Youth In Danger

Youth

This post isn’t directly about the moral dangers our youth face, but a perusal of this Google search will deepen your understanding about that…

~~~

But, look at this couple: so youthfully together, so fresh with Life and promise! They could be dead in tragic moments from engaging in an activity that far too many do with no thought of danger—exuberance overcoming vigilance…

While I was Twittering, I followed a link to a very well-produced yet grippingly graphic public service video from Wales. Though texting while driving isn’t normally considered a moral issue, it’s consequences could lead to issues of high moral concern…

Show it to all the youth you know…

Spiritual Quote:

“…the dangers facing the modern youth are becoming increasingly grave, and call for immediate solution. But, as experience clearly shows, the remedy to this truly sad and perplexing situation is not to be found in traditional and ecclesiastical religion. The dogmatism of the church has been discarded once for all. What can control youth and save it from the pitfalls of the crass materialism of the age is the power of a genuine, constructive and living Faith such as the one revealed to the world by Bahá’u’lláh. Religion, as in the past, is still the world’s sole hope, but not that form of religion which our ecclesiastical leaders strive vainly to preach. Divorced from true religion, morals lose their effectiveness and cease to guide and control man’s individual and social life. But when true religion is combined with true ethics, then moral progress becomes a possibility and not a mere ideal.

“The need of our modern youth is for such a type of ethics founded on pure religious faith. Not until these two are rightly combined and brought into full action can there be any hope for the future of the race.”
From a letter Written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 17, 1926, Lights of Guidance, p. 630

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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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Bugs In Our Moral Code

cheating

Cheating At Life

Many could care less about moral codes as long as they feel they’re getting ahead in life. Thing is, getting ahead means nothing if you then fall far behind.

The current economic crisis is a good example—many people cheating and others looking the other way—all to get ahead—an example of institutionalized cheating that blossoms into international crime.

It’s easy to find studies and articles about cheating, from ways to stop it to ways to regulate it to the whys of its happening.

What’s very hard is finding ways to implement possible solutions to the obvious fact of wide-spread cheating…

An important consideration in any exploration of cheating or moral action is to be clear about why we even have such codes or laws in society.

Consider:

The word cheat comes from roots that mean to “fall away” and moral comes from “character” and “good”.

There’s a strong emphasis in those words on the group or social unit. There’s also an interesting perspective from which to discuss the social value of unbridled independent action. But that’s a subject for a future post…

The following video is a fascinating exploration of cheating, morals, and economic crime by a behavioral economist. Quite informative and also entertaining:

Spiritual Quote:

“The endowments which distinguish the human race from all other forms of life are summed up in what is known as the human spirit; the mind is its essential quality. These endowments have enabled humanity to build civilizations and to prosper materially. But such accomplishments alone have never satisfied the human spirit, whose mysterious nature inclines it towards transcendence, a reaching towards an invisible realm, towards the ultimate reality, that unknowable essence of essences called God….No doubt some observers would disagree, observing that religion has sometimes retarded, instead of advanced, social progress. In our view, such cases represent a distortion of religion.

“We would strongly suggest that this and any discussion of social policy give recognition to the role of spiritual principle in the functioning of society and indeed of government. Neither in theory nor in practice, should we separate material and moral affairs in a dichotomous way. The moral capacities and strengths of a nation — and of the global community — may be regarded as its ultimate form of wealth. Deficiencies in this form or wealth too easily lead to material effects as, for example, an unfair distribution of resources or, in the case of war, the near or total destruction of the physical infrastructure.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1987 Sept 09, Social Progress

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My Rant About A Rant…

rant_moral_entertainment

Josh and Marie at the Café:

M: Been listenin’ to Ryder and Baxter on KROQ about Christian Bale?

J: Ah… No.

M: Too awesome! They got this remix of him blasting some guy on the crew of Terminator: Salvation.

J: Remix?

M: Yeah, they took Bale’s rant and mixed it with music and it’s kinda like a musical ode to the word F__k !!

J: How… interesting… Gotta go, Marie…

~~~~~~~~~

Some people…

Some ideas…

Sometimes I feel like exploding…

So much wrong and some people invest in being more wrong with some crazed idea of social acceptability…

The Movie.

