BAHA'I COMMENT

My personal views on topics of interest to the world     ...by Patricia Wilcox

71. How I Discovered I was really a Mutant.

Racism is a Poison.

 As a retired school teacher I was grateful to have an interesting puzzle solved for me. And it's all about one little word.

Why, I often wondered, did some of my students say 'ax' instead of 'ask'? This was a word that was frequently stigmatized by my teacher colleagues as reflecting lack of intelligence and sophistication.

To be frank, these same students were often brown-skinned Polynesians. And they also had a tendency to struggle the most with their school work.

So I was surprised the first time I heard my young Maori grandson used the word 'ax'.

That first time, I corrected his pronunciation. Turns out I was wrong. I was actually showing my own ignorance.

Language and pronunciation can tell a lot about where someone is from— the ask/ax confusion carries cultural baggage from a long history.

'Ax' is a pronunciation that has been handed down, unbroken, for a thousand years. It is a feature of English that traces back to the eighth century. Chaucer used “ax.” and it is even in the first complete English translation of the Bible; "Axe and it shall be given."

It is certainly not a racial feature but an example of how our cultural and historic differences cause people to make value judgements about one another.

“O Children of Men! Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other…." – Baha'u'llah, The Hidden Words, Arabic #68

In fact, genetic research has discredited the very concept of 'race'. Scientists from Britain’s Natural History Museum and University College London recently announced the sequencing of a genome belonging to the earliest complete skeleton ever found in Britain.

A full face reconstruction model was made from the skull of a skeleton named 'Cheddar Man', at least 10,000 years old, whose bones had been found in a cave sealed under a stalagmite. DNA suggests he had dark skin and blue eyes.

So to a geneticist today, the idea of “race” is no more than a social construct of shared custom, community and belief.

And there's a pretty simple explanation of skin colour: it is an adaption designed to protect skin from sunlight, and from its damaging effects on DNA and fertility levels. Dark skin pigments shield molecules from intense ultraviolet light; in colder, darker places, people need more sunlight to make necessary vitamin D.

Clearly skin colour has nothing to do with behaviours such as musical or sporting ability, criminality, aggression or intelligence. In fact, the genetic differences we do have are even greater between individuals than between groups; there is more diversity amongst the individuals of a “race” than between these groups.

So once and for all, the microscope of genetic research has done away with the concept of biological race.

White people - including blondes like myself - are actually mutants exhibiting a recent adaptation to low Scandinavian light levels.

Most of our human species’ 300,000-year span was spent in Africa, where our skins were dark. The earliest accepted record of white people ever found were blue-eyed, blond-haired “Swedes” buried about 7700 years ago.

Why did light skin take so long to become wide-spread in Europe? After all, we had been there for 33,000 years before the blond Swedes of my own recorded genetic ancestry showed up.

African genetics remain little studied, despite their commonality.

All non-Africans, from Polynesians to Peruvians, are descended from the small migratory bands that left Africa, giving us a reduced number of genomes, a small subset of the African total.

The 'genetic genius' Siddhartha Mukherjee poetically observed;

"In a genetic sense, nearly all of us who emerged out of Africa, gasping for land and air, are even more closely yoked than previously imagined. We were on the same boat, brother." https://www.noted.co.nz/currently/science/genetic-research-upends-the-concept-of-race/

The assumption that the worth of an individual is determined by race reflects a social system based on faulty assumptions.

The Univeral House of Justice clearly states that:

"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". – The Promise of World Peace, October 1985, p. 7

Abdu'l-Baha paints a frightening picture of unrestrained racism:

"All prejudices, whether of religion, race, politics or nation, must be renounced, for these prejudices have caused the world’s sickness. It is a grave malady which, unless arrested, is capable of causing the destruction of the whole human race. Every ruinous war, with its terrible bloodshed and misery, has been caused by one or other of these prejudices." Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 146

This statement underscores the urgency of our task. Racism can no longer be considered as just a personal attitude or bias; it is a global issue and its resolution will determine the very future of our entire planet.


72. Our Right to be Wrong.

Our right to be wrong. It's called being human...

