The Wonderful World Of James Bond: From Best To Worst

23: A View To A Kill(1985): Here’s a tip. Buy the soundtrack. It’s the only saving grace for the film. John Barry’s score is wonderful and Duran Duran’s title track is one of the better songs of the eighties. The remainder of the film is a tired and sluggish affair. Roger Moore looks far too old to play James Bond ( to his credit, he has subsequently admitted he should not have made the film because of his age), Moore’s intimate scenes with Grace Jones and Tanya Roberts are creepy at best and the action scenes, once inspiring and complex, now look dated. There’s no evidence of Christopher Walken’s Oscar Winning brilliance here; much like everything else in the film, Walken’s Max Zorin seems worn out and passé.

22: The World Is Not Enough(1999): Bond films have been many things throughout the years. Extravangant (Thunderball), far-fetched (Moonraker), underwritten (Octopussy), convoluted (Quantum of Solace), sadistically violent (Licence To Kill) or in the case of Tomorrow Never Dies, all of the above. One thing Bond films should never be is boring, but that sadly is the case with TWINE. It’s a sluggish film featuring questionable special effects, needlessly long action scenes and non existent chemistry between Pierce Brosnan and Sophie Marceau. Robert Carlyle is given little to do, while the inclusion of Denise Richards is one of the series more laughable castings. Brosnan himself is awful. He looks as tired here in only his third Bond film as Sean Connery did in his sixth.

21: Diamonds Are Forever (1971): Sean Connery returned to the role for a hefty pay-cheque and his clear ambivalence with the project shows. The first major disappointment in the series, ‘DAF’ understandably moved away from the darkness of ‘OHMSS’ to provide something lighter. Where screenwriters Tom Mancheiwizc and Richard Maibaum went astray was confusing fun with funny and intelligent with moronic. ‘DAF’ feels more of a pastiche of a Bond film than a Bond film. Charles Gray is horribly ineffective as Blofeld, while wooden is simply not strong enough to describe Jill St. John’s acting abilities. Yes, Shirley Bassey’s theme song is a knockout, and Lana Wood enjoys her cameo as Plenty O’ Toole. But the rest is lame, more akin to ‘Carry On’ than espionage.

20: Die Another Day(2002): You’ve got to feel sorry for Pierce Brosnan. He should not have ended his Bond career on this turkey. In the decade since its release, DAD has aged horribly. Halle Berry stinks as CIA agent Jinx, the kite surfing sequence is visual urinitation, while the plot is arguably the most preposterous of the series. Invisible cars and hammy dialogue do not a classic spy thriller make. On the plus side, Brosnan does give it his all and Toby Stephens makes for a formidable villain. However, Rosamaund Pike’s Miranda Frost looks young enough to be the middle aged Brosnan’s daughter, making their love scenes that bit more uncomfortable to watch. The filmmakers never learn, do they?

19: Octopussy(1983): 1983 was a pathetic year for James Bond. Despite the promise of the two classic Bond’s starring in films, the end results were two sluggish movies, neither coming close to proving either actor’s true potential. One of the more convoluted tales, ‘Octopussy’ rejects coherency for ballsy action, a trait that would kill the Pierce Brosnan films. Maud Adams’s performance as the eponymous temptress has its moments, but ultimately falls flat. Ever Steven Berkoff’s over the top diacritics could not save this train wreck. Watching the film thirty years on, it looks racist, misogynistic and stolid. The locations of India are well filmed, and the experience would inspire Roger Moore to join Unicef and gallantly embark on his commendable work. So at least that’s something!

18: Moonraker(1979): Spy thrillers and outer space do not not not mix. Got that? Good. ‘Moonraker’ is easily the campest Bond film of the lot, its ending an embarrassing example at how pathetic the Bond series had become by the end of the seventies. Size isn’t everything, you know?

17: Thunderball (1965): After a solid trio of films, ‘Thunderball’ proved itself as an indulgent exercise. The film turns completely ridiculous, solidifying the growing comic book fantasy elements to the point of overdrive. The underwater scenes (which account for nearly a quarter of the film) prove overlong and tedious and the gadgets, which until now accompanied the films, take centre place. Thunderball would ultimately set the precedence for over the top Bond films. All in all, it’s a film made for money (which it did, it still remains the most successful film adjusting for inflation), not for pleasure. Still, Rik Van Nutter’s turn as Felix Leiter is the strongest Leiter to date, and Luciana Paluzzi’s Fiona Volpe has constantly been imitated as a villainess, but never equalled.

16:Quantum of Solace (2008): Following Casino Royale’s undeniable brilliance, QOS was undoubtedly something of a let-down. Too complicated, too gritty, too much shaky cam, the critics said. These criticisms all breath a certain amount of truth. Hampered by the 2008 Writer’s Strike, the film certainly feels incomplete, and in the hands of Marc Forster, who joins Lee Tamahori and Michael Apted as directors who could not understand the material within their grasp, is guilty of turning this film into an Freudian psychosis rather than a thriller. Still, Daniel Craig is excellent, there is a genuine sex appeal not seen since the sixties and some of the action sequences (such as the aeroplane chase and the motorcycle sequence) are absolutely stunning, though the questionable use of forensic editing makes other scenes unwatchable. It is a reasonably good film, but nowhere near the film it could have been.

