Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The United Hymnal

The Musical Divide
As the son, grandson and great grandson of activist ministers, I have been influenced to make religion an essential part of my daily life and examine its importance in the lives of human beings around the world. My research on religion taught me that music is a powerful vehicle in faith because it influences people to develop a deeper emotional bond with God. By singing to and about God on a regular basis individuals can experience a very personal and lasting connection to both the worship service and their Lord.

Many people believe that God has given human beings the gift of music to bring them together. However, throughout history, music has fueled religious differences. There is clearly a doctrinal divide among the religions of the world. However, I am convinced that the musical divide (because of the powerful connection between music and human emotion) is one of the major reasons for the intensity of the doctrinal divide and religious warfare. This deep musical divide in religion takes place because there is a lack of sensitivity to the “Musical Influences“ of others.

Whether we want to admit it or not, as human beings, we are a product of our influences in life. The language we speak, the food we eat, the people we find attractive, our political views, our occupation, etc. are determined largely by the unique mix of influences in our lives. This fact is at the heart of the religious music divide.

Musical Arrogance
Throughout human history there has been a passionate debate about music. People argue intensely that their favorite music is the best music of all time. I have enjoyed telling people that my research on Intelligent Influence (for my book of the same name found on www.IntelligentInfluence.com) has enabled me to identify the “best” music in human history. When I say that to someone they usually look at me skeptically and ask me “What do you think is the best music?” I respond by saying “The best music ever created is the music that people hear between the ages of 10 and 20.” Most people take a second to think about my statement and respond with “You are so right! I never thought of it that way.”

This critical and challenging time in every human being’s life is a period when they use music to help them through the emotional, developmental and intellectual challenges they face when growing up. Most people on earth are influenced to fall in love (typically for the rest of their life) with the popular music on the radio, television, record/CD players and the internet that helped them mature through puberty to adulthood. 

The religious music chasm is rooted in the way that people have been influenced to worship (or not worship) God (especially during the ages 10 to 20). The extent of this influence is directly related to the amount of time and intensity of the music a person is exposed to. Most people do not listen to religious music as much as they do secular music. However, the intensity of the music at their favorite religious institution subconsciously increases the power and influence of that type of music on their psyche.

Many individuals, who grew up in the traditional church, mosque, temple, synagogue, etc., are influenced to believe that the traditional music of their place of worship represents the only “true” religious music. Others, who attend more modern religious institutions on a regular basis, are influenced to feel that their modern version of religious music is the only way to connect with God. This “Musical Arrogance” is at the heart of the music-driven conflict between religious institutions.

The United Hymnal
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “Hymn” as simply “a song of praise to God.” A “Hymnal” is therefore a collection of songs of praise to God. Over the years I have developed a passion for writing and studying hymn music. In my research, I was surprised to discover that there was no Christian hymnal that celebrated traditional hymns; gospel and praise music equally. I therefore was not surprised to find that there is no hymnal that contains the songs of praise to God of the four most influential religions of the world-Christianity; Hinduism; Islam and Judaism.

I have been deeply troubled by the human suffering caused by religious zealots in each of these faiths. I feel compelled to attempt to do what little I can to bring people together through music. The Intelligent Influence framework has inspired me to create something that I call the United Hymnal (both electronically and in traditional book form) to enable people to understand the power of worshipping God through different religions and music.

This one of a kind hymnal will celebrate the music of different Christian denominations and reduce musical arrogance throughout the globe. My hope is that the United Hymnal will influence people to respect other religions, eliminate the religious music divide and prove to the world that people who truly believe in God have many things in common. If this hymnal is well-received, then another hymnal will be developed to celebrate the music of Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity and any other religion that believes in one divine God.

I recognize that as this project receives greater visibility it is likely to be criticized by those who use religious differences to gain political power within their religion. However, those who truly believe in God will understand the need for a hymnal designed to bring a divided religious world together through music. I clearly cannot do this alone. I am hoping to connect with people who believe in God and the power of bringing people together through music.