Our Right to be Wrong

What do I do when someone makes a decision I don't approve of, or expresses an idea I don't agree with? Or when they say or do something that hurts me?

Take ye good heed in your night lest ye be a cause of sadness to any soul, whether ye be able to discover proofs in him or not, that haply on the Day of Resurrection ye may not grieve Him within Whose grasp lieth every proof...Indeed on no account should ye sadden any person; surely God will put him to the proof and bring him to account. - The Bab, Selections from the Writings of The Báb -5-

The good news is that it's OK to 'stuff things up', to mess up and do things incorrectly. In fact at one time or another we will all find ourselves in that situation. It's called being human...

A writer for onebahai.blogspot.com expressed our right to be wrong;

There are many times when friends of mine do things that I would not consider doing. Sometimes it's investing in a particular property, or taking a particular job. Oftentimes I feel like I'm watching a slow-motion train wreck, and I truly feel sorry for them. But I realize that it is their life. It is their choice. I offer counsel or guidance, point out certain things that I think are wrong, but, in the end, I know it is their choice, not mine.

Of course, this doesn't apply to children in the same way.

There were many times in my life where I stopped a child from doing something harmful. After all, they are children and need to learn. But when an adult makes a decision like taking a drink or marrying a particular person, it really is their choice, and I need to respect that. There are even times when their decision will hurt me. And you know what? That's ok, too. They can make their decision. They will have to live with it, and the consequences. And I will make my decision, too. This is the bounty, and the curse of free will.

No matter what they choose, I have to respect their God-given right to free will. I may not respect the decision they choose, but I have to honour their right to that choice." --- http://onebahai.blogspot.com/2019/04/the-stone.html

There is a consequence to every action. We have responsibility for determining whether that consequence is positive or destructive. Our reliance on prayer, meditation and consultation are key factors that will affect the result. Will it be proved helpful or harmful? Will it heal or hurt?

Our response is hugely important. Are we going to pray for that person and, perhaps in consultation, help them find another path, or are we going to withdraw, judge and condemn them?

Although we must avoid the greatest sin of backbiting, if we find the middle path there is a great value in seeking the assistance of others, in a spirit of consultation, prayer and meditation:

"When a sufficient number of people pray or meditate together, or find another path to evolve their consciousness, other people are affected as well. More sick people heal, divorce and suicide rates drop, crime and violence diminish. When many people open up, a powerful force develops — a leap of consciousness takes place. All the great prophets and sages of history knew this, Jesus as well as the Buddha, Mohammed as well as Zoroaster - and more recently Bahá'u'lláh - the same as Sri Aurobindo, Teilhard de Chardin and the Dalai Lama.”---http://innerworldpress.com/quantum-consciousness-our-evolution-our-salvation/

Ultimately we can rest in the assurance of Abdul-Baha that negativity shown towards us by others will pass:

"O thou who art attracted toward the Kingdom! Be thou not unhappy; the tempest of sorrow shall pass; regret will not last; disappointment will vanish; the fire of the love of God will become enkindled, and the thorns and briars of sadness and despondency will be consumed!

Be thou happy; rest thou assured upon the favors of Baha’, so that uncertainty and hesitation may become non-existent and the invisible outpourings descend upon the arena of being! If thou art seeking after spiritual tranquility, turn thy face at all times toward the Kingdom of Abha. If thou art desiring divine joy, free thyself from the bands of attachment. If thou art wishing for the confirmation of the Holy Spirit, become thou engaged in teaching the Cause of God." ---Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, p 730


73. There is no Cause for Despair

Our earliest forebears and all those generations who, over time, have shared this beautiful planet, have been collective participants in an amazing series of events.

Humanity has been travelling from the earliest days of family life to the level of tribal solidarity, to city-state and currently to our present stage of independent, sovereign nations.

Now, genetic science has established that we are one family. With this new awareness of our oneness, the human race stands on the threshold of its maturity.

