Advertising aimed at children is so prevalent in our lives that many people think it’s okay. But child-development experts for years have said that ads on kids' TV shows, for example, constitute an unfair assault on impressionable minds that aren’t old enough to appraise the sales pitch.

"Yes, we have no advertising"  Excerpt from Raffi's article in
the Globe and Mail.


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World Peace Forum

Child Honouring: organizing principle for a culture of peace

On the occasion of the 2006 World Peace Forum in Vancouver, I want to offer a fresh way to look at the idea of peace. By peace, I mean a peacemaking culture, society committed to peaceful means, one devoted to nonviolence in thought, word and deed.

Mahatma Gandhi said long ago, “if we are to reach peace in th is world… we must start with the children.” Nelson Mandela said in 2000, “empty rhetoric is not enough… we must turn this world around—for the children.” Today I want to talk about a philosophy that I call CHILD HONOURING, one that offers an organizing principle for cultures of peace…

  • a metaframework for societal transformation
  • a lens with which to see a different possible world,
  • a lens that lets us see the universal child, the child of every culture, as indispensable to a new and hopeful VISION of the possible—a child-friendly world, a world at peace, a world fit for children.

Child Honouring is an original philosophy, growing out of my 3 decades working with children, families, educators, and more recently with ecologists, economists and environmental health professionals.

An integrated philosophy that connects person, culture and planet, a children-first approach to restoring communities and ecosystems, by detoxing the environments that make up the ecology of the child.

NOT about a child-centred, permissive parenting or children being all things nice.

Child Honouring holds that how we regard and treat the very young is the key to creating humane and therefore sustainable cultures— the two go hand in hand.

Recognizing the primacy of the early years, and formative experience as the foundation of emotional intelligence and maturity, Child Honouring offers a proactive developmental approach to creating healthy, peaceful, and sustainable societies; calls for redesigning our institutions to support local living intelligence, to support growth from the ground up… . right, from the start.

Child Honouring is as much a way of life as it is a philosophy, as much an organizing principle for living as it is a metaframework for societal change and global restoration.

We see an essential humanity across cultures—most visible in the young child, the playful being who cries & smiles the same the world over.

At this defining moment in human history, when we face a theft of futures from synchronous global crises, you can see in the colourful drawings of Iraqi, Afghani and Canadian kids the SAME human SPIRIT at play across cultures… As a creed that crosses all faiths and cultures, Child Honoring sees the child as a unifying agent among cultures… the human child is ALL OF US.

A child-friendly world benefits the whole of Gaia, and all her creatures. THIS is the time for our species to save its endangered future, by meeting the PRIORITY NEEDS of its young—in every land— for loving family, respectful culture, and clean habitat. THIS IS WHAT PEACE really LOOKS LIKE… and this is my overarching dream of peacemaking for our times: a society that—by design—honours its young… THIS is what I live for.

To me, peace means far more than the absence of war; it’s more about living honourably, about peaceMAKING… it’s about examining our society’s VALUES, the ones we live by, the values that govern our daily behaviour, give our sense of the possible. Whether they create goodwill or breed discontent and resentment, whether they support or exploit the young, promote greed or contentment, a society’s values foster the conditions that make a culture peaceful, or one at war within itself and bellicose in the world of nations.

Systems View : Child Honouring

Peaceful societies can’t be achieved with warmaking economies— in other words, with economies that count militaristic commerce as economic growth. The systems view of how to create a peaceful society requires examining core societal values and the institutions that embody them, for this I propose the holistic Child Honouring lens.

Can you call a society peaceful, just because it is not at war?

  • if pandemic numbers of its young are sexually violated?
  • if it exploits its children’s innocence to sell their families more things?
  • if it counts the costs of warfare, crime and pollution as economic growth?

In the anthology I co-edited with psychology professor Sharna Olfman, Child Honouring, How to Turn This World Around, eminent contributors like Riane Eisler, David Korten, Joel Bakan, Mary Gordon, Lloyd Axworthy, Fritjof Capra, Heather Eaton and Graca Machel call for a new covenant with the children of the world:

A covenant to respect their personhood, to put an end to corporal punishment, laws to provide families a living wage, to ban corporate exploitation of infants and children… and to herald a new religious moment in which we SEE the most vulnerable players of society for the blessings they are, and to see clearly our moral duty to them.

The anthology contributors offer a diversity of ways for peacemaking: they call for partnership societies to replace rule by domination; for Earth community in place of empire, corporate ingenuity to benefit all the world’s shareholders, educating for peace by teaching empathy from a young age, governing with the child in mind, ecoliteracy for young and old, an Index of Wellbeing as a genuine measure of societal progress.

These are the diverse faces of a PEACE PROCESS… a living legacy of peacemaking.

Children as MVPs

The very young are MOST impressionable to family dynamics, to cultural values, and to planetary conditions.

Their developing minds and bodies are most vulnerable in everyday relations with their caregivers, and within their communities. And we do know that the greatest burden of war is on the children, innocents too young to understand carnage or loss of family, scarred for life by such early trauma. That is why in our time, nonviolence needs a new mantra. Child Honouring, as a way of life, offers that daily mantra for living.

  • What if the physicians’ oath “FIRST DO NO HARM” became a nonviolent mantra for all the world? why should only physicians take this oath?
  • What if a country’s prime directive was to take care of its young? to DO RIGHT BY THE CHILD ? … its economy was designed for that purpose?
  • What if we realized that this also involves caring about the children in other countries? … in our interdependent world, what if our society and others understood the local-global connection?
  • What if instead of maximizing capital we maximized human potential?, what many now call social capacity…
  • What if the laws of the land were devoted to fostering emotional intelligence? good will? and cooperation? What if we governed with the child in mind?

Such a society would well express the universal responsibility that the Dalai Lama talks about… a universal ethic for the world’s billions. CHILD HONOURING is an expression of that stunning idea, for reducing unnecessary suffering, for increasing JOY AND CONTENTMENT.

I want to share these ideas musically, sing from my new CD RESISTO DANCING: Songs of Compassionate Revolution. As you listen, and sing with me if you like, remember this: YOU are invited to join a compassionate revolution in values, to make it your lifelong work of peacemaking. Abraham Maslow said: "healthy individuation requires RESISTING unhealthy enculturation".

Eight years ago, I felt inspired to write an emancipatory paper on behalf of the young. It is called A COVENANT FOR HONOURING CHILDREN Let’s begin with a recorded reading of that covenant, you’ll hear my voice, and those of Jane Goodall, the Dalai Lama, his sister, and a Tibetan youth. Please close your eyes… .

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