On April 22nd, the world celebrated “Earth Day”, so HAPPY EARTH DAY EVERYONE!
But wait, shouldn’t “Earth Day” be every day?
Well, let’s briefly review how Earth Day actually came to be 46 years ago. It was 7 years in the making until it became official in 1970. Many say that it was the result of 20 million people who participated at the grassroots level to achieve the declaration of Earth Day. Indeed, it’s all in the grassroots, and now it’s being celebrated around the world as a way to demonstrate support for environmental protection.
I think days like Earth Day are wonderful. They create opportunities to raise more awareness of the environmental issues that are affecting our beautiful planet and to remember with more tenacity why we need to have such a day in the first place.
The reality is that the lack of connection that many of us have with the earth is blinding some of us from seeing the interconnectedness of our planet. We are forgetting that what we give is what we get. As much as society presently likes to believe the saying “out of sight, out of mind”, our treatment of the planet has caught up with us, and now it requires more attention and action than ever before. Continue reading
My attitude towards the Baha’i fast has recently changed. Had you asked me a few years ago what words came to mind when I thought of the fast I would have said “endurance, sacrifice and obedience.” In the past, the month of February was spent mentally psyching myself in preparation for the fast. I likened it to running a marathon, whereby I needed to be mentally ready, picturing myself at the finish line. Continue reading
This March will be the third consecutive year that I will not be physically fasting and I think I am finally getting some ideas for how I can still participate. (If you’re unfamiliar with the 19 day Baha’i Fast, Sara wrote a great introduction about it).
There are many reasons to be exempt from fasting whether it’s age, health, performing physical labour, menstruation, travel, pregnancy, or nursing a child (exemptions from the Fast can be found in the synopsis and codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas). At first I really struggled with being exempt. On one hand I was grateful: the fast is not meant to make us ill or malnourished and my baby’s development relied heavily on me eating well. On the other hand, I felt like I was no longer participating in a spiritual marathon. I was on the sidelines. I was so disconnected from the Fast that I offered my Baha’i friends food to eat in the middle of the day (so embarrassing!).
Having a grumbling tummy or parched mouth is an excellent reminder that you are fasting and without those physical cues I felt disconnected. But it’s not all about the food, so this year I’ve made a list of ways to fast when you can eat – some of which I’ve already tried, and some of which I’m looking forward to implementing: Continue reading
Baha’is believe that us humans were created to love God.
At first glance, this seems to be in tension with the Baha’i teaching that God is an unknowable Essence. Imagine if I, a Baha’i, told you that I’m completely in love with something. You then ask me what that thing is. I respond, “I have no idea, but I love it a lot.” That seems weird, right?
So how, then, could a Baha’i love God without believing something that is weird at the best and incoherent at the worst? Here’s one perspective. Continue reading
There is surely something beyond fascinating characters and an exciting if familiar story that has been attracting people by their millions to see the new Star Wars movie.
My feeling is that a big part of the appeal is “the force”, the ongoing theme in the Star Wars series that gives the latest film its name: The Force Awakens.
In the Star Wars movies, the force seems to me to be roughly equivalent to the creative energy that pervades the universe, but there is also a dark side to it.
What might that mean in Baha’i terms? We are fine with the idea of a creative force and are familiar with the concept that “good has a positive existence; evil is merely its absence”. We could view the “dark side” of the force as the absence of the creative energy, a black hole of evil.
So, apart from the other factors mentioned, why do millions of people get attracted to a movie that has “the force” as an ongoing theme in the story?
Hard-wired into us all is a desire to transcend the mundane, the temporary physical realties of our lives. In my view, that desire is intended to motivate us to seek and ever approach the ultimate, everlasting reality, God. Continue reading
Have you ever wondered if you’re racist? Having grown up in a Baha’i family, I was raised with Baha’u’llah’s words that the human family is like the fruits of one tree, the leaves of one branch, and the waves of one sea. Like many others, my family moved from country to country in order to assist with the needs of the Faith and I grew up with these words of Abdu’l-Baha ringing so true:
The diversity in the human family should be the cause of love and harmony, as it is in music where many different notes blend together in the making of a perfect chord. […] Think of [people of different races] as different coloured roses growing in the beautiful garden of humanity, and rejoice to be among them.
Racism with a capital “R” was not something that I really experienced in my daily life; it wasn’t a struggle that I owned or one that affected my family. Recently, however, I have noticed that more subtle forms of prejudice and racism are becoming mainstream topics of conversation. Concepts such as white privilege, cultural appropriation, the racist roots of some common English words and phrases, Islamophobia, and xenophobia are really hot topics. Continue reading
(Photo: Baha'i World Centre)
There has always been a special relationship between the Faith and numbers. Nine pointed star. Ninety-five Allah’u’Abhas. Nineteen Letters of the Living and subsequently nineteen terraces.
Despite this, I’ve noticed that many of us still seem to internally resist when it comes to using numbers to advance the Cause. Whether it’s setting numerical teaching goals in a cluster, being remunerated for full-time service, or calculating how many home visits were made in a cycle – putting a number next to a spiritual undertaking can feel counter-intuitive for many, or even wrong. But is it? Continue reading
For many people, the heading of this article will seem absurd. “Religion: A cause of prejudice?” well of course it’s a cause of prejudice, they will state, why bother with a question mark. You only have to pick up the paper, or read any history book to see the horrific injustices caused in the name of religion.
But does any label, including “Baha’i”, foster religious prejudice? Continue reading
A professor once confessed to my class that he was glad he wasn’t young and that he was grateful to be in his sunset years because the world has become such a terrible place. And it is only going to get worse. As Baha’is, we know there is truth to this. Shoghi Effendi masterfully wrote: Continue reading
Album cover for John Lennon's 'Imagine', released 9 September, 1971. John Lennon was born 9 October, 1940 and was murdered on 8 December, 1980.
When it comes to uplifting songs, few can match the popularity of Imagine by former Beatle, the late John Lennon (1940-1980).
It was the singer-songwriter’s best-selling single, and it is included in a list of the 100 most-performed songs of the 20th century.
I know many Baha’is who like to sing this song, although they may sometimes wonder about a few of the lyrics, so I thought that on this 35th anniversary of John Lennon’s passing on 8 December 1980 it would be interesting to have a look at Imagine to see how closely it agrees with our cherished Baha’i beliefs.