Our collective task is to confront the destabilizing forces that now threaten this world and prevent attainment of the next phase of our development. Although the dream of world unity is possible it cannot be achieved without full and unreserved acceptance of the cardinal principle of the oneness of humankind which is described by The Guardian as “the pivot round which all the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh revolve”.

The reality that humanity is one people must be the starting point for a new order; all relations among nations need to be re-envisaged in this light. Such a radical re-conception of our origins requires a huge shift in understanding.

Presently, the will to achieve this transformation is still wanting. Sooner or later, it will require an historic feat of statesmanship from the leaders of the world.

The progressive recognition of our diversity, and the turbulence created as a result, has all humanity - both nations and individuals - gripped in a crisis of identity, as various peoples and groups struggle to define themselves, their place in the world, and how they should act.

Without a vision of shared identity and common purpose, they fall into competing ideologies and power struggles.

Recognition of our diversity has produced countless permutations of “us” and “them”, defining group identities ever more narrowly and in contrast to one another. This has resulted in a splintering into divergent interest groups, weakening the very cohesion of society itself.

Beliefs about the primacy of any particular group obscure the reality that all humanity is on a common journey, in which we are mutual companions.

Our earlier perceptions of human identity differ radically from what is emerging with this new perspective of our human oneness.

The value inherent in our diversity actually endows us with new richness and the promise of exciting potential and possibilities.

Unity, in its Bahá’í expression, embraces the essential concept of diversity, whilst clearly distinguishing it from uniformity. It is through love for all people, and by subordinating our lesser loyalties to the best interests of all humankind, that the unity of the world can be realized and our infinite expressions of human diversity may find their highest fulfilment.

It calls for unity and a selfless love for humankind. This is the task of religion. At this momentous time in our history, religious leaders have the opportunity to recognise the great possibilities before them to cultivate fellowship and concord. Or they can incite violence by using their influence to stoke the fires of fanaticism and prejudice.

Writing of religion, Bahá’u’lláh’s words are emphatic:

“… make it not”, He warns, “the cause of dissension and strife.” Peace, for “all who dwell on earth”, is one of “the principles and ordinances of God”.

We are regularly confronted by the suffering endured by so many because of disunity. We cannot shut ourselves off from the increasing turmoil of the society that surrounds us, yet must be on guard, too, from becoming enmeshed in its conflicts or falling into its adversarial methods.

No matter how bleak conditions may appear at any given time, no matter how dismal the immediate prospects for bringing about unity, there is no cause for despair. The distressing state of the world only spurs us to redouble a commitment to constructive action.

“These are not days of prosperity and triumph” cautions Bahá’u’lláh. “The whole of mankind is in the grip of manifold ills. Strive, therefore, to save its life through the wholesome medicine which the almighty hand of the unerring Physician hath prepared.” ---The Universal House of Justice 18 January 2019 To the Bahá’ís of the World


74. 12 Major Bahai Principles.


75. Solutions for every Social Problem.

In the past our more close-knit, mono-cultural communities held shared values. Today we have lost the equivalent of these common beliefs and guidelines. The citizens of today's world require a new set of commonly maintained and upheld beliefs or cultural mores.

"There are spiritual principles, or what some call human values, by which solutions can be found for every social problem". --Universal House of Justice, Promise of World Peace 11.

"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." - Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh CV1

Any well-intentioned group can in a general sense devise practical solutions to its problems, but good intentions and practical knowledge are usually not enough.

"The essential merit of spiritual principle is that it not only presents a perspective which harmonizes with that which is immanent in human nature, it also induces an attitude, a dynamic, a will, an aspiration, which facilitates the discovery and implementation of practical measures. Leaders of governments and all in authority would be well served in their efforts to solve problems if they would first seek to identify the principles involved and then be guided by them". ---UHJ 1985 Statement,October 1985 – To the Peoples of the World

'Abdu'l-Baha' explains that; "The root cause of wrongdoing is ignorance, and we must therefore hold fast to the tools of perception and knowledge. Good character must be taught. Light must be spread afar, so that, in the school of humanity, all may acquire the heavenly characteristics of the spirit... Thus will be kindled the sense of human dignity and pride, to burn away the reapings of lustful appetites". ---Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha

Here then is our challenge. If we genuinely seek to solve the diverse problems resulting from the present moral vacuum, we need leaders of governments and those in authority to first seek to identify the principles involved and then be guided by them, resulting in systems of spiritual education that begin with educating our children and extend to embrace the world.

