A path toward a unified America
June 16, 2021 Share
Podcast: A path toward a unified America
The centenary of the first race amity conference held by the American Bahá’í community was marked by a three-day symposium exploring racial unity and social change.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — One hundred years ago, in May, the first race amity conference in the United States was held in Washington, D.C., by the American Bahá’í community, a defining moment on the path toward racial unity in the country.
The description on the program read, in part: “Half a century ago in America slavery was abolished. Now there has arisen need for another great effort in order that prejudice may be overcome. Correction of the present wrong requires no army, for the field of action is the hearts of our citizens.”
To mark the centenary of that historic gathering, the U.S. Bahá’í Office of Public Affairs brought together academics, civil society leaders, and other social actors for a three-day online symposium titled Advancing Together: Forging a Path Toward a Just, Inclusive and Unified Society.
“For those of us gathered here today, we are conscious that we are engaged in a process aimed at profound organic change in the very structure of society,” said P.J. Andrews of the Office at the gathering.
“The change required to create justice in the country,” he continued, “is not only social and economic but moral and spiritual.”
The latest episode of the Bahá’í World News Service podcast provides highlights from the symposium at which panelists discussed topics including the role of language in fostering a sense of shared identity, the relationship between truth and justice, and the need to address systemic changes in efforts toward social justice.
6 images The discussions at the symposium looked at experiences of the U.S. Bahá’í community in fostering collaboration and strong bonds of friendship among people of diverse backgrounds in neighborhoods across the country. Some of these efforts are pictured here.
Woven throughout the conversations at the gathering was the spiritual principle of the essential oneness of humanity. Drawing on the Bahá’í teachings, May Lample, also of the Bahá’í Office of Public Affairs, stated: “Any movement that seeks to eradicate all forms of racism from our society has to be predicated on a notion that all human beings are in their essence the same, that they are deserving of dignity, that they possess unique skills and abilities, and that they are worthy of safety and security.
“And without an understanding of our oneness and interconnectedness our differences appear too vast, rather than adding necessary and valuable complexity and beauty to our lives.”
This symposium was part of an ongoing contribution of the Bahá’í Office of Public Affairs in the United States to the discourse on race unity. Recordings of discussions at the symposium can be viewed here.
Kenneth George Dill
The wisdom of my madness lies not in what people deem my insanity but in my rejection of what they deem to be sane
Scientists have succeeded in bringing a frozen animal back to life after 30 years, it has been reported.© Wikipedia
Japan’s National Institute of Polar Research says that their scientists have succeeded in reviving the ‘tardigrade’ animal which they had collected in Antarctica.
The creatures, which are known as 'water bears' or 'moss piglets' are miniscule, water dwelling “extremophiles” measuring less than 1mm in length and dwelling in extreme and hostile conditions.
They are capable of slowing down or shutting down their metabolic activities for considerable periods of time.
Gallery: The longest-living animals on the planet (Espresso)
1 of 21 Photos in Gallery©Wikimedia Commons
The longest-living animals on the planet
When it comes to animal longevity we often think of the turtle, but did you know that sharks and mollusks, for example, can live for hundreds of years? Here are 20 record-breaking, death-defying animals.
According to the research, which was published in Cryobiology magazine, the tardigrades were found among moss plants in the Antarctica in 1983. They were removed and stored at minus 20 degrees Celsius. They were successfully unfrozen in May 2014.
An egg and a living animal were revived. The latter began moving and consuming food after a fortnight. The egg laid a total of 19 eggs, of which 14 successfully hatched. No defects or anomalies were reported amongst the hatched newborns.
Previously, tardigrades had been successfully revived after nine years, but this is thought to be the first ever instance of successful revival after 30 years.
Writing in the research publication, the authors noted: “The present study extends the known length of long-term survival in tardigrade species considerably… Further more detailed studies using quantitative analysis with greater replication under a range of controlled conditions will improve understanding of mechanisms and conditions underlying the long-term preservation and survival of animals.”
Shift in agricultural systems necessary for sustainability, says BIC
June 8, 2021Share
BIC BRUSSELS — Each year, tens of thousands of people from Africa travel to Europe to work alongside a declining national agricultural workforce on farms in EU member states in an industry that is increasingly becoming dependent on migrant seasonal workers.
