The Short Answer:
One World Foundation, uses all forms of media (including music, film, art, athletics, and literature) to promote understanding and respect of our world and its people by celebrating diversity and the common threads that run through all of us.
But first, the facts:
1. We are all members of the most advanced life form ever to walk this planet.
2. We all share 99.9% of the same DNA, the genetic code for life; and we are all descendents of one single person who lived in Africa some 40,000 years ago. This is proven by genetic science, but it is not inconsistent with any major religion.
3. We were all born knowing nothing, and we will all die the same one day.
4. None of us had any control over the most important factor that determines how our life will turn out - the circumstances of our birth.
5. We all want to be happy and avoid suffering.
Second, a little history:
Everyone knows our world has become an incredibly damaged place. Many of us tire of reading the newspaper or watching the news for fear of the next robbery, murder, terrorist act, religious war, famine, ethnic "cleansing" or environmental disaster. Those of us who do read or watch have grown so accustomed to the violence and injustice in the world, that we are desensitized to the plight of our fellow man and retreat to our safe haven, pulling the covers tight over our heads. They've even created a term for our collective apathy - some call it "issue fatigue" - the belief that there are so many issues and problems you can't possibly be bothered to make a difference. Like many others, we used to suffer from this fatigue - taking all the bad news in, complaining about the state of the world, and doing nothing. Naturally, the "Greed Is Good" generation we grew up in was not solving any of these problems.
Then something happened. We started traveling the world - out of our own cocoons of inherited beliefs and learned attitudes - to see for our own eyes this One World of ours. We eventually went to over 70 countries in all - big and small, cold and hot, touristy and isolated, beautiful and ugly, rich and poor. We experienced more than most people ever will - the beauty of the natural world as well as the most inspiring works of mankind. But the most incredible and eye-opening aspect of our travel was the people we meant along the way. From all shapes, sizes, colors, and backgrounds, we met people who were open, kind, friendly, helpful, curious, and fun-loving - allowing us to understand for ourselves the universal commonality of human feelings, thoughts and desires. We found common ground with complete strangers over music, food, art, sports, literature and nature - sometimes without understanding a single word in common. Of course, not everyone we met was an angel, but in simplistic terms, there were far more "good" than "bad". We had hoped for and expected these experiences to a certain degree, but the one thing that really surprised us was the attitude towards life of those living in the most dire of circumstances in the developing world as well as the slums of the developed world. As they struggle each day just to get by, some are forced to make degrading decisions that negatively affect others. However, many greet suffering and poverty that no human should experience with unbelievable dignity, endurance, and strength - believing in the importance of being a good person regardless of personal circumstances. In fact, we found many of the world's unfortunate to be the most thoughtful and compassionate of all the people we met. In short, the human spirit shone through in the most surprising of places.
As we traveled and returned to home in cycles, we looked closely at our lives and it was not difficult for us to see that we were truly some of the lucky ones. Through happenstance, fate, karma, coincidence, untold miracles, outrageous fortune, pure dumb luck and a little hard work, we found ourselves in the position to consider the state of the world, the condition of the human race, and our ability to do something about it. We started to read - history, philosophy, religion, poetry - and came across some insightful quotes that inspired us to struggle against apathy, discouragement, and those who increase the suffering and injustice in the world:
"You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean;
- Mahatma Gandhi
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere"
- M. L. King, Jr.
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
- Edmund Burke
"Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet.
- John F. Kennedy
"Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness."
We asked ourselves "what we would tell our children when they ask if we tried our best?" We asked "how will we feel about our lives on our last day? What would the world would be like if some of the people we admire had never lived?". We tried to imagine a world without the artworks we love. Most of all, we tried to determine what is needed to reduce apathy and fight for a more fair and just world. Then we decided to do something. All of this lead us to the 16 core beliefs listed below and the desire not to waste this opportunity to use our lives wisely. The internet may not be the door of a European church, these are not "95 theses", and (delusions of grandeur notwithstanding), we are not Martin Luther. However, this is a carefully considered manifesto that works for some, so hopefully it can work for many. As Bob Dylan wrote: "What good am I if I see and don't do?".
What We Believe:
1. Life is Precious. We might all live more than one life, but we will not know that until this one is over. Therefore, this life should be enjoyed to it's fullest extent by everyone. All of us deserve a chance to discover our full potential.
2. Life is short - much too short to waste time wallowing in ignorance, fear and hatred . We believe the human capacity for kindness, compassion, justice, love and understanding can conquer the negativity in our character.
3 Life is sometimes unfair. But it is always more unfair to others than it is to us. Some of us were born into incredible challenges and suffering while others were born into relatively secure environments. We believe that empathy - the ability to imagine what someone else's life is like - is an incredibly valuable, but underutilized power.
4. Life is sometimes hard. The vast majority of mankind struggles every day just to survive. We are all responsible for the condition of the world - including the injustice and suffering in it. Those of us fortunate enough to be in a position to help others should be thankful for our blessings, respect our good fortune, and accept responsibility for helping those less fortunate. The strong should protect and build up the weak, the educated should teach the ignorant, and the rich should help the poor.
5. A large portion of the human race has misplaced priorities. We are often selfish, materialistic, and egotistic. We have lost touch with the most important thing in life - to enjoy life to its fullest, while helping as many other people as we can to enjoy life as well. This is particularly true for our friends and families, but also applies to people we will never meet, since we are all - quite literally - cousins in the same human family. The person who dies with the most toys is an idiot - the person who dies after helping the most people wins.
