It Really Is A New World…

InternetThis post contains an extremely potent video called “Did You Know?”

Even if you’ve seen it, it certainly bears re-watching…

Also, I’m going to change my usual format. I normally end a post with a Spiritual Quote. Today, I’ll begin with two quotes; to set up a context for the video…

The first quote broadly considers the global situation the video addresses:

“It has become clear that the powers of the institution of the nation-state, once the arbiter and protector of humanity’s fortunes, have been drastically eroded. While national governments continue to play a crucial role, they must now make room for such rising centres of power as multinational corporations, United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations of every kind, and huge media conglomerates, the cooperation of all of which is vital to the success of most programmes aimed at achieving significant economic or social ends. Just as the migration of money or corporations encounters little hindrance from national borders, neither can the latter any longer exercise effective control over the dissemination of knowledge. Internet communication, which has the ability to transmit in seconds the entire contents of libraries that took centuries of study to amass, vastly enriches the intellectual life of anyone able to use it, as well as providing sophisticated training in a broad range of professional fields. The system, so prophetically foreseen sixty years ago by Shoghí Effendí, builds a sense of shared community among its users that is impatient of either geographic or cultural distances.”
Commissioned by The Universal House of Justice, Century of Light, p. 132

The second quote is what Shoghí Effendí so prophetically said over sixty years ago:

“A mechanism of world inter-communication will be devised, embracing the whole planet, freed from national hindrances and restrictions, and functioning with marvellous swiftness and perfect regularity.”
Shoghí Effendí, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 203

Enjoy the video…

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Morality’s Downfall . . .

moralityI’m a Bahá’í…

I’ve been a Bahá’í for a little over 20 years…

I’m a more moral person now but it took a tremendous effort to will myself to become subservient to the principles of my Faith…

That word, subservient, may sound like I’ve given up my freewill. Yet, what I’ve worked hard to do (and still am definitely not perfect at) is to use my freewill to adhere to principles of morality that aren’t just in my Faith but all Faiths.

For example, would choosing to have your ego become subservient to honesty be a weakness?

Enough about me. It’s what’s happening to my fellow believers in Iran that has me troubled. Actually, because of the ominous portent and the fact that the crimes committed by Iranian government officials are just the rudely boldest of more insidious moral crimes committed by most of the world’s leaders, this one-year anniversary of the incarceration of Iran’s Bahá’í Leadership, with no access to legal counsel, should concern anyone who strives to be more good than bad…

The “informal” charges laid against these Bahá’ís in Iran were: espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities, and propaganda against the Islamic Republic. Now, after one year in prison another “informal” charge has been leveled: spreading corruption on earth. This, by the way, was the charge against the Bahá’ís in Iran who were summariy executed back in the 80’s—murdered for their beliefs—for working hard to be moral…

This video, from Iranian.com, is about the burning of Bahá’í homes in Egypt but it’s happening in Iran, too. And, the perpetrators are ordinary citizens incited by their government:

Here’s another video from Iran Press Watch  that compares the attitude of the Iranian government to that of Nazi Germany:

Spiritual Quote:

“At the heart of the global crisis currently afflicting humanity, there exists a pervasive lack of moral leadership in all sectors of human society. The lack of moral leadership is demonstrated in the continuous uncovering of unethical behavior at all levels of society in all parts of the world. No sphere of human endeavor, from the family to the highest corridors of power, remains unaffected. Often, moral leadership is hard to identify because society presents too many conflicting messages about what is meant by leadership…it would be helpful to identify a few fundamental capabilities that characterize effective moral leadership and to set in motion a systematic learning process that will foster the development of these capabilities within the institutions that serve human society….

