Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Piece of Chicago’s History I Didn’t Know

A Piece of Chicago’s History I Didn’t Know

During the World's Fair of 1893 hosted in my hometown city of Chicago (known as The Chicago World's Fair or The World's Columbian Exposition which was held on the lakefront) there was this historic meeting of world religions known as the Parliament of the World’s Religions. It claimed to be the first of its kind in history. I could believe it. I don't know of any such conference since the circumnavigation of the world was accomplished - not that I've been paying attention.

Anyway, apparently, it is an important event for Hindus, as a Swami gave an address famous to this day. One hundred years later, in 1993, another such conference was held in Chicago, commemorating the first one where Swami Vivekananda gave an historic address:

“The eloquence of Swami Vivekananda and his introduction of Hinduism thought to the United States are particularly remembered. The speech has been identified by many to mark the beginning of western interest in Hinduism not as merely an exotic eastern oddity, but as a vital religious and philosophical tradition that might actually have something important to teach the West.[4][5] The opening line, "Sisters and Brothers of America...", was greeted by a three minute standing ovation from the audience of 7000.[6]
"Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful Earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often with human blood, destroyed civilization, and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now."

Since the first historical Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1893 and its millennium commemoration held at the Chicago Art Institute in 1993, of particular note is the recent inclusion of Native American religious figures and other Earth centered religionists. It would not be until the 1993 Parliament that these religions and spiritual traditions would be represented, as they now continue to be held in a regular series.

Who says religion and politics don’t mix? They are inseparable. They’re as intertwined as a Calvinist twisted up like a pretzel on some mat in a yoga class. The problem all world religions attempt to transcend lies somewhere along the spectrum of humanity’s seven deadly sins. As mere mortal human beings struggle to overcome life’s physical challenges of hunger and shelter, they are often at odds with disparate dogmas which too often, in the words of the Swami, tend to send whole nations into fanaticism and violence he spoke of.

Religious conflicts mask unmet needs underlying the basic human condition: when people of any country are deprived of basics like food, water, shelter and means of support, they have nothing to "cling" to but "guns and religion", to quote our modern day sage, President Obama. (It was his arrogance and blatant disregard to these needs of Americans whom he despises that put off many Democrats during his campaign.)

The religious/political question now becomes “why is the U.S. fostering MORE war which breeds more violence and death in Afghanistan and Pakistan when we could bring our troops home and apply those funds to much needed programs for our own citizens?” When was the last time, for example, an Hispanic or European country stuck its nose into regional affairs elsewhere in the world? Why is it that the U.S. government is the world’s greatest busy body?

The U.S. has squandered its moral imperative, dragging down along with it the “superpower” rating it once enjoyed under the false premise of “God and Goodwill.” And what about the Swami’s concept of “karma”? My previous post Globalization: Spreading Democracy, Killing Your Jobs offers some insights into the conflicting and contradictory messages from our government as it pledges “aid” to those in other countries while it ruins the lives of those in the U.S. via outsourcing American jobs. It’s not our divine right to stoke the fires of religious extremism in this latest escalation of Muslim and Hindu tension in Afghanistan and Pakistan under the guise of playing “peacekeeper” for our Hindu friends in India who this country’s elites are profiting wildly over as they import their citizens to replace American workers. Why is the amorally bound U.S. government so hell-bent on being the world’s largest importer of cheap slave labor to the detriment of its own citizens? Show me the morality…

Since the recession started in 2007, millions of Americans have lost their jobs. President Obama has expressed no intention to reduce legal immigration during his first term, despite the exodus of jobs. Millions of legal immigrants—not counting however many million non-immigrant employment visa holders are allowed to enter—are in line to come to the U.S. over the next four years. So whatever “stimulus” these big spending programs may give to the American economy, more new legal job-seeking immigrants will enter our contracting job markets, swamping whatever jobs are created or saved. Long-term economic security must include concern for numbers. The American economy cannot recover without a long time out from mass immigration. This report at the Economic Populist explains:

"While the labor market has shed 5.1 million jobs since the start of the recession, it is important to keep in mind that in those 15 months, the population has continued to grow. Just to keep up with population growth, the economy must add approximately 127,000 jobs every month, which means 1.9 million jobs, should have been added over this period. In other words, the economy is now 7 million jobs below what is needed to maintain pre-recession employment levels."

The separation of church and state is as unlikely as the REAL Santa Claus bringing a pony for every boy and girl on the planet. The world’s most vaunted religious leaders provide, if nothing more – the ultimate pageantry that inspires the downtrodden with hopelessly grand and mysterious, mythological fantasies that our politicians, ironically, also never fail to deliver upon. If only our political leaders would make it their business to start minding our business. For a change.


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