 


76. #MeToo; Answered in the Golden Rule.

Spiritual Principles offer Solutions for every Social Problem

Within the past decade the #Me Too movement swept our world, bringing much controversy and selling a lot of valuable media space.

Its most visible supporters were primarily well-intentioned, privileged, usually white women who readily attracted media attention by reason of their fame, beauty and access to the media and who, by connecting their stories with those of even more famous men, won popular attention to their disclosures.

Its aim was to end a previous tolerance of degrading behaviours at the hands of others, mainly but not exclusively men.

Despite numerous stories told by the affected women, only a few resulted in legal action, whilst their tales besmirched many who were caught up in the process.

The intention of this movement is highly commendable. It called many people to account, and brought greater focus to a level of sexual abuse of youth and children previously tolerated within institutionalised settings such as the Catholic Church.

However, in many ways the #Me Too movement merely replaced a previous situation of 'Might is Right' which indulged the powerful, with another of 'Trial by Social Media'.

This resulted in an open season on smears and accusations, a type of reverse bullying where the ends justified the means, where an uncritical public assumption of guilt paid little regard to the enduring damage done to innocent members of marriages and families whose reputations and lives were ruined. Is this justice?

Whilst fear of public shame and humiliation may impose temporary limits on the outward behaviour of perpetrators it does not necessarily change that individual's inner personal values. It may, in fact, merely make the behaviour more secretive, underground and less accountable, whilst continuing to victimise the innocent. This is not the operation of justice.

"There are spiritual principles, or what some call human values, by which solutions can be found for every social problem". -Universal House of Justice, Promise of World Peace 11.

Those principles and values have existed in diverse cultures and religions across the ages. Known collectively as the Golden Rule, they address every issue, including those that are the focus of the #Me Too movement, thus providing a shared ethic for all.

Many of history's great spiritual leaders recognised in the Golden Rule a simple and readily understood means by which a family or nation or planet could learn to treat others as they would wish for themselves.

At a recent UN Leader's meeting NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reflected the global nature of this issue by suggesting a more appropriate name that expresses collective responsibility; from '#Me too' to '#We Too'.

In today's increasingly godless world, where do people go to learn global human values? To where can concerned parents - the first educators - turn? Today the promotion of this ethic presents a mighty challenge to every parent, to every spiritual and secular educational institution.

Recognisng these values as essentially peace issues, the Universal House of Justice (UHJ) observed: "...the primary challenge in dealing with issues of peace is to raise the context to the level of principle, as distinct from pure pragmatism. For, in essence, peace stems from an inner state supported by a spiritual or moral attitude, and it is chiefly in evoking this attitude that the possibility of enduring solutions can be found."---October 1985 message To The Peoples of the World.

This calls for a consciousness of global values and a recognition of the essence of justice.

'O Son of Spirit! The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbour. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behoveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes.'---Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 36

Over time all humanity must accept and develop a range of universal moral attitudes that recognise and embody concepts such as justice, respect, human dignity, integrity and accountability. https://www.globalethicsnetwork.org/


77. #MeToo Forward Planning.

Me# Too ; A Consciousness of Global Values.

The important Me# Too movement against sexual harassment and assault began a viral global spread in October 2017 using a powerful social media hashtag.

Before it loses the momentum gained, we have an imporrtant opportunity to review progress so far, and identify areas offering further potential.

But let us begin by celebrating that, within these few years, countless silent people were given a voice, victims felt exonerated, whilst perpetrators continue to cringe in fear of exposure. Many friends, clients and associates whose lives were damaged within the web of behaviours targeted by #MeToo now feel vindicated.

The pervasive demeaning attitudes that enabled their silent oppression to persist now has a name, a form, and we have a platform from which future voices will be heard and respected.

