace Bell at the United Nations is rung at the moment Spring begins.
Peace begins in the mind. The repeated participation by friends and adversaries, in heartfelt thoughts and silent prayers for peace when the Peace Bell was rung each year on Earth Day, helped end the Cold War.
Spread the word to every church, synagogue, mosque and school and let people everywhere know of this opportunity to tap the best of their religious values to join hearts and minds in loving faith that wherever there is hate, fear or conflict, peace will prevail. Together we can make the new millennium a new and better future for the human adventure.
3. Earth Day
EARTH DAY DEFINED
By John McConnell - Founder of Earth Day
The first Earth Day was inaugurated on March 21, 1970. Focussed on awareness of our planet and dedication to its care, it has a common theme people of all creeds and cultures can support -- peace, justice and the care of Earth. Featured each year at the United Nations with the ringing of the Peace Bell at the moment of the Equinox, it has inspired many efforts for resolution of conflict and care of the environment.
Repeatedly, there have been efforts by partisan groups to distort its date, purpose and meaning for their advantage. Earth Day should not be on any other day than the March Equinox or called by any other name to further a particular religion or special interest.
The name "Earth Day" and its observance on the March Equinox helped the environmental movement and aided the efforts that ended the Cold War.
It is wrong to say "Make Earth Day Every Day" that diminishes the annual event. You would not seriously say "Make every day my birthday." You could appropriately say, "Make every day an Earth Trustee Day."
Understand Earth Day and you will help make our planet a place of peace, justice and prosperity for all.
4. Earth Magna Charta
"John McConnell's inspiring and carefully crafted document, the Earth Magna Charta, could serve as a vital global rallying cry at this moment in history," -- George Gallup, Jr.
The people of planet Earth have the raw materials, natural resources, and the technology for all to enjoy a life of quality. But they are still restricted by the evil that has dominated history. They lack the vision of the great future now possible and how to attain it. As a result, the world is filled with confusion and conflict.
This Earth Magna Charta provides the needed vision and the way. Individuals and institutions can now be trustees of Earth, seeking in ecology, economics and ethics, policies and decisions that will benefit people and planet. In the present state of the world, this Space Age trustee concept has a chance of tapping the best in human hopes and aspirations and providing a healthy, innovative and fulfilling future for our planet and its people. In this new future, deeds will demonstrate what is best in creeds. Young Earth Trustees will lead the way.
Regarding report of President Bush meeting at the White House with Christian leaders to pray for guidance in what he must do:
John McConnell Comment: I have always tried to accent the positive. But President Bush and the United States is an enigma. You look at the good they have done and there is much to praise. They have advanced freedom and democracy in many parts of the world.
On the other hand, powerful American institutions and corporations are responsible for major causes of injustice, pollution and violence around the world. While America provided Martin Luther King and his peaceful way of resolving differences, America has spent a major part of its ill-gotten gains in diabolic weapons to settle differences by killing. Had the billions of dollars spent on arms and given to other countries for military programs been spent on education in peaceful resolution of conflict, we would have no more wars and no terrorists.
Act now, with faith and love, to expose and reject the human addiction to violence, greed and war. Do your part and urge others to do the same -- and our Cosmic Quest will see a global turn toward peace!
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