15: The Man With The Golden Gun (1974): Much like ‘QOS’, this is one of the greater missed opportunities in the series. The world’s greatest secret agent versus the world’s greatest assassin? A wonderful concept, although the end result is a patchy affair. The over reliance on comedy and the unwelcome return of Sheriff Pepper do little to serve the film. But it does feature a wonderful interplay between Christopher Lee as Francisco Scaramanga and Roger Moore. Despite the undeniable sex appeal of Britt Ekland and Maud Adams as the films bombshells, its the chemistry between the two male leads that is the more exotic and enthralling, an interplay repeated in ‘Licence To Kill’ and ‘Skyfall’, but rarely in between.

14: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997): It was pretty clear from ‘TND’ onwards that Pierce Brosnan was no longer starring in Bond movies, but generic B-action movies. The finale itself, where Bond and Chinese secret agent Wai-Lin mercilessly gun down a ship of men, feels more at home in a ‘Rambo’ movie than a Bond movie. Jonathan Pryce wastes himself as Elliot Carver, the media mogul with a taste for genocide. Teri Hatcher is horribly underwritten as Paris Carver and her apparent love for Bond is nowhere to be seen. Director Roger Spottiswood (like Michael Apted, Lee Tamahori and Marc Forster) clearly has no concept of James Bond, and the result is testosterone fuelled example of sadism. On the plus side, Pierce Brosnan is strong, accounting for a suaveness peculiarly absent from the series since ‘You Only Live Twice’. And Michelle Yeoh really kicks ass as Wai-Lin!

13: You Only Live Twice(1967): It’s a shame Roald Dahl rejected the contents of one of Ian Fleming’s more interesting novels, instead choosing to concoct an over the top fantasy containing rockets, helicopters and volcano based lairs. If ‘Thunderball’ started the comic book trend within the films, ‘YOLT’ pushed the gears up to eleven! But it’s a well shot film, the action scenes are nicely choreographed, the Japanese locations are gorgeous, Ken Adams sets are breathtaking and the film is inherently very sexy. Sean Connery, however, does little to disguise his boredom within the role and Ernst Stavro Blofeld (as played by Donald Pleasance) is so overdrawn he invites parody from every Tom, Dick and Harry. Succulent fluff, but fluff is all it is.

12: Live and Let Die (1973): Yes, the film is indefensibly racist and sexist in places and it is an early example where the Bond producers jumped on any band wagon possible (blaxploitation in this case). But there is no denying this is great ‘Boys Own’ fun. The alligator stunt is cinematic magic, the hang glider stunt (performed by Roger Moore himself) is also fun. And who cannot enjoy machine gun laddened scarecrows?

11: For Your Eyes Only (1981): You know something, Roger Moore was actually quite a good actor when he challenged himself. Here he rejects his erstwhile flippancy for sombreness, the opening shot of Bond visiting his wife’s grave is particularly touching. Starring Cassandra Harris (Pierce Brosnan’s wife), the film brings the series a certain gravitas that its predecessor ‘Moonraker’ completely lacked. An awful eighties soundtrack and menial time length not with-standing, a strong entry to the series.

10: Goldeneye (1995): Following a six year hiatus, James Bond returned to the big screens with a bang. Following an awe inspiring bungee jump for sheer spectacle, the film moves into high octane territory, moving through Monte Carlo, St. Petersburg and Cuba before audiences can utter the film’s title. Sean Bean is excellent as Alec Trevelyan, Bond’s former ally, turned nemesis. Famke Jannsen’s Xenia Onatopp remains the series second strongest femme fatale (narrowly beaten by Fiona Volpe), a vixen of pure evil. Pierce Brosnan, however, is undeniably stiff. He can charm the women and looks nifty with a gun, but ultimately, he seems lost during the film’s more dramatic moments (to be fair, so did Roger Moore and George Lazenby during similar scenes). Despite this, director Martin Campbell keeps the film rolling like a bullet, giving the film a panache conspicuously missing from the series during the nineties. In retrospect, following the intelligence and originality Timothy Dalton brought to the series, it is a shame that the Bond producers chose to return to a more traditional style of Bond film for ‘Goldeneye’. It is, however, a cracking ride none the less, and more than a strong reinvention of the character to a post-Cold War world.

9: Licence To Kill (1989): One of the darkest Bond’s, and arguably the most violent (although Casino Royale would give it a run for its money), LTK is a polarising watch. Eschewing witty one liners and family fun for hard hitting action scenes and a tale of revenge, LTK proved unpopular to American audiences and performed poorly at the box office. Twenty five years on, the film has aged very well, with its attention to realism much more akin to the Daniel Craig films than either the Roger Moore films or Pierce Brosnan’s. Timothy Dalton is excellent as a menacing killer on the pursuit of revenge, giving what is one of the finer performances of any Bond film. The action sequences are some of the best in the series; the oil tank chase sequence is particularly impressive. Robert Davi and Benico Del Toro are very well cast as the film’s villains. True, neither of the Bond girls are particularly well developed and the film’s budgetary cuts are audible throughout. But the film, if imperfect, certainly has dated well and it was a step in the right direction continued for the excellent Casino Royale.

