Two Wings of a Bird

The following article is from bahai.org.



Despite the widespread acceptance of gender equality in principle—and the advancement of political and civil rights for women in many countries—full equality has not yet been achieved. In this statement issued in 1997, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States emphasizes the full and equal participation of women in all spheres of life.

The emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality between the sexes is essential to human progress and the transformation of society. Inequality retards not only the advancement of women but the progress of civilization itself. The persistent denial of equality to one-half of the world’s population is an affront to human dignity. It promotes destructive attitudes and habits in men and women that pass from the family to the work place, to political life, and ultimately to international relations. On no grounds, moral, biological, or traditional can inequality be justified. The moral and psychological climate necessary to enable our nation to establish social justice and to contribute to global peace will be created only when women attain full partnership with men in all fields of endeavor.

The systematic oppression of women is a conspicuous and tragic fact of history. Restricted to narrow spheres of activity in the life of society, denied educational opportunities and basic human rights, subjected to violence, and frequently treated as less than human, women have been prevented from realizing their true potential. Age-old patterns of subordination, reflected in popular culture, literature and art, law, and even religious scriptures, continue to pervade every aspect of life. Despite the advancement of political and civil rights for women in America and the widespread acceptance of equality in principle, full equality has not been achieved.

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Featured book: Diamonds in the Rough by Jenina S. Lepard

This book presents a fictional account of a weekly youth gathering through the eyes of a young Baha’i who has initiated it. He enlists the aid of his parents in arranging the comfort of his guests with refreshments and an inviting space, and two older Baha’i youth who agree to act as facilitators. As the story develops, the young man and his friends explore the stories of several early Baha’is, in the context of an overall discussion of virtues and how to practice them in daily life. Each week, two members who have researched an individual historical Baha’i present the story of that person’s life, and the group decides which virtue that person exemplifies. The early heroes and heroines they learn about are William Sears, Dorothy Baker, Martha Root, Louis Gregory, Fred Mortensen, Florence Mayberry, Músá Banání, May Maxwell, and Rúhú’lláh Varqá. Their presentations include both basic information about their subject, as well as lesser known anecdotes that provide additional interest.

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Truthfulness, Trustworthiness and Justice

The following article is from bahai.org.



Truthfulness and trustworthiness involve much more than not telling lies; they embody the overarching capacity to discern, value, and uphold truth itself. Without these spiritual qualities, neither individual nor social progress is possible. Justice is vital to the establishment of unity and harmony at all levels of society, as it provides the standard by which individual conduct and collective effort are judged. A requirement for living a life of service to humanity, then, is constant effort to develop truthfulness, trustworthiness, and justice, ensuring that they are ever-present in thought and action.

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The Significance of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

The following article is from bahai.org. Photo above: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá walking outside 7 Haparsim Street in Haifa, c. 1919, © 2017 Bahá’í International Community



“SELDOM HAVE I SEEN one whose appearance impressed me more,” said Professor Edward G. Browne of Cambridge University after meeting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. “About the greatness of this man and his power no one who had seen him could entertain a doubt.”

Yet, however magnetic ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s personality or however penetrating His insights, such tributes cannot adequately capture such a unique character in religious history. The Bahá’í Writings affirm that “in the person of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá the incompatible characteristics of a human nature and superhuman knowledge and perfection have been blended and are completely harmonized.”

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The Equality of Women and Men: The Experience of the Bahá’í Community of Canada

By Deborah K. van den Hoonaard and Will C. van den Hoonard

This book presents a sociological study undertaken by the Baha’is of Canada to examine implementation of the Baha’i tenet of equality between the sexes. It is a very detailed report that looks closely at a variety of communities and their experiences as they attempt to develop and implement a concept central to the Faith, but often not present in the external society. The authors, a married couple, are both sociologists and appear to have followed a rigorous scientific approach, with adherence to sociological and statistical norms typical in a scholarly examination. With a sample group of 119 Baha’is in twelve focus groups, the authors followed discussions over the course of a year.

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Living in a Rapidly Changing Society: Transition to Maturity

This month we are featuring an essay from Bahai.org.



 

As humanity explores elements of the framework for a new process of moral education, some of the first questions that must be asked are: What is the nature of the great transformation that is taking place in human society? What are the basic concepts that can help us to understand the significance of the times in which we live? What are some of the great forces that are operating within society in this crucial stage of human evolution?

This lecture was given by Dr. Farzam Arbab at a national symposium on “A New Framework for Moral Education” in Tirana, Albania, in November 1993. This was an open forum for a public debate on what needs to be done with moral education in a society that is in the process of rapid shift from an established socio-political system to a new system not yet fully defined and articulated.