“Autocratic, paternalistic, manipulative and ‘know-it-all’ modes of leadership, which are found in all parts of the world, tend to disempower those whom they are supposed to serve. They exercise control by over-centralizing the decision making-making process, thereby coercing others into agreement. If humanity is to move out of its collective adolescence and enter its age of collective maturity, if it is to reap long term benefits from the Earth Summit process, we have to ask ourselves some pertinent questions. First, are the currently-prevalent models of leadership capable of producing leaders who are able to address, with integrity and justice, the essential global issues facing humanity? Second, are the institutions which are brought into being by the currently-prevalent models of leadership, capable of creating a sustainable world civilization? Third, are we ourselves, ready to abandon our outmoded practices and old loyalties and explore a new model of moral leadership? Fourth, what would such a new form of leadership look like?

“The leadership model which is being proposed, is unequivocally centered on service to others. Therefore, one of the prerequisites for moral leadership is the spirit of service – service to one’s family, community, and nation. This spirit of service does not in any way negate individual drive or initiative, nor does it stifle individual creativity. Rather, it calls for a model of leadership which will release the potential of the individual while safeguarding the well-being of the whole. Those who emerge as leaders would likely combine a spirit of service with a drive for excellence. The institutions which would emerge from a service-centered leadership would promote the well-being of the whole community while safeguarding the rights, freedoms and initiatives of each individual. These institutions would preserve human honor which would lead to a civilization which deeply cares for the beauty of nature and all beings on the planet.”
Bahá’í International Community, United Nations Office, Moral Leadership, June 1992

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Law and Terror

law_terrorWhat good is government?

Why do people need government?

How much government is too much government?

Take those three questions to your favorite hangout and you can guarantee at least spirited discussion, if not an actual fight…

As humanity has evolved through the stages of Family, Tribe, City-State, and Nation, various forms of government have been organized. Some worked, some didn’t. Some helped people, some oppressed people.

The United States recently elected a new head of state, Barack Hussein Obama. Many hailed his inauguration as a new force in America and the world. Many are troubled by what he stands for.

I certainly don’t envy his position of power, the problems associated with the day to day administration of a government that must deal, in some way, with terrorist groups or movements; especially for anyone with what appear to be Obama’s beliefs.

People criticize him for his stance on “engagement” rather than acting from advantage, his apparent desire to induce the unity of contending parties, his relative inexperience in the harsh world of Washington politics.

I can only hope he has some chance to make some of the changes that some of his words seem to portent. I want to see the world unified. I don’t want my grandchild to live in a squandered or terrorized world. I don’t want my grandchild’s grandchildren to have no civilization at all, no government organizations or protections.

Mr. Obama recently gave a speech to the members of the CIA. It’s rather remarkable when compared with the attitude of the last American administration. I pray he means what he says and I pray he can influence the powers that be to create what he envisions in this video:

Spiritual Quote:

“The realization of human rights does not involve only action by the government or freedom from unjust government interference or oppression; rather it requires the construction of a progressive social order from the ground level upwards. It demands a new awareness of the reality of human unity and the development among all peoples of an all inclusive notion of community that extends from the family, to villages, towns, cities and localities, to nations, and, most importantly, to the boundaries of the planet itself. Moreover, given that rights cannot exist without corresponding responsibilities, each member of a community has a responsibility to uphold the rights of the other members based on a recognition of their unity and interdependence.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1993 Feb, Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

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Gaza, Israel, and Justice

You can read all our Gaza posts heregaza_israel_justice

Aaron and Julia at the Café


A: You’re totally mad !

J: Why, thank you, sir. It’s been said that to be crazy in an insane world is healthy…

A: The world sure is acting insane but a world government? Let’s just make the elite class even stronger and all become slaves.

J: I’m not talking about a dictatorial government; more like one that the whole human family elects. Just look at Gaza and Israel and the United States and Egypt and a few others. All those people in all those governments talking about justice and the citizens still suffer. The balance of world powers is off and trying to regain equilibrium by violence or embargoes or political fiat won’t ever make the scales come even.

A: Big dreams sweetie but nobody will ever be ethical enough to run a world government and the people won’t ever be smart enough to participate in a global election process.

~~~~~~~~~
Aaron and Julia talked for another hour and didn’t come to an agreement…
~~~~~~~~~

Outside my imaginary café people are saying very similar things and it’s fairly obvious the balance of global power is off-kilter and the citizens of many countries are steaming mad.

