Path Toward Peace – Step Eleven

morality

The Power of a Moral Character


This is the most difficult blog post I’ve ever written.

It’s the last in a series of eleven posts concerned with the Path Toward Peace.

It’s a summation of all the other posts and a clear call toward embracing the single factor that will assure the other steps in the process are capable of being activated and practiced productively.

From the Financial Times: Paul Newman And A Lesson In Morality

From the Morris County, New Jersey, Daily Record: Morality, honesty will help the nation

From The American Enterprise Institute: Does the Free Market Corrode Moral Character?

From the Irish Times: Sarkozy calls for capitalism with dose of morality

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this series:
Racism, Economic Disparity, Altruism, Nationalism, Religious Strife, Equality of Women and Men, Universal Education, a Global Language, and the Twin Powers of Civilization: Material Achievements and Spiritual Perfections.

Now, we face the one quality that makes us able to bring all the other issues to a harmonious resolution: A Moral  Response to the Crises Stalking Our Human Family.

So, why did I say this is the most difficult blog post I’ve ever written?

* Bringing up the word “Morality” in our ultimately materialized culture can make people fade away very quickly; and, I want people to attend to the issues raised in this blog.

* “Morality” is a word that can induce feelings of stricture–loss of “freedom” and a sense that one has to abide by someone else’s idea of what’s right and wrong.

* There’s a common attitude floating around that we humans are the top of the evolutionary tree (more than likely true) and we have the “right” to do whatever we “think” is best.

* The whole issue of Religion and where our best Guide for appropriate behavior comes from.

* And, most importantly, I’m certainly not the best person to be telling other people what they “should” do…

Still, there are attitudes and actions that work better than others  when we attempt to further the impending realization of Global Peace. And, they are Moral Attitudes and Actions.

Here’s a list of virtues from the Virtues Project that are powerful medicine for enabling us to take the kind of action necessary to advance the process of attaining Global Peace:

assertiveness forgiveness orderliness
caring friendliness patience
cleanliness generosity peacefulness
commitment gentleness perseverance
compassion helpfulness purposefulness
confidence honesty reliability
consideration honor respect
cooperation humility responsibility
courage idealism self-discipline
courtesy integrity service
creativity joyfulness tact
detachment justice thankfulness
determination kindness tolerance
diligence love trust
enthusiasm loyalty trustworthiness
excellence moderation truthfulness
flexibility modesty understanding
unity

I encourage each of you to check yourselves against this list—take an inventory of your moral capability—find out if you have the weapons, at the ready , that will empower you to aid our beleaguered Human Family in its Quest toward Peace and Tranquility…

Spiritual Quotes:

“O people of God! Do not busy yourselves in your own concerns; let your thoughts be fixed upon that which will rehabilitate the fortunes of mankind and sanctify the hearts and souls of men. This can best be achieved through pure and holy deeds, through a virtuous life and a goodly behavior.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 93

“Within the very breath of such souls as are pure and sanctified far-reaching potentialities are hidden. So great are these potentialities that they exercise their influence upon all created things.”
Shoghí Effendí Rabbání, quoting Bahá’u’lláh, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 23

“…the happiness and greatness, the rank and station, the pleasure and peace, of an individual have never consisted in his personal wealth, but rather in his excellent character, his high resolve, the breadth of his learning, and his ability to solve difficult problems. How well has it been said: ‘On my back is a garment which, were it sold for a penny, that penny would be worth far more; yet within the garment is a soul which, if you weighed it against all the souls in the world, would prove greater and nobler’.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 23

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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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Heads or Tails ?

soar above painIt’s always a choice, no matter how much pain is happening, whether you’ll attempt to rise above it or wallow in it.

From the Lewiston Sun Journal:The Sweet Sting of Relief

From empowher:You’re In Pain. You Want Relief. Naturally

From the Daily Record, Scotland:I climbed all 284 Munros [mountains] despite suffering from two debilitating conditions

I spent some time yesterday looking back at the first few posts of this blog. I began it in March, just two months before the end of a torturous eleven-month medical drug therapy to rid my liver of a deadly virus (Hepatitis C). The first posts were all about the pain of the treatments, about how debilitating and depressing they were but, also, expressing my determination to soar as far above the physical disorders as I could.

One of the greatest aids to flight above physical suffering was my music. I even offered some of my favorites in a post on March 28th:

My All-Time Favorite Song

My All-Time Favorite Singer

My All-Time Favorite Musical Group

The other great relief from my suffering was opening my mind and heart to spiritual sustenance.