8: Skyfall (2012): For a film lauded as the greatest film in the series, there are some substantial drawbacks to it. Javier Bardem’s Silvia plays it too over the top, while co-star Judi Dench’s M comes across somewhat gratingly in the process. The plot features a number of plot holes (what happened to the file with the secret agents?), while many of the one liners come across as stilted and scripted (Daniel Craig’s exclamation of “I fell in deep water” and “it’s the circle of life” lack the joie de vivre of Sean Connery and Roger Moore). But the cinematography is wonderful, arguably the finest to date, and the supporting cast of Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw are a welcome inclusion into the Bond canon. The opening pre credit sequence is very well choreographed and the British locations used are a welcome change to the series. As a fiftieth anniversary celebration, the film particularly pays tribute to the films of Connery, Lazenby and Moore, while the film’s epilogue is likely to leave an idiot smile on any Bond fan’s face.

7: Dr. No (1962): The face that launched a thousand ships? The first film in the series, it’s also the cheapest looking and the most dated. But it does feature two of the more iconic images in cinema history: Ursula Andress’s sensous rise from the sea and Sean Connery’s immortal introduction. The former set a new standard for screen sirens, the latter provided a template that has frequently been imitated, but never bettered. For the most part, it feels more like a detective film, rather than a conventional action movie. But the film showed the direction for future films, from the visual absurdness of the dragon machine and the Three Blind Mice to the animal ferocity within the various fist fights. It may lack in style, but it sure as hell showed the makings of one of the better action heroes.

6: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977): Bravo Moore. Just as Sean Connery nailed his suave take in ‘Goldfinger’, Moore’s third film provided the perfect forum for his light-hearted fantasy performance. Opening with the greatest pre-credit sequence of the lot (the parachute still looks incredible thirty-five years later) and ending with a delightfully over the top naval battle, ‘TSWLM’ is blessed with the series best theme song ‘Nobody Does It Better’, the menacing Jaws, a henchman to die for and the wonderful Barbara Bach, who may have been the sexiest woman to co-star in a Bond film. The plot (featuring a megalomaniac who wishes to create global annihilation in order to create a society underwater) is suitably ridiculous and the end result is a fantasy adventure par excellence.

5: The Living Daylights (1987): You know what. Timothy Dalton could very well have been the best James Bond! Certainly, he seems the only character capable of actual espionage. Less of a traditional Bond film and more of a classic Carré spy thriller, ‘TLD’ focuses its attentions on James Bond ascertaining information from cellist Kara Milovy about lover and Soviet defector Georgie Koskov. The scenes filmed in Vienna have a classic feel to them, while the film’s primary fight on the end of a plane still raises hairs on arms. Focusing the film’s attention between Bond and Milovy, the film features a romantic quality to it largely absent from the series. The pre credit sequence, filmed on the Rock of Gibraltar, remains the finest after TSWLM, while Dalton’s performance as the cigarette smoking, introspective agent is the most faithful portrayal of the literary character on screen yet. True, it’s eighties soundtrack and Glasnost politics have aged the film, and there is a reversion to the silliness of Roger Moore in a couple of scenes. But for sheer class, brilliant action sequences and a tangible storyline, it’s hard to beat TLD.

4: Casino Royale (2006): If Die Another Day nearly killed the franchise, Daniel Craig’s debut was exactly the antidote it needed to restore the cinematic brilliance of James Bond. A lean, mean prequel that explored the inner workings of the man like never before, the film succeeded in its tenacity to produce a gadget free thriller filled with twists and turns. The film’s card game shows that tension can be created by the simplest of ploys, while the parcour chase sequence may be the finest choreographed action scene of any Bond film. Classically styled and suitably thrilling, ‘CR’ returns to the animal ferocity of the earlier films. At a time when Jason Bourne and Jack Brauer were the ‘JB’s’ of choice, ‘CR’ showed just how artistically relevant James Bond could be. The best action movie of 2006.

3: Goldfinger (1964): Shirley Bassey’s theme tune. The gold covered Shirley Eaton. The indescribably sexy Pussy Galore. Oddjob’s hat, proving there’s something to fear from a hair covering condiment. The beautifully lit Fort Knox. The gadget laden Aston Martin. Oh, and Sean Connery’s pretty good as 007 (bloody good, in fact)! What a film!

2: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service(1969): Frequently discarded on the basis that it stars one off James Bond George Lazenby, ‘OHMSS’ has a quality to it that no Bond film has matched since. It features the series greatest soundtrack (hats off to John Barry!), more beautiful cinematography (the shots of Piz Gloria are gorgeous) and the finest supporting actress in any film, Diana Rigg. Telly Savalas is the most thorough version of Ernst Stavro Blofeld and such regulars as Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn and Lois Maxwell are never better than here. Even if Lazenby lacked Connery’s sex appeal, at the very least he made up for it with an emotive quality. It’s certainly the most romantic Bond film, accounting for a tale of love and loss.

