Dr. Peter Khan 1936 - 2011
When a person of the caliber of Dr Peter Khan passes away, it is not only a time to grieve but also a time to reflect on what makes a person “great”.
In this context we are not using the word “great” as often applied to a sporting star, musician or actor. In such cases, the assessment is usually based on a limited range of unusually developed attributes. Nor are we talking about the merely famous. Journalists, friends and family know that these folk often have feet of clay.
To be a truly great person, in my opinion, requires a much wider range of qualities, always including those of personal integrity or “goodness”. Such people might include Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Eleanor Roosevelt and the Dalai Lama.
To call someone “great” should not, however, imply a spiritual judgement. That is not ours to make – nobody has any idea of a person’s spiritual potential or the extent to which they have fulfilled it. However, the general consensus among those who heard, met or worked with Dr Khan is that he was, unquestionably, a great man who lived an inspiring life.
Photo courtesy Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images
I don’t know about you, but I lead a fairly easy and luxurious life. My daily challenges rarely go further than deciding what to have for dinner and how not to get angry amongst crowds in small spaces. I rarely need to think about the starving masses or the homeless I walk past on the streets every day.
But now and then, the problems simmering underneath our casual lifestyles come to the surface in dramatic fashion and remind us that all is not well. The recent riots in London remind us that we are witnessing a breakdown in social order and that our commitment to serving our communities is necessary. Continue reading
Image by UNICEF Australia
Following severe drought in the East Africa, the United Nations has declared a famine in the region for the first time since the 1980s. The images and stories are both tragic and devastating – babies struggling to live, malnourished children with bloated stomachs and mothers having to make decisions in providing for their children that no parent should ever have to make.
In an article titled East Africa famine: Our values are on trial, Andrew O’Hagan describes some of the horrors of the poverty and starvation.
This is the children’s famine. Running from conflict, and sick with hunger and thirst, people are fleeing to the borders or the aid camps, many children dying on the way or too weak to survive once they get there. In some areas one in three children is seriously malnourished and at severe risk of death. In October the rains will come, most likely bringing epidemics of malaria and measles. Some of the children just lie down and wait for death, which is likely; or mercy, which is elsewhere. Andrew O’Hagan
Aid agencies and international organisations are scrambling to get emergency aid delivered where it needs to be, taking out full page advertisements in newspapers and making urgent appeals to governments and the public for donations.
People have begun to ask the important question: what is to be said of a world in which so many people are dying from lack of something as basic as food when, as an international community, we are far more prosperous than we have ever been before? Continue reading
If you’re a fan of Wikipedia (or any of their many other projects) then you’ll be interested to know that this year’s official Wikimedia conference, dubbed “Wikimania“, is being held in Haifa, Israel right around the corner from the Baha’i gardens! From their website:
Wikimania is the annual international conference of the Wikimedia community. It’s organized by a different local team each year – in 2011 the conference is taking place in Haifa, Israel. Wikimania allows the community and the general public to learn about and share their experiences with free knowledge initiatives all over the world.
Just months after the sentencing of the Baha’i leaders in Iran to 20 years imprisonment, Iran has once again come under international scrutiny for its long-standing persecution of Baha’is. On 21 May, a coordinated series of raids were carried out in various locations in Iran on the homes of Baha’is who have been involved with the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE).
The BIHE was established in 1987 as a way of providing an education to young Baha’is who have been systematically denied access to higher education by the Iranian regime. Baha’i Thought has a great article up discussing the raids and the Iranian regime’s violation of a number of universal human rights such as the right to freedom of belief and the right to education.
As Baha’is, it is only natural that the issue of the persecution of Baha’is in Iran weighs heavily on our hearts. It is always distressing to be reminded of how rampant war, persecution and injustice still is in today’s world. In this case, it’s particularly devastating to us – as Baha’is – to see the friends in Iran suffer so terribly for a faith that simply embraces all humanity and affirms the value and worth of each individual. Some of us are even friends or family of those in Iran who have been directly affected, making it all the more heart-wrenching.
A few days ago.,I came across a fantastic essay by Matthew Weinberg (published in 1997) which looks at contemporary human rights discourse from the perspective of the Baha’i Writings. I found it to be a fascinating read and it made me reflect on the way in which I – as a product of the society we live in – talk about and understand human rights.
It’s been about 16 years since the internet really started going mainstream, and these days we take it very much for granted that most organizations will have a website. Baha’i communities around the world have been slowly but steadily getting online for some time now. What is exciting to me as a web designer is that through further iterations some of our online Baha’i sites are actually starting to get pretty useful and full-featured. Continue reading
Baha'i Leaders in Iran Sentenced to 20 Years
According to a report by Iran Press Watch, the Appeals Court in Iran has sentenced seven Baha’i leaders to 20 years in prison. This sentence, which was initially handed down in August 2010 by Iran’s Revolutionary Court, was reduced on 15 September 2010 from 20 to 10 years. This change has since been ignored, with the 20 year sentence being affirmed today. Continue reading