Path Toward Peace – Step Seven

equality of sexes

Eliminating the denial of the equality of women & men


If you’re a man, do you treat women as complete and full equals?

I you’re a woman, are you willing to help men understand the benefit to themselves  of treating women as equals?

From the Champaign, IL, News Gazette: Normal school district named in sex abuse lawsuit

From the Macau Daily Times: Vietnam women break silence on domestic violence

From the Turkish Daily News: Women launch campaign to ensure gender equality in politics

Most people are aware of the issue of equality of the sexes. Many are striving to attain a consciousness of total equality; yet, many still harbor attitudes that perpetuate disunity, though attempting to act as if they support equality. Some still blatantly proclaim that men and women never were and never will be equal.

Until a person knows in their heart that women are just as capable, just as intelligent, just as human as men, that person will contribute to an evil that cripples humanity…

I mentioned women helping men understand the self-benefit of achieving equality. There is a document that spells out the role of men and boys in achieving gender equality. Perhaps women could read it and pass it on to the men in their lives. Perhaps a dialogue could ensue.

Perhaps I’m dreaming…

Well… Yes! I’m dreaming a dream of Reality—the fact that men and women are equal even when human actions attempt to thwart that unity.

Spiritual Quotes:

“In this Day the Hand of divine grace hath removed all distinction. The servants of God and His handmaidens are regarded on the same plane. Blessed is the servant who hath attained unto that which God hath decreed, and likewise the leaf moving in accordance with the breezes of His will. This favour is great and this station lofty.”
Adib Taherzadeh, quoting Bahá’u’lláh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v 4, p. 200

“Divine Justice demands that the rights of both sexes should be equally respected since neither is superior to the other in the eyes of Heaven. Dignity before God depends, not on sex, but on purity and luminosity of heart. Human virtues belong equally to all!”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 162

“The emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality between the sexes, is one of the most important, though less acknowledged pre-requisites of peace. The denial of such equality perpetrates an injustice against one half of the world’s population and promotes in men harmful attitudes and 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 Universal House of Justice, Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 618

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Path Toward Peace – Step Six

religious strife

Eliminating religious strife


Mary and Martha were having a discussion in the coffee shop. They’d just met fifteen minutes before and had been chatting about the debate between Obama and McCain. Mary said, “Well, seems we agree about who to vote for. What are you doing Sunday morning? I’d love to talk again—maybe while we walk the lower trail in the Metro Park.” Martha said, “Oh, I’ll be going to church Sunday morning. How about Friday around noon?” Mary said, “Oh, I can’t, that’s our time for community prayer in the mosque.”

They chatted for a bit more but the conversation withered away into banalities and, by the time they parted, both knew there would be no lasting friendship.

From the Jerusalem Post: “The reality of today’s Middle East is the same centuries-old one of ethnic and religious strife that extends far beyond the borders of the State of Israel.”

From the Egyptian Daily News: “Rashwan rather blamed Israel for creating ‘civil and religious strife between the different Arab countries.'”

From the Times of India: “Barely eight months after it was ravaged by attacks on Christians, Kandhamal is back in the headlines as a symbol of religious strife. For more than a week now, Kandhamal’s Christians have been brutalized, their homes pillaged and burnt, chased into the forests, left to languish in relief camps.”

It’s a shame about Mary and Martha. They were headed toward a beautiful friendship but, because they adhered to different Faith traditions, they sacrificed fresh happiness and sharing.

Well, at least they didn’t start butchering each other’s families and friends…

How long has humanity been killing in the name of religion?

How many mothers have lost children because of religious dogmatism?

How many children have been orphaned because of political decisions empowered by absurdly false religious doctrines?

It’s no wonder so many people will say, “Oh, I’m definitely a spiritual person. I’m just not religious.”

Is there some way to practice a religion (including, of course, a spiritual life) and not exclude other people, not see those in different religions as evil, not try to keep the All-Loving God in an armored box locked tightly in a room of the ego?