It’s All In The Walk!

“I have two doctors, my left leg and my right.”

George Trevelyan, 1913

I was watching a film last week and found myself wondering what was so distinctive about the star. (Other than the fact that she was tall and extremely attractive – but in a way, you’d expect that!) The film itself wasn’t that great, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the actress. I spent most of the time trying to puzzle out what had caught my attention. It wasn’t the plot, the action or the dialogue and finally, as the film came to a close and the star strode off into the distance, I realized what it was. It was her walk!

She walked in a way that exuded confidence, one foot firmly placed in front of the other (a bit like you see the models do on the catwalk, but without that exaggerated duck-footed effect that makes me want to giggle!) and although her stomach was flat anyway, I could see by the way she held herself that those abdominal muscles where being tightly controlled! Her held was held high and she looked straight ahead. The effect was brilliant! It wouldn’t have really mattered if she hadn’t been so good looking, because it was the walk that drew the eye.

So, me being me, I have been trying it out ever since (when I’ve remembered!). And it works! Head up, stomach held tight, (this also protects your back) and place those feet firmly one in front of the other and stride! For women, there is a slight swinging of the hips (feminine, yet not over the top) and for men it is just as purposeful without the swaying! Do you know, I suggest you try it, as it makes me feel great! It is especially effective on those days when you are feeling a bit blah. A few minutes of walking like that and your energy returns, a slight smile (or even a grin) breaks out and you feel more confident. Try it, please, and let me know how you get on!

No matter what your goal is, if you are not looking after yourself, physically and mentally, then you will find it less than easy to focus on the challenges that face you. Walking, whether it is in the way I describe above, or in any other way (outdoors or on a treadmill at the gym etc) is a brilliant way to get your daily dose of exercise. It’s good for your heart, your lungs, your muscles and it is especially good for your feeling of wellbeing! Don’t you owe it to yourself to get out there and use those legs? Get walking and get moving towards those goals!

Are you one of those people who say “I always mean to get out walking, but I never get round to it….” Well, now is your chance to change that! You need the minimum of equipment (good comfortable shoes) and can go it alone. However, there are various walking groups you can join if you like joining others.

Don’t Let Wrong Teachers Make Your Child A Thinking Pigmy!

Preamble

This is a subject I am especially passionate about. I have written about it previously, but some weeks age I heard about a teacher in a school who said something that really upset me, to kids she was teaching that I decided to do this additional feature on it.

Let me start this way: What do YOU hope to achieve by sending your KIDS to school? Do you aim to make a status statement each time your kids step out in their pretty school uniforms, board their air-conditioned bus to head to/return from their classy school? Or is your intention to have them EQUIPPED with the knowledge, attitudes and skills needed to make a success of their OWN lives adults?

I hope the latter is your preference. But going by what I see daily out here in our society, I see a pre-occupation on the part of parents with “creating impressions”, and keeping up with the Joneses. So many parents proudly announce they are sending their kids to the “best” schools in xyz area.

Unfortunately, high fees and pretty school buildings do not guarantee your child a quality EDUCATION. And please note that by education I do not mean acquisition of the ability to score all A’s in the final school certification exams. Being educated goes way beyond that. It includes being conversant with what it takes to do more than just survive in the real world.

“Let early education be a sort of amusement. You will then be able to find out the natural bent” – Plato (346 BC).

Kids Are Not Afraid To Show Surprise/Excitement When They Discover NEW Learning

Also being educated in my opinion involves having the understanding that there is nothing wrong in allowing yourself to “act excited” and “be surprised” when you discover new learning! And that is what makes kids so special in my opinion. You see they are so willing to BELIEVE what they are taught and they rarely act UNEXCITED when they do.

A quick example: My kids once discovered a butterfly pupa hanging in the corner of a wall in the compound, and all came screaming into the house to tell me and my wife(and drag us out to see it). Prior to that time they had only been seeing caterpillars(butterfly larvae) which seemed to drop on to the ground from the next compound which was filled with tall grasses. And I had been using a set of colored pictures illustrated flip charts to show them the life cycle of butterflies and other insects. So they had seen pictures of the pupa but NEVER seen a live specimen – until that day. And they did not hide their excitement.

On another occasion, after pestering us futilely to get them a pet cat, my kids teamed up to use wet sand to mould the a cat (or more accurately, something they meant to look like a cat!). They then sent me and my wife reeling with laughter when they informed us that since the Bible said we were all made from EARTH/SOIL they intended to pray to God to turn their sand statue cat into a real-life version they could keep as a pet. We told them this was unlikely to work, but you should have seen how vehemently they argued that it would.

We were particularly glad they did not succeed, because the resultant live cat would have been so grotesque, and its looks would probably have caused visiting friends/relatives to have nightmares.

But let’s not lose sight of the point being made – kids have so much capacity to BELIEVE and to display such belief and WONDER without embarrassment. Any schooling they are exposed to MUST be checked to ensure it does not KILL this quality in any child. The problem is most schooling systems out here teach kids to be the opposite of what I have described above.

