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Reflections on the Human Spirit

Spirit is a word with many meanings, but the difficulty we have in defining it should not take away from the fact that it is real.

 For me, spirit is a personal, intuitive sense of being, distinct from, yet an integral part of the greater universe. It is the source of morality, ethics, justice and universal truths. It is not synonymous with religion. I believe human spirit is the source, not the result of religion. It is what makes human rights unalienable. It is what knits us all together while singling each of us out as somehow special at the same time. It is the organizing force behind our social economy and the broader social ecology of our collective development.  It is that which, despite all individual and group differences, makes all of us equal from birth. It broadens and deepens our social bonds. It is the essential element for our personal well being, our survival as a species and the survival of Earth as we know it today.

 From my perspective, spirituality is indwelling. It invades conscious awareness from  fundamental sources deeply imbedded within each of us, as if our whole body is a spiritual organ physically connected to all things. Other people experience spiritual perceptions from a different direction, such as emanating from outside the body and beyond physical existence. It hardly matters.  What matters is that it connects us to the world and to each other. It reveals to us pure and enduring insights that we all share. It is a source of knowledge, accessible through introspection and heightened perceptions, that dissolves the estrangement we sometimes feel towards nature or other human beings. The human spirit always arches towards a broader, deeper unity and that special sense of well being we call love.

 With all the tensions and challenges today, are we loosing our humanity?  I don’t believe so.  The human spirit has always faced competitive forces. The most persistent form of this competition pits self-interest over communal interests or present advantage over future needs. Nearly every challenge we face today fits this form.  Our challenge, as always, is to elevate the human spirit in our selves and in our world. There are no secret strategies. Most everyone reading this knows what they need to do. Together we must overcome greed with our generosity, both materially and in spirit.  We must empower the marginalized, inspire the dispirited, organize the discouraged, protect the vulnerable, overpower the skeptics, confront the intolerant and above all, bring up our children to be champions of the human spirit.

One Way State Policies Impacts Children’s Lives

Investing in Public Programs Matters: How State Policies Impact Children’s Lives

Read more here:  http://bit.ly/zbNSSY

 This report focuses on the results of the 2012 STATE Child Well-Being Index (CWI) which is a comprehensive state-level index of child well-being modeled after the Foundation for Child Development’s (FCD) NATIONAL CWI.
The key findings from this study are:
Higher State Taxes Are Better for Children. States that have higher tax rates generate higher revenues and have higher CWI values than states with lower tax rates.
Public Investments in Children Matter.
The amount of public investments in programs is strongly related to CWI values among states. Specifically, higher per-pupil spending on education, higher Medicaid child-eligibility thresholds, and higher levels of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits show a substantial correlation with child well-being across states.
A Child’s Well-Being Is Strongly Related to the State Where He or She Lives. Child well-being varies tremendously from state to state, ranging from a 0.85 index value for New Jersey, the highest ranked state, to a negative 0.96 index value for New Mexico, the lowest-ranked state. The six states that had the highest CWI values were New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Utah, Connecticut, and Minnesota. On the other end of the spectrum, Arizona, Nevada, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and New Mexico were found to have the lowest index values.

The STATE CWI draws from the most comprehensive set of data used to form a state index of child well-being. With these data, the STATE CWI ranks children’s well-being in seven different domains for each state and compares them across states. In addition to state rankings, this report includes new findings about the strength of relationships between state policies and selected economic and demographic factors indicative of child well-being.
Read more:

http://bit.ly/yNZiui  – Analyzing State Differences in Child Well-Being
William O’Hare
The Annie E. Casey Foundation
Mark Mather and Genevieve Dupuis
Population Reference Bureau
January 2012
and
http://bit.ly/zbNSSY  –  Investing in Public Programs Matters:

                                      How State Policies Impact Children’s Lives
                                      2012 STATE Child and Youth Well-Being Index (CWI)
                                       Based

Child Well-Being Index (CWI)

The FCD Child Well-Being Index (CWI) is a national, research-based composite measure updated annually that describes how young people in the United States have fared since 1975. The NATIONAL CWI, released publicly for the first time in 2004, is the nation’s most comprehensive measure of trends in the quality of life of children and youth. It combines national data from 28 indicators across seven domains into a single number that reflects overall child well-being. The seven quality-of-life domains are Family Economic Well-Being, Health, Safe/Risky Behavior, Educational Attainment, Community Engagement, Social Relationships, and Emotional/Spiritual Well-Being.