This article is an abstract and hypothetical exploration of the far-flung future. Although it’s fantastical and based on my imagination, articulating my thoughts on this subject has broadened my perspective of the Baha’i Faith’s current state, given me a newfound appreciation for the significance of the times we are living in, and heightened my appreciation for the past. I hope you enjoy this exploration of the possibility of unity that extends beyond Earth into interplanetary federations and that it helps you ponder our collective future. Continue reading
George Ronald, as part of its Baha’i Studies series, has released a book titled The Concept of Peace in the Baha’i Faith by Miguel Santesteban Gil. In this book, Miguel analyzes texts of Baha’u’llah, Abdu’l-Baha and Soghi Effendi to understand a common element of unity, justice and peace. To quote the book’s blurb: “The study explores the logical, anthropological and ethical extensions of the key theme of peace as it moved from one stage to another in the development of a young religion heavily invested in the world.”
Miguel Santesteban Gil very kindly agreed to tell us about his latest publication. Here’s what he shared with us:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was a born when the reverberations of the Spanish Civil War were sufficiently fresh to cast an ominous shadow in most of the family conversations we used to have at home, in Spain. I grew as a youth when the Cold War was at its peak. I well remember the articles my father used to read about the space race and the explanation he gave me once when I asked what it mean “not apt for irreconcilable ones,” a phrase I saw at the head of a magazine on the civil war. Living under a dictatorship schooled me in recognizing some of the evils of the twentieth century; but my inventory of ideas came to an abrupt widening when I first came across the Baha’i Faith at the age of 14. I became a Baha’i at 17, largely the result of many favourable circumstances, including the arrival in the intervening years of two Iranian Baha’i families that settled in Pamplona and acted as my spiritual family. I read widely, Baha’i texts as well as religious and cultural history books, and some philosophy of history. I met my wife, Elham Sami, at a Baha’i Youth School. She spoke Portuguese, which was enough to understand each other. We married in Melbourne and had three boys, two of them already married. We have a lovely grand-daughter, Alaia (happy in the Basque language), and another grandchild is on its way.
Monette Van Lith has put together a workbook for assisting families called Family Matters: Filling Your Home with Purpose and Love. The workbook and its exercises are designed to help family members connect and bond, and to create an environment where everyone can thrive. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?
Monette very graciously agreed to tell us about her workbook and here’s what she shared with us:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Thank you for this opportunity to share a little bit about the Family Matters workbook and the work I do. I am a certified life coach and I work with parents who want to level-up their parenting and family life. Parents also come to me when they’re feeling overwhelmed or depleted. Using a very effective coaching model, my clients discover how to reconnect with their inner joy and purpose. I offer both one-on-one and group coaching.
In my previous career I worked at various United Nations Programs in East and West Africa, and in New York at UNICEF and the World Health Organization.
Going back to my origins, I was born in the Netherlands, grew up in Suriname, and returned to Europe to attend university. I’ve enjoyed living and working in different parts of the world and am currently based just outside of Boston, in the US.
Our family loves Melissa Charepoo’s books and her latest title, We Are One, is a gem. Centred on the theme of the oneness of humanity, this book (available in both English and Spanish) will help instil in the hearts of even the youngest children this unifying fundamental principle of the Baha’i Faith.
Melissa, gracious as ever, agreed to tell us a little about this book. We hope you enjoy our conversation:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us about what inspired you to write this book and how it differs from the other wonderful books for children that you’ve written? Why was writing this book important and meaningful to you?
As I write this rain is pattering against the window above my desk. Outside, a tree that has been covered in brilliant yellow leaves for the past couple of weeks is in transition—the topmost branches are already bare. A slow but steady release is happening lower down, and the bottom is still blazing colour against the slate grey sky. Around me the world is in a season of radical transformation. We’ve come to a point where none of us can avoid the truth that individual wellbeing is inseparably connected to the wellbeing of all. Personally, the physical separation from those I love, coupled with a heightened awareness of the brevity of this earthly life is making me ask myself bigger questions than I had been previously. Three that come up for me a lot are: What is God’s Will for humanity? How do I align my life’s purpose with the Will of God? And what specific capacities can I strengthen in myself right now that will help me to better serve the needs of humanity at this pivotal time? Continue reading
The Baha’i International Community (BIC) has just released a new statement called A Governance Befitting: Humanity and the Path Toward a Just Global Order.
