Worshiping with Popcorn

popcorn“Worshiping with popcorn?Has Alex run out of worthy blog topics?”

Nope, this may just be one of my best yet…

The country is Brazil. The protagonist is 36-year-old Valdir Novaki—used to be an itinerant farm laborer, a newsagent, then a car park driver. Now he’s a
Popcorn Entrepreneur.

Hey, Alex, what about the “worshiping”?


Oh, yeah, in just a second…

On the site I discovered him, GlobalVoices, they say:

“Despite the fact that Valdir only had the opportunity to finish elementary school, he now coaches students and business people of all ranks. For just over a year, Valdir has travelled around Brazil giving motivational lectures, entrepreneurship tips, and maybe some inspiration.”

Vladir even has a website, PipocadoValdir. Check it out! This is no mere popcorn man. He even gives his customers a “hygiene kit” with a napkin, a toothpick and a mint candy.
You can also watch the five news videos about his business by clicking the Valdir na Mídia link; and, the real kicker is the slowmotion video of popcorn popping!!

Here’s my favorite quote from Valdir:

“Oh, every day I’m in a good mood. And the key thing is to look back in hindsight. If we look back in hindsight, you will see that there are people [living in] much worse [conditions] than us. I’m healthy, I’m working, my family is not in need… So, it is only joy! Thus we overcome difficulties! I have always a smile on my face because, as I always say, the smile is the shortest distance between two people. And for me to be a popcorn seller, I have to be happy.”

O.K., Alex, he’s a great guy who’s conquered many obstacles in life and maintained a happy attitude, he’s an innovative entrepreneur and respects his larger social responsibilities… What about “Worshiping”?!

Oh, right. Check out this quote…

Spiritual Quote:

“The man who makes a piece of notepaper to the best of his ability, conscientiously, concentrating all his forces on perfecting it, is giving praise to God. Briefly, all effort and exertion put forth by man from the fullness of his heart is worship, if it is prompted by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity. This is worship: to serve mankind and to minister to the needs of the people. Service is prayer. A physician ministering to the sick, gently, tenderly, free from prejudice and believing in the solidarity of the human race, he is giving praise.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 176

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Path Toward Peace – Step Four


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 One


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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