If you are interested in helping me create the United Hymnal please email me your contact information at dalegcaldwell@aol.com. My team will let you know where we are in the process of developing the hymnal and how you can help. Our goal is to provide the most powerful Christian hymns sung in the "Traditional", "Praise" and "Gospel" music styles in an e-book, on an app accessible on all platforms and on the website www.UnitedHymnal.org by 2016.

I look forward to working with you to bring the world together through religious music. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Neighborhood Economics

Neighborhood Economics
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “Economics” as “a social science concerned chiefly with the description and analysis of the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.” Webster’s defines “Macroeconomics” as “the study of the entire economy in terms of the total amount of goods and services produced, total income earned, level of employment of productive resources, and general behavior of prices.” It defines “Microeconomics” as “the study of the economic behavior of individual consumers, firms, and industries and the distribution of total production and income among them.

Federal, state and local government policies have failed because they are based on national macro and micro economic models that define a community where 100 people make $1 million a year and 1,000 destitute people make $0 a year as a thriving neighborhood (because the average annual salary of the 1,100 residents is $90,909.) This faulty economic analysis has allowed government to largely ignore the employment needs of people struggling in economically challenged neighborhoods. This results in social problems plaguing communities where unemployment is rampant. 

Macroeconomics explores aggregate national economic indicators largely without regard to the unique trends of local economies. Microeconomics explores aggregate corporate and individual economic indicators largely without regard to the unique trends of local economies. I believe that there is an unexplored subset of macro and microeconomics that I call “Neighborhood EconomicsTM” that has not received the focus and attention it deserves.

Tip O’Neil, the late Speaker of the US House of Representatives, was famous for saying that “all politics is local.” It is clear that “solutions to global problems are local” as well.  History has proven that a “strong” global economy does not mean healthy communities around the world.  The only way to effectively solve the most challenging problems in the world is to develop solutions that are custom designed for the unique needs of local communities and neighborhoods.  One size does not fit all in politics or economics.

Neighborhood Capitalism
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “Capitalism” as “an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.

Webster’s defines “Living Wage” as “a wage sufficient to provide the necessities and comforts essential to an acceptable standard of living.” Many experts believe that individuals have an “acceptable standard of living” when their housing expenses are 25% or less of their income. A living wage can therefore be defined as 4 times the average housing costs in the community where an individual lives.

Communities with high living wage employment are more likely to have low unemployment, higher literacy rates, better health care, lower crime and less poverty. Consequently, the single most important measure of success of local, state and national government public policies should be the extent of living wage employment in a community.

I call the establishment of policies based on living wage statistics in a community Neighborhood CapitalismTM because it is based on free-market economic policies targeting local communities. Most economic theories fail when they are converted to public policy because they are focused on applying aggregate national economic indicators to explain the health of local communities. I am convinced that Neighborhood Capitalism is more reliable than the federal government’s current aggregate economic policies because it is focused on using local economic indicators as the foundation for assessing the health of the national and global economy.

The one indicator that most accurately measures the success of government policies based on Neighborhood Capitalism is the Living Wage IndexTM (LWI) which I created last year. The equation for LWI is: L / W where “L” represents the number of people in “Living Wage Jobs” in the target community and “W” represents the total number of people of “Working Age” in the target community.

Living Wage Index
If every government in the world were evaluated based on this relatively simple equation applied to key large communities they would be influenced to move more rapidly toward peace and prosperity. Public policies would be focused on increasing the LWI by providing incentives for large and small businesses and nonprofits/NGOs to hire unemployed workers at living wages. These new government programs would reduce crime, improve health care, enhance public education and reduce the likelihood of terrorism and war. The LWI is frequently called the “Small Business Index” because this measure puts pressure on politicians to support policies that grow small and independent businesses who are the largest employers of local residents around the world.

The beauty of this approach is that it does not matter how neighborhoods are determined geographically as long as the same geographic boundaries are used when identifying LWI trends. An added benefit of this approach is that the data generated by the LWI could be aggregated in a way that would enable economists to recommend macroeconomic policies benefitting a broader group of people. In a relatively short period of time this very simple measure of free-market prosperity (if enforced) would influence government leaders to significantly increase the quality of life for every person on the planet.