The statement was written for the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, and it highlights the need for systems of global cooperation to be strengthened if humanity is to address the serious challenges of our time.
You can read and download the statement in full here: A Governance Befitting: Humanity and the Path Toward a Just Global Order
A Baha’i World News Service (BWNS) article shared the following about the BIC’s statement:
Coming at a time when the global health crisis has prompted a deeper appreciation of humanity’s interdependence, this anniversary year has given rise to discussion about the role of international structures and reforms that can be made to the UN.
The statement is one of several contributions the BIC is making to these discussions.
When I was a child in early primary school my mother became a Baha’i. We learned as a family about what it meant to be a Baha’i and we didn’t have a conscious awareness of the importance of unity – especially between siblings. My sister and I fought a lot and I was often very cruel to her as the older sister. If we played in the pool, for example, we might splash each other and if at some point I splashed so hard that I made her eyes sting from water and chlorine I would think nothing of it, and her visible suffering would probably only encourage me to splash harder.
In 1984 I was 11 years old when my mother, sister and I attended the dedication of the Temple in Samoa. There were many Baha’is staying in the same hotel as us. I remember playing in the pool with two children whom I had never met before and have never met since – though I’ve heard they live in our region. We chased each other and splashed each other. And over thirty years later I still remember the profound impact of the behaviour of those children on me. Navid splashed his sister Nava and they were having fun, but then the water got in her eyes. Nava indicated that her eyes were hurting and her brother immediately stopped and swam over to her, apologised and checked that she was ok. I had never seen anything like it. He behaved with the same kindness in his interactions with her as he would have with me (a stranger) or with his teacher or with anyone. Kind was the only way he knew how to be. It was a highly developed quality of his soul, not a performance that could be turned on and off depending on circumstances. Continue reading
Ellsworth Blackwell (August 1, 1902 – April 17, 1978). Photo courtesy of the Baha'i International Community. Source: Baha'i World, Vol. 17.
Ellsworth Blackwell (1902 – 1978) was an African-American Baha’i who was dedicated to sharing the principles of the Baha’i Faith in America, Haiti, Madagascar, and Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). In this article I would like to share a challenge he faced when confronted with racism within the Baha’i community, and how his commitment to justice, combined with wholehearted co-operation with the governing or administrative bodies of the Baha’i Faith, allowed this instance of prejudice to be resolved while maintaining a unified spirit.
Ellsworth became a Baha’i in 1934, and in 1937 he decided to serve at the Wilmette House of Worship (the Temple was not entirely completed until the 1950s, but it was open to visitors and Baha’is volunteered as tour guides). He had the capacity to be a tour guide, but was informed that it was “policy” that African-Americans could not be tour guides. This example of discrimination was of course not in keeping with the Baha’i teachings on the elimination of prejudice. This quotation from Abdu’l-Baha amply elucidates the Baha’i view:
… as to religious, racial, national and political bias: all these prejudices strike at the very root of human life; one and all they beget bloodshed, and the ruination of the world.
Recently, I had a conversation with some of my public health students about the incredible coincidence that the COVID-19 pandemic was happening while they were completing their degrees in Global Health. Every decision and action (or inaction) by international organizations, national governments, universities, school districts, businesses, researchers, civil society organizations, service providers, hospitals, communities and individuals is a potential opportunity to learn about mitigating an infectious disease. It is also a personal opportunity to learn and reflect on our individual responses to the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic overlaps with the Baha’i month of fasting when Baha’is are encouraged to focus on spiritual development and service as we abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset for 19 days. So, I decided to dedicate my meditation and reflection during this Fast on the concepts of illness, disease, health and healing in the Baha’i Writings. Continue reading
The Baha’i Faith teaches us that humanity is all one family. However, thankfully they don’t all come over for holiday dinners, call at all hours on the phone, or get annoyed when you forget their birthday! Yet Abdu’l-Baha tells us:
God has created the world as one–the boundaries are marked out by man. God has not divided the lands… That is why Baha’u’llah says: ‘Let not a man glory in that he loves his country, but that he loves his kind.’ All are of one family, one race; all are human beings.