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Language: The Brick and Mortar of an Ever-advancing Civilization

One important component of building an ever-advancing civilization that merits careful reflection is the role of language in this process.

There are certain words one hears repeatedly—in the messages of the Universal House of Justice, in reflection gatherings, in conversations among friends, and in society at large. Some examples are ‘organic’, ‘empowerment’ and ‘coherence’. Perhaps at times, it would be fitting to pause and ask “Do I know what these concepts mean?” “Am I using these words carefully or am I treating them like jargon-du-jour?”

‘Organic’ and ‘empowerment’, notably, appear to have been appropriated by wider society, and are used so frequently and thoughtlessly as to render them virtually meaningless. For instance, a well-known singer recently described her new album as an exercise in “female empowerment”. Almost every track on that album was about sex and the objectification of one or both genders. How empowering?

Is this just a matter of semantics, or is there something more important at stake here? Continue reading

A Vision of the Future: Playing Our Part

Like many others, when I heard the news about the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I wept. This was not the first massacre in the United States in recent years, but it was perhaps the most shocking.

When something like this happens, it raises a lot of questions. People begin to wonder how many more episodes of human cruelty will transpire in their lifetime, in their children’s lifetime. They wonder if humanity is, in fact, hopeless, and whether it’s even worth it to have children anymore. Just last night, one of my best friends from college told me he and many other couples he knows have decided not to bring kids into this crazy world. Continue reading

Accompaniment: A Personal Reflection

Good Friends

Image by Juliana Coutinho via Flickr

I remember stepping off the airplane into my new home, my pioneering post, thousands of miles away from all that was easy and familiar to me and from all that was loved and precious in my life. It was exciting. It was also scary.

The sun stayed hidden for days, the heat was heavy, and the air was thick with smog and exhaust. I had never seen the apartment where I would be living for the next year (part of my package with the university that had hired me) and when I arrived, the first thing I noticed was the stench of cigarettes. The second was the half bathroom. The third was that there was no kitchen.

It should have been a long, scary night full of questions and doubt. Actually, it was a long, scary night full of questions and doubt.

But it was surmountable because I was being accompanied.

Continue reading