Justice holds a high position amongst Bahai principles. "O Son of Spirit! The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee." ---Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 36

The justice that we seek must engage both victim and perpetrator. Unless a violator is assisted to truly recognise the error of his/her ways and grow in self-knowledge and inner values, the effect of shaming is limited.

Criticism without education has no positive outcomes.

Today we call for a consciousness of global values. We call for recognition of the mutual values and principles historically upheld by diverse religions and cultures, which honour the essence of the Golden Rule; to treat others as we wish for ourselves. #Me Too must continue as a movement for social and spiritual change.

This will necessitate Knowledge, Volition and Action least our good intentions be lost in mere words.

It will require us, both perpetrators and victims, to progressively create safe positive enviroments in which to practice consultation and education. Ultimately, and over time, our lives must become active personal examples of change and recovery, extending from home to community, with a goal to treat one another with respect and acceptance.

Change is a slow processes. In the meantime, The Universal House of Justice cautions about; "...the tendency of the friends to criticize each other at the slightest provocation, whereas the Teachings call upon them to encourage each other. ...the friends must be helped through your example and through loving counsel to refrain from such a pattern of criticism, which stunts the growth and development of the community". 

Healing the errors of the past is necessary to create an atmosphere of unity and mutual respect in both the home and community.

Because the mother is the first educator, change must focus on her education and empowerment. It was mainly women who demonstrated their capacity to be change agents in winning the vote; they now have a similar goal to work with fathers, school and community to initiate activities that promote the development of ideal values and skills within the children.

"...although the mother is the first educator of the child, and the most important formative influence in his development, the father also has the responsibility of educating his children, and this responsibility is so weighty that Bahá’u’lláh has stated that a father who fails to exercise it forfeits his rights of fatherhood." ---28 December 1980 – UHJ to The NSA of the Bahá’ís of New Zealand.

Over time all humanity must accept and develop a range of universal moral attitudes that recognise and embody concepts such as justice, respect, human dignity, integrity and accountability. We must collectively relinquish previous limitations.

This requires an ongoing process of self knowledge, through prayer, study, reflection and consultation with others such as Spiritual Assemblies, qualified professionals, counsellors and educators. One powerful example of a relevant social development project can be see in the work of the Ruhi Institute [https://www.ruhi.org/materials/junioryouth.php.]

This is an educational institution, operating under the guidance of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Colombia, which dedicates its efforts to the development of human resources for the spiritual, social, and cultural development and philosophy of social change, development and education.

Another powerful project is the Virtues project [https://virtuesproject.com/] that identifies Love, Kindness, Justice and Service as Virtues which are the very meaning and purpose of our lives, the content of our character and the truest expression of our souls.

For people of all cultures, ethnicities and beliefs, these are the essence of authentic success. 

Moral Leadership is a very different kind of leadership. Rather than aspiring to being followed, Moral Leaders aim to serve. Instead of showcasing their own skills, Moral Leaders tend to develop the capacities of others. ---https://www.globalethicsnetwork.org/


78. Dreaming About the World as One. 

"Oh, I've been smiling lately,

Dreaming about the world as one,

And I believe it could be,

Someday it's going to come." -- "Peace Train", Cat Stevens.

 

The largest world women’s rights meeting -- the 63rd U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, held in New York City -- bore the theme Creating the World Anew: Leaving No One Behind.

It focused on empowering women and girls through social protection programs and promoting access to public services.

Declaring the vital consequences of this goal, a statement by the Baha'i International Community (BIC) addressed the UN stating:

"A theme as weighty as providing social protection to all, particularly the most vulnerable—a majority of whom are women and children—must be considered in the light of a greater truth: that all of humanity is one, and all must benefit from the shared resources of our shared homeland." --BIC Mar 8, 2019.

If we view the human race as one human body, we can recognise that it has travelled through the evolutionary stages of prehistory to early infancy, and thence to adolescence.

