Meditation Focus #67

Bringing US All Back In Harmony With Nature


What follows is the 67th Meditation Focus suggested for the two consecutive weeks beginning Sunday, June 30, 2002.


1. Summary
2. Meditation times
3. More information on this Meditation Focus
4. Peace Watch for the Midlle East


As huge wildfires destroy vast tracks of forest in the U.S. Midwest and severe droughts affect several African countries threatening millions of people with starvation and death, notably in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, extreme floods have recently devastated several parts of the world, mainly in China, in the south of Russia, and in some U.S. states. Although some of these problems are man-made either because of bad policies and shorth-sighted planning and deforestation, it seems that Nature is increasingly showing signs of imbalance in its global weather patterns, a problem which may in large part be attributed to global warming. This imbalance may also be a reflection of the lack of harmony of most humans with Nature, a situation exacerbated by a lifestyle that has cut many of us from our natural roots and which encourages us to consume natural resources at an unsustainable rate. As many of us enjoy outdoor activities in this summer season (in the northern hemisphere), it may be appropriate to spend some time reflecting on how we may find a better balance with Mother Earth and foster positive changes around us so as to gradually improve this situation. We may also act as catalysts through our prayers and meditations to help inspire a global awakening to our indissociable unity with Nature and the urgent need to cherish and protect all aspects of Nature as well as nurture our environment back to its perfect original balance.

Please dedicate your prayers and meditations, as guided by Spirit, in the coming two weeks - and during this whole season - to contribute in bringing us all back in harmony with Nature. Envision an opening of the hearts to the sacredness of all forms of Life and the blossoming of an awareness that cherish the unique beauty of Nature in all its multitudinous forms. Reconnecting with Nature at the deepest levels, we will then collectively assist our beloved living planet in rebalancing its weather patterns so as to benefit the regions that need rain and avoid flooding again those that already received too much of it. May we thus be instrumental in bringing balance and Harmony on Earth, for the Highest Good of All.

This entire Meditation Focus is also available at


i) Global Meditation Day: Sunday at 16:00 Universal Time (GMT) or at noon local time. Suggested duration: 30 minutes.

ii) Golden Moment of At-Onement: Daily, at the top of any hour, or whenever it better suits you.

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This section is for those who wish to understand in more detail the situation of this Meditation Focus. For those who wish to read on, we would encourage you to view the following information from a positive perspective, and not allow the details to tinge the positive vision you wish to hold in meditation. Since what we focus on grows, the more positive our mindset, the more successful we will be in manifesting a vision of healing. We provide the details below because we recognise that the knowledge of what needs healing can assist us to structure our awareness to maximise our healing effect.


The West's Big Fires, Little Water (Jun 27 2002)

After Our Long-Time Abuse, Nature Strikes Back

Shepherd Bliss

Even before this year's first official day of summer, wildfires here in the West already had burned nearly two million acres -- far more than usual.

Arizona's Rodeo-Chediski fire, near the mountain town of Show Low, is now the biggest fire in the state's history. At least 400 homes have been destroyed and over 30,000 people have fled more than a half-dozen towns. Officials say the fire could burn one million acres before it is contained; it is already one of the largest ever in U.S. history and still growing.

Nearby in Colorado the Hayman Fire, which has threatened Denver, is the largest in that state's history. Eighteen major fires are burning, some of which are not expected to be contained until fall.

The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, has declared that the country is already at a Level Five alert, the earliest that this level has ever been reached. This means that the fires have the potential to exhaust all available federal firefighters and fire equipment. Five firefighters have died in accidents related to the Arizona blaze and nearly 3,000 firefighters and support workers are there now.

Various factors fuel the growing fires, including human-caused climate changes and more people visiting and building in wilderness areas. The year-long drought, persistent heat, and the lowering of the water table contribute to the growing fire risk.

Some criticize fire-fighting policy that does not allow smaller natural fires to burn their course, thus eventually producing more explosive fires, like those now sweeping the West. Others point to urban dwellers moving into forested areas and not practicing adequate fire prevention, such as cutting dry vegetation from around buildings.

Some fires are directly caused by humans, either accidentally or on purpose. This year's wildfire near Yosemite National Park seems to have been set by Marines during a practice campfire. Another fire seems to have been set by a lost hiker lighting a signal fire.

Fires, of course, are natural phenomenon. Because of our relative success at subduing and controlling nature, humans have gotten the idea that we are in charge. But this year's fire season, which has just started, could challenge that illusion.

