Friday, December 28, 2007

In the Company of Vibrant People

A few weeks ago, the Pacific Islands Health Officers Association (PIHOA) held their conference in Saipan. The annual conferences gather health officials from throughout the Pacific, along with big-wigs from the US who are involved with Pacific health. I didn't attend the conference, since I'm not a health official, but on the last evening, they held a reception at the Hyatt, and the Secretary of Health invited me to attend. There were health officials there from around the Pacific, people from the Institute of Medicine and CDC, researchers and demographers from US universities, a four star general from Tripler, people from a private company who continue to administer the care of the people affected by nuclear testing in teh Marshall Islands, and a whole host of similar folks. It was energizing, simply because it was nice to be in the company of a vibrant group of people who were focused on making things better in a constructive way. Sure, they were grappling with complex problems, and limited resources, but they were happy, engaged, and solution oriented. I realized how much I missed this.

I'm having the same experience right now in Guam. I'm attending the Mariana Islands International Baha'i Winter School. There are people here from the Marianas, the Federates States of Micronesia, the US, Australia, Japan, Korea and Russia, striving to understand and apply principles for a better world. In the Marians, we started holding these longer five-day "schools"/conferences about four years ago. The purpose of such schools, is summarized in the following couple of sentences:

"The world is undoubtedly facing a great crisis and the social economic and political conditions are daily becoming more complex. Should the friends desire to take the lead in informing the world, they should start by educating themselves and understand what the troubles and problems really are which baffle the minds of men. "
As I read this, I realized that to some extent, the people that I enjoy hanging out with are those that are involved in this kind of stuff -- vibrant enthusiastic people looking to understand and address issues that baffle the minds of people. This is what we're doing here in Guam this week. Yesterday was the first day, and both speakers addressed issues related to character, ethics and morals. I'm going to break up the summary of their talks into separate posts.

As an aside, I've been doing some reading recently on the reasons that religion is, to a large extent, irrelevant these days. In large part is has to do with the inabilty of religions to address modern concerns. I'd like to post a few paragraphs from the document I'm reading, "One Common Faith," but I'll do that separately as well. It's a couple of pages long.

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