Consider the following news items:

From Al Jazeera: Fear and trauma in Gaza’s schools – An article about the adjustments in Gaza’s youthful population

From Bloomberg: Americans Sympathetic Toward Israel on Gaza in Poll – Opinion from the other side of the Big Pond

From The New York Times: The Bullets in My In-Box – A reporter discusses how he tries to maintain a balance within a highly polarized situation

The Gaza Conflict is just the latest in what seems to be an upward spiral of violent conflict and contention. It seems clear to me that the current systems of governance are not bringing us closer to global, or even local, peace.

What if there could  be an organization of human affairs that included all, enslaved none, and truly set the human spirit free?

The Bahá’ís say they’re working toward that dream and that their Universal House of Justice (which happens to be in the country of Israel) is the most important human step yet taken to lead to global peace.

By way of introduction to my Spiritual Quote for this post, I’ll let a Bahá’í poet have her say:

Look to Haifa, all Israel;
~~Look to Israel, Haifa, from Mount Carmel.

Look to Israel, all people;
~~Look to all people, Israel, from The Universal House of Justice on the holy mountain.

Look to the House of Justice, all lands and earth;
~~Look, lands homeless, hopeless, to the hope of justice in the house of man.

Susan Marie Le Mar, PsalmSpeak

Spiritual Quote:

“The physical unification of the planet in our time and the awakening aspirations of the mass of its inhabitants have at last produced the conditions that permit achievement of the ideal, although in a manner far different from that imagined by imperial dreamers of the past. To this effort the governments of the world have contributed the founding of the United Nations Organization, with all its great blessings, all its regrettable shortcomings.

“Somewhere ahead lie the further great changes that will eventually impel acceptance of the principle of world government itself. The United Nations does not possess such a mandate, nor is there anything in the current discourse of political leaders that seriously envisions so radical a restructuring of the administration of the affairs of the planet. That it will come about in due course Bahá’u’lláh has made unmistakably clear. That yet greater suffering and disillusionment will be required to impel humanity to this great leap forward appears, alas, equally clear. Its establishment will require national governments and other centres of power to surrender to international determination, unconditionally and irreversibly, the full measure of overriding authority implicit in the word ‘government’.

“This is the context in which Bahá’ís must strive to appreciate the unique victory that the Cause won in 1963, and which has consolidated itself over the years since then. A full understanding of its meaning is beyond the reach of the present and perhaps of the next several generations of believers. To the extent that a Bahá’í does grasp it, he or she will hold nothing back in a determination to serve its unfolding purpose.

“The process leading to the election of the Universal House of Justice—made possible by the successful completion of the three initial stages of the Master’s Divine Plan under the leadership of Shoghi Effendi—very likely constituted history’s first global democratic election. Each of the successive elections since then has been carried out by an ever broader and more diverse body of the community’s chosen delegates, a development that has now reached the point that it incontestably represents the will of a cross-section of the entire human race. There is nothing in existence—nothing indeed envisioned by any group of people—that in any way resembles this achievement.

“When one considers, further, the spiritual atmosphere that pervades Bahá’í elections and the principled conduct called for in even their simplest operations, one is humbled by a much greater awareness. In the raising up of the supreme governing institution of our Faith, one is witnessing a striving to the utmost of human capacity to win the good pleasure of God, a united and ardent determination that nothing whatever, in either cultural conditioning or the promptings of personal desire, should be allowed to stain the purity of this ultimate collective act.”
Commissioned by The Universal House of Justice, Century of Light, p. 92

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Politics or People ?

Image Credit
gaza_dead_childImagine : your family has been slaughtered…

Imagine : the government calls it “collateral damage”…

Imagine : you live where thugs have taken charge…

Imagine : you’re now considered a thug…

Imagine : people in government are truly loving, just, and fair…

That last one’s pretty hard to imagine, eh?