San Francisco firefighter Michael Castagnollo explains that "fire is a natural part of our environment. Humans want to inhabit the interface of urban and wilderness areas, which is where most of the problems occur. Wildfires are a force of nature. We prevent fires from happening naturally. So when they do happen, they are more catastrophic."

"Big fire, big water," Capt. Ray Gatchalian of the Oakland Fire Department adds. "Little fire, little water." But the problem is that we are having "Big fire, little water."

The Ogallala aquifer is the largest discrete aquifer, source of groundwater, in the world. It lies beneath parts of Colorado, New Mexico, Nebraska, Wyoming, Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. It is also the fastest-disappearing aquifer in the world.

The water table is lowering because humans use that water for cooling machines, irrigating factory farms, flush toilets, watering lawns, filling swimming pools, and a variety of needs. As the vegetation gets drier, a source of ignition can quickly explode into a giant fire, which wind gusts can then drive. The mixture of hot weather, bone-dry trees, and blowing winds is a recipe for an inferno.

A recent study by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, revealed that global warming will reduce the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which urban areas depend upon for water. "We're concerned with a change in rainfall patterns," reveals Andrea Tuttle, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention. "We're concerned about fuels drying out faster. That will increase the fire danger." Here in California officials are predicting one of the most dangerous fire seasons in years with bone-dry fuel and the coming Santa Ana winds.

Capt. Gatchalian notes, "Climate change has a major impact. We have to address the underlying issues of the growing threat of fires. The struggle will be for water. Corporations are busy buying up the water supply. The U.S. -- especially the western states -- can expect heightened water wars."

More people are building in areas that are high risks for fires. Ten times as many homes are now in wooded areas prone to wildfires than were there 25 years ago, according to a spokesman for the National Interagency Fire Center, Don Smurthwaite, recently quoted in The New York Times. As development grows, so do the risks.

As destructive as fires can be, especially to human designs, they also do a lot of good. Fires are essential to clear out deadwood and increase re-growth of forests. The media is covering the current wildfires as all bad, but perhaps they are wake-up calls and can help restore a better balance for nature.

Capt. Gatchalian is concerned, "People who want to do harm can just light fires." Perhaps instead of returning to dust, as the ancient saying goes, we will return to ashes.

Full coverage of Wildfires and Forest Fires



Death toll in southern Russian flooding climbs (Sat Jun 29)

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia - The death toll from flooding in southern Russia climbed to 93 on Saturday, emergency officials said, and President Vladimir Putin said relief efforts to aid victims were inadequate. Forty-seven people lost their lives in the Stavropol region, 31 in the Krasnodar region, 10 in the Karachayevo-Cherkessia region, four in North Ossetia and one in Kabardino-Balkeria, the duty officer at the regional Emergency Situations Ministry said. The floods, which started last week, forced thousands to flee their homes and caused more than dlrs 385 million in damage. CLIP


See also:

Parts of flood-ravaged southern Russia deluged by more rain (Jun 28)
Parts of flood-ravaged southern Russia were deluged by more water as heavy rains caused two rivers to overflow their banks, an emergency official said Friday.

Severe storms in Montana, flooding in Texas

China Braces for Flooding as Bad as in 1998 (Jun 26)
BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese officials warned the nation Wednesday to brace for floods as bad as in 1998 -- the worst in half a century -- after unseasonal deluges killed almost 600 people in May and June.



Drought Forces Up to 500,000 Ethiopians From Homes (Jun 29)

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (Reuters) - Ethiopian officials warned on Saturday of an impending tragedy in the drought-stricken Afar region, where local authorities say up to 500,000 people have left their homes in search of food and water.

Two years of poor rains have sucked wells and rivers dry in the eastern Ethiopian region, forcing women to trek for seven hours a day to find water and killing livestock that families depend on for milk.

"The drought has severely affected children and the elderly in particular and unless urgent steps are taken it will be a tragedy," regional administrator Ismael Alisero was quoted as saying by the state-run Ethiopian News Agency.

Afar herdsmen have begun migrating to neighboring Amhara, Oromia and Tigray regions where there was more rain, Ismael was quoted as saying.

A mission of United Nations experts, non-governmental organizations and Ethiopian officials are touring the Afar area to assess requirements, ENA reported.

Ismael said that although the government's Federal Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC) was warned in October that more than 400,000 people in Afar would need emergency assistance, the region had received insufficient aid.

A DPPC spokesman said they had dispatched 21,630 tonnes of emergency food to the Afar region in January to feed more than 173,000 people for one month. Afar is a lowland area bordering Djibouti and Eritrea.

Ethiopia has appealed for 427,215 tonnes of food aid this year to feed 5.1 million people in need of emergency assistance across the country of 65 million.



