Virginia and a street child at the Earth Summit

“Celebration for the Children of the World: A Model For Building Global Community” (Virginia Swain’s Masters Thesis, Lesley University, 1993)

The Celebration for the Children of the World, a model for relieving the conflict of personal, local and national sovereignty, was inspired by a vigil of the World’s Religions at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, June 1992. People of nations, transcending their sovereignty, came together in Brazil for a celebratory, prayerful experience of one human family. The street children of Rio de Janeiro contributed to the inspiration for this model with their clear expressions of love and joy, even though their immediate needs for food and shelter were not met.

A coalition of sixty United Nations Agencies, members states, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), religious, environmental and peace organizations was organized at the United Nations in New York six months later (December 1992) to build on the groundswell of the Earth Summit. Included in the theme for one day’s event was a morning vigil, at which 50 New York artists interpreted an Earth Charter written by Virginia Swain and Barbara Wheeler. This was followed by a celebratory procession to the United Nations General Assembly lobby where the coalition gave political support for Chapters 24-26 of Agenda 21 in an afternoon children’s celebration. Keynote speeches by UN officials addressed the need to strengthen the role of indigeous peoples, children and NGO’s. Children’s groups sang and danced as teachers of world peace.

The 9 December 1992 event included steps to global community designed to bring sovereign people’s and groups together to relieve the conflict of peoples’ national loyalty: the teachings of children and celebration.  Listen to reprise by Virginia Swain.

Many people experienced a shift in consciousness from their own sovereign needs to global community. This was shown by the following changes: attitudes towards themselves and others changing to be more loving and accepting; overprotective barriers of national loyalty were removed; attitudes of deep fulfillment, validation and acknowledgement of peoples’ strengths power and relatedness to others and the common good were expressed, as well as a renewed way of listening to one another and children. Identity was expanded beyond their individual roles and national affiliation for the common good for continuing political action towards world order and cooperation between sovereign nations.

The Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Golliher of the Anglican Observer Office at the UN said:

“Congratulations to Ms. Virginia Swain…who organized, planned and led the 9 December Celebration…following the Earth Summit’s spirit of hope, this very successful celebration brought together artists, spiritual leaders and children- reminding UN delegates of the importance of Agenda 21 and honoring the role of indigenous peoples for the future of the Earth…”