A very striking feature of our times is the accelerating rate at which change occurs. The magnitude and speed of the changes that humankind has undergone in the past century and a half have been unparalleled in our history. In every area of human endeavour a great deal of new knowledge is being generated, and old practices are being rejected one after another. At this point in history, no one can possibly deny that society, in all its aspects – social, economic, political, religious and cultural – is going through a process of fundamental transformation.

In this past century and a half, every country and region of the world has seen old structures swept away through radical reform or revolution. The ideals motivating these deliberate, sometimes violent, attempts to change society have often been extremely noble and laudable.

Yet, it is now an historical fact that these attempts have, by and large, failed to generate this sense of purpose, the values and the standards of behaviour that are essential for the creation of a new society. As a result, for decades humanity has been living in a state of crisis that seems to deepen almost daily. In the midst of all this crisis, of course, we often hear the voices of traditionalists, of those who romanticize the past and urge us to go back to our old ways. The fact is, however, that return to the standards of the past is not possible, for the forces released during this period have set in motion a process of transformation that is clearly irreversible. The unavoidable conclusion we reach when we examine modern history is that old moral codes and belief systems have proven entirely inadequate when faced with the challenges of an age of transformation. So, as we explore elements of the framework for a new process of moral education, some of the first questions we must ask ourselves are: What is the nature of the great transformation that is taking place in human society? What are the basic concepts that can help us to understand the significance of the times in which we live? What are some of the great forces that are operating within society in this crucial stage of human evolution?

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Me, the “Other”: A documentary film about diversity and co-existing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

In these exceptional times, we are given the task to turn challenges into opportunities which would positively impact our lives and harmoniously shift the balance of our world.

Me, the “Other” is a documentary film about a group of students living in Washtenaw County in Southeast Michigan with diverse backgrounds (ethnic, racial, religious, gender, age, socio-economic, sexual orientation, disease). The cast includes an African-American athletic coach, a Taiwanese gymnast, a Pakistani student leader, a transgendered 66 year-old woman, an American-Peruvian-Japanese romance, a bisexual Republican, and a Mexican student on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Through their struggles and accomplishments, we find ourselves in each of them.

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A special presentation: The Story of the Bahá’í Black Men’s Gathering

Please join the Circle of Friends Book Club for a special presentation on the book The Story of the Bahá’í Black Men’s Gathering on Wednesday, July 12th @ 7pm, at the Bahá’í Center of Washtenaw County. Dr. Richard Thomas, one of the book’s co-authors, will lead the discussion. Come and share what promises to be an interesting and enlightening presentation—all are welcome!

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Light of Unity Festival: Celebrating the 200th Birthday of Bahá’u’lláh

Over 5 million Bahá’ís around the world are preparing for the bicentenary celebrations of the births of Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb. Communities are planning local festivities designed to share and exemplify Bahá’u’lláh’s global message of world unity — and all Bahá’ís are encouraged to reach out to their friends and circles with invitations to join in the celebrations.

In a letter dated May 18, 2016 from the Universal House of Justice:

“These Holy Days should be viewed as special opportunities for the friends to reach out to the widest possible cross-section of society and to all those with whom they share a connection—whether through a family tie or common interest, an occupation or field of study, neighbourly relations or merely chance acquaintance—so that all may rejoice in the appearance, exactly two hundred years before, of One Who was to be the Bearer of a new Message for humankind.”

This year the Festival includes the of Birth of the Báb which will be celebrated on Saturday, October 21st, and culminates with the celebration of 200th Birthday of Bahá’u’lláh on the following day, Sunday, October 22nd. Here in Washtenaw County, planning for the Light of Unity Festival is underway and local events and activities will be announced when finalized. If you are interested in participating, please contact us.

For notifications regarding Light of Unity Festival (and other Baha’i) events, please sign up to receive the monthly Bahá’í Center of Washtenaw County email newsletter here.

The Pupil of the Eye: African Americans in the World Order of Baha’u’llah

Complied by Bonnie J. Taylor

This book is a compilation of quotations about the role of African Americans in the Baha’i Faith, and includes a forward that explains the title and reference to African Americans as “the pupil of the eye”. The author also states that the writings in the compilation describe “their crucial and indispensable role in the Cause of God”. The book is well-organized and contains a wide range of quotations. The author begins with quotations pertaining directly to African Americans, then moves through race, the oneness of mankind, and unity in diversity. She then organizes writings on solutions to racism and teaching the Faith. This progression lends itself well to sequencing learning and understanding, and the order develops naturally for the reader. Ms. Taylor even has organized sections pertaining to the responsibilities of Baha’is of European descent and Baha’is of African descent in the section on racism, which is helpful reading for all.

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