"The human race, as a distinct, organic unit, has passed analogous to the stages of infancy and childhood in the lives of its individual members, and is now in the culminating period of its turbulent adolescence approaching its long-awaited coming of age." --Universal House of Justice (UHJ), The Promise of World Peace (POWP)

As a mother and counsellor I recognise this time as an extremely crucial one in which young people must face crucial life choices. What are their personal values? What future opportunities can they imagine? What difference will their lives make? And where do we all stand now?

A sign of increasing maturity is the increase in co-operation among hitherto isolated and antagonistic peoples and groups in international undertakings and educational advances.

However, our immaturity is still evident in that doubts, misconceptions, prejudices, suspicions and narrow self-interest still beset nations and peoples in their relations one to another.

Clearly the prevailing order seems lamentably defective. However, new possibilities lie before us; a new period described in the following terms;

"For the first time in history it is possible for everyone to view the entire planet, with all its myriad diversified peoples, in one perspective. World peace is not only possible but inevitable. It is the next stage in the evolution of this planet—in the words of one great thinker, “the planetization of mankind”. --UHJ. POWP

And now a weighty choice lies before us all; "Whether peace is to be reached only after unimaginable horrors precipitated by humanity’s stubborn clinging to old patterns of behaviour, or is to be embraced now by an act of consultative will, is the choice before all who inhabit the earth." --UHJ POWP

People of all nations proclaim not only their readiness but their longing for peace and harmony. Attainment of this ideal will enable all people to set in motion constructive social forces which, because they are consistent with human nature, will encourage harmony and co-operation instead of war and conflict.


79. Some Questions for the Planet.

Today, as never before, our youth are asking where are we going? What is to come of us and our world? How will we make a safer sustainable future for our children?

"About 70,000 years ago Homo Sapiens was still an insignificant animal who made his own business in a corner of Africa... Today he is on the verge of becoming a god, ready to acquire not only eternal youth, but also the divine abilities to create and to destroy... Can there be something more dangerous than a mass of dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who do not even know what they want?" --Yuval Noah Harari, "From Animals into Gods - A brief History of Humankind"

The recent terrorist attack on a Muslim Mosque in the distant corner of New Zealand has raised many questions.

A recent publication from NZ's neighbour, Australia, posed the question: "Want a safer world for your children?" https://theconversation.com/want-a-safer-world-for-your-children-teach-them-about-diverse-religions-and-worldviews-113025?

Encouraging readers to teach their children about diverse religions and world views, it quoted a national study of Australian Generation Z teens (those born around the mid-1990s to mid-2000s) that found around 80% of secondary school students who had classes about diverse religions claim to have positive views of Muslims. This compares to around 70% who had not attended such classes. Teens who had been exposed to education about diverse religions and world views were more tolerant of religious minorities, including Muslims and Hindus, than those who hadn’t.

General religious education taught informally by teachers or volunteers from religious communities is not the same as formal religious instruction.

Religious instruction focuses on establishing faith in only one specific religion. There is growing need for a general religious instruction, fostering respect for diverse world views and religions, learning about major faith traditions and diverse perspectives.

Many national school curricula -- other than Catholic and specifically religious schools --provide some limited content in humanities subjects such as history, but they don’t necessarily provide opportunities to study diverse world views.

What does ‘secular’ education mean? The commonly understood meaning is the separation of church and state, influencing people’s views on the place of religion in society and in our schools.

One calls for complete separation and removal of all religion from public life, including state schools. The other prohibits privileging one religion over others, arguing instead for respect for religious diversity.

Reflecting a simultaneous concern with environmental issues, a variety of views and educational programmes have emerged over recent decades. 'Roots & Shoots' was founded by Jane Goodall, DBE. in 1991, with the goal of bringing together the young from preschool to university age to work on environmental, conservation and humanitarian issues.

The Virtues Project, which is not affiliated with any particular faith but draws from all sacred traditions including the oral traditions of First Nations, is an initiative begun in the same year, to empower individuals and families to live by their deepest values and enable families to counteract the rising violence in and around them.

It began with the conviction that all children are born with virtues - a moral compass - and that when parents and educators awaken these gifts of character, we can change the world. Using Five Strategies for activating virtues, from birth to death, they help people to raise kinder kids. The Virtues Project International ships virtues books and materials world-wide, and has spread to more than 100 countries, using thousands of facilitators who share its virtues-based principles.