If pressure were placed on government leaders to provide quarterly reporting (as required by publicly traded companies) on the Living Wage Index in predetermined geographic areas (i.e. municipalities or counties) it would be significantly easier to measure the success or failure of public policy. This trend analysis would enable policy makers and average citizens to understand the relationship between increases in the LWI and increase in average incomes, reduction in crime, elimination of poverty, improvement in healthcare and an increase in high school graduation rates. The case could also be made that an increase in the LWI would lead to less pollution because people earning living wages are more interested in the environmental health of the community in which they live.

Most importantly, LWI trends would enable the voting public to quantify the success or failure of their political leaders and make more informed political choices on election day. The LWI will not solve every problem facing the world today. However, it should increase employment and reduce poverty and crime in local communities.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Human Social Evolution

If you are like most people, you have been influenced to think that, as human beings, we are living in a fully evolved civilization that has been around since the early days of the universe. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Contrary to popular opinion, human beings are in the early stages of their social evolution. Many well respected scientists have said that if the history of the universe were condensed into one full year then humans would have been on the earth for less than two hours.

Infancy of Human Evolution
Using the one year time frame, the Big Bang would have occurred on January 1st; Earth would have been formed around September 25th; and, the first humans would have arrived between 10:00pm and 11:00pm on the last day of the year - December 31st.  As amazing as it may seem, we are therefore in the infancy of human evolution.

Most people don’t believe this because humans can send a person to the moon, fly around the world in a few hours, use smart phones to communicate and process complex equations utilizing powerful computers. However, one of the little known secrets of human evolution is that throughout history most people remain satisfied with their world because they believe that they have evolved to the highest extent possible. The Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and even the Nazi Germans all thought that they had evolved to the highest level possible for humanity. However, history has proven that they were very wrong.

The case can be made that biologically we are extraordinarily advanced. However, the wide-spread prejudice, poverty and violence in our global society indicate that we are in the very early stages of human social evolution. The world is comprised of people of different experiences, genders, races, cultures, physical features, religions, sexual orientation, financial means, etc. It is logical to assume that the most advanced human society would celebrate and support this diversity in a way that would lead to wide-spread prosperity and peace.

Intolerance
Unfortunately, human society has not come close to evolving to that stage in social evolution. Intolerance-the lack of respect for people who are different, and the lowest level of human social evolution, is the rule not the exception. Tragically, the manifestations of intolerance (prejudice, discrimination and hatred) are commonplace in every country in the world.

Tolerance
The good news is that there are many people who demonstrate the second stage of social evolution-Tolerance. They recognize that diversity exists. They may not like or agree with people who are different. However, they choose to tolerate them. This reduces the violence caused by intolerance. However, it does not lead to a harmonious society.

Concern
There are a smaller number of people who demonstrate the third stage of social evolution-Concern. They do more than tolerate others. They are concerned about the well-being of people who are different from themselves. Unfortunately, this concern is frequently pity for the plight of the people who are different.

Empathy
The fourth stage of social evolution is Empathy. In this stage people have an intellectual identification with the perspective of people who are different. The individuals who demonstrate this social ability are often extraordinarily successful in society because they have the ability to connect with many more individuals than people without this skill. Empathy is not the highest state of human social development because it inherently is rooted in a subtle arrogance of the people demonstrating the trait.

Interness
The final and most complex state of human social evolution is a state that I call “Interness.” In this state people may maintain many of their personal perspectives, however, they develop a deep emotional connection with the perspectives of people who are very different.  They approach human interaction from a state of perfect equality where neither party is superior in any way. This is the highest state of social human evolution because it creates the perfect balance between human beings who are inherently different. A society demonstrating this state of social interaction will celebrate and support diversity in a way that leads to wide-spread prosperity and peace.

Diversity Matters
People evolve socially when they interact with diverse groups of people on a regular basis. Fortunately, globalization and the internet have exposed more people than ever before to diverse groups of people. This has rapidly moved the youngest generations of people away from the stages of intolerance and tolerance. As a result a higher and higher percentage of people are moving toward the evolutionary stages of concern and even empathy.

