News & Updates
Raffi receives an Honorary Degree of Letters from Vancouver Island University
Raffi's Speech On Receiving an Honorary Degree of Letters
Vancouver Island University ~ Nanaimo, BC. / June 2, 2014
Respected elders, President Nilson, faculty members, parents and guests, fellow graduates:
I’m delighted to be with you—to receive this wonderful honour from Vancouver Island University, and to share this day with so many young adults. Not long ago, many of you were singing a song about a little white whale... and now, here you are: Beluga Grads!
Throughout my career, the core value in all of my work has been respect—respect for children as whole people.
On Salt Spring Island, where I live, I founded the Centre For Child Honouring. Child Honouring is an integrated philosophy for restoring communities & ecosystems, a systemic remedy for the crises of our world—the “children first” way of sustainability. Our slogan is simply, Respecting Earth & Child.
The Centre works with national and international partners, to advance Child Honouring as a universal ethic—to be lived in locally wise ways.
Child Honouring holds that how we regard and treat our very young is the key to building humane and therefore sustainable societies.
It’s a vision I have shared with luminaries such as the Dalai Lama and Jane Goodall, climatologist James Hansen and many other scientists, doctors, academics, economists, psychologists, entrepreneurs and systems thinkers who have embraced Child Honouring as a revolution in values—a compassion revolution 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 examine everything: from child care policies to the right to a living wage; from how we measure economic progress to the stewardship of our planet; from the way parents treat their children to the impact of corporate exploitation on their young minds and bodies.
And in this digital era, honouring the child takes on new dimensions. The tech revolution that has swept the world is a new electricity, and yet, about its benefits to societal intelligence, we have very little research.
The Lightweb—all that we enjoy about the Internet—links us to a global storehouse of knowledge and also to those we love. Yet too much time with InfoTech can separate us from what is truly precious where we live, and within our families.
Parenting is now more challenging than ever, children grow up in two different worlds: the real world, and the virtual—where kids are vulnerable to the perils of what I call the Darkweb. On the information superhighway, untrained drivers face many dangers.
Although InfoTech was not designed for children, mobile tech devices are now in ever younger hands and laps. This has pediatricians and psychotherapists worried—they know that for little kids, InfoTech is “too much, too soon, too fast.”
We know, and mustn’t forget, that babies are not born to bond with tech. They’re born to learn the wonders of Creation: the real world, its diverse textures and slow rhythms.
That’s why there’s no advantage in starting kids early on tech, before they are able to navigate the real world. The opposite is true: kids who are grounded in real world wonders are the ones best equipped to become confident lifelong learners.
That’s why I say to parents: IT can wait—kids have the rest of their lives for tech, and technology will surely continue its rapid pace of change. Today’s tech may be obsolete in a few years.
Meanwhile, the accelerating climate change that threatens life on Earth as we know it,
is the greatest threat we face. Has InfoTech helped humanity galvanize much-needed action on climate change?
During the 10 years that we’ve had social media, the annual rate of Greenhouse Gases has not declined, it’s risen. So, we might say that social media’s connective power has so far failed to spark sufficient climate action. Time will tell if our species will change its ways.
By any rational analysis, restoring the tainted future may take a miracle. The good news is, that miracle is you.
In this pivotal time for humanity, using the Lightweb, you can connect at light speed for creating a culture of respect in our communities and online—with privacy by design, freedom and dignity for all.
Millions like you are demanding and working towards a different possible world: one that’s green and just, has stabilized climate, and provides for all its children.
Today, I am inviting you—dear Beluga Grads—to keep alive the radical inquiry you were born with, to embrace the call of Child Honouring, to work with me in a compassion revolution: for the children in our midst, and for those you may have one day.
Leonard Cohen wrote these immortal words, in his song Suzanne:
There are children in the morning, they are leaning out for love, and they will lean that way forever.
In closing, I implore you to live your life’s purpose, to shine your light,
shine your lightweb. Shine!