Do you think kids who behave like those mentioned above will have difficulties describing the life cycle of a butterfly if they are ever asked, after having had these experiences? Not likely. And that’s because research has shown clearly that people tend to learn best/recall more successfully what they are taught when the learning they undergo is experiential(i.e. practical/experience based and therefore real-world relevant).

When Learning Is Fun, Learners Look Forward To It

But what is even MORE pertinent is to note how giving kids an exciting learning experience stimulates their thinking and makes them become VERY interested in learning. In other words, kids who enjoy their learning will not be bored – neither will they need to be forced or coerced to study daily(You will not believe they way my kids keep coming to me with books and pictures on the things they learn about daily which I and my wife try to show them examples of in real life).

And that’s where I come to the matter of the teacher who (reportedly) told the kids she was teaching that they should not watch “Tom & Jerry” cartoons because the cartoons make kids act like they are “retarded”! Incroyable!!! (like the French would say). Wonders will just never end. That’s what you sometimes get when you send your kids to schools without checking for the quality of manpower such institutions have.

Do You Know Who Your Kids’ Teachers Are?

Which is why I ask these questions: WHO ARE YOUR KIDs’ TEACHERS??? Do you know them? I mean have you met them in person? Do you have an accurate assessment of what they can offer your kids?

Our society is failing its kids because the BEST of us are too busy trying to stay the best, and are willing to spare little or no time to pass on what we know to the next generation. We therefore end up leaving that VERY important teaching job to the “less than best” rest of society. The quote below captures this point quite well.

“In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less” – Lee Iacocca, Chairman & CEO, Chrysler Corporation

I know it does not sound nice, but it’s true! Remember that sometimes people who settle for teaching jobs are those who have looked without success for what is considered by the majority to be “better jobs”! At the risk of exaggerating, these kind of people tend to be “frustrated” and in certain cases could transfer their frustrations in many forms to the kids they have to teach.

Also sometimes these people are generally not up and doing in improving themselves, and so tend not to be in touch with latest developments/trends, plus lack insight into the true nature of certain things e.g. Tom and Jerry cartoons. Yet they are the ones we leave our kids with for eight (8) or more hours daily!

I know for a fact that Tom and Jerry cartoons do wonders for the imagination of kids – and the many adults(like me) – who watch them. I can remember watching that cat and mouse cartoon series without getting bored from well before my tenth birthday, and have NEVER once been bored. And I certainly never suffered any negatives effects from watching them. So where did that teacher get her ideas about the effect of the cartoon series on kids from???

“The value of a liberal arts education is that it trains the mind to think” – Albert Einstein

Summary

The best gift you can give your child is the ability to think for him/herself. Make sure you send him/her to a school that does not “kill” that instinct/ability. Don’t let the wrong teachers make your child a thinking pigmy. Don’t let them make your child what Robert Kiyosaki called a “mindless parrot” or robot. Get actively involved in your child’s formal schooling – and education today.

“Education has produced a vast population able to read, but unable to distinguish what is worth reading” – George Macaulay Trevelyan, 1942.

Final Words

By way of interest, the expression “Thinking Pigmy”, is NOT original to me. I came across it in a book by Colin Wilson titled “The Occult” Copyright 1971, Random House Inc. (New York & Canada).

Self-Development/Performance Enhancement Specialist Tayo Solagbade – works as a Multipreneur, helping individuals/businesses develop and implement strategies to achieve their goals, faster and more profitably.

Education for the Advancement of Women and the Social Development of the Planet

Not often does it fall to individuals to be a part of history in the making. For the few who are given that privilege, its true value can only be estimated only in hindsight. More than 150 years ago in a garden at Badasht, Tahireh – Iranian poet and revolutionary – renounced her veil and before the stunned participants announced through the power of this deed a new age in the cause of women. Four years later, at the moment of her execution, she cried “You can kill me as soon as you like but you cannot stop the emancipation of women”.

One and a half centuries later, and a decade into a new millennium, I pause to remember Tahireh, and all those men and women since, who have kept the flame of her cause burning brightly down all the years and passed this torch on to our generation here today; another people, another land, another century. In my mind they remain with us, and will continue to inspire and guide us just as we too must inspire and guide the generations still to come.

The Connection Between Education and Emancipation
In the globally disseminated statement “The Promise of World Peace” the Universal House of Justice describes the important connection between education and discrimination, stating “…ignorance is indisputably the principal reason…for the perpetuation of prejudice.”

More and more we realise that if we are to change the cruel, destructive ways in which human beings treat one another, we must first change the way they think, and the things they value. Highlighting the supreme urgency of re-educating the souls and minds of humanity, H. G. Wells said “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.”

A crucial aspect of this education which is necessary if we are to avert catastrophe and bring balance to the present state of disequilibrium, and which will eventually contribute to a new definition of humanity, is the process which some have called the ‘feminisation’ of the planet.