However, Interness is an extremely difficult state to attain because it requires that people internalize the cultures of diverse groups of people around the world. This stage of social evolution can only be reached when most people on earth spend considerable time on a daily basis with many people who are very different. The good news is that the world is on a path to this stage of human social evolution. The bad news is that we are evolving very slowly.

What stage of human social evolution are you in? What are you doing to move to the next stage?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Influence of the Emancipation Proclamation

Tonight I will lead the second Emancipation Discussion at the Princeton Public Library from 7:00pm to 9:00pm. If you are in the area please join me for what should be a great evening of fascinating discussion. Thanks to the gracious invitation of Janie Hermann of the Princeton Public Library in Princeton, New Jersey, my father, a person who knew and marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and I, several weeks ago, facilitated the first discussion on the many different influences that shaped President Lincoln’s views of emancipation and the Civil War. Our discussion, with a standing room only crowd, turned out to be the kind of conversation on race and class that rarely takes place in America. My father wrote the following after the discussion:

  A "Review" of the discussion on the Emancipation Proclamation led by a father and son team; Dale G. Caldwell and Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell at the Princeton Public Library in New Jersey on January 15, 2013

By Gilbert H. Caldwell

My South Carolina born and bred grandmother had many "sayings" that reflected the influence of South Carolina's Black Culture on her. I think of her saying, "Self praise has no recommendation" as I write this. She meant, we who praise ourselves are on thin ice and what we say about ourselves has little to recommend. Yet, I dare to review a discussion of which I was a lead participant with my son Dale.  "What fools (we) mortals be".

Our discussion last evening at the Princeton Public Library, made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities attracted over 40 persons and the discussion that ensued had a fervor and quality that I have seldom experienced in my many years. I believe that the kind of discussion held last evening is essential to meeting our national need to break through the "gridlocks" of all kinds, of these times. The National Endowment has in the past expressed through funding and programs, a concern for deepening our capacity to engage in civil conversation. Last evening was a living embodiment of that.

Harvard's Henry Louis Gates has said; "The African slave who sailed to the New World did not sail alone. People brought their culture, no matter how adverse the circumstances. And therefore part of America is African."

This year (2013) is not only the 150th anniversary year of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, In August we will acknowledge the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington. I was not living in 1863 when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, but I was 29 when I attended the March on Washington.

In Christian Scripture Jesus is described as "the stone that the builders rejected who became the cornerstone". I suggest that new, fresh and different discussions about race, history, culture, government and the USA could become one way to reverse the polarization, anger and distrust of these times. We have avoided candid conversations about race because it too often becomes divisive.
We remember President Bill Clinton's effort to have the nation engage in discussions about race that proved to be less than positive. The finger of blame should not be pointed at anyone, rather it could be that there is a readiness in 2013 to begin those discussions again.

Two devastating events in 2012 have created a sense of unarticulated "togetherness" that we may have missed. The devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy on the coasts of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut have made those who suffered, remember the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and recognize possibly for the first time for some, the solidarity that is theirs, despite race, between residents on the Gulf Coast and residents on the Atlantic Ocean in the above mentioned states.

And the tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut cannot help but remind us of the deaths of 4 black girls in a church in Birmingham, because of a bombing, 50 years ago, this September. It is when we realize that the tragedy's we have known in the places where we live are similar and related to the tragedy's of people in other places, that human solidarity cannot help but emerge.

I suggest, not with tongue-in-cheek, but with seriousness, that the chemistry between a father who was a "foot soldier" in the Civil Rights Movement and an Ivy League - educated son who share with others, the differences, yet similarities of their respective experiences, can excite and involve others in conversations they may not have had before. Dale and I saw and felt that last night.

I have dedicated the remaining years of my life to keeping the history and the reality of the Civil Rights Movement alive. In so many ways, with its belief in the potential and possibilities of the nation, its nonviolence, its respect for the humanity of those with whom we disagreed, it/we represented the best of America. I have wondered how best to pass the baton of the CR Movement to new generations. Last night I experienced as a father/son team, leading a discussion, the best way to do what I have wanted to do.

I look forward to the next time and the next time.

Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell of Asbury Park, New Jersey. I would like to further the discussion. If you care to, please feel free to contact me at caldwellchurch@aol.com