So many people taking about the Gaza massacre; so little being done…

Some recent cases of verbiage [ vúrbee ij ] noun, Definition: 1. excess of words: an excess of words that add little or nothing to the meaning.

Political word-dance:
“…asked today if the Israeli response was proportionate to the provocation of the Hamas rocket and mortar attacks, the White House declined to offer a view. ‘I’m not going to take a position on proportionality, because I’m not even sure if I could define what that is’, said Gordon Johndroe, the lead White House spokesman on this issue.”

From President Bush:
“In response to these attacks on their people, the leaders of Israel have launched military operations on Hamas positions in Gaza. As a part of their strategy, Hamas terrorists often hide within the civilian population, which puts innocent Palestinians at risk. Regrettably, Palestinian civilians have been killed in recent days.”

A religious (?) view:
“The Rabbinical Council of America, an umbrella group of Orthodox rabbis, said ‘Israel has every right and obligation to respond as it has.'”

And, quite incredibly:
“U.S. stocks rallied Friday to lock in solid weekly gains…”

Now, some news from the ground:

Also, some news from the interplay of the people suffering from the war:

“Gaza City and the Israeli city of Sderot are separated by just a few kilometres. A year ago, even while the people of Gaza were living in severe conditions under Israeli blockade, and Sderot was an ongoing target for rocket attacks coming out of the Gaza Strip, a blog was started by two men, one in each place. Since then they have been documenting their experiences and giving us their perspective on events, including those of the last week.”

And, an amazing site that brings the last quote to vivid life!

Spiritual Quote :

“Behold the disturbances which, for many a long year, have afflicted the earth, and the perturbation that hath seized its peoples. It hath either been ravaged by war, or tormented by sudden and unforeseen calamities. Though the world is encompassed with misery and distress, yet no man hath paused to reflect what the cause or source of that may be. Whenever the True Counsellor uttered a word in admonishment, lo, they all denounced Him as a mover of mischief and rejected His claim.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 218

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Who Is Writing The Future ? – Part Two

writing_the_future_who
Part One of this series talked about two governments and their differing responses to the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, Bahá’u’lláh.

The Chamber of Deputies of the Brazilian government held a special session honoring Him and His Writings. The Iranian government has been trying to eliminate every trace of His existence…

I’m being guided in my writing of this series of posts by a document from the Bahá’í International Community: Who Is Writing the Future?.

If you’d like to have the document available while reading these posts, here are a Word .doc and Adobe .pdf file for download.

This post will focus on the ideas of part one of the document where the main thrust of Bahá’u’lláh’s Message is introduced. One of His principles, honored or despised depending on your world-view, is that humans and humanity are primarily spiritual in nature and the evolution of civilization is predominantly a spiritual, not  material, process.

So, what about the common view that we evolved from apes who, somehow, became smart enough to start using tools and ended up building malls and spaceships?

Even for someone like me, drawn to study the sciences deeply, the idea of a blind progression from apes to spaceships doesn’t cut it—can’t even begin to account for things like the sacrifice a mother will make for her child or the otherworldly strength of religious martyrs.

There is a Pattern and Progression in an individual life and the life of our human family that can evoke a search for Meaning that transcends what the materialists and skeptics would have you believe.

In fact, Bahá’u’lláh claims that the progressive pattern of infancy, youth, adolescence, and maturity that individuals live through is meaningfully similar to what our human family has been experiencing. He claims that the stages up to maturity have already been experienced by humanity and we are embarking on our long-envisioned maturity—the merging of humanity into a truly global and adult entity—a state of earthly being prophesied by all the major world religions.