When the pandemic disrupted international travel in April 2020, the spring harvest throughout Europe was thrown into jeopardy, revealing the extent of the EU’s reliance on seasonal workers and their difficult living conditions. Additionally, the pandemic has brought renewed attention to economic crises, the loss of land by farmers, and other factors that are driving people to leave rural areas in Africa.
“The way that agricultural affairs are organized is not sustainable or equitable, be it in Europe, Africa, or anywhere else in the world. There are fundamental questions that need to be closely examined in the light of principles such as the oneness of humanity,” said Rachel Bayani of the Brussels Office of the Bahá’í International Community (BIC) at an online seminar held by the Office last Wednesday.
The gathering is part of a seminar series, co-hosted by the Brussels Office and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which brings together policymakers, academics, and civil society organizations from Europe and Africa to explore the relationship between agriculture, rural sustainability, and migration, particularly in the context of partnerships between the two regions.
4 imagesPanelists of the most recent seminar in a series held by BIC Brussels and the FAO. The seminar focused on the viability of the EU’s agricultural sector and the need for rethinking production systems.
Rodrigo de Lapuerta, Director at the Liaison Office in Brussels of the FAO, spoke about the novel approach of the seminars: “FAO estimates that 80% of all moves involve rural areas. Migration and rural transformation, with the sustainability of agri-food systems, are totally interrelated. However, I do not think these two issues have often been treated jointly.”
Attendees at the gatherings have highlighted different aspects of the links between migration and agriculture. “Many factors influence why and how people migrate from rural areas... [but] it is essential that this migration is done out of choice, rather than necessity,” said Mr. Ola Henrickson, Regional Director at the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
A particular focus of the most recent seminar was on the viability of EU’s agricultural sector and the need for rethinking production systems.
“We have to remember that our food security depends on the respect of our agri-food workers’ rights,” said Maximo Torero Cullen, the FAO’s Chief Economist, at a recent gathering. “The pandemic has shown us how indispensable migrants are… but it has also rightfully put the spotlight on the poor working and living conditions in the [agricultural] sector and the invisibility of these workers.”
Dr. Torero Cullen and other participants emphasized that policies of African and European states and regional bodies aimed at building sustainable food and agriculture systems need to put at the center the interests, safety, and well-being of agricultural workers.
“Many EU Member States frame their seasonal worker schemes primarily in terms of meeting labor-market needs at home,” said Camille Le Coz of the Migration Policy Institute of Europe. But she highlighted that some countries are looking at other approaches, including framing migration policies around “co-development”—creating arrangements that are beneficial to the sending and receiving countries as well as the workers themselves.
Reflecting on the gathering, Mrs. Bayani states: “Our current economic and agricultural systems and their implications for migration, the environment, nutrition, and livelihoods need to be closely examined. The Bahá’í teachings offer insights that can be helpful in this conversation: that the question of economics should begin with the farmer, because the farmer ‘is the first active agent in human society.’ This idea can allow us to explore possibilities for different ways to look at production systems.”
She continues: “The issues discussed at these seminars reflect only some of the profound questions before humanity. The Bahá’í teachings envisage that every element of society, including economic relations, will have to undergo a profound transformation in the light of the essential principle of the oneness of humanity.”
Future seminars over the coming months will continue to look at agriculture and migration, focusing on topics such as education and the future of villages.
- Agricultural policies key to addressing drivers of migration, says BIC Brussels
- “Participation is the key”: Bahá’í Chair tackles food security
- Fostering self-sufficiency: FUNDAEC encourages local food production
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Earth Woman As often as I am reaped of, so often I am replenished I am drilled, tilled and husbanded Seeds are placed and nurtured in my bowels And ………..I give life I live not for the life I give – Yet I give And become stronger. I give not for the love I get – But get and become richer And I give love I am virgin, Maiden, mother and mistress of man I am the unfathomable, indestructible, indispensable Earth Woman. Written by Mona George 1980
"O contending peoples and kindreds of the earth! Set your faces towards unity, and let the radiance of its light shine upon you. Gather ye together, and for the sake of God resolve to root out whatever is the source of contention amongst you. There can be no doubt whatever that the peoples of the world, of whatever race or religion, derive their inspiration from one heavenly Source, and are the subjects of one God.