Spiritual Quotes:

“That the divers communions of the earth, and the manifold systems of religious belief, should never be allowed to foster the feelings of animosity among men, is, in this Day, of the essence of the Faith of God and His Religion. These principles and laws, these firmly-established and mighty systems, have proceeded from one Source, and are rays of one Light. That they differ one from another is to be attributed to the varying requirements of the ages in which they were promulgated.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 13

“Religious strife, throughout history, has been the cause of innumerable wars and conflicts, a major blight to progress, and is increasingly abhorrent to the people of all faiths and no faith. Followers of all religions must be willing to face the basic questions which this strife raises, and to arrive at clear answers. How are the differences between them to be resolved, both in theory and in practice? The challenge facing the religious leaders of mankind is to contemplate, with hearts filled with the spirit of compassion and a desire for truth, the plight of humanity, and to ask themselves whether they cannot, in humility before their Almighty Creator, submerge their theological differences in a great spirit of mutual forbearance that will enable them to work together for the advancement of human understanding and peace.”
The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Oct, The Promise of World Peace, p. 3

“There can be no doubt whatever that the peoples of the world, of whatever race or religion, derive their inspiration from one heavenly Source, and are the subjects of one God. The difference between the ordinances under which they abide should be attributed to the varying requirements and exigencies of the age in which they were revealed. All of them, except a few which are the outcome of human perversity, were ordained of God, and are a reflection of His Will and Purpose. Arise and, armed with the power of faith, shatter to pieces the gods of your vain imaginings, the sowers of dissension amongst you. Cleave unto that which draweth you together and uniteth you.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 217

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Path Toward Peace – Step Five

nationalism

Eliminating unbridled nationalism


The peoples of all nations are screaming for unity, their hearts bleeding, yet this strident call is made the slave of petty nationalistic agendas.

From Al Bawaba: Haifa refuses to answer those who doubted her nationalism

From Indian Muslim News and Information: Book: Communalism, Caste and Hindu Nationalism—The Violence in Gujarat

From the Times Online, UK: People’s Alliance for Democracy’s narrow nationalism in Thailand

I was born in the United States of America. Still live here, though I’ve traveled to Canada, Mexico, Viet Nam, Japan, and the Philippines.

I used to love my country as I love my parents, claiming them as place and people of my origin.

I still love my country but not, any longer, like I love my parents. I’ve learned that my place of origin is the Earth.

The Earth has always been whole and unified. Even though certain humans have declared various areas of Her surface as separate from other areas and stained Her soil with torrents of blood to maintain those national boundaries, She is whole.

Certainly, there are things I don’t like about my country of birth, just like there were things I didn’t like about my parents. But when I consider my true place of origin, this lovely blue-green-brown cosmic spaceship, I can find nothing about her I don’t like.

She is  troubled. I can hear Her voice, deep, throbbing tones, pleading with the children on Her surface, “Now, don’t make me scold you…”

Spiritual Quotes:

“It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 250

“…torrents of precious blood are spilled in defense of these imaginary divisions of our one human habitation, under the delusion of a fancied and limited patriotism.

“After all, a claim and title to territory or native land is but a claim and attachment to the dust of earth. We live upon this earth for a few days and then rest beneath it forever. So it is our graveyard eternally. Shall man fight for the tomb which devours him, for his eternal sepulcher? What ignorance could be greater than this? To fight over his grave, to kill another for his grave! What heedlessness! What a delusion!”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 355

“Unbridled nationalism, as distinguished from a sane and legitimate patriotism, must give way to a wider loyalty, to the love of humanity as a whole. Bahá’u’lláh’s statement is: ‘The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens’. The concept of world citizenship is a direct result of the contraction of the world into a single neighbourhood through scientific advances and of the indisputable interdependence of nations.”
The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Oct, The Promise of World Peace, p. 3

“O contending peoples and kindreds of the earth! Set your faces towards unity, and let the radiance of its light shine upon you. Gather ye together, and for the sake of God resolve to root out whatever is the source of contention amongst you. Then will the effulgence of the world’s great Luminary envelop the whole earth, and its inhabitants become the citizens of one city, and the occupants of one and the same throne.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 217

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Path Toward Peace – Step Four

altrusim

Fostering altruism and philanthropy


Placing others’ welfare above our own can seem such an impossible ethical directive but, imagine… Your most dear partner is being physically assaulted. Cling to that image and read on.

From the Boston Globe: Nonprofits gird for loss of funding “Some local nonprofits and charities fear they may lose millions of dollars in funding following the collapse of major Wall Street investment firms.”

