Epiphany 34


It was a bold move by upstarts, colonists who were dependent upon their mother country for essential supplies.  It began with three simple words:  “We the people…”.  The signing of the Declaration of Independence was a plan, a plan that specifically stated the basic human rights all beings wanted and the belief that these basic human rights were not only due to all but a part of being obedient to the world and its creator force.


Millions have immigrated to the United States of America since the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  This weekend it is estimated that more Chinese New Year’s festivities were held in the U.S.A. than in China.  Next month more people in the U.S.A. will take part in St. Patrick’s Day parades than in Ireland and in May, festivities will be held for Cinco de Mayo, a holiday without much fanfare in Mexico.


Tomorrow in areas of the country with a strong Pennsylvania Dutch presence, people will eat fasnachts, the German potato dough-nut of their heritage while others will celebrate the Anglican Shrove Tuesday.  For the past six weeks, the season of Epiphany has been observed and tomorrow it will have its climax in the festivities of Mardi Gras.  All of these holiday observances pay homage to the cultures of the emigrants and most consider themselves obedient to their heritage by celebrating.   In a nation of millions and thousands of cultures, unity is found in obedience.


There is another document that begins “We the people”.  It was drafted in 2000 and signed by all member countries of the United Nations.  In 2000 they numbered 189; today that count is 193.  The 2000 Millennium Summit developed eight Millennium Development Goals, objectives deemed necessary in order for all of the world’s countries to thrive in the areas of economics, infrastructure, and human rights.  These eight goals were to eradicate poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria; ensure environmental sustainability; the development of a global partnership for development.


The order of these goals is not haphazard.  There is no point if having goals for a race that is extinct and poverty threatens the human race at an alarming rate in many countries.  Education is critical in helping people not only survive but thrive.  All of the other goals are impossible without a commitment to education.  Education is seen as a threat by terrorist organizations because it empowers people to think and act instead of meekly follow.  This is where obedience is often mistaken for enslavement.


In most industrialized nations, students have buildings with electricity and learning materials.  How does one teach when most of a nation is “off grid” and has no electricity or plumbing?  Traveling to Africa for the first time at the age of twenty, Kristine Pearson saw a need.  There were programs to help the rural areas but the people living in them had no knowledge of the programs.  IN 1989 the American immigrated to Africa and began a new life, a life dedicated to helping further education.


Today Kristine Pearson is the CEO of Lifeline Energy, a nonprofit that seeks to make education available to all.  In her years in Africa, Kristine has traveled to more than thirty countries answering the question of how to promote education in “off grid” areas.  Using radios that are powered either by solar power or wind-up power, the nonprofit seeks to achieve their stated belief:  “Access to education and information is a key impediment to millions of people who strive every day to better their lives. Our aim is to ensure renewable energy solutions reach those most in need.”


What may seem like a simple device for playing music has become an educational lifeline for many.  With over seventy-five percent of Sub-Saharan Africa without access to dependable utilities, these MP3’s and radios are a means of learning and thriving.


Kristine Pearson serves as a member on the Women’s Leadership Board of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and has received many awards, two of them being the James C. Morgan Humanitarian Award and Time magazine’s Hero of the Environment.  The Lifeline radio concept was also honored with the First Tech Museum Innovation Award in 2001.


It should go without saying that recent events of young girls being murdered and abducted, kidnapped and not returned to their families, and the attempted murder of Malala Yousafzai, a young humanitarian we discussed earlier in this series (Epiphany 2), are evidence that this Millennium Goal #2 regarding universal primary education has not been fulfilled.


It takes all of us supporting education at all levels to accomplish such goals.  Most of us will not go to Africa and create a nonprofit but we can help out in our own communities.  We can volunteer, donate supplies, and help ensure students all have dependable access to food and safe shelter and suitable clothing.  This can be done by cleaning out our closets, spending an hour a week as a mentor, or working within an established program at the school or community level.  You are the impetus upon which the future of the world depends.  Please let the humanitarian inside of you out.  Be obedient to that nature that lives within that desires goodness for all.  Aeschylus said thousands of years ago in ancient Greece:  “Obedience is the mother of success.”


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