Drought, economic collapse and disastrous land reform drive Zimbabwe to brink of starvation (Jun 29)

HARARE, Zimbabwe - Long lines of people waiting for corn meal snake through the streets of a nation that was once the breadbasket of southern Africa. Some wait for days, sleeping in lines so they won't lose their place.

Girls 13 and under are being married off for the bride price to buy expensive black-market food. Many people are getting one meal a day.

And Zimbabwe's hunger crisis is sure to get worse.

Drought, a crashing economy and a land reform program that has destroyed commercial farming have pushed millions of Zimbabweans to the brink of starvation.

Five other southern African countries are also facing severe hunger this year, but Zimbabwe is by far the worst off.

The U.N. World Food Program says nearly half of its 13 million people will need food aid. A country that used to export food to hungry neighbors will need to import a staggering 1.62 million metric tons (1.8 million tons) of grain just to get through the year.

"This is unprecedented," said Andrew Timpson of Save the Children UK. "We're very worried indeed."

The harvest has just ended, and already the country is running out of corn, the staple food. It is about to use the last of its wheat, and supplies of cooking oil and animal feed are dwindling.

With no hard currency reserves and an economy shredded by political unrest, the government will almost certainly be unable to import enough grain to feed its people, even with hundreds of thousands of tons of donated food, economists and aid workers said.

Meanwhile, much of Zimbabwe's most productive farmland lies fallow as the government continues its efforts to seize nearly all the land owned by the nation's white commercial farmers, by far Zimbabwe's most productive food producers, and redistribute it to landless blacks.

The government says it is rectifying a hated legacy of British colonial rule. But human rights activists accuse it of using the seizures to reward its supporters with land while punishing white farmers and their hundreds of thousands of farmworkers, who are seen as opposition stalwarts.

The government is also accused of using hunger as a weapon, shipping state-subsidized grain only to strongholds of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.

In some areas, people must show party membership cards to get food; in others, food is distributed at ruling party meetings, said Tawanda Hondora, chairman of Zimbabwe's Human Rights Forum.

On at least one occasion, ruling party militants temporarily prevented Zimbabwe's Roman Catholic Justice and Peace Commission from feeding hungry children and pregnant women.

"They wanted to do the distributions themselves," said Tarcisius Zimbiti, the commission's acting director.

Zimbabweans increasingly have to buy corn on the black market for two to three times the price of state-subsidized corn in a country with 60 percent unemployment and 122 percent annual inflation.

"It is too tough to survive," said William Marimo, 39, who lives in the rural slum of Porta Farm, 32 kilometers (20 miles) west of Harare, the capital.

A three-month drought at a crucial phase of the growing season is mainly to blame. But even Zimbabwean officials acknowledge the land seizures made things worse.

"It compounds, it exacerbates, but it is not the primary cause of the problem," Finance Minister Simba Makoni said.

Zimbabwe produced only about 480,000 metric tons (528,000 tons) of corn this year, about a fourth of what it grew two years ago.

Commercial farmers brought in 850,000 metric tons (935,000 tons) of that 2000 harvest on 400,000 acres (160,000 hectares). This year, they planted about 40 percent of that area, harvesting only 185,400 metric tons (203,940 tons).


Key donor countries are incensed at government-inspired political violence, Mugabe's land policies and his re-election in March in a ballot that many international and domestic observers judged flawed.

The government has also created a grain monopoly. If it doesn't let private companies import grain, "the situation could go from bad to catastrophic," said Judith Lewis, regional director of the World Food Program.

At Porta Farm and elsewhere, no subsidized corn is on sale, and people are struggling. Hungry children fall asleep in school, or drop out because their families can no longer afford the fees.


See also:

Zimbabwe officials urge tough action against defiant white farmers (Jun 27)



West's Response to AIDS in Africa Abysmal: UN Envoy (Jun 27)

ATLANTA (Reuters) - The world's richest nations must commit billions more each year to fight AIDS in Africa or risk condemning millions on the continent to a perpetual cycle of disease, poverty and death, the United Nations special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa said on Wednesday.

Describing the West's response to the AIDS pandemic in Africa as "abysmal," UN special envoy Stephen Lewis called on leaders of the G8 nations to pledge both leadership and dollars to help Africans battle the scourge.

Leaders of the G8--Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States--are scheduled to discuss African development on Thursday during a summit meeting in the Western Canadian resort of Kananaskis.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who is attending the meeting along with several African leaders, has requested that a war chest of between $7 billion and $10 billion per year be established to help pay for AIDS education and antiretroviral AIDS drugs. Only 7% of that amount has been pledged so far.

