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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On Receiving an Honourary Degree of Letters

Chancellor McEachern, President Piper, faculty members, parents and guests, fellow graduates:

It gives me great pleasure to be here with you today—and to receive this wonderful honour from the University of British Columbia. I’m delighted to share this day with so many young adults. Not too long ago, we were singing Baby Beluga together and now, Beluga Graduates!

I’ve been privileged to have made music for children and families for 3 decades; grateful for the trust and support they have shown me, and grateful for the gifted musicians who joined me in concert and on my recordings.

As a children’s troubadour, I wrote and recorded songs with life affirming imagery, with a positive outlook. And now, in my evolving role as a global troubadour, I still write and record—new songs for older audiences, still celebrating life and the global family.

Currently I am promoting a philosophy I call Child Honouring, a “children first” approach to restoring communities and ecosystems, based on the idea that how we regard and treat our young is the key to a humane and sustainable society. I see this as an organizing principle for a culture of peace&hellp; a vision I have shared with luminaries such as the Dalai Lama, Jane Goodall and many others, among them scientists, academics, writers and economists who have embraced Child Honouring as a revolution in values—one that calls for a profound redesign of society around the priority needs of its young.

As a creed that crosses all faiths and cultures, Child Honouring calls us to question everything: from child care policies to the right to a living wage; from how we measure economic progress to our stewardship of the planet; from our physical treatment of children to the impact of corporate exploitation on their minds and bodies.

In the rest of my life, I will work to inspire societies to honour their young, to build the social capacity needed for a humane and sustainable world.

To the graduates assembled here today, my congratulations for your hard work and perseverance. May your experience at UBC serve you well as you move forward.

My friends, we live in times of opportunity and peril, times which urgently need our full humanity. Today, 6 billion souls worldwide live in a colossal dilemma: our global home is on fire, its finite resources are stripped by greed, its life support systems—from the great forests to the coral reefs—failing.

We may be the first generation to wonder if we might be among the last. Some say we have 20–25 years to decisively set humanity’s course, to move from destruction to restoration, from the mechanistic view of life to the organic and magical; from a selfish bottom line society where money rules, to a mature culture of social and environmental responsibility.

Or as Nelson Mandela said, to “turn this world around—for the children.”

Universities and their graduates can play an important role in this turn. In Harry Potter terms, the situation calls for Wizards — in the Muggle environment of unsustainable commerce, we need the best wizards we can find.

Children today are born with toxic chemicals barely known 50 years ago. And breast milk is among the most contaminated foods on the planet. And yet, corporations still target kids for consumer loyalty from birth.

Let me say to you that Business As Usual has failed its children, has failed you and your childhood dreams, has ignored the warning sings of a world in trouble. That’s why, in many countries, millions of people comprising a group referred to as “the 2nd superpower” are dreaming of and working towards a different possible world, a vibrant world that provides for all its people, a circle where we all belong.

This defining moment in history calls us to live as transcendent beings&hellp; as Vaclav Havel has said: “in touch with our own feelings and needs, and respectful of the universal needs of all the world’s children.”

And here today, I am inviting you—dear Beluga Graduates—to embrace the call of Child Honouring and its principles, to work with me in a compassionate revolution, to help create a world truly fit for children, for the children you might have one day.

The great psychologist Abraham Maslow believed that healthy individuation requires resisting unhealthy enculturation. And so I would say to you: keep alive your radical inquiry; resist the consumer hypnosis, the Muggle enculturation.

Instead, reside in your heart’s desire for your life path. Take your soul to work, let it infuse all your intentions. Live along your highest spiritual values. Like the beluga whales who swim wild and free, may you pursue your passion, true to your own nature, and help TURN this big beautiful planet into the world of our dreams.

In closing, I’d like to sing a song with you ~ this is one of my more recent songs, a song inspired by the great Nelson Mandela.


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