From WorldChanging: Using Philanthropy to Fuel Innovation “…share some thoughts about how we might better use philanthropy to fuel innovation for sustainability.”

From the Wall Street Journal: Wealthy Son Aims to Build His Legacy “…build a profitable business and serve as a platform for people looking to do good.”

Placing others’ welfare above our own is a critical need as we follow the Path Toward Peace. The example up there of putting ourselves between our beloved and an attacker is the archetypical pattern. It can also serve as a model for other aspects of our life—infusing them with an altruistic motivation.

Let’s go to an extreme here, a situation that many Faith traditions hold up as noble—placing the welfare of our enemies above our own welfare…

Many folk will immediately reject this as an option. Fact is, this very prescription for a truly spiritual reaction to adversaries is the type of admonition that scares many people away from religion…

We’ll be exploring the material/spiritual polarity in a future post but, for now, consider this:
If we truly love someone we will do all in our power to attend to their welfare. So, it appears to follow that those we don’t feel worthy of our altruism must be those we don’t truly love.

Spiritual Quotes:

“But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.”
King James Bible, Luke 6:27-28

“The fundamentals of the whole economic condition are divine in nature and are associated with the world of the heart and spirit…. Hearts must be so cemented together, love must become so dominant that the rich shall most willingly extend assistance to the poor and take steps to establish these economic adjustments permanently. If it is accomplished in this way, it will be most praiseworthy because then it will be for the sake of God and in the pathway of His service. For example, it will be as if the rich inhabitants of a city should say, ‘It is neither just nor lawful that we should possess great wealth while there is abject poverty in this community’, and then willingly give their wealth to the poor, retaining only as much as will enable them to live comfortably.

“Strive, therefore, to create love in the hearts in order that they may become glowing and radiant. When that love is shining, it will permeate other hearts even as this electric light illumines its surroundings. When the love of God is established, everything else will be realized. This is the true foundation of all economics. Reflect upon it.”
Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 238

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Path Toward Peace – Step Three

economic disparity

Preventing Economic Disparity


A few extremely rich and so many poor… It’s criminal! Greed and corruption must be banished, the vast majority of human beings must be given a fighting chance to make their place in the world, children should not starve to death for lack of food while other children are world-weary with affluent lust.

From The Economic Times: Global financial crisis: The Story so far

From Principled Profit: Ethics Could Have Avoided The Collapse of Lehman, Merrill Lynch

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Articles of Faith: Ethical lessons to draw from economic crisis

As I’d mentioned a few posts ago, this series on Path Toward Peace is a major challenge for me, spiritually and emotionally. This morning, as I was pondering how to write today’s post, I decided to take a break (always good when the creative juices feel stopped-up) and stroll down to the Java Street Café. The owner, Sam, was not too busy and I thought I’d bring up what I was pondering for my blog post—I mean he is a good business man and highly attuned to financial concerns. I wasn’t sure what he’d say about economic disparity and was amazed at what he did say.

He brought up a concept that dealt with providing a fixed income to each citizen, not socialism but a humane method of lifting the burden of economic distress from human endeavor—not social security but social insurance, proactive at that.

Here was a man, focused on profit and loss, talking about altruistic business and government—a way to ensure that each human being had the means of a basic existence—pure justice and equity. This is a far cry from the existing situation in today’s ruinous economic game plan. We touched on the idea of the owners of businesses providing profit-sharing to employees. And Sam crowned this inspiring discussion with a statement about the necessity of being aware that the wealthy exist on the labor of the common person.

The next post in this series will deal with the spiritual and emotional transformations necessary for humane economic activity. Nevertheless, we must be willing to act, in whatever capacity we can handle, to instill fairness into our economic activities.

Spiritual Quotes:

“The inordinate disparity between rich and poor, a source of acute suffering, keeps the world in a state of instability, virtually on the brink of war.”
Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 551

“A financier with colossal wealth should not exist whilst near him is a poor man in dire necessity. When we see poverty allowed to reach a condition of starvation it is a sure sign that somewhere we shall find tyranny. Men must bestir themselves in this matter, and no longer delay in altering conditions which bring the misery of grinding poverty to a very large number of the people. The rich must give of their abundance, they must soften their hearts and cultivate a compassionate intelligence, taking thought for those sad ones who are suffering from lack of the very necessities of life.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 153

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Path Toward Peace – Step Two

Eliminating Racism

Eliminating Racism


Do you practice racism?