If you’ve visited this blog before, you know I’m dedicated to raising the issues in current events to the level of Principle. Recently, I’ve been working toward my first comprehensive series of posts. The first in the series will be the very next post I write (more than likely posted on Tuesday). The subject will be Inducing the Will to Act. I’m taking the themes for the series from the fourth chapter of a book called, Peace: More Than An End To War.

To help with my thinking and feeling for the series (it will be a major spiritual and emotional effort) I used a really cool application called Wordle–transposing any text (including a blog) into a word-cloud. I used the text of the document, The Search for Values in an Age of Transition, which I’m studying for a future series of posts.

Here’s the word-cloud (click to enlarge):
spiritual word-cloud

Here’s the outline for the series of posts (with the post numbers):

1 Inducing the will to act.
Eliminating barriers to peace.
2 Racism.
3 Extremes of wealth & poverty.
Preventing economic disparity
Fostering altruism & philanthropy

4 Unbridled nationalism.
5 Religious strife.
6 Denial of the equality of women & men.
7 Ignorance & lack of education.
8 Multiplicity of languages.
Evoking Moral Attitudes Conducive to Enduring Peace
9 Material Achievements and Spiritual Perfections
10 Two Wings of Progress
11 The Power of a Moral Character

“Our greatest efforts must be directed towards detachment from the things of the world; we must strive to become more spiritual, more luminous, to follow the counsel of the Divine Teaching, to serve the cause of unity and true equality, to be merciful, to reflect the love of the Highest on all men, so that the light of the Spirit shall be apparent in all our deeds, to the end that all humanity shall be united, the stormy sea thereof calmed, and all rough waves disappear from off the surface of life’s ocean henceforth unruffled and peaceful.”
Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 87

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Peace ?

nonviolence
Peace?

When?

How?

Today, the spiritual quote will follow directly after the news clips, for reasons that will become very clear:

From the Chicago Tribune: Chicago schools, cops to curb student violence

From the Associated Press: Spain: Street violence after immigrant’s death

From the Guardian, UK: Sex, violence and classroom action

“There is nothing so heart-breaking and terrible as an outburst of human savagery!

“I charge you all that each one of you concentrate all the thoughts of your heart on love and unity. When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love. Thoughts of war bring destruction to all harmony, well-being, restfulness and content.

“Thoughts of love are constructive of brotherhood, peace, friendship, and happiness.

“When soldiers of the world draw their swords to kill, soldiers of God clasp each other’s hands! So may all the savagery of man disappear by the Mercy of God, working through the pure in heart and the sincere of soul. Do not think the peace of the world an ideal impossible to attain!

“Nothing is impossible to the Divine Benevolence of God.

“If you desire with all your heart, friendship with every race on earth, your thought, spiritual and positive, will spread; it will become the desire of others, growing stronger and stronger, until it reaches the minds of all men.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 29

“These principles for nonviolence were adapted by the Denver Area Task Force for: A Season for Nonviolence – January 30-April 4, 1998

“Inspired by the 50th & 30th memorial anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi
and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

