What Should Be Our Greatest Concern?

surveyFor the last week, this blog has had a survey up called, What Should Be Our Greatest Concern?

It’s time to tally the votes from our readers.

First though, let me state that 48% of this blog’s readers come from the United States; however, that means that 52% are from a wide diversity of other countries…

I should also say that the way the Internet and Blogs work the survey will likely receive more voters and I may revisit the results in the future.

For now though, here are what readers feel should be our greatest concerns.

The Top Concern with 11% of the vote:

Clean Water

The set of next greatest concerns, each carrying 9% of the vote:

Children’s Rights
Climate Change
Human Rights

The next set, each with 8%:

Moral Development
War
Starvation
All of the Above…

Next, each with 6%:

Epidemic Disease
Rainforests
Women’s Rights

Next, each with 4%:

Economic Collapse
Terrorism
Religious Fanaticism

And, finally, with 2%:

Wetlands

I’ll be using this survey of Greatest Concerns for the next series of posts—doing research and providing links so you can explore the issues…

Spiritual Quote:

“Every age hath its own problem, and every soul its particular aspiration. The remedy the world needeth in its present-day afflictions can never be the same as that which a subsequent age may require. Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and center your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements.

“We can well perceive how the whole human race is encompassed with great, with incalculable afflictions. We see it languishing on its bed of sickness, sore-tried and disillusioned. They that are intoxicated by self-conceit have interposed themselves between it and the Divine and infallible Physician. Witness how they have entangled all men, themselves included, in the mesh of their devices. They can neither discover the cause of the disease, nor have they any knowledge of the remedy. They have conceived the straight to be crooked, and have imagined their friend an enemy.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 212

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Happy Memorial Day . . .

DeathI’m a veteran.

Today, May 25th, in the United States, people celebrate the brave, dead veterans…

I’m still alive.

The best gift I can give my readers on this misbegotten holiday is this story by Mark Twain:

The War Prayer

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety’s sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came—next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams—visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation

God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest! Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!

Then came the “long” prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory—

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher’s side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued with his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal,

“Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!”

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside—which the startled minister did—and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

“I come from the Throne—bearing a message from Almighty God!” The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. “He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import—that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of—except he pause and think.

“God’s servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two—one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this—keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor’s crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.
“You have heard your servant’s prayer—the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it—that part which the pastor—and also you in your hearts—fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: ‘Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!’ That is sufficient. the whole  of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory—must  follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

“O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle—be Thou near them! With them—in spirit—we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it—for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(After a pause. ) “Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!”

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

~~~~~~~~~

Spiritual Quote:

“And if, confirmed by the Creator, the lover escapes from the claws of the eagle of love, he will enter THE VALLEY OF KNOWLEDGE and come out of doubt into certitude, and turn from the darkness of illusion to the guiding light of the fear of God. His inner eyes will open and he will privily converse with his Beloved; he will set ajar the gate of truth and piety, and shut the doors of vain imaginings. 

“He in this station is content with the decree of God, and seeth war as peace, and findeth in death the secrets of everlasting life. With inward and outward eyes he witnesseth the mysteries of resurrection in the realms of creation and the souls of men, and with a pure heart apprehendeth the divine wisdom in the endless Manifestations of God. In the ocean he findeth a drop, in a drop he beholdeth the secrets of the sea.

“Split the atom’s heart, and lo!
Within it thou wilt find a sun.”

Bahá’u’lláh, The Seven Valleys, p. 11

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Playing For Change

Peace

Not gonna say much this time…

Want to {always want to} encourage and uplift…

Can you remember?

Singing your troubles away…

Dancing through the pain…

Loving because You  are Love

Let’s join musicians around the world and
Be the Change

All these videos are from Playing for Change:


Stand By Me

One Love

Don’t Worry

Spiritual Quote:

Henceforward we shall always be together, heart and soul and spirit, pressing forward in the work till all men are gathered together under the tent of the Kingdom, singing the songs of peace.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 40

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Is World Peace Actually Possible?

 warMy posts usually end with a spiritual quote. This time, the quote will dominate the post…

The words are from a man who spent 40 years as a prisoner of the Ottoman Empire. He was considered one of the most spiritual men of his time. He devoted his freedom, when once he gained it, to traveling Europe and America, carrying a Message charged with the power of the inevitable peace that humanity would win…

Inevitable?

“A few, unaware of the power latent in human endeavor, consider this matter as highly impracticable, nay even beyond the scope of man’s utmost efforts.”

Many, if not most, of humanity seem to think that people have an innate, in-born tendency toward fighting. Peace, in part of the world, for part of the time, then a reversion to war…

“Such is not the case, however. On the contrary, thanks to the unfailing grace of God, the loving-kindness of His favored ones, the unrivaled endeavors of wise and capable souls, and the thoughts and ideas of the peerless leaders of this age, nothing whatsoever can be regarded as unattainable.”

This man’s spirituality was very great and he proved it in action. It was said of him, “…he treads the mystic way with practical feet”. He was also known for his extreme rationality as well as his unending positive vision.

“Endeavor, ceaseless endeavor, is required. Nothing short of an indomitable determination can possibly achieve it. Many a cause which past ages have regarded as purely visionary, yet in this day has become most easy and practicable.”

Easy and practicable with ceaseless endeavor  and indomitable determination.

“Why should this most great and lofty Cause—the daystar of the firmament of true civilization and the cause of the glory, the advancement, the well-being and the success of all humanity—be regarded as impossible of achievement?”

Why should it be regarded as impossible? If a person lacks faith in humanity; if a person is buried in materialism and can’t lift their vision higher than what’s happening in front of them; if a person is filled with hate and intolerance; if a person is beaten by circumstances and hollowed-out by compromise; if attitudes like this hold sway in a person’s life, of course world peace would seem impossible…

“Surely the day will come when its beauteous light shall shed illumination upon the assemblage of man.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 66
~~~~~~~~~