6. Every child in the world has a right to a clean, safe, healthy, loving environment to thrive in. We are all products of our environment and experiences in life. The more bad experiences children have, the worse life will become for all of us. A child's smile is a universal joy shared by all peoples of the world.
7. The Earth, and all it's natural residents and ecosystems have suffered devastating neglect and abuse and we are all responsible for reversing this trend. All life forms are related in an incomprehensibly complex web of life. Global warming is real, overpopulation is real, and the addiction to fossil fuels will inevitably doom future generations. Concern and conservation is the responsibility of every human being.
8. No race, color, ethnicity, or nationality is inherently better than any other. We recognize the humanity in all, celebrate our diversity, and respect all equally. We believe the free exchange of varying ideas, opinions and experiences is the lifeblood of the human race. Variety is the spice of life - it makes it interesting and enjoyable. We would not like to imagine a world where all people looked, felt, and acted exactly alike.
9. We believe in freedom of thought, speech and expression and that all humans have a right to be free from oppression and fear. The best form of government created to date is a representative democracy wherein freely and fairly elected officials are responsive to the demonstrated will and the free voice of the people.
10. We are all a lot more free then we realize. Since we are in complete control of our thoughts and feelings and actions , we believe in personal responsibility. We make thousands of choices every day, and we are all responsible for the most important decision of our lives: the kind of person we will be. We make this decision every second of every day in every action we take from the day we realize this responsibility until the day we die.
11. No religion is better, more accurate, or more "right" than any other. Nobody has ever known and no one will ever know the origin of the universe while they are alive. No religion can be proven correct - that's why they call it "faith". Whichever faith is followed, we believe that God, Allah, Buddha and Vishnu do not appreciate the damage done in their names, and they have no interest whatsoever in the outcome of football games, soccer matches or Academy Awards. Religion is relevant only to the extent that it leads to love, compassion, respect and kindness to all other beings. The easiest and most effective "religion" is to treat others as you would like to be treated.
12. Education, art and charity are the most noble of human endeavors; but fun and enjoyment must not be overlooked and sometimes laughter really is the best medicine. All experiences are learning experiences and all jobs can be done with dignity and respect for others.
13. We do not live in a clear-cut black and white world. In our lives there are many shades of gray which require tough decisions regarding right and wrong. We should try our best to be guided by the decision that benefits the world most or causes the least harm.
14. No one is perfect, but we all have the capacity to do more good than harm. Through accidental biology or divine grace, humans are the only species to develop art, philosophy, literature, science, and charity. We all have the ability to cultivate these traits in lieu of our weaker and more selfish tendencies.
15. Politicians and Religious leaders will not lead the way. We believe that blind faith to any doctrine without reasoned analysis and open discussion is dangerous. Blindly following religions and politicians has led to much of the pain and suffering throughout human history. Blind faith in religion has given us crusades, "holy" wars, colonialism, manifest destiny, the extermination of native peoples, overpopulation, and the oppression of women and minorities. Unquestioning devotion to a leader's political doctrine has given us wars of conquest, dictators, fascism, Nazis, Hitler, Maoism, famine, Stalin, ethnic "cleansing", and the holocaust. Individuals must stand, be heard, and be counted. Leadership to a more fair and just world starts within each of us individually and grows as we aspire to do the right thing with our lives and inspire others do do good with theirs.
16. We believe there are other people out there like us and together we can make a positive difference in the world.
What We Plan To Do
So how does one go about changing the world without sounding naive and idealistic? Easy - you post a manifesto on the internet and type in very bold obnoxious letters like this:
WE WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Of course this will sound naive to some, but we would much rather be accused of idealism than selfishness. Should we care that many people will laugh at our Quixotic uphill battle or should we grab a lance and start picking out windmills? We want to wage the battle - and the first is within ourselves. We make an active choice to abandon apathy, learn about the world and our fellow man and help when and where we can.
Besides, it is much easier to make a positive difference than one thinks; it just depends on how you define the world. Obviously the person who volunteers at the local homeless shelter makes a difference by helping people, but David Letterman also makes a difference in our lives by entertaining us. Andrew Carnegie made a difference by funding hundreds of libraries, but a library volunteer makes a difference in one kid's world by teaching him to read. Nelson Mandela made a difference when he called for peace after spending 29 years in prison because he questioned oppression of his race, but those millions who say "no" to racism every day make a difference too. Abraham Lincoln made a difference when he sought forgiveness rather than punishment for the South after the US Civil War, appealing to the "better angels of our nature". People who forgive small trespasses on them make a difference every day. Vincent Van Gogh made a difference by showing us the fine line between "crazy" and "brilliant", while some guerilla artists show us that art can be found in the most unlikely places. Some Olympians make a difference by teaching us about struggle, competition and teamwork while thousands of Boys Club volunteers do the same. Ted Turner made a difference by preserving millions of acres of US grazing lands, but we all make a difference when we recycle or ride a bicycle rather than drive a car. Millions make a difference every day by giving their time or money to the charity of their choice. The key point is to DO SOMETHING!
Our plan is develop programs to make a positive difference in all of these areas - arts, and humanities; education and literacy, athletics and teamwork; environmental awareness and healing; racial harmony; teaching tolerance; and global understanding and peace.
The bottom line is, it is not a matter of magnitude - it is just a few simple questions only you can answer to yourself:
Did I do my best to fix what I saw broken?
Will I be proud of my life when it is over?
Will the world be a better place because of
the choices I made