The difference between the ordinances under which they abide should be attributed to the varying requirements and exigencies of the age in which they were revealed. Arise and, armed with the power of faith, shatter to pieces the gods of your vain imaginings, the sowers of dissension amongst you. Cleave unto that which draweth you together and uniteth you.
This, verily, is the most exalted Word which the Mother Book hath sent down and revealed unto you. To this beareth witness the Tongue of Grandeur from His habitation of glory.
Bahá’u’lláh / Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh
"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. If you meet those of different race and color from yourself, do not mistrust them and withdraw yourself into your shell of conventionality, but rather be glad and show them kindness. Think of them as different colored roses growing in the beautiful garden of humanity, and rejoice to be among them.
Likewise, when you meet those whose opinions differ from your own, do not turn away your face from them. All are seeking truth, and there are many roads leading thereto. Truth has many aspects, but it remains always and forever one.Do not allow difference of opinion, or diversity of thought to separate you from your fellowmen, or to be the cause of dispute, hatred and strife in your hearts.Rather, search diligently for the truth and make all your friends. Every edifice is made of many different stones, yet each depends on the other to such an extent that if one were displaced the whole building would suffer; if one is faulty the structure is imperfect"
"What profit is there in agreeing that universal friendship is good, and talking of the solidarity of the human race as a grand ideal? Unless these thoughts are translated into the world of action, they are useless.The wrong in the world continues to exist just because people talk only of their ideals, and do not strive to put them into practice. If actions took the place of words, the world’s misery would very soon be changed into comfort. One who does great good, and talks not of it, is on the way to perfection. One who has accomplished a small good and magnifies it in his speech is worth very little"
Central African republic
BANGUI, Central African Republic, 1 June 2021, (BWNS) — A years-long armed conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) has disrupted life across the country and displaced hundreds of thousands of people.
In the midst of this crisis, the Bahá’í National Spiritual Assembly has guided the Bahá’ís of the country in their efforts to contribute to social progress, most recently drawing on a network of people engaged in community-building activities to channel assistance where it is most needed.
Speaking with the News Service, Hélène Pathé, member of the National Spiritual Assembly, describes the context in which such initiatives are under way in parts of the country: “The country has faced serious challenges. There are places where people have been severely affected and have had to flee, abandoning their homes and losing their means of making a living. This is the condition in many regions.”
Despite these conditions, the Bahá’ís in these areas have helped to foster resilience and a vibrant community life that has endured through cycles of war. For decades, regular gatherings for prayer have been strengthening bonds of friendship, and Bahá’í educational programs have been developing in children and youth a deep appreciation for the unity of all peoples, races, and religions.
During times of intense conflict, when entire populations have had to abandon their villages, teachers from community schools established with the support of a Bahá’í-inspired organization have sought ways to re-establish programs in temporary locations, explains Mrs. Pathé.
As part of its efforts to further enhance its capacity for responding to crises, the National Spiritual Assembly formed an emergency committee in March. The members of the committee, including Mrs. Pathé, quickly got to work. Within a few weeks they had assembled a team and headed to identified areas to help in person.
Over three days, they drove hundreds of kilometers from Bangui, the capital, to the town of Bambari, stopping in four other towns along the way to provide essentials, such as medicine for water-borne illness, to people who had returned from taking refuge in forest areas. Travel to these communities has been permitted under government health restrictions owing to exceptions for humanitarian efforts.
The emergency committee has worked closely with Bahá’í Local Spiritual Assemblies in coordinating the distribution of relief packages among village residents. “We had prepared as well as we could ahead of time with the information we could get,” says Mrs. Pathé, “but as soon as we arrived in a town, we sat down with the members of the Local Assembly, prayed together, and consulted about the needs, which they knew intimately.”
Young people have been at the forefront of these efforts, says Mrs. Pathé. “The youth were ready to spring into action as soon as the committee called on the community for support. They view this work as an extension of serving their neighborhoods: a contribution to the material and spiritual progress of society.
“They could see how this act of travelling for days to deliver a few necessities to people by hand was not just about addressing an immediate need. Meeting and speaking with people who had been cut off for so long also brought encouragement and helped build ties of unity as all saw that they are not alone in their challenges—like one family, there are others across the country who care for them and walk with them.”
Two months since its formation, the committee is already thinking about how to address long-term needs, including through projects for local food production.