He passed away on November 28, 1921, in what is now called Israel.

“In the land that we know as the Holy Land, in all its turbulent history of the last two thousand years, there had never been an event which could unite all its inhabitants of diverse faiths and origins and purposes, in a single expression of thought and feeling, as did the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Jews and Christians and Muslims and Druzes, of all persuasions and denominations; Arabs and Turks and Kurds and Armenians and other ethnic groups were united in mourning His passing, in being aware of a great loss they had suffered.
H.M. Balyuzi, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá—The Centre of the Covenant, p. 453

For a detailed analysis of why our age holds the hope that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá believed in, consult The Promise of World Peace

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Gaza and Its Civilians

Read All Our Gaza Posts Here
discussion_gaza_civilians

Miriam, Hamid, and Rebecca at the Park

Rebecca: O.K., we all have our quotes, let’s sit down and see if we have enough for the report.

They walk to the pavilion and get out their papers and books.

Rebecca: You start, Hamid.

Hamid: Well, I chose an article from the New York Times called, Many Civilian Targets, but One Core Question Among Gazans: Why?. Here are the three I ended up with:

“They hit my future with a rocket,” said Muhammad Baroud, one of the students at the Islamic University in Gaza City. “This is a university. What does it have to do with war?”

For Mr. Baroud and his friends, the bombing of the science lab building, which happened in the early days of the Israeli offensive, was a frontal attack on their future. The university is prestigious, and they said they worked hard to get there. It is one of the best medical schools in the region, and Israel recognizes its degrees.

“Are we going to study in a tent?” asked Mr. Baroud’s friend, Ahmed.

And,

The issue, in part, is about the very nature of Hamas. Gazans say that there is a range of relationships people have with the group, starting with sympathizer and ending with rocket launcher or suicide bomber. Just because someone likes Hamas does not mean that that person is necessarily working for the group, Gazans say.

Rebecca: Are there quotes in the article from the Israelis?

Hamid: Yes, do you think we need some of those?

Miriam: I  think so…

Rebecca: Yes.

Hamid: Will do.

Rebecca: Miriam, what do you have?

Miriam: I chose an article from the BBC News called, Gazans confront shattered lives, and I chose different segments from the article woven into one quote:

…for some Gazans even attempting to return home is virtually unimaginable. Amira al-Girim, 15, lies in a hospital bed with her leg in traction. She was found alone, bleeding in a house, about four days after she saw her father killed by an Israeli tank shell in front of her. Her brother and sister died – she thinks in an air strike – as they ran to get help….By the time she was found – she is not sure if it was three or four days later – she hardly knew her own name. But she remembers details…. She says she slept in the street for two days, but then found her way into another house. She had struggled some 500m with a badly broken, bleeding leg, in search of shelter as fighting raged nearby. ABC producer Sami Ziyara, who found Amira with his colleague Imad, said doctors told him she had only a few hours left to live at the point they found her in Imad’s house.

Miriam: That’s it…

Hamid: Powerful…

Rebecca: I think you found something we really need in the report. Is there a picture of her?

Miriam: Yes, here…

gaza_girl_suffering

Hamid: Poor, poor girl………

Miriam: Rebecca, what do you have?

Rebecca: Well… You guys may think I’ve flipped but I chose a quote of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, from page 19 in a book called ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London. It was written in 1911. It’s a spiritual quotation but I think we can use it at the end of the report to drive our points home:

The gift of God to this enlightened age is the knowledge of the oneness of mankind and of the fundamental oneness of religion. War shall cease between 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.

In the days of old an instinct for warfare was developed in the struggle with wild animals; this is no longer necessary; nay, rather, co-operation and mutual understanding are seen to produce the greatest welfare of mankind. Enmity is now the result of prejudice only.

They went to Miriam’s home, finished the report, and sent an email copy to their teacher…

They got an A…

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Greed, Violence, and Truth

dead_child_gaza

I’m going to do something that some may find insensitive or in poor taste.