‘Abdu’l Baha, son of Baha’u’llah, Prophet Founder of the Baha’i Faith, described this process;

“The world in the past has been ruled by force and man has dominated over woman by reason of his more forceful and aggressive qualities both of body and mind. But the scales are already shifting, force is losing its weight, and mental alertness, intuition and the spiritual qualities of love and service, in which woman is strong, are gaining ascendancy. Hence the new age will be an age less masculine and more permeated with the feminine ideals, or, to speak more exactly, will be an age in which the masculine and feminine elements of civilisation will be more properly balanced.”

The first entry in Collins Dictionary defining the word education is ” the act or process of acquiring knowledge…”. This broad definition vastly extends the sphere of education beyond that limited and formalised type of education provided by the state school system. Clearly ‘the act or process by which we acquire knowledge’ takes place on many levels. One purpose of this paper is to identify some of the primary ways in which we have acquired our present beliefs about the role and value of the sexes, and to suggest positive directions for future educational change.

True Education Creates Enduring Change
The real value of education lies in how it permanently changes our behaviour and our thoughts. Professor B. F. Skinner offers this definition; “Education is what survives when what has been learnt has been forgotten.” People can learn to behave in outwardly politically correct ways, but the real challenge is to so internalise new values that they become an inseparable part of the individual. This is what Baha’u’llah asks of us when He calls for us to become “a new race of men.” Steven Covey, author of “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” says “What we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do.” How you behave in your day-to-day life is a truer indication of your inner beliefs than are the words you speak. For this reason we need to focus upon our deeds rather than our words. Baha’u’llah says “The reality of man is his thought, not his material body”. In seeking to promote the advancement of women, we need to retrain thoughts, attitudes, beliefs and values. We need to do this for ourselves as individuals, but we also seek to influence others at every level of our personal and collective lives.

A popular catch cry of feminism has been the statement that “The personal is political”. “The Promise of World Peace” describes how personal attitudes do indeed have political and international consequences, stating that denial of equality “promotes…harmful attitudes and habits that are carried from the family to the workplace, to political life, and ultimately to international relations.”

In the article ‘Training for the Year 2000′, James Aggrey maintains that the education of girls is of the greater importance because “To educate a man is to educate a single individual, but to educate a woman is to educate an entire nation.” The words of William Ross Wallace that ‘The hand that rocks the cradle Is the hand that rules the world’ have become legendary.

An earlier quotation from ‘The Promise’ described how inequality promotes harmful attitudes and habits which men carry with them into all spheres of life. It continues by saying “Only as women are welcomed into full partnership in all fields of human endeavour will the moral and psychological climate be created in which international peace can emerge” and in the subsequent paragraph states “…it is through educated mothers that the benefits of knowledge can be most effectively and rapidly diffused throughout society.”

Here then are two key factors in the education and feminisation of our society;
* the education of women which will enable them to participate equally in all fields of human endeavour and in doing so become in themselves a source of education; a ‘feminising influence’ to others
* the crucial role played by women in the education of the coming generation

The Education of Men is Crucial to True Equality
It is impossible to consider the issue of the advancement of women as belonging to women alone. In fact the Universal House of Justice states it is an issue that men too must own;
“It is important to acknowledge that the wellbeing and advancement of men is impossible as long as women remain disadvantaged. Men can not be happy whilst women are oppressed, and neither can they hope to remain unaffected by the changes women are making for themselves. The growth and development of women needs to be balanced by complementary growth and development on the part of men.”

Poet and pacifist Robert Bly stated:

“Contemporary man is lost… damaged by a childhood lack of contact with a strong male figure to initiate him into manhood. He has become a “soft’ or naive’ male, who, by rejecting the aggressive and obnoxious male traits that he has been taught women dislike, has also abandoned the forceful and heroic aspects of masculinity, to the detriment of society.”

Christchurch psychotherapist Paul Baakman bluntly observed “No wonder when boys grow up they can’t talk with other men, they’ve never learnt to talk with their bloody fathers.”

The N.Z. Dominion newspaper carried a report of an 11-country study of parental involvement with children. The study reported that “Preschoolers worldwide are alone with their fathers on average less than one waking hour a day…”. In their survey of the routines of four-year-olds, researchers found young children were rarely in the sole care of their fathers, regardless of the culture, and the article quoted an editor of the study as saying that “It certainly indicates that the rhetoric of equality and the male taking his share of the responsibility for child-rearing is a lot of talk but certainly not a lot of action.”

Sandra Coney writing in the N.Z. Sunday Star Times (22.1.95) describes how faulty perception of male roles in society creates negative behaviour patterns which may have contributed to that country having the world’s highest youth suicide rate, reporting;

“Research by the Alcohol and Public Health Research Unit at Auckland University found low self esteem was the dominant characteristic of today’s young men.

The men’s peer group was their principle source of belonging, support and acceptance. The group’s solidarity was reinforced by drunken, foolish exploits which won approval and became part of the lore of the group.

Women threatened the young men and the cohesion of the group. They represented commitment, responsibility and the possibility of rejection. The men protected themselves from this by being hostile and offensive around women.

The cultural context we provide for young men is all wrong. We expect, even tolerate their antisocial behaviour. Fathers provide poor role models as husbands and fail to develop emotionally close relationships with their boys.”

