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Odete Martins Bigote

Civilization will begin when the power of love replaces the love of power.

A journalist asked, ” Mr. Gandhi, what do you think of modern civilization?”

And Mr.Gandhi said, “That would be a good idea.”

Is civilization a work in progress in everyone’s mind or just an idea that will never materialize?

No one refers to civilization as “good” or “bad.” We refer, instead, to primitive versus advanced civilizations, implying that there is progress.

Recently, I was invited by a family from another culture to attend a special event. After the food was served, I waited for the forks, knives and spoons, but they never arrived. Then, I noticed everyone eating with their fingers. I did the same. I’ve not had such an experience since I was a baby. I did not miss the silverware. I admired those people, specially the women. They have suffered so much abuse in their countries: civil war, starvation, family separation, loss of family members, and slavery (yes, slavery still exists). But the women smile. They look beautiful. Is it because they are now in America, or because someone taught them the power of love instead of the love of power?

Children are born without culture. In primitive societies the environment was the classroom. There was no rush. There was no time. What changed their activities was the sun set and the sun rise which they admired greatly. Their thoughts were turned inwardly.

A stone man confronted with a watch may have thought he was having a dream. A modern man confronted with cannibalism may think he is having a nightmare. Yet, the watch and cannibalism exist in space and time.

In Papua, New Guinea, laws forbidding cannibalism were implemented late in the 20th century. Cannibalism, however, was practiced recently.

In Russia a 3D map carved in thick stone, and buried under the ground, was recently discovered to be 120 million years old. Only a very “advanced” civilization could have built such a map.

When the Romans, and the Arabs invaded Lisbon, Portugal, they were fascinated not only by the climate and the landscape but also by the abundance of fresh, clean, pure water. Today there is only one fountain in the old district. If you are not near that fountain, you’ve to pay at least $1.00 for a bottle of water which usually comes from other parts of the country.

We’ve allowed technology to enslave our bodies and our minds. We’ve turned our thoughts outwards to machines, to the concrete, instead of inwards to our hearts and our right mind.

We cannot stop the advances of technology. We can, however, stop hurting ourselves by learning to look inwardly. It is never too late. The only time there is; is NOW.

The progress of civilization can only be the progress of people’s minds towards civility, politeness and an understanding of who we really are. It is an ongoing process, and it happens independent of space and time.

A person in the 21st century may show no signs of being more “civilized” than a “primitive” person. There are very powerful tribal rituals happening right now in many cultures. For instance, a man, in order to celebrate a special event, cuts his legs and lets them bleed for a while. He stands still and motionlessly with his arms and legs crossed over his chest. He shows no signs of pain or discomfort. He learned to control his mind to think beyond his body. He is at peace during the whole event. We, in our “advanced society,” cringe when confronted with these events. We may even feel pain just watching them on TV. Our culture has not helped us to train our minds to think beyond our bodies, and to learn to be at peace.

The value of civilization is not in a new missile that travels 5,000 miles; it is in the way we handle our thoughts not only for the benefit of each individual, but also for the “whole,” because the whole is in every part. This concept may seem hard to understand. You do not have to understand, you just have to accept that there is an invisible communication that unites all there is.

For some of you these ideas may be classified as “religion,” for others, as modern science, such as physics. In the end none of these are important. What really matters is to understand and accept that we are free to see that the power of love is more powerful than the love of power.

Article written by
Odete Martins Bigote
Copyright, July 2002

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