"Change yourself, Change the World!" : For more about a very important venture,
The following are important charities supporting children and women in the most extreme conditions (pop-up links):
Please also see the following taken from Rough-Guide's "Rough Guide to a Better World". Please click on the photo of the book to obtain a free copy of this book (UK only).
Faith-based communities [irrespective of which religion], in rich and poor parts of the world, are key players on the road to creating a better world. Because successful development is not down to governments alone, but only takes place when players across society are engaged — individuals, business enterprises, trade unions, financial institutions - faith leaders play a key role as agents of social change.
At one time faith groups were criticized for being more interested in converting people than helping them to find ways to overcome poverty. In some societies it was left to the state to look after "material" matters and religion to concentrate on "spiritual" matters. Today many of the major religions recognize that their spiritual vocation includes fighting for political change. The ancient Hindu maxim Vasudhaiva Kutumbakan, for example, means "all of creation is one family". Maimonides, the twelfth-century Jewish philosopher, explains in his Eight Degrees of Charity that the most effective way to help the poor is to empower them to overcome their poverty. Muslims picture humanity as a body, and any discomfort or pain in one part of the body causes the whole body to suffer. And the Islamic principle of zakat, whereby a 2.5 percent donation of capital to the poor and needy is given, is an important way of putting beliefs into practice.
Concern for a more compassionate society has also been central to Sikh Gurus, while Sikhs believe that concern for the wellbeing of others must mean promoting the rights of all people to a decent livelihood. Whatever their differences, the major religions share a core belief that the earth and its fruits are made for all and not for the few. It is this common belief that fuels widespread moral outrage among believers of all traditions at the "scandal" of poverty.
Faith communities were global long before the word globalization was coined. Churches and mosques, for example, reach into almost every village and town and their leaders have first-hand experience of the reality of life for the majority of the world's people. Along with other communities — women's groups, trade unions, slum dwellers' organizations - faith groups are a potent force for information distribution and social mobilization, a powerful base from which to challenge unfair political structures. And research suggests that when it comes to whom poor people really trust, it is less likely to be politicians, economists, police, or the army and more likely to be people in the church, the temple, the mosque, the synagogue or chapel. Despite the debates that continue around the distribution of condoms and whether such schemes encourage casual sex, faith-based institutions, according to Njongonkulu Ndungane, Archbishop of Cape Town, are key players in the response to diseases such as HIV/AIDS. One of the reasons, he says, is because "for the majority of people, regardless of their social or economic position in society, when they become ifl with any chronic illness, including HIV/AIDS, the first port of call is to their spiritual source for guidance and support."
Advocacy is about using our voices, as part of the democratic process, to let people in powerful positions know what we think. It is using the freedoms we have to give a hearing to people who may not have those rights. Having a voice and knowing how to make ourselves heard is a form of power. Just think of how the NGO's Make Poverty History campaign highlighted public concern about poverty to government leaders. Advocacy on behalf of the poor is a responsible way of using power which can, in time, foster circumstances where the poor will be heard in their own right.
Essentially, all True Religions are the same!
If you're not convinced about that comment, please click here for further elaboration!
For a more extensive discussion about practical philosophy, please go to my home page.