During this time of uncertainty and tension, we should take a moment to remember religion's central teaching: Do not hurt others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful (Buddhism: Udana-Varga 5:1); Whatever you would like people to do to you, do to them, for this is the law and the prophets (Christianity: Matthew 7:12); This is the sum of duty: Do not do something to others that you would not want them to do to you (Hinduism: Mahabharata 5:1517); No one of you is a believer until he/she desires for his brother/sister that which he desires for himself (Islam: hadith); Do not do to your fellow man/woman that which is hateful to you. This is the entire Law. All the rest is commentary (Judaism: Talmud, Shabbat 3id).
This fundamental teaching of brotherhood and sisterhood regardless of religious affiliation is being overshadowed by suspicion, anger, mistrust, and other negative trends and emotions that continue to arise from our pursuit of ever-more comfort and possessions and our refusal to realize that such things are finite. As we continue to gather them into our hands, others are deprived of what they regard as their fair share and become fertile ground for resentment and either passive or active resistance. Their negative worldview is only strengthened and expanded by the continued lack of modern education, meaningful employment, adequate health care, freedom from fear, and many other things that those of us who are more fortunate take for granted.
Underlying the above quotations is the need to understand others, for there can be no love among people without mutual respect and acceptance of one's right to be different. Calls to celebrate diversity and accept multiculturalism abound, but many individuals and institutions have yet to go beyond mouthing the words while doing nothing to make them a reality. This is the true challenge of the new millennium.
In this issue, we present several articles on what we should expect from believers; certain similarities among the monotheistic religions; the roles of men and women, parents and children, and how they should work together to create a better society; the place of prayer in one's life; and the need for joining scientific and spiritual knowledge to improve the quality of life for everyone. In addition, we present several short articles on the values of introspection and self-reflection, self-reliance and the need to stop blaming others for what happens to us, and how we should view other people.
We analyze one nation's successful quest for development to see if its methods can be applied by other nations. Also discussed is the potential of e-learning to spread relevant knowledge in areas that previously had no access to it, and the hope that they will be able to benefit from it. Two of our authors explain how democratic governing institutions prevent wars between democratic nations and civil wars within those same nations, and how the formation of social capital increases society's overall well-being.
Our scientific articles discuss the benefits of lightning on our health and even our moods, and how the existence of what scientists call 'dark matter' could signal a change in how we perceive ourselves and our place in the universe.
We hope that you enjoy this issue and, as always, look forward to your comments.