"It is absolutely inexcusable that the wealthy countries of the world are not prepared to fund the rebirth of a continent," Lewis told Reuters shortly before a presentation at a luncheon hosted by the nonprofit anti-poverty group CARE in Atlanta.

"You will never get the economic growth for which Africa yearns until you deal with the pandemic," said Lewis, a former left-leaning Canadian politician and diplomat who has worked with the United Nations for two decades.

Since assuming a new job last year as Annan's right-hand man on the AIDS front in Africa, Lewis has spent much of his time highlighting the scale of the epidemic with African leaders as well as donors and agencies in the West.

More than 17 million Africans have died of AIDS and 25 million others have been infected with the disease. In sub-Saharan Botswana, for instance, more than one third of residents are infected.

Despite the grim statistics, Lewis said he was confident that most African leaders now were aware of the severity of the public health crisis and were determined to take steps to stop the spread of the disease.

Last year, South African President Thabo Mbeki provoked sharp international criticism when he openly questioned whether HIV caused AIDS and opposed the use of drugs that block transmission of the virus from mothers to children.

Mbeki has since reversed course and vowed to accelerate the educational and medical fight against AIDS.

Development and aid workers also have praised officials in Senegal, Uganda and a handful of other African nations for putting in place campaigns that have slowed the rapid spread of the disease.

Peter Bell, president and chief executive of CARE, which has thousands of workers on the continent, noted that it was critical to link anti-AIDS campaigns with efforts to address other developmental problems, such as poverty, illiteracy and malnutrition.

"It is not sufficient to take a narrowly medical health approach to HIV/AIDS. It needs to be integrated into every one of these sectors in which we work," Bell said.


See also:

Africa devastated by Aids

Crisis Glimpsed In Cemetery Mists (June 18, 2002)

Africans still ignorant about Aids (24 June)

In-depth coverage about Africa AIDS Epidemic



Rich Nations Pledge Words Not Aid for Africa (Jun 27)

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - The world's richest countries on Thursday signed an agreement with African leaders to support development, but the plan was long on advice and short on much-needed new cash.

The leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States said half or more of new aid for development they promised last March could go to African countries that root out corruption.

The rich countries, on the final day of a two-day summit in the Canadian Rockies, also promised to pay their share of up to $1 billion needed to top up a debt-relief program for poor countries.

And they pledged to work to provide greater market access for African goods, support African efforts to resolve armed conflicts, and help the continent combat AIDS. French President Jacques Chirac said next year's summit would also focus on Africa.

But independent aid groups said the G8 Africa Action Plan, while detailed on what African nations must do, spectacularly failed to live up to its billing by British Prime Minister Tony Blair ( news - web sites) as a "Marshall Plan" for Africa.

"Blair and company have spent a year talking up this summit, but in the end they have turned their backs on Africa," said Phil Twyford, a spokesman for Oxfam International.

South African President Thabo Mbeki, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade and Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who attended part of the summit, said they acknowledged that the burden was on Africa to solve its own problems.

They and other African leaders were seeking support for a New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), a plan that pledges corruption-free governments reviewed by other African countries in return for aid.

"NEPAD in the first instance is an African commitment," Mbeki told a news conference.

Mbeki and the other leaders said they were pleased with the G8 commitment. "I arrived as an optimistic man and I depart an optimistic man," Senegal's Wade said.

The outcome was a setback for Blair and for Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who pushed for all G8 countries to earmark for Africa half of the new money promised at a U.N. conference in Mexico in March.

In the end, they had to settle for a weaker statement that each country would decide how to allocate the money.

Blair was positive about the plan, saying: "This isn't old-fashioned aid, it is a genuine partnership for the renewal of Africa. Today's document will send out a signal of hope."

Canadian officials said that at the meeting, U.S. President George W. Bush was reluctant to commit U.S. money to a specific region. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi wanted his country's aid to focus on Asia and the Pacific, they said.

Bush, who last month signed a law increasing subsidies for U.S. farmers, also resisted a strong statement on improving trade access for African countries. Canada unilaterally pledged to lift tariffs on goods from 48 poor countries, 34 of them in Africa, by Jan. 1 next year.

African countries, heavily reliant on crops like coffee and cotton, complain they are at the mercy of farm subsidies in rich countries and are being left out of trade liberalization.

Obasanjo, speaking after the signing, said he was satisfied with the G8 commitment. But he said, "Of course, there is nothing that is human that can be regarded as perfect."