As the Gaza conflict may, or may not, be winding down and as the American presidency transitions office-holders, I want to bring to sharp clarity that there are numerous political entities involved in a many wars that have killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians—possibly more than any time in human history.

As I see it, we are headed for an international transition from totally sovereign nations who can decide to initiate war to a global form of governance in which nations willingly agree to leave each other alone so their citizens can live fruitful lives. Naturally, this will only come after the violence against civilians reaches a possibly much higher level—severe pain teaching the rule of love…

Also, it’s fairly obvious that the world financial crisis came from materialistic agendas which have proven their falsity and that the greed behind such agendas is a strong inducer of violence.

Following are two videos. One being crushingly sad, the other seeming to be light comedy. I see the sad one as an unyielding Teacher and the comedy as a wise Professor—hot tears and stinging laughter being natural human responses to global disaster.

I don’t want to offend, I want to uncover the Truth…

Spiritual Quote:

“[This]…issue concerns the nature of the catastrophic events associated with this period in history. The general messages of the Guardian to the world-wide Bahá’í community make clear reference in several places to a ‘retributive calamity’ which will purify the human race and knit its components into a unified whole. One of the most detailed passages from the writings of the Guardian is the following:

‘The violent derangement of the world’s equilibrium; the trembling that will seize the limbs of mankind; the radical transformation of human society; the rolling up of the present-day Order; the fundamental changes affecting the structure of government; the weakening of the pillars of religion; the rise of dictatorships; the spread of tyranny; the fall of monarchies; the decline of ecclesiastical institutions; the increase of anarchy and chaos; the extension and consolidation of the Movement of the Left; the fanning into flame of the smouldering fire of racial strife; the development of infernal engines of war; the burning of cities; the contamination of the atmosphere of the earth—these stand out as the signs and portents that must either herald or accompany the retributive calamity which, as decreed by Him Who is the Judge and Redeemer of mankind, must, sooner or later, afflict a society which, for the most part, and for over a century, has turned a deaf ear to the Voice of God’s Messenger in this day—a calamity which must purge the human race of the dross of its age-long corruptions, and weld its component parts into a firmly-knit world-embracing Fellowship…’ (Taken from “Messages to the Bahá’í World 1950-1957″ by Shoghi Effendi, page 103)”
International Teaching Centre, 1984 Jul 01, Concerns about Retributive Calamity

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One Perpetual Faith

Due to recent world crises and the important information it contains, this post will stay up till Sunday, 18 January.

world-religion-day
Emory and Suzanne at the café:

E: World Religion Day? Come on, get serious.

S: I am serious, Emory, I want you to come to the gathering.

E: Sorry, I don’t think religion has anything that will help with the problems going on in the world right now.

S: Why not?

E: Well, for one, they’re all fighting each other. How can rabid religionists help establish peace?

S: I’m talking about real religion, the kind that induces love and unity.

E: Where does that exist?

S: Come to the gathering and you just might be surprised…

E: Who else will be there?

S: Tom, Elaine, and Pete; Christian, Jew, and Muslim…

E: Well, it might be fun watching them argue themselves into a frenzy.

S: I’ll bet they all get along and that you learn something that can help in your work for peace.

E: I’ll take that bet. In a way……… I actually hope I lose…

~~~~~~~~~

Emory will go to the gathering for World Religion Day and he will lose his bet. He’ll also learn that the core of all true religions are the same and all guide humanity to the road of peace and tranquility.

There’s a statement made in the Writings of my Faith that, if religion doesn’t lead to love and unity, a person is better off without religion…

In light of that statement, I want to introduce you to a major document that was sent to the world’s religious leaders, essentially telling them to reaffirm the core beliefs of their Faiths and get down to work helping their followers practice what real religion preaches. This link will let you read and download the document.

Also, in the time remaining before January 18th, you may want to learn more about World Religion Day and various activities that are being planned.

Here’s a video from the site:

Spiritual Quote:

“O ye steadfast loved ones! The grace of God is beating down upon mankind, even as the rains in spring, and the rays of the manifest Light have made this earth to be the envy of heaven. But alas, the blind are deprived of this bounty, the heedless are closed off from it, the withered despair of it, the faded are dying away—so that even as flooding waters, this endless stream of grace passeth back into its primal source in a hidden sea. Only a few receive this grace and take their share of it…

“We trust that in a time to come the slumberers will waken, and the heedless will be made aware, and the excluded will become initiates in the mysteries. Now must the friends work on with heart and soul and put forth a mighty effort, until the ramparts of dissension are toppled down and the glories of the oneness of humanity lead all to unity.

“Today the one overriding need is unity and harmony among the beloved of the Lord, for they should have among them but one heart and soul and should, so far as in them lieth, unitedly withstand the hostility of all the peoples of the world; they must bring to an end the benighted prejudices of all nations and religions and must make known to every member of the human race that all are the leaves of one branch, the fruits of one bough.

“Until such time, however, as the friends establish perfect unity among themselves, how can they summon others to harmony and peace?”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 277

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