By John McConnell
The Founder of Earth Day
As we approach a New Millennium, the information explosion with its confusion and contradictions requires us to find a key that will peacefully unlock the door to the future.
We urgently need a simple idea that all can accept.
Before I go on, I would like to share a story. Years ago two men were standing at the rail of a Mississippi River Boat. One was a scholar, the other a farmer. The scholar brought up ideas about science and history, which the farmer knew nothing about. Repeatedly, the scholar told the farmer that without knowledge of such things he was losing half his life. Suddenly, the boat hit a rock and began to sink. The farmer said, Do you know how to swim? The Scholar replied, No. The farmer said, Youre losing your whole life.
We need to rethink what is important.
Earth Day gave birth to the Earth Trustee idea and agenda. The following is a simple, practical, formula that will appeal to the most people and do the most good for people and planet:
Let all individuals and institutions now think and act as Trustees of Earth, seeking in ecology, economics and ethics to foster a sustainable future and eliminate poverty, pollution and violence.
How this idea can be applied is described in the Earth Magna Charta, which is available on Internet at:<http://www.earthsite.org>
Earth Day, Earth Trustees, and related topics have obtained endorsement and praise from many people, including some world leaders. But many misunderstand and misapply its tenets. What is needed is an example by some community that will illustrate Earth Trustee actions and results.
To obtain this kind of support, in this presentation I want to cover as much relevant material as possible. Much more is available on the above web site. My purpose here is not to detail actions needed, but to provide ideas and information that will show listeners the possibilities and inspire them to apply the formula in their own way. Only when you are moved emotionally as well as intellectually, will you act effectively.
To accomplish this I will discuss the following:
1.Where Im Coming From - and relevant accomplishments. 2.Two Levels of Reality: Physical and Metaphysical. 3.What We Have In Common, and Where We Agree. 4.Space Age Vision: Who Owns Planet Earth? Rights and Responsibilities. 5.The Illegitimate Power of Money - And What To Do About It. 6.An Earth Trustee Community: Pattern for Global Rejuvenation. 7.The Star of Hope.
One of the people who influenced my thinking was Dr. Hayakawa, who wrote Tyranny of Words. The theme of the United Nations is, Peace through understanding. Every one of us come to this meeting with assumptions - many of them unexamined, that affect our understanding of what is said. For real communication we must constantly ask ourselves, What does the speaker mean. Our experiences have led to word usage and meaning that often differs from that of other people - especially if they are of a different race, religion or culture.
In addition, modern life has caused short attention span and many listeners allow other things on their mind to distract them from what is said.
I would like to interject here, our character and attitudes are shaped by what we think. Actions good or bad begin in the mind. It is a good idea to occasionally stop and think of what is going on in your subconscious mind. There can be two or more tracts of thought going on at the same time. Young people especially, know how erotic and other unspoken thoughts - good or bad - influence our lives. As a man thinks, so is he. Awareness and discipline in your unconscious mind is a key to character. Daily prayer or meditation and quiet times for reflection are food for the soul.
I was fortunate in the experiences of my early life. My father was an evangelist and I was the eldest of six children. A bible scripture that especially influenced me was Seek first the kingdom of God. Since God is love, we should seek the rule of His love and wisdom on our planet. Beginning at age 6 or 7 I have learned more and more through the years about what this could mean.
My ever inquiring mind continued its search through the ups and downs of my life adventure. I made mistakes and committed sins - for which I had to ask Gods forgiveness. But I kept coming back to my desire to understand and further a kingdom of love and peace on our planet.
My search led me to explore science, religion and philosophy. My fathers ideas influenced me. At one point he wrote a tract, Whats Life All About? Why are we here? Where are we going? About that time (around 1939) I was a partner with Albert Nobell, a chemist, in The Nobell Research Laboratory in Los Angeles, California. While my formal education was limited (one year in High School and one semester at Pepperdine University) our work brought me in personal contact with leading scientists and their books.
I became interested in space exploration. Much later I was Co-publisher of The Toe Valley View in Bakersville, North Carolina. When the first Sputnik satellite was launched on October 4, 1957, I wrote an editorial, Make Our Satellite a Star of Hope. It urged a bright, visible satellite be launched as a symbol of hope for humanity.
This editorial was picked up by the wire services and got front page attention around the world. I was on several TV network programs and received hundreds of letters of support. Among them were letters from Eleanor Roosevelt and a telegram of support from Billy Graham.
In 1963 I was Co-publisher of The Mountain View. This was a weekly paper back in the San Francisco area where I grew up. When president Kennedy was assassinated I urged that on December 22 we end the period of mourning for the President with a global Minute for Peace. This too brought world-wide attention.
Then the idea of a daily Minute for Peace on radio and TV was backed by the Mayor and City of San Francisco, who in 1965 sponsored my trip to New York where the New York Worlds Fair featured our Minute for Peace. Later, UN Secretary General U Thant issued a Minute for Peace message heard round the world.
Working with Minute for Peace at the United Nations led to my idea for a global day for planet Earth. This Earth Day would be celebrated each year on the March Equinox. From Earth Day came the Earth Trustee idea and agenda. There is much more about this on our web site.
To obtain the measure of agreement and cooperation needed for the rejuvenation of our planet, we need to recognize two levels of reality - the physical and the metaphysical: the area of mental and religious phenomena.