From AsianWeek: “I’m Not, Like, Racist”

From IndependentOnline: Rhodes sorry for past racist actions

From TribalFootball: Scotland and Ireland slammed by anti-racism agency

Here’s a definition of racism:

belief in racial superiority: the belief that people of different races have different qualities and abilities, and that some races are inherently superior or inferior.

It might be good to define prejudice, too:
opinion formed beforehand: a preformed opinion, usually an unfavorable one, based on insufficient knowledge, irrational feelings, or inaccurate stereotypes.

I feel we all  have to be rigorous in self-examination concerning tendencies toward racism.

It’s an ingrained behavior, driven deep by ages of irrational action.

Ever been faced by any of these situations?

* Your child wants to marry someone of different color.

* You are asked to work closely with a person of different color.

* Your partner was formerly involved with someone of different color.

* You find yourself in a situation that demands you live for an extended time with people of different color.

If you haven’t had to face those situations, I urge you, with an open heart, to imagine you are experiencing them. *** How do you honestly feel?

One factor that clouds this whole issue is the behavior of people who identify with their skin color—acting in ways that make them feel exclusive.

It’s going to take a phenomenal commitment to rid our planet of this illness. It will take “genuine love, extreme patience, true humility, consummate tact, sound initiative, mature wisdom, and deliberate, persistent, and prayerful effort.”

Also, recent thinking has made the idea of separate human races a distinctly non-scientific viewpoint. I’ll offer one opinion for your examination.

Spiritual Quote:

“Racism, one of the most baneful and persistent evils, is a major barrier to peace. Its practice perpetrates too outrageous a violation of the dignity of human beings to be countenanced under any pretext. Racism retards the unfoldment of the boundless potentialities of its victims, corrupts its perpetrators, and blights human progress. Recognition of the oneness of mankind, implemented by appropriate legal measures, must be universally upheld if this problem is to be overcome.”
The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Oct, The Promise of World Peace

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Path Toward Peace – Step One

volition

Inducing the Will to Act

High-minded ideals are powerless to change the world unless we act on them. Seems simple enough yet it’s apparent that a sufficient amount of action has yet to occur—wars, terror, oppression, hate are still the gruesome menu of “modern” culture.

Even taking no action toward a more peaceful world is taking action. We can’t avoid action if we want to stay alive.

From OneWorld.Net: Development Aid Declining Worldwide

From the Center for Global Development: Poverty afflicts more than half the world’s people

From the Utne Reader: In Praise of Economic Pain

But, what do we choose to act on? Here’s the place most people get it wrong if they really want peace. Too many folk feel that talking it up with friends and neighbors is helping. But, if that talking never leads to concrete action, it was a total waste. Too severe a judgement? What if the talking is to “raise people’s consciousness” about what needs to be done? Still, if it doesn’t lead to concrete action, it’s been a waste of time. Preparing ourselves to take action for peace, even if we see most of the world huddling under the tent of inaction, is the first step toward helping our world attain lasting peace.

Our actions can be extremely local—peace in our family, peace in the neighborhood, peace in the village, town, or city.

Our actions can be extremely global—serving on international committees of action or Non-Governmental Organizations, traveling to take the message of acting for peace to other lands, serving others in local environments far from our home.

Strongly motivated action comes from high ideals blended with intense emotion—what some would call spiritual motivation.

Bottom-line, no one acts for peace if their life is completely focused only on themselves…

The next post in this series will focus on one of the most insidious barriers to peace—Racism.

Spiritual Quote:
“What profit is there in agreeing that universal friendship is good, and talking of the solidarity of the human race as a grand ideal? Unless these thoughts are translated into the world of action, they are useless.

“The wrong in the world continues to exist just because people talk only of their ideals, and do not strive to put them into practice. If actions took the place of words, the world’s misery would very soon be changed into comfort….

“If I love you, I need not continually speak of my love—you will know without any words. On the other hand if I love you not, that also will you know—and you would not believe me, were I to tell you in a thousand words, that I loved you.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 16

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