With the experience it has gained, the committee is now expanding its efforts by contacting many more Bahá’í Local Assemblies throughout the country.“In these relief efforts, we often call to mind ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Who was always attentive to those in need and ever ready to respond,” says Mrs. Pathé. “He never hesitated to offer help. The National Spiritual Assembly hopes and wishes to do the same for the people of our country. What grieves us as a national body is that we can’t cover the whole country. Our efforts so far are only a small start, and we are learning little by little how to reach everyone.”
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MtacalgSy p27oaa datnr 1cmo1sl:oSlmnr0a6r edPnMc · Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh
My mother, my Aunt Khánum, my three sisters, and I lived in the bigger house at `Akká with our beloved Father; Bahá’u’lláh lived at Bahji. At this time the people of the place greatly respected and honoured Him and the Master, and we were as happy as was possible in the unhealthy atmosphere of `Akká. On this day of sadness a servant rode in from Bahji with a tablet for the Master from Bahá’u’lláh: "I am not well, come to Me and bring Khánum."
The servant, having brought horses for them, my Father and my aunt set off immediately for Bahji; we children stayed at home with my mother, full of anxiety. Each day the news came that our adored Bahá’u’lláh's fever had not abated. He had a kind of malaria. After five days we all went to Bahji; we were very distressed that the illness had become serious. On the fifteenth day of the illness the Persian pilgrims and Bahá’í friends from `Akká were admitted to His presence.
Mirza `Andalib from Shiraz, Mirza Bassar, the blind poet, were there.
They, weeping, circled round and round His bed, praying and beseeching Bahá’u’lláh to permit them to be a sacrifice for the saving of His precious life for the world, if only for a short time longer. Bahá’u’lláh spoke loving words of peace and calm to them, exhorting them to be faithful to the Cause of God, to be loyal, true, and steadfast, letting their characters speak to the world. "I am very pleased with you all. My hope is that your deeds will be examples worthy of the Bahá’í Faith - that you may ever be true followers of the Light of God's Law."
Two lambs were brought into His room, then the Master went into `Akká to arrange various matters, to see the friends, giving the good news that His Father was slightly better.
He then superintended the distribution of the two sacrificial lambs amongst the poor prisoners of `Akká. In the evening He came back to Bahji.
Bahá’u’lláh asked for us, the ladies and children, to go to Him. He told us that He had left in His will directions for our future guidance; that the Greatest Branch, `Abbas Effendi, would arrange everything for the family, the friends, and the Cause. "The loving devotion of `Andalib has touched me very much, also the love of them all.
I hope they will every one be true and faithful servants."
On the nineteenth day of His illness He left us at dawn. Immediately a horseman galloped into `Akká to carry the news to the Mufti. Forthwith from the seven minarets of the mosque the event was proclaimed: "God is Great. He Giveth Life! He Taketh it Again! He Dieth No, but Liveth for Evermore!" This proclamation from the minarets is a custom of Islam at the passing of a very greatly honoured, learned, and holy man. The tidings spread throughout the land, and were proclaimed from the minarets of every mosque. People from all the villages of the country-side crowded to Bahji to show their respect, and to join in the mourning. Many Shaykhs brought lambs, rice, sugar and sale.
This is an Arab custom: the idea is, that as these gifts are distributed to the poor, they will, in return, pray for the soul of the departed.
Muslim friends, the Mufti, mullas, Governor and officials, Christian priests, Latin and Greek, Druses from Ab'u-Sinan, and surrounding villages, and many other friends gathered together in great numbers in honour of the Beloved One. Marthiyih, songs in His praise, were chanted by poets. Laments and prayers were chanted by Shaykhs. Funeral orations were spoken, describing His wonderful life of self-sacrifice. Many of the guests encamped under the trees round the Palace of Bahji, where more than five hundred were entertained for nine days.
This hospitality entailed much trouble on the Master, Who made all the arrangements and superintended every detail; money also was given by Him on each of the nine days to the poor.
