A few years ago, I was having a conversation with a renowned professor of communication arts. He posed this question to me: “Why do the English translations of Baha’i Writings use such elevated language? Does it pose an obstacle to understanding for some people?” Continue reading
The Cambridge dictionary defines kindness as “the quality of being generous, helpful, and caring about other people, or an act showing this quality.” I like to think that we are all innately kind whether we are conscious of it or not, but events around the world this year are showing me that believing in kindness is simply not enough. We need to find practical ways to practice kindness every day. Continue reading
A few weeks ago, I received a phone call from one of my local city council representatives. The council had recently launched a podcast in order to cast the spotlight on how people were adapting to the coronavirus pandemic, and they were wondering if I would speak on the topic of gratitude from the perspective of a person of faith.
It was the perfect chance for me to explore and (strive to) articulate exactly why I was grateful to be a Baha’i, particularly during a time of crisis. The most obvious source of gratitude is that the Baha’i Faith provides me with the guidance, strength and perspective I need to carry forward amidst times of intense difficulty – guidance to seek happiness in the happiness of others, to serve others, and to care for others. It is this outward focus that I truly believe gets us through trying times. It gives us purpose and brings us real joy. As Shoghi Effendi says: Continue reading
Courage is a word that could be used on a daily basis, frivolously, out of habit, without really thinking about it. Recently, in thinking about the stories found in The Dawn-Breakers, I’ve been reflecting on how what was very courageous ages ago, seems even more impossible to believe in nowadays and how courage can differ from person to person. I’ve been asking myself, has bravery and courage changed throughout history? What does courage look like in my life? Is it standing up for my rights at work, sharing my thoughts and opinions in discussions and being brave enough to swim against the current? Continue reading
A youth studying the spiritual empowerment of junior youth in Montero, Bolivia. (Photo: Baha'i Media Bank)
Oftentimes, I find myself reading chronicles from early Baha’is, immersing myself in their stories of complete selflessness, utter sacrifice, and staunch devotion to the Cause of God.
I find myself thinking that my humble undertakings serving the Baha’i Faith pale in comparison to what they endured in a bid to spread the Message of Baha’u’llah.
…ye must in this matter—that is, the serving of humankind—lay down your very lives, and as ye yield yourselves, rejoice.
But what does it mean to lay down our lives? I think that this is one of many metaphorical references found in the Baha’i Writings to giving up one’s life and it makes me ask myself, what does it symbolically look like for me to give up my life to the beliefs I hold dear? And how can I do so rejoicingly?
My first role model as a child was Annie—the red-haired, precocious orphan who sings her way through some tough times before she manages to build the life she has always dreamt of. I loved her so much that a family friend made me a life-sized Annie doll, complete with the black patent leather shoes, frilly ankle socks and white-collared tomato red dress. My envy of her outfit was very quickly followed by the realization that she and I were the same size. I don’t know what happened to the doll, but I wore her clothes everywhere until they were splitting at the seams, triumphantly belting out “it’s a hard knock life” and (unsuccessfully) lobbying for a four-legged sidekick called Sandy. Continue reading
In The Advent of Divine Justice, Shoghi Effendi laid out a path for the U.S. and Canadian Baha’i communities to contribute to the transformation of their societies, as summarized in introduction to the Advent of Divine Justice. Addressing the United States in particular, he identified “racial prejudice” as “the most vital and challenging issue confronting the Baha’i community,” for this issue permeated the entire nation, which he called “a prey to one of the most virulent and long-standing forms of racial prejudice.”
Though this message was penned in 1938, I believe it remains highly relevant today because the “cancerous growth of racial prejudice” continues to eat into the body politic. “Black Lives Matter”: this basic assertion of human value, proclaimed by the protestors who are filling the streets of U.S. cities, responds to the routine, systematic treatment of People of Color* as disposable. Racism remains “the most vital and challenging issue.” I wish to share with you Shoghi Effendi’s guidance on deconstructing it, along with my reflections as a white person living in the United States. Continue reading
I have always found it interesting how there are some emotions that we think we can avoid feeling—even though history and experience consistently demonstrate otherwise. We are happy to fully embrace the joyful moments—the successful interviews, promotions and scientific breakthroughs; finding true love, marriages, births and anniversaries. And yet we all know that for every joyful, celebratory experience there are undoubtedly many hours of sacrifice, failure, loss and grief, and that we wouldn’t appreciate the moments of happiness and contentment nearly as acutely without the periods of struggle and pain that preceded them. Continue reading
As a college student, the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted my education and typical patterns of life, just as it has for countless numbers of souls throughout the globe. I study and serve a community near Boston, but when my school closed, I returned home to live with my family near Washington DC. Like others living and serving in Boston, I have tried to find creative ways to continue to build community, especially during this time when our careers, our work, our social lives, and our health have been impacted by factors outside of our control, often leaving us scared and concerned for both ourselves and for the wellbeing of our communities. Continue reading
I believe that tests and hardships in this life refine our character, soften our hard edges and bring us closer to knowing God. Abdu’l-Baha tells us:
Tests are benefits from God, for which we should thank Him. Grief and sorrow do not come to us by chance, they are sent to us by the Divine Mercy for our own perfecting… Men who suffer not, attain no perfection. The plant most pruned by the gardener is that one which, when the summer comes, will have the most beautiful blossoms and most abundant fruit.
However, another purpose of tests is that they increase our empathy and in turn allow us to serve others. What if in fact the highest purpose of tests is that they help us understand and aid others through their hardships and be a cause of their happiness? Continue reading