GoodBadGoodBadGood

good and bad

What is  good or bad?

Can anyone say with surety that any given act is one or the other?

Aren’t there cases where what’s thought bad ends up furthering good?

How the heck should we decide?

Some would say, “Should  we decide?”.

From Country Music Television: Good Songs for Bad Times

From the Times Online – UK: Why you can bet that a good read will be truly bad

From MarketWatch: The bad economy is good for the environment

I’m not about to tell you what’s good for you or what you do that’s bad. It wouldn’t be good for me to do that ’cause it’s bad form—won’t make me or you any better.

There are a ton of sources that will tell you what’s good or bad, from scholarly essays to rap songs. There are even people shouting on street corners, shouting right in your face, that you’re going to Hell.

And, with penetrating effect and long-lasting influence, our mothers and fathers (and, sometimes, sisters and brothers and uncles and aunts and grandparents) have told us we should do This and never do That…

I’m a member of a Faith that my parents never practiced. They were Christian ministers and I’m a Bahá’í. They worked to put their Faith into practice and I struggle, daily, to be true to mine.

So, is it reasonable to cling to the moral standards of a religion? Is it more reasonable to cling to a humanistic, scientific view of human behavior? Can the two perspectives be blended?

Are we intelligent enough to decide what’s good or bad on our own with no input from others, whether human or divine?

Just to keep the discussion lively, consider this: Within every horribly bad happening is the seed of a gloriously good outcome.

Here’s a video that should stir up even more discussion. It starts out with a bit of a shock, quickly becomes fascinating, and ends as pure delight!

Spiritual Quotes:

“Question. — Is man a free agent in all his actions, or is he compelled and constrained?

“Answer. — This question is one of the most important and abstruse of divine problems. If God wills, another day, at the beginning of dinner, we will undertake the explanation of this subject in detail; now we will explain it briefly, in a few words, as follows. Some things are subject to the free will of man, such as justice, equity, tyranny and injustice, in other words, good and evil actions; it is evident and clear that these actions are, for the most part, left to the will of man. But there are certain things to which man is forced and compelled, such as sleep, death, sickness, decline of power, injuries and misfortunes; these are not subject to the will of man, and he is not responsible for them, for he is compelled to endure them. But in the choice of good and bad actions he is free, and he commits them according to his own will.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 248

“The sundering of science and religion is but one example of the tendency of the human mind (which is necessarily limited in its capacity) to concentrate on one virtue, one aspect of truth, one goal, to the exclusion of others. This leads, in extreme cases, to fanaticism and the utter distortion of truth, and in all cases to some degree of imbalance and inaccuracy. A scholar who is imbued with an understanding of the broad teachings of the Faith will always remember that being a scholar does not exempt him from the primal duties and purposes for which all human beings are created. All men, not scholars alone, are exhorted to seek out and uphold the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.”
The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 390

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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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No Peace Without Justice

ROTTERDAM, Jul 15 (IPS) – “Human rights organisations all over the world will celebrate the tenth anniversary Jul. 17 of the adoption of the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC is the first and only permanent international criminal tribunal to prosecute individuals accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

Interview with human rights promoter Dorota Gierycz: “…I believe that yes, there is a very difficult initial period when there is this kind of tension between justice and peace, but in the long run there can be no peace without justice, and if we just keep pushing things under the rug there will be no room for genuine understanding and consolidation of the society and democracy.”

Pushing things under the rug is an age-old activity of humans when they wish to commit a crime or when they feel they just need a break from moral responsibility.

Holding things high in the full light of the sun can be painful. Making the effort to use tact and diplomacy while still pursuing rigorous truth is hard work. It seems mere humans can’t regularly accomplish these desirable goals.

Well, I’m here to say that humans can’t accomplish peace and justice if what they depend upon is just their human powers.

We have more than animal bodies for a reason. Our bodies (and our minds and hearts subjugated to the body) will always vote for the easy path, even if it leads to war—war between nations, members of a family, neighbors…

So, where’s the “instruction book” so many people claim we don’t have?

“The Heavenly Books, the Bible, the Qur’án, and the other Holy Writings have been given by God as guides into the paths of Divine virtue, love, justice and peace.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 61

“The fundamental spiritual truth of our age is the oneness of humanity. Universal acceptance of this principle — with its implications for social and economic justice, universal participation in non-adversarial decision-making, peace and collective security, equality of the sexes, and universal education — will make possible the reorganization and administration of the world as one country, the home of humankind.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1993 Apr 01, Sustainable Development and the Human Spirit

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