Sure doesn’t seem like humanity is growing into adulthood, eh? What about all the wars, greed, and other nastiness? Well, in this view of humanity’s growth, we’re in the last stages of adolescence, facing our traumatic entrance into the realm of adult responsibilities. Remember when all you wanted to do was break the rules, set your own agenda, get what You  wanted and to hell with all those other people who didn’t really understand you? I know some of you may not have faced adulthood with urgent rebelliousness but many can identify with such a phase…

How much pain and suffering does it take for an adolescent to submit to the Truth and moderate their behavior—begin to see other people as more like oneself than different, reach a consciousness of unity with others? How long will it take humanity to learn these lessons and stride into its inevitable adulthood…?

Spiritual Quote :

“A new chapter in the life of the planet has been opened. Humanity has attained its maturity, and the race consciousness has awakened to the fact that it must put away the childish things which seemed necessary in the day of the ‘survival of the fittest’. This day ‘wherein the feet of the people deviate’ is to be followed by a glorious to-morrow; for—’This is a new cycle of human power’. All the horizons of the world are luminous and the world will become indeed as a garden and a paradise. It is the hour of unity of the sons of men and of the drawing together of all races and all classes.

“The gift of God to this enlightened age is the knowledge of the oneness of mankind and the fundamental oneness of religion. War shall cease between the nations and by the will of God the most great peace shall come; the world will be seen as a new world and all men will live as brothers.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 12

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Involuntary Wandering

Homeless. Most often starving. Raising children in squalid conditions. These are our global family’s refugees.

From Refugees International: Stateless People “More than 11 million people around the world are stateless….The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserts ‘Everyone has the right to a nationality’, but stateless individuals generally do not benefit from the protection and assistance of governments, the United Nations, or aid agencies.”

By no means were refugees necessarily poor or uneducated before their forced migration.

From OneWorld.Net: Searching for Identity in an Ethiopian Refugee Camp “While thankful to be safely outside of Eritrea, Emmanuel explains that in addition to the general problems of refugee camp life such as insufficient food rations and health concerns like malaria, it is not easy to get out of the camp to carry out normal activities such as using the internet. First, a person must obtain a day pass, only 25 of which are issued every day. A bus to Shirraro, the nearest town, needs to be arranged and one must be able to cover the cost of bus fare and internet fees, which start at 15 Birr (US$ 1.56). He would like to continue his studies. ‘I have read the same physics textbook several times, but I would really like to study meteorology.’ ”

I searched Google images for quite awhile to find that picture of the mother and child. It was one of the absolutely saddest searches I’ve ever made…

I happen to be a United States citizen with a small veteran’s pension: not rich or particularly comfortable. I’ve also served time living on the streets, mostly due to a severe lack of self esteem. Yet, none of the suffering I’ve gone through comes anywhere near these peoples’ plight !

Bringing this post to an amazing end is a bit of the story of a remarkable refugee, Bahá’u’lláh. He lived in 19th Century Persia and was banished to Iraq, Turkey, and what is now Israel. This excerpt was written by His son:

“He upraised this standard of the oneness of humanity in prison. When subjected to banishment by two kings, while a refugee from enemies of all nations and during the days of His long imprisonment He wrote to the kings and rulers of the world in words of wonderful eloquence, arraigning them severely and summoning them to the divine standard of unity and justice. He exhorted them to peace and international agreement, making it incumbent upon them to establish a board of international arbitration—that from all nations and governments of the world there should be delegates selected for a congress of nations which should constitute a universal arbitral court of justice to settle international disputes. He wrote to Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, the Czar of Russia, the Emperor of Germany, Napoleon III of France and others, inviting them to world unity and peace. Through a heavenly power He was enabled to promulgate these ideals in the Orient. Kings could not withstand Him. They endeavored to extinguish His light but served only to increase its intensity and illumination. While in prison He stood against the Shah of Persia and Sultan of Turkey and promulgated His teachings until He firmly established the banner of truth and the oneness of humankind. I was a prisoner with Him for forty years until the Young Turks of the Committee of Union and Progress overthrew the despotism of Abdu’l-Hamid, dethroned him and proclaimed liberty. This committee set me free from tyranny and oppression; otherwise, I should have been in prison until the days of my life were ended.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 203

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