1 — Today, I will reflect on what peace means to me.
2 — Today, I will look at opportunities to be a peacemaker.
3 — Today, I will practice nonviolence and respect for Mother Earth by making good use of her resources.
4 — Today, I will take time to admire and appreciate nature.
5 — Today, I will plant seeds–plants or constructive ideas.
6 — Today, I will hold a vision of plenty for all the world’s hungry and be open to guidance as to how I can help alleviate some of that hunger.
7 — Today, I will acknowledge every human being’s fundamental right to justice, equity, and equality.
8 — Today, I will appreciate the earth’s bounty and all of those who work to make my food available (i.e., grower, trucker, grocery clerk, cook, waitress, etc.)
9 — Today, I will work to understand and respect another culture.
10 — Today, I will oppose injustice, not people.
11 — Today, I will look beyond stereotypes and prejudices.
12 — Today, I will choose to be aware of what I talk about and I will refuse to gossip.
13 — Today, I will live in the present moment and release the past.
14 — Today, I will silently acknowledge all the leaders throughout the world.
15 — Today, I will speak with kindness, respect, and patience to every person that I talk with on the telephone.
16 — Today, I will affirm my value and worth with positive “self talk” and refuse to put myself down.
17 — Today, I will tell the truth and speak honestly from the heart.
18 — Today, I will cause a ripple effect of good by an act of kindness toward another.
19 — Today, I will choose to use my talents to serve others by volunteering a portion of my time.
20 — Today, I will say a blessing for greater understanding whenever I see evidence of crime, vandalism, or graffiti.
21 — Today, I will say “No” to ideas or actions that violate me or others.
22 — Today, I will turn off anything that portrays or supports violence whether on television, in the movies, or on the Internet.
23 — Today, I will greet this day–everyone and everything–with openness and acceptance as if I were encountering them for the first time.
24 — Today, I will drive with tolerance and patience.
25 — Today, I will constructively channel my anger, frustration, or jealousy into healthy physical activities (i.e., doing sit-ups, picking up trash, taking a walk, etc).
26 — Today, I will take time to appreciate the people who provide me with challenges in my life, especially those who make me angry or frustrated.
27 — Today, I will talk less and listen more.
28 — Today, I will notice the peacefulness in the world around me.
29 — Today, I will recognize that my actions directly affect others.
30 — Today, I will take time to tell a family member or friend how much they mean to me.
31 — Today, I will acknowledge and thank someone for acting kindly.
32 — Today, I will send a kind, anonymous message to someone.
33 — Today, I will identify something special in everyone I meet.
34 — Today, I will discuss ideas about nonviolence with a friend to gain new perspectives.
35 — Today, I will practice praise rather than criticism.
36 — Today, I will strive to learn from my mistakes.
37 — Today, I will tell at least one person they are special and important.
38 — Today, I will hold children tenderly in thought and/or action.
39 — Today, I will listen without defending and speak without judgment.
40 — Today, I will help someone in trouble.
41 — Today, I will listen with an open heart to at least one person.
42 — Today, I will treat the elderly I encounter with respect and dignity.
43 — Today, I will treat the children I encounter with respect and care, knowing that I serve as a model to them.
44 — Today, I will see my so-workers in a new light–with understanding and
compassion.
45 — Today, I will be open to other ways of thinking and acting that are different from my own.
46 — Today, I will think of at least three alternate ways I can handle a situation when confronted with conflict.
47 — Today, I will work to help others resolve differences.
48 — Today, I will express my feeling honestly and nonviolently with respect for myself and others.
49 — Today, I will sit down with my family for one meal.
50 — Today, I will set an example of a peacemaker by promoting nonviolent responses.
51 — Today, I will use no violent language.
52 — Today, I will pause for reflection.
53 — Today, I will hold no one hostage to the past, seeing each-as I see myself-as a work in process.
54 — Today, I will make a conscious effort to smile at someone whom I have held a grudge against in the past.
55 — Today, I will practice compassion and forgiveness by apologizing to someone whom I have hurt in the past.
56 — Today, I will reflect on whom I need to forgive and take at least one step in that direction.
57 — Today, I will forgive myself.
58 — Today, I will embrace the spiritual belief of my heart in my own personal and reflective way.
59 — Today, I will enlarge my capacity to embrace differences and appreciate the value of every human being.
60 — Today, I will be compassionate in my thoughts, words, and actions.
61 — Today, I will cultivate my moral strength and courage through education and creative nonviolent action.
62 — Today, I will practice compassion and forgiveness for myself and others.
63 — Today, I will use my talents to serve others as well as myself.
64 — Today, I will serve humanity by dedicating myself to a vision greater than myself.

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Who Is Writing The Future ?

starvation
It would seem that the Past and Present are just about too much to handle these days. So, who’s writing our Future? Will it just happen? Should it be left up to those who’ve wrecked our past and present?

From Agence France-Presse: HIV-AIDS orphans face life alone in Swaziland

From Unicef: Situation worsens for children as relief measures falter in Horn crisis

From Save The Children: Children living on highways to escape Bihar floods killed by traffic

The children that manage to live through these crises are the ones most likely to affect our future; they are, even now, “writing” the future–in their hearts . . .

And, it’s not just the children who suffer in extremely bleak ways in Africa, East Asia, India, or China that are doing this Writing. Children of the affluent are doing their heart-writing, too.

All these young and mostly tender souls are the Witnesses of our age. Those who live into adulthood are the ones who will, based on their past, decide what’s to be done in a world nearly completely devastated by near-term crises.

Children have always been the Future. Too bad I won’t live to see the remarkable achievements of the future adults who overcome our mistakes and build a new world on the skeleton of what we’ve left them.

