December 16, 2009

September 2001 Talks by Douglas Martin -- in Atlanta, New York and Massachusetts

(A collection of 5 sets of notes by various individuals)

Notes Collection # 1

Lesser Peace
The Lesser Peace is a process that started with Woodrow Wilson, when he created the League of Nations. It will be a long time from now before we fully understand what the Lesser Peace was.

Mr. Martin detailed some of the elements in the following parallel processes mentioned by Shoghi Effendi. "...the two parallel processes of integration and disintegration associated respectively with the rising fortunes of God's infant Faith and the sinking fortunes of the institutions of a declining civilization." (Shoghi Effendi: Messages to the Baha'i World, Page: 102) Disintegration: - military buildup - counter-productive economic system - human weaknesses - prejudices - collapsing moral standards Integration: - individuals of capacity and insight like Woodrow Wilson and Eleanor Roosevelt - revolutions in communications and transportation - artists, musicians, soccer players and more working as agents of the awakening of the oneness of mankind - every barrier separating humans into artificial constructs has collapsed - Universal House of Justice peace statement

Seemingly insurmountable obstacles to world peace have been blown away by the Will of God. "Thou seest the mountains and thinkest them firmly fixed: but they shall pass away as the clouds pass away: (such is) the artistry of God, Who disposes of all things in perfect order..." (The Qur'an, The Ant (An-Naml), verse 88)

December 8, 2009

Recollections about Ruhiyyih Khanum – by Violette Nakhjavani

(Transcript of a talk given in East London, South Africa in 2001)

We have been travelling for five weeks so far, and have visited Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. We have been immersed in a sea of singing and of music, and we are so happy and grateful to Baha'u'llah that this trip was possible. I was in South Africa 29 years ago, with Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum. She left her home in Haifa in July 1969, and didn't get back until April 1973. She was travelling for three years and nine months, and during this time, she visited 60 countries, 34 of which were on the continent of Africa. South Africa was towards the end of the trip, and was very special. South Africa, and all of Africa, was a different place 29 years ago.

South Africa was very, very different. Meetings like this, with mixed races and colors present, were almost impossible. Ruhhiyih Khanum said that this country was the greatest test to her, because she was told since childhood about racial unity, amity between the different races and people, so coming here was a real shock to her. During the four weeks that she was in South West Africa, as it was called then, she would have daily prayers, to be free of any form of prejudice. She would say, Baha'u'llah didn't tell us to chose our prejudice, so we must feel a total lack of prejudice in life. So it was quite hard for her when she was refused permits to see the Baha'is in different areas, so today, she is rejoicing with us. I firmly believe that her spirit is in Africa. She loved this continent, the people, and she had the best years of her life after the passing of the Guardian here.

December 1, 2009

Obedience - an address by Ian Semple

26 July 1991
Baha'i World Centre

The International Teaching Centre has produced a wonderful compilation, which you've all received, of texts on the subject of obedience. I'm assuming that you're familiar with those, and therefore I want to approach the subject from a more general point of view--principally about obedience in relation to freedom of thought and also to discussing the importance of obedience both to the individual's spiritual development and to society as a whole.

Mankind has suffered appallingly from tyranny, throughout virtually its whole history, and obedience has often come to be equated with servility and acquiescence in oppression--or even worse, to be used as an excuse for taking part in oppression. You know, because of having lived in Israel for some time, how often this comes up when the question of the Holocaust is being discussed. Those who took part in the Holocaust said, "Well, I was just obeying orders; I am not the one to blame." Now, because of this history of oppression, obedience has become widely despised, and freedom and "rugged individualism" are prized as true goals of social life. What, then, are we to make of this statement of Baha'u'llah:

“What mankind needeth in this day is obedience unto them that are in authority, and a faithful adherence to the cord of wisdom.”

To understand this we need to see the other side of the picture. We need to appreciate the enormity of the problems mankind is grappling with, which are caused by violent nationalism and tribalism, by individual greed and ruthless competition in economic life, by unbridled permissiveness in morality, and by the ever-growing incidence of crime and terrorism. These are all distortions of freedom.