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 in Music

Mr. Ron Lou Poy, Chancellor of the University of Victoria, Dr. David Turpin, President of the University of Victoria, Faculty members, parents and guests, fellow graduates.

It gives me great pleasure to be here with you today—I am very happy to receive this wonderful honour from the University of Victoria. Thank you so much! And I’m delighted to share this day with so many young adults. Not too long ago, we were singing Baby Beluga together!

I feel grateful and privileged to have made music for children, and for the love and trust that they and their families have shown me…for the beautiful voices singing with me in my concerts—what a gift that’s been to my spirit! What a tremendous honour it’s been to have this calling. I also feel grateful for the many gifted musicians who performed with me in concert, and on my recordings.

In my work as a children’s troubadour, I based my career on a simple idea: respect for my young audience, respect for the child as a whole person…and it still guides what I do. I wrote and recorded songs with life-affirming imagery, with a positive outlook. And these days, I still write and record—new songs for older audiences, songs that still celebrate life and the global family.

My work currently is to promote a vision I call child honouring, hoping to inspire a society that honours its young, to build the social capacity needed for a humane and sustainable world.

To the graduates assembled here today: my hat is off to you—for all your hard work and perseverance. Congratulations on your great day! May your experience at UVIC 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: on a planet whose finite resources are being stripped by human greed, and whose life support systems —from the great forests to the coral reefs—are severely stressed.

The next 20–25 years may prove to be the decisive time to move from a bottom line culture where money rules, to a triple bottom line society where social and environmental considerations are all important; to change unsustainable habits into sustainable practices. As Nelson Mandela has said, to “turn this world around, for the children.”

He’s not alone. Luminaries like Maurice Strong, Michael Gorbachev, UN peace envoy Jane Goodall…many say we have but one generation in which to decisively set humanity’s course, one chance to move from destruction to restoration, to profoundly alter the alchemy of relations in our personal, cultural and planetary lives.

In Harry Potter terms, what we need is wizards—in the “Muggle world” of unsustainable commerce, we need the best wizards we can find.

At this defining moment in human history, we are called to live as transcendent beings, as Vaclav Havel has said. We must be in touch with our own feelings and needs, with empathy for those of others, and respectful of the universal needs of all the world’s children.

In many countries, millions are marching to the beat of a different possible world, one that works for all its inhabitants wherever they live, a circle where we all can belong, a compassionate world, a world truly fit for children…for the children you might decide to have one day.

And so I would say to you as you chose your life’s path: you can be for hire, but don’t be for sale. Direct your talents to sustainable initiatives, and honourable endeavours. In short, be a wizard, not a Muggle.

The great psychologist Abraham Maslow believed that healthy individuation requires resisting unhealthy enculturation. To play your part in our global survival story, keep alive your radical inquiry. Resist the Muggle enculturation—resist being branded a competitive consumer. Resist making a killing as you follow your life’s calling.

Instead, reside in your heart’s desire for your life path. Take your soul to work, let it infuse and enlighten all your intentions. Aspire to live along your highest spiritual values. Like the beluga whales who swim wild and free, pursue your passion true to your own nature.

In closing, I’d like to sing one of my more recent songs, one inspired by Nelson Mandela and his Say Yes to Children campaign. (“Turn This World Around”)

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