And, as final evidence of the faulty role modelling of males in Western society, let’s not forget comedian Rod Dangerfield who also suffered from low self esteem as a child, and complained; “Once I told my father, ‘Nobody likes me’. He said, ‘Don’t say that – everybody hasn’t met you yet.” ”

The need to develop positive sex roles is common to both men and women, and presents an important challenge for our communities in order to heal past sufferings and bring about personal transformation, through identifying and developing strong options for the future. As Elizabeth Kubler Ross said; “I’m not OK, you’re not OK, but that’s OK”.

‘Abdu’l-Baha emphasises that the equality of men and women presents issues which will negatively affect us all until they are resolved;

“Until the equality between men and women is established and attained, the highest social development of mankind is not possible….Until woman and man recognise and realise equality, social and political progress will not be possible.”

Supporting the advancement of women is clearly in the interests of men, on many levels. Because women are the first and most influential trainers of sons, their development will in turn enrich men, who will be better educated from the earliest years at the hands of proficient mothers. When fully one half of the world’s human resources, lying largely untapped in the hearts and minds of women, are released and developed, the potential for global transformation on every level is profound. Therefore, in view of the eventual advantages to both males and females, it is easy to see why Abdu’l-Baha states “The woman is indeed of the greater importance to the race. She has the greater burden and the greater work…” ‘

New Concepts of Power
Many people have felt the need to coin new terms for the advancement of women that are not burdened with the negative associations many now attach to the word ‘feminism’. The term ‘feminisation’ has already been mentioned. Another phrase used by Maori in New Zealand-“mana wahine”-refers to a recognition of the rights of a woman to participate in all aspects of society. Until recently there have been clear distinctions between politically feminist and more spiritually-inspired thought. Feminism has focussed strongly on the achievement of equality through the acquisition of power by women. The spiritually-inspired ideal seeks power too, but in a different context. The development of a more balanced view was expressed in the opening address at the 1985 Nairobi Conference on Women by the Conference Secretary-General who commented ;

“Power, as it is increasingly seen by women today, is not a means of dominating others but rather an instrument to influence political, social and economic processes to create a more humane and democratic world. Will this vision be translated into reality? Let us hope so.”

In this context women seek the power to influence, to have access to areas of human endeavour where our voices can be heard and our feminising influence, our ‘mana wahine’, felt. We seek for men to actively support us in becoming more educated, more influential. One potent means of educating others is through the ‘power’ of example.

Role Modelling
Role modelling is a popular term for what is referred to in Baha’i teaching as ‘the dynamic force of example’. Tahireh was an early champion of this influence, in her challenging words to “Let deeds, not words, be your adorning.” ‘Abdu’l-Baha offered the example of His own life, saying; “Look at Me, follow Me, be as I am”. The Universal House of Justice calls upon the Baha’i community to be a model.

Women have always exerted a strong yet often unacknowledged influence upon following generations through the power of their own lives. Macho Australian league player Alan Jones said; “What Australia needs today are examples and heroes, people and standards to look up to and live by. My mother will always be my hero.”

The powerful attraction exerted by mothers makes them important teachers and role models for better or for worse, whether they do so consciously or unconsciously. Even the physical proximity of mothers is powerfully attractive; Helen Keller recalled; “I used to sit on my mother’s knee all day long because it amused me to feel the movements of her lips and I moved my lips too, although I had forgotten what talking was.”

The creation of more role models for young women was considered to be one of the lasting benefits of Women’s Suffrage Year. Our communities need to consider how we can promote good role models for both our male and female children, within our families and within wider society, in day-to-day life and in their formal education.

Women’s History
How well does the present system of state education promote healthy sex role attitudes? Personally speaking, my own experience of school inclines me to the same view as rugby-playing All Black Andy Haden who said “I make no secret of the fact that I went to school to eat my lunch”

Does the content of our formal education promote healthy attitudes free from prejudice or is prejudice still perpetuated in ways which are especially dangerous because they are so insidious, subtle and deceptive? Our present education system is in reality only a narrow slice of human knowledge; it omits the input of many cultures and, with few exceptions, fully one half the world’s population since it is largely the history and knowledge of men. It denies intuition, and creates an artificial separation of church and state, of science and religion, of materialism and human values.

For example, Rosalind Miles, in ‘Review of The Women’s History of the World’ tells us what we could have been, but were not, taught, that;

“Aspatia, a women of Miletos was Plato’s principle teacher.

Aristoclea, another woman, taught Pythgoras.

In the fourth-century Alexandria, Hypatia, again, a woman, invented the astrolabe, the planisphere and a hydroscope, Artemesia in the command of the fleet, defeated the skilful Athenians near Salamis.

Mary Reiber was transported to Australia in 1790 at the age of 13, for stealing a horse; she was to become a grain trader, hotelier, importer, property developer and shipping magnate.”