Today’s Spiritual Quote comes from a document that evaluates the Twentieth Century:

“…the deliberate extermination of millions of helpless human beings, the invention and use of new weapons of destruction capable of annihilating whole populations, the rise of ideologies that suffocated the spiritual and intellectual life of entire nations, damage to the physical environment of the planet on a scale so massive that it may take centuries to heal, and the incalculably greater damage done to generations of children taught to believe that violence, indecency, and selfishness are triumphs of personal liberty. Such are only the more obvious of a catalogue of evils, unmatched in history, whose lessons our era will leave for the education of the chastened generations who will follow us.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1999 Feb, Who is Writing the Future: Reflections on the Twentieth Century

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Beauty and Love

rose


I scanned the news for this post, as I do every day. There was nothing there but bodies, fame, and sex…

Not too surprising in our current culture.

What is Beauty?

Never an easy answer to that question . . .

There’s an intriguing and compelling poem on PoetSeers by Khalil Gibran called Beauty. He says {and I do hope you’ll read the whole poem}:

“…beauty is not a need but an ecstasy.

It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretched forth,

But rather a heart enflamed and a soul enchanted.

It is not the image you would see nor the song you would hear,

But rather an image you see though you close your eyes and a song you hear though you shut your ears.”

What is Love?

To answer this would take all the seas turned to ink and all the land turned to parchment . . .

But, still, we can approach an elevated answer.

I’m going to quote from a Work called The Seven Valleys by Bahá’u’lláh, but I want to preface that with reference to a much older work that has some relation to The Seven Valleys.

In the 12th century, Persian poet Farid ud-Din Attar wrote a work called, Conference of the Birds ( or, Bird Parliament ). Birds have been, from ages past, a symbol of Spirituality. In Attar’s work the birds must traverse seven valleys to attend the conference. Bahá’u’lláh made use of this ancient Persian theme when He wrote His Seven Valleys, but He extended and deepened the theme.

Some of His words on Love:

” Now is the traveler unaware of himself, and of aught besides himself. He seeth neither ignorance nor knowledge, neither doubt nor certitude; he knoweth not the morn of guidance from the night of error. He fleeth both from unbelief and faith, and deadly poison is a balm to him. Wherefore Aṭṭár saith:

For the infidel, error—for the faithful, faith;
For Aṭṭár’s heart, an atom of Thy pain.

The steed of this Valley is pain; and if there be no pain this journey will never end. In this station the lover hath no thought save the Beloved, and seeketh no refuge save the Friend. At every moment he offereth a hundred lives in the path of the Loved One, at every step he throweth a thousand heads at the feet of the Beloved.”

“Wherefore must the veils of the satanic self be burned away at the fire of love, that the spirit may be purified and cleansed and thus may know the station of the Lord of the Worlds.

Kindle the fire of love and burn away all things,
Then set thy foot into the land of the lovers.”

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The Search For Truth

I search for news that I can comment on while raising the issues to the level of Principle—reaching the truth by climbing out of the mud…

Most media and almost all politics are miring swamps.

From the Bahá’í World News Service: Iranian media attacks on Baha’is and Nobel Prize Winner Shirin Ebadi seek to stir “irrational fears and prejudices”

From The Huffington Post: The Media’s Problem Of “False Balance” Showing Itself In Electoral Map Analyses

From the Lancaster Eagle Gazette: Candidates taking low road: Dirty politics is never helpful

From the Tampa Tribune: Truth, Please

Often, I find refuge from the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” in fiction. I am a poet and many would claim that poetry is fiction, along with myth and tradition . . . Contemplate these quotes:

“Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Fiction is the truth inside the lie.”
Stephen King

My favorite author, C. J. Cherryh, spins beautiful tales, taking media, politics, poetry, fiction, and myth to realms that reveal truth more clearly than most any media or political source available.

Consider these quotes from this multiple award-winning author:

“It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.”

“Deal with the Devil if the Devil has a constituency – and don’t complain about the heat.”

“Trade isn’t about goods. Trade is about information. Goods sit in the warehouse until information moves them.”

“We’re in the hands of lunatics.”
“Of financiers. Far worse”

“The interests of all humans are interlocked…and politics is no more than a temporal expression of social mathematics.”

“Ignorance killed the cat, sir. Curiosity was framed.”

Want to join a community that honors and discusses this author’s work? Travel to the Realm of Shon’jir !

Today’s Spiritual Quote:

“Oh! why will man, the disobedient child of God, who should be an example of the power of the spiritual law, turn his face away from the Divine Teaching and put all his effort into destruction and war?
“My hope is that in this enlightened century the Divine Light of love will shed its radiance over the whole world, seeking out the responsive heart’s intelligence of every human being; that the light of the Sun of Truth will lead politicians to shake off all the claims of prejudice and superstition…”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 150

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