See also:

G-8 Approves Africa, Russia Plans
(...) Leaders forged a pact with African nations pledging development aid, foreign investment and additional debt relief to countries that show progress eliminating government corruption and pursuing free-market reforms. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the plan could be "a turning point in African history." Activists, however, complained that the program was not adequate to help the continent meet the U.N. goal of cutting extreme poverty in half and getting millions of children into school by 2015. CLIP


Here is a comment on some of the latest developments in the Middle East. Please also keep this situation in mind during your meditations in the coming two weeks to help ensure that Peace may eventually prevail between Israel and Palestine.

Sent by Lesley Whiting <>

An Israeli Officer's Response To President Bush

by Shamai Leibowitz

June 27, 2002

I am an Orthodox Jew and a criminal defense attorney in Tel Aviv. I am also a tank gunner in reserve duty, and part of a group of 1000 soldiers who have refused to serve in the occupied territories. Many of them were imprisoned in military jails in the past few months.

Now that President Bush has enlightened us with his new "Plan" for the Middle East, we can only wonder how long it will it take him to realize that his plan is useless and meaningless. Although his speech was riddled ith rosy descriptions he envisions for the utopian Palestinian State in the far future, George W.Bush managed to avoid any mention of the present situation in the same parcel of land where all these wonderful things are to materialize. No mention of the fact that all West Bank cities had been invaded by Israeli military forces; that hundreds of thousands of inhabitants are imprisoned in their homes, civilians appearing on city streets are being shot at like dogs by Israeli tanks and Apache helicopters.

His failure to understand that no progress can be made while a whole nation is being brutally occupied is the basic policy, and serves as the best explanation why his Middle East plans have consistently become colossal failures. Bush's delusional thinking that he can change the Palestinian leadership by delivering a speech is mind-boggling.

The American President thinks he can just do away with any leader in the world he dislikes. This kind of thinking is going to cost us a lot of bloodshed. It is only a matter of time until Bush's "new outline" will turn to ashes as the flames in this region reach higher and higher. Instead of offering a glimmer of hope, his plans resemble the famous Biblical burning bush , i.e. more of the same (see Exodus 3;2). This means more Israeli occupation, which will result in more terror and more fatalities.

Clearly, the terror attacks are abhorrent. They have no justification in any sane polity. However, no amount of condemnation stop them. Bush fails to comprehend that the suicide bombings are a product of mass starvation and humiliation of the Palestinian people. Bush's aides are doing us so much harm by refusing to acknowledge that only an immediate end to the Israeli occupation will bring an immediate end to the Palestinian uprising.

We are now witnessing a situation in which 3.5 million people have no future, no hope, no vision, other than to become terrorists and avenge the continued harassment and shelling by the Israeli army's helicopters, tanks and artillery. While Bush has never set foot in this region, we have been living here, watching how the Palestinians were trampled and denied basic rights on a daily basis, besieged and occupied in every possible way.

Our Jewish sources teach us that where there is no justice, there is no peace. The idea behind the Oslo accords, namely that we could "negotiate" a peace agreement while remaining the Occupying Power, has proven to be romantic nonsense. Can you expect a rape victim to negotiate with her attacker? Can you expect a slave to negotiate with his master a "contract of freedom"?

Most Israelis know deep in their hearts that once we stop humiliating and oppressing this nation, we will return to become a safe and secure democratic Israel living next to a viable Palestinian State. Most intelligent people in the world understand that the Palestinians had a right to a state of their own many years ago. And there should have been an Israeli-Palestinian border marking the two completely separate sovereign states.

There is only one institution in the world that is blind to this: the Israeli government. This means it is up to us, Israeli soldiers, to defend ourselves. Defend ourselves from our government. And this can only be done through refusal to participate in the occupation. It is our opinion that an Israeli soldier refusing to dominate and starve millions of Palestinians is defending his state in the best possible way. The reason is simple: If enough soldiers refuse, we will eventually force our government to relinquish its death-grip over the West Bank and Gaza. And this will save thousands of lives.

In a famous Jewish quote found in the Talmud, it is said: "If I am not for myself, who will be for me?" After Bush showed us how warped his understanding of reality is, he's left it to ourselves to save our nation from complete demise. We will push Bush aside, and do the job ourselves. We, the refusal movement, will continue to grow until thousands of Israeli soldiers announce enough is enough . Then, hopefully, this land which has been battleground for so many years will become a place of refuge, vision and hope for all its inhabitants.


See also:

Bush Dictates 'Democracy' To The Palestinians (Jun 25 2002)
An Overdetermined Version Of Self-Determination


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