Growing openness to the development of an inner spiritual compass in the young generation calls for a philosophy that embraces and accepts all.

It seems to me that the only remedy for the ignorant animal that is our modern Homo Sapiens is recognition of the unity of humankind. This is what may be found in the teachings of Baha'u'llah. These offer a common language by which to recognise the true value that lays within every religion, and they convey the recognition that divine Wisdom unfolds progressively. It is time for a True Religion - shorn of all superstition;

"When religion, shorn of its superstitions, traditions, and unintelligent dogmas, shows its conformity with science, then will there be a great unifying, cleansing force in the world which will sweep before it all wars, disagreements, discords and struggles—and then will mankind be united in the power of the Love of God".---Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, – 44 –The Fourth Principle—The Acceptance of the Relation between Religion and Science.

The bottom line is this: We are losing touch with our spiritual nature. We are destroying the natural world. And that means that we are destroying ourselves. Many people feel a growing sense of approaching collapse, either economic, environmental or societal.

Any one of us who senses this destructive dissonance with the true spiritual reality of mankind must become awakened, and arise urgently to play his/her role in the reconstruction of the world.


80. Dreaming About the World as One. 

"Oh, I've been smiling lately,

Dreaming about the world as one,

And I believe it could be,

Someday it's going to come" -- "Peace Train", Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam)

It seems we've been dreaming about the world as one for a rather long time. From time to time, new social movements have come to the fore and prospered, but the promised unity and prosperity has never been equitable or sustained.

The world Women’s Rights meeting -- the 63rd U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, held in New York City -- bore the theme 'Creating the World Anew: Leaving No One Behind'.

It focused on empowering women and girls through social protection programs and promoting access to public services.

Highlighting the significance of this goal, the Baha'i International Community (BIC) addressed the UN in a statement stating:

"A theme as weighty as providing social protection to all, particularly the most vulnerable—a majority of whom are women and children—must be considered in the light of a greater truth: that all of humanity is one, and all must benefit from the shared resources of our shared homeland." --Mar 8, 2019

If we view the human race as one human body, we can recognise that it has travelled through evolutionary stages moving from prehistory to where we stand today.

"The human race, as a distinct, organic unit, has passed analogous to the stages of infancy and childhood in the lives of its individual members, and is now in the culminating period of its turbulent adolescence approaching its long-awaited coming of age." --Universal House of Justice, The Promise of World Peace (POWP).

As a mother and counsellor I recognise this time of adolescence as an extremely crucial one in which young people must face crucial life choices. What are their personal values? What future opportunities can they imagine? What difference will their lives make? And where do we all stand now?

A sign of increasing maturity is the increase in co-operation among hitherto isolated and antagonistic peoples and groups in international undertakings and educational advances.

However, our immaturity is still evident in that doubts, misconceptions, prejudices, suspicions and narrow self-interest still beset nations and peoples in their relations one to another. Clearly the prevailing order appears extremely defective.

However, new possibilities lie before us; a new period described in the following terms;

"For the first time in history it is possible for everyone to view the entire planet, with all its myriad diversified peoples, in one perspective. World peace is not only possible but inevitable. It is the next stage in the evolution of this planet—in the words of one great thinker, “the planetization of mankind”. --UHJ. POWP

And now a weighty choice lies before us all; "Whether peace is to be reached only after unimaginable horrors precipitated by humanity’s stubborn clinging to old patterns of behaviour, or is to be embraced now by an act of consultative will, is the choice before all who inhabit the earth." --UHJ POWP

People of all nations proclaim not only their readiness but their longing for peace and harmony. Attainment of this ideal will enable all people to play a part in setting in motion constructive social forces which, because they are consistent with human nature, will encourage harmony and co-operation instead of war and conflict.

So I'm still smiling and dreaming about the world as one, because now more than ever I believe it could be. The earth will be as one country and all maknind its citizens. Someday IT IS going to come.