At dawn on these days the "Call to Prayer" and some of the "Munajats" (prayers chanted) of Bahá’u’lláh were chanted from the balcony of the palace. Very touching and impressive it was to hear the beautiful voice of our Arabian Bahá’í friend, chanting the call to prayer. At its sound the Master arose, and we all followed Him to the tomb-shrine, where He chanted the funeral prayer and the. Tablet of Visitation. Lady Blomfield, the Chosen Highway#bahaifaith#TheBab#Bahaullah#bahaireligion#bahaiwriting#HiddenWordsofBahallah#Abdulbaha#bahaiquotes#bahaidailyreading#bahaimemes#bahai#prayer#bahaiwritings#bahainews#bahaiprayer#bahaicommunity#bahaifast#theshininglamp
Kenya: First Local Bahá’í temple in Africa opens its doors
To read watch a video, read the story online, or view more photos, visit news.bahai.org.
MATUNDA, Kenya, 24 May 2021, (BWNS) — A luminous presence in Matunda Soy, Kenya, the first local Bahá’í House of Worship in the continent of Africa was dedicated at an opening ceremony Sunday morning.
The chorus of “Make my prayer, O my Lord, a fountain of living waters” sung by a local choir resonated deeply within the people who had gathered at the dedication ceremony and represented thousands of people nearby and across Kenya celebrating a momentous step in the spiritual journey of their people.
The House of Worship—referred to in the Bahá’í writings as a Mashriqu’l‑Adhkár, meaning “Dawning-place of the Praise of God”—has a unique reality. It stands at the heart of the community, is open to all peoples, and is a place where prayer and contemplation inspire service to society.
Sunday’s opening ceremony included remarks from Townshend Lihanda, a member of the Continental Board of Counsellors in Africa whom the Universal House of Justice named as its representative to the event.
Mr. Lihanda read a letter of the House of Justice addressed to the gathering, which stated: “…at a time when the world is caught in the midst of uncertainty, the efforts of the friends throughout Matunda Soy and beyond have culminated in the raising of this beacon of hope, a cause for jubilation and great joy.”
The Universal House of Justice stated that the completion of the project in just three years and under difficult circumstances “is a testament to the vitality, resourcefulness, and determination of the Kenyan people.”
Others in attendance included government officials, village and district chiefs, local dignitaries, representatives of local and national Bahá’í institutions, the architect and other representatives of the construction team.
Mourice Mukopi, the chief of the group of villages where the temple is located, said, “The most important thing about the Bahá’í temple is that it welcomes everyone from different religions to come and worship.”
In speaking with the Bahá’í World News Service, residents of the area have echoed these sentiments. “The people of Matunda Soy see the House of Worship as a sign of unity,” says Andrew Juma.
Elder Khaemba, another member of the local community, states: “The differences that existed before are over, since people of all faiths come together in prayer at the temple.”
A village elder, Justus Wafula, states: “The House of Worship is a space where the negative forces of society have no place. When we go to the temple, we know that we are on the right path. We know that we are home.”
The sense of home created by the appearance of the temple is reminiscent of the traditional huts of the region, explains Neda Samimi, the House of Worship’s architect. “A place of worship is a place where your soul belongs, where you should feel comfortable whatever your religion and be able to connect and commune with your Creator.”
Mrs. Samimi describes how the process of raising the temple was unifying.
“Everyone who has been involved in the project has been very conscious that this structure is dedicated to the promotion of oneness and the praise of God. All our work has been carried out through consultation, and our meetings would begin with prayers from diverse faiths.”
Construction came to a close this month with two significant events. A sacred Bahá’í symbol known as the Greatest Name was raised to the apex of the dome.
Then, on Saturday, a small ornamental case containing dust from one of the Holy Shrines at the Bahá’í World Centre was placed within the structure of the House of Worship, symbolizing the profound connection between the temple and the spiritual center of the Bahá’í Faith.
John Madahani, a member of the Bahá’í Local Spiritual Assembly of Matunda, explains how Bahá’í community life in the region has evolved since its origins in the 1970s. “In the past, only a few Bahá’ís would gather in their homes for prayers. Now more than 300 families regularly hold devotional gatherings, praying with their neighbors, welcoming all without asking what religion one is from.
“And when we started the practice of gathering on the temple grounds early in the morning before construction began, we saw how powerful it was for all members of the community to have such a moment together before going about their daily tasks. Otherwise we would never see workers and farmers, youth and parents together at once.”Bernard Liyosi, another member of the Local Assembly, says, “The House of Worship brings us closer to God through both worship and service. We receive energy from gathering at the temple, energy that we channel into building stronger communities.”