The actor and his story.

The Remix of the Rant. {Caution: liberal use of the word, “F__k”}

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While all this ranting about a rant in an industry that has become a rant of itself is happening, other things are going on that for various perverted reasons are receiving almost no attention. Here’s a very sad example:

Spiritual Quote:

“This same force […capacities to love, to forgive, to create, to dare greatly, to overcome prejudice, to sacrifice for the common good and to discipline the impulses of animal instinct ], that operated with such effect in ages past, remains an inextinguishable feature of human consciousness. Against all odds, and with little in the way of meaningful encouragement, it continues to sustain the struggle for survival of uncounted millions, and to raise up in all lands heroes and saints whose lives are the most persuasive vindication of the principles contained in the scriptures of their respective faiths. As the course of civilization demonstrates, religion is also capable of profoundly influencing the structure of social relationships. Indeed, it would be difficult to think of any fundamental advance in civilization that did not derive its moral thrust from this perennial source. Is it conceivable, then, that passage to the culminating stage in the millennia-long process of the organization of the planet can be accomplished in a spiritual vacuum? If the perverse ideologies let loose on our world during the century just past contributed nothing else, they demonstrated conclusively that the need cannot be met by alternatives that lie within the power of human invention.”
The Universal House of Justice, 2002 April, To the World’s Religious Leaders, p. 3

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Poll Results

pollsWell, the One Common Faith Polls have been up for three days now and I want to report on the results, so far

I’ve learned in my time with this blog that any given post can be visited for months because of the web of connections I have on the Internet. The post that’s remained the most popular, Strong In The Broken Places, was written back on May 9th…

Even though I’m going to give the results of the polls in this post, I’m sure they’ll be visited over the next few months. I’ll be giving updates as time goes on. You didn’t take part in the polls? Oh, my!  Here they are…

So…

*The poll about, How would you characterize yourself?, has 32 responses so far. The top three responses are:

#1: Spiritual

#2: is a tie between, Religious and Moral

#3: is a tie between, Agnostic and Atheistic

*The poll with the question, How do you feel about humanity’s future?, has 25 responses and the top three are:

#1: The Kingdom of God will be established on earth

#2: Improvement’s possible with God’s help

#3: is a tie between, Science will save us and We will save ourselves

*The poll about, Where do you feel you’re at, right now?, has 29 responses and the top three are:

#1: Working to establish God’s Kingdom

#2: Climbing a spiritual mountain

#3: Roaming in a spiritual valley

The results are in (for now) and I’m pondering them deeply to open myself up to what the readers of this blog are feeling…

Spiritual Quote:

“You will see how the world is upset with internal conflict, and many lands are dyed in human blood—nay the earth is kneaded with gore. The flame of war is so ablaze that such terrible struggle finds no parallel in the war records of any of the middle or recent ages. Heads have become like grains and the war like mill stones—nay even worse. Flourishing lands are ruined, cities completely wrecked and thriving towns annihilated. Fathers have lost their sons, sons are made fatherless, and mothers have shed tears of blood over the death of their youthful sons. Children are made orphan, women are helpless, and the world of humanity is forced backward in all respects. The wailing cry of fatherless children is raised abroad, and mothers’ pathetic lamentation reaches the high heaven.

“The source of all these catastrophes is racial fanaticism, patriotic fanaticism, religious fanaticism and political fanaticism. The source of these fanaticisms is ancient imitations, religious imitations, racial imitations, patriotic imitations, and political imitations. As long as following such imitations persists, the very foundation of humanity is wrecked and the world of man is in great jeopardy.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Letter to Martha Root

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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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