Here we have questions pertaining to God and life after death. While these questions are important to most people, we do not have an accepted scientific basis for certifying they are true. I dont have a documentary video of what they are doing in heaven. However, faith in life after death has a powerful value. I once heard a group of prisoners in a jail all join when one of them started singing, What are they doing in heaven today, where sin and sorrow are all done away. It brought me to tears. And of course no one can prove heaven doesnt exist.
Great benefits have come when religious belief resulted in greater compassion, humility and cooperation for common goals. On the other hand, religious bigotry and intolerance has been a major cause of violence and war. Now we are beginning to learn how to cooperate for common goals and mutual benefit - and at the same time leave room for differences about religious creeds.
There is no doubt in my mind that there is another dimension of reality. Experiences around the world with mystics and researchers provide evidence of phenomena - good and bad - that cannot be explained by science. The difficulty is that so many explanations contradict other accepted explanations. We are left with unproved hypotheses about their meaning.
Fortunately, when it comes to the physical world, the here and now, we do have science on our side and a potential for honest agreement and action. Most people, including scientists, will agree that an Earth Trustee agenda can rejuvenate our planet and provide a peaceful, prosperous future here on Earth.
To achieve this requires that we determine what we have in common and look for every point where we can honestly agree. This policy will solve problems and provide new solutions.
We set out to explore Space and discovered Earth. The view from Space set me on my Earth Day/Earth Trustee mission. Remarkable coincidences are part of the mystery of life. I have experienced many coincidences that some would consider a divine miracle. Whatever the explanation, I know that back in 1969 I prayed about an idea I had. I then felt led to pick up my fathers bible, open it at random and put my finger on any part of the page. I dont make a practice of such things, but on this occasion the scripture I got was Psalms 115:16 The Earth hath he given to the children of men.
This was right after I had written a brief article, Planetary Inheritance, contending that the natural earth was the property of the whole human family and everyone had equal claim to its natural bounty. The scripture I got in the Psalms was the one scripture in the Bible that best confirmed this. In the 1970 Earth Day we used buttons that showed the Earth as seen from Space and said, Our Inheritance, Our Responsibility.
Since God is no respecter of persons and provides equal justice, every individual on our planet has a claim to an equal benefit from his Earth-right inheritance. To provide this, governments should asses the value of all real estate less improvements, plus the value of any oil, gold or other minerals produced each year. 2% of this sum should be distributed each year to every family on Earth. The money would come from a 2% tax paid by those who have title to these assets which in a sense, belong to the whole human family. This would provide a fair, honest solution to the problem of poverty. People would still benefit most from their labor. But the child in a wealthy family would not be the only one to inherit unearned money. Everyone would have a minimum inheritance from our planets natural bounty. This would be accompanied by voluntary efforts to be responsible Trustees of Earth and help protect and nurture Earths amazing web of life.
In efforts for the rejuvenation of our planet we not only need to change our personal attitudes and conduct, we need to change the institutions that harm our lives. Chief among these are not only institutions and policies involved with global assets of Earths raw materials - land, oil, gold, etc., but also the unfair banking system that rewards the powerful and punishes the poor. An honest medium of exchange is needed that would be available without interest where suitable assets are put up as security. There are solutions being demonstrated in different parts of the planet. In addition, the evils of income tax and unfair property taxes should be addressed. The Henry George Schools advocate honest, fair taxation and are proving its value in many communities where their land tax program has been adopted. Earth Trustee Message Boards on Internet should be provided that will tell of such efforts and report progress and success.
Verbal response to the Earth Trustee proposals have been positive. We have received many strong statements of support by leaders in environmental and peace organizations. What is needed now is an example. What is meant in words needs to be effectively illustrated by action.
To accomplish this there needs to be warm hearted support and action by an entire community that will provide a pattern for others. We need a community that will firmly apply the Earth Trustee formula and adopt the Earth Magna Charta. To succeed there is need for every local institution to join the effort and apply the Earth Trustee policies in what they do. They can each do this in their own way and at the same time get ideas from others and help one another.
Participation, led by the Mayor or other official, should include schools, churches, stores, banks, service clubs, libraries, newspapers, radio, TV, and any other local institutions.
The purpose of the Earth Trustee effort, or campaign, will be to demonstrate awareness of our amazing planet and its need for our care - beginning in our own backyard.
Other communities are invited to initiate their own Earth Trustee effort. With effective use of Internet we can rapidly bring about a global change of attitude and conduct and see a solution to the terrible problems we face.
Earth Trustee Summary:
As the Earth Trustee magnet attracts participation, the rejuvenation of organizations will spread the power of faith and positive thinking. Earth Trustee web sites and message boards will point the way to a better future all over the world. As radio and TV stations are persuaded to be Earth Trustee institutions, they will headline and feature more solutions instead of the former emphasis on problems and violence. Daily Earth Minutes on radio and TV will provide a sense of identity with the whole human family and inspire support for efforts that are eliminating poverty and pollution.
To dramatize and increase these efforts we are resurrecting the Star of Hope idea - which obtained global attention in 1958. Ten million dollars will be needed to launch this satellite. Perhaps a response from the grass roots can provide what is needed. Or there may be some special person able and willing to fund it.
Launching the Star of Hope would be a grand way to enter the New Millennium. It would be a symbol of hope for the future, an alter in the sky. Bright as Venus and pulsing at the rate of a new-born childs heartbeat, it would be seen every night on every continent. It could contain on a memory disk all the names of all those who registered their intention to be Earth Trustees. A child looking up at night would say, Thats the Star of Hope. My names in it. Im a Trustee of Planet Earth.
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