It is no surprise that girls have grown up burdened by a belief that they have only a narrow sphere of influence and opportunity in the world, whilst males have an opposite but also burdening belief that they must know everything. This societal pressure has produced what was wittily described in an article called “Male Answer Syndrome; Why men always have opinions, even on subjects they know nothing about.” I admit the tone of this article is a little flippant and unscholarly, but readers who are able to approach it with a sense of scientific detachment can easily recognise the key point, which is of course an exposure of the tragedy of faulty sex role stereotyping.

Mothering
Politically-slanted feminist conceptions of power usually diminish the role of motherhood with its attendant physical and historical limitations and restrictions. Spiritually-based teachings on equality place great emphasis on the role of women as mothers. Indeed, this is the area in which women have the greatest manifestation of their power. ‘Abdu’l-Baha states that the greatest of all ways to worship God is to educate the children and that no nobler deed than this can be imagined, thus acknowledging the primacy of mothers in their capacity to shape minds and souls during a child’s most formative period. In this context it is mothers who, upon receiving the necessary education and resources to maximise their own potential, can “..determine the happiness, the future greatness, the courteous ways and learning and judgment, the understanding and faith of their little ones.”

The role of women in educating children, particularly in early childhood, provides the vital foundation for the collective education of humanity, for it is in early childhood that values are most effectively transmitted from one generation to the next, and “….it is through educated mothers that the benefits of knowledge can be most effectively and rapidly diffused throughout society.” It follows that the role of the family in the advancement of women is a crucial one for it is here that attitudes are most rapidly and effectively disseminated from the individual to the family and ultimately to the world.

Therefore, in considering future directions in the advancement of women, primary considerations include;
* raising the status and perceived value of mothering
* providing training and resourcing for women to become competent mothers
* developing and promoting quality parenting programmes
* investigating and demonstrating how such mothering is compatible with full participation in wider human society
* providing good role models of this compatibility
* educating and supporting fathers, and providing strong role models
*fostering an understanding and value of the importance of families to the world
*fostering the development of scholarship and literature to develop new models for mothers, fathers, families, workplaces etc.

The Transmission of Values
A primary function of the mother is to teach good character and conduct, to train the children in values. Without morals or values, education can become as much a source of harm as advancement. G.M.Trevelyan observed of education that it “…has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading.”

There appears to be one noteworthy exception to the lesser role into which men have traditionally cast women. Those values which men may not be able to recognise in women collectively, they are often able to appreciate in their own mothers. The musician Glenn Miller testified to his mother’s training in values, describing her as “The inspirational head of a family in which she tried hard to establish an exceptionally high code of morality and a really deep-seated and lasting mutual love.”

Len Evans said of his mother; “There was great love, affection and care, but there was also a rigid code of conduct which followed her perception of exactly what was right or wrong…inflexible, stubborn perhaps, but also totally honest, upright, endearing and supportive. A woman to be reckoned with.”

The development of courses such as The Virtues Project, a global grassroots initiative inspiring the practice of virtues in everyday life, have proven to be effective first steps in helping mothers and fathers raise a new generation committed to equity, justice, cooperation, peacefulness and those other divine qualities which will transform individuals, galvanise nations, and unite the world.

Ultimately, all those who labour in the cause of the emancipation of women must realise that concepts of equality, unity and equity are spiritual concepts. Their true attainment is reached only through spiritual striving, They cannot be lobbied, legislated or demonstrated for. Feminism for the most part seeks to create outer forms and representations of equality, but it is not looking to the only sure and underlying source of sustained unity which is achieved through spiritual education which begins in the family.

Peace Issues
New Zealand is distinguished for being the first country in the world to grant votes for women; it is also a country distinguished for horrific loss of life on the battlefields of the twentieth century.

“My poor little New Zealand” said James Herbert Henderson. “Exporting frozen meat in peace, live meat in war.”

Women are the most important factor in world peace; surely the present day battlefield of women, having attained distinction in winning the vote, is to become distinguished in the pursuit of a peace which will preserve the lives of sons and grandsons to come. The Universal House of Justice states;

“The emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality between the sexes, is one of the most important, though less acknowledged prerequisites of peace. The denial of such equality perpetuates an injustice against one half of the world’s population and promotes in men harmful habits that are carried from the family to the workplace, to political life, and ultimately to international relations. There are no grounds, moral, practical, or biological upon which such denial can be justified. Only as women are welcomed into full partnership in all fields of human endeavour will the moral and psychological climate be created in which international peace can emerge.”

The peace which spiritually-minded women seek is not to be gained by waving banners and lobbying politicians, but by creating in our human society a climate both moral and psychological, in which the attitudes of peace will gain widespread acceptance. The process of the feminisation of the workplace will introduce into daily life those qualities essential to the creation of a peaceful world, as women model the reality of “Abdu’l-Baha’s words that “…women are most capable and efficient…their hearts are more tender and susceptible than the hearts of men…they are more philanthropic and responsive toward the needy and suffering…they are inflexibly opposed to war and are lovers of peace.”

When women, aided and encouraged by those very men whose own lives are most at risk from war, achieve full partnership in all areas of influence and decision making, the qualities of tenderness, compassion and peacefulness will prevail in human affairs, and the Most Great Peace, the Kingdom of Heaven, will come.