December 18, 2012

children. suffering. change.

"Children are the most precious treasure a community can possess, for in them are the promise and guarantee of the future. They bear the seeds of the character of future society which is largely shaped by what the adults constituting the community do or fail to do with respect to children. They are a trust no community can neglect with impunity. An all-embracing love of children, the manner of treating them, the quality of the attention shown them, the spirit of adult behavior toward them -- these are all among the vital aspects of the requisite attitude. Love demands discipline, the courage to accustom children to hardship, not to indulge their whims or leave them entirely to their own devices."
~ The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 157, 2000, p. 8
children all throughout the world are victims of war, violence, rape, trafficking and abandonment.   it can extinguish all our joy if we dwelt on the pain of what these young souls have faced from adults who have hurt them in these horrendous ways..

this past week's school massacre in Connecticut has touched the world through international media which has projected the horrific manner in which a gunman killed these 20 innocent souls.  i did not listen to most of the coverage living here in Ghana, but what i did read and see on the internet made the pain in my heart reach out to every child in the world who has suffered from such atrocities.  it made me want to tell the untold stories of countless lives that have been destroyed and damaged by the tragic ways in which adults have acted toward them..

suffering and calamities, trials and tragedies, ultimately serve to waken us from our slumber of negligence or lethargy and stir in us the desire to change..and the desire for change.

change begins always with the individual and expands gradually to communities and nations.  it depends on one's determined will to continually make efforts above and beyond satisfying one's needs and interests -- efforts that are motivated by service to the greater cause, the common good, the betterment of the world.  this volition of will must make tireless exertions throughout life.  for our outer lives to change, our inner life must change -- we must consciously strive to practice the virtues of God everyday.  change can be instant, but for the most part it is gradual and painstakingly slow..

humanity is at a new stage of consciousness and has reached a certain level of its innate spiritual capacity.  what used to be accepted as natural or common, like slavery or women being kept uneducated, is now viewed as barbaric or unjust.  humanity is gradually evolving to a point of accepting that war is destructive, or that all children must be protected from harm.. humanity is undergoing a collective experience of changing ever so gradually toward reaching a spiritually mature standard of what is acceptable behavior.

"Every child is potentially the light of the world -- and at the same time its darkness; wherefore must the question of education be accounted as of primary importance. From his infancy, the child must be nursed at the breast of God's love, and nurtured in the embrace of His knowledge, that he may radiate light, grow in spirituality, be filled with wisdom and learning, and take on the characteristics of the angelic host."
~ Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p.130

every child born into this world is endowed with the capacity to reach his fullest potential intended by God as a unique soul endowed with spiritual capacity to reflect the light of God.

i want to rid the world of every act of evil that hurts and kills children.  i know that i am only a small strand in the web of humanity, but i am vital to the health and strength of the web, given the interconnectedness of it all.  i am to live each moment the very best that i can in the spot where i am located, and with the people whose lives i touch -- upholding the highest standard of conduct, of friendliness and servitude, with pure intentions and a selflessness that is essential in creating strong bonds of unity with others.

i cannot change the entire world but i can affect many people's hearts by living a life that is as spiritually enamored and full of servitude to humanity as i can.  i can help reduce the existing pain that exists in so many people's hearts -- which leads them to suicide, killing other people, etc. -- by trying to be that beam of love which banishes the darkness inside of people because they have been alienated, abandoned, abused, ridiculed, etc.  each of us has this duty, this great responsibility, to live as though everyone around us in our lives is a part of us, touched at a soulful level by how much love we share through our genuine acts of kindliness, helpfulness, charity and caring each day.

i am one with the world -- the joy of one is the joy of all; the pain of one is the pain of all.  just as in the human body, each cell must cooperate and do its job in order to help the body achieve maximum health.  my prayer is to be the healthiest cell for the body of humanity..

guidance from the Baha'i Writings brings my heart into alliance with the great Plan of God and my role in carrying forward an ever-advancing spiritual civilization which will alleviate the suffering of children throughout the world:
"That which is of paramount importance for the children, that which must precede all else, is to teach them the oneness of God and the Laws of God. For lacking this the fear of God cannot be inculcated, and lacking the fear of God and infinity of odious and abominable actions will spring up, and sentiments will be uttered that transgress all bounds..."
~ Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 236

" cannot alter the inner essence of a man, but it doth exert tremendous influence, and with this power it can bring forth from the individual whatever perfections and capacities are deposited within him. A grain of wheat, when cultivated by the farmer, will yield a whole harvest, and a seed, through the gardener's care, will grow into a great tree. Thanks to a teacher's loving efforts, the children of the primary school may reach the highest levels of achievement; indeed, his benefactions may lift some child of small account to an exalted throne. Thus is it clearly demonstrated that by their essential nature, minds vary as to their capacity, while education also playeth a great role and exerteth a powerful effect on their development."

~ Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 131

"And as to the world’s evil plight, we need but recall the writings and sayings of Bahá’u’lláh, who, more than fifty years ago, declared in terms prophetic the prime cause of the ills and sufferings of mankind, and set forth their true and divine remedy. “Should the Lamp of Religion be hidden,” He declares, “Chaos and confusion will ensue.” How admirably fitting and applicable are these words to the present state of mankind!
 "Ours is then the duty and privilege to labor, by day and by night, amidst the storm and stress of these troublous days, that we may quicken the zeal of our fellow-men, rekindle their hopes, stimulate their interest, open their eyes to the true Faith of God and enlist their active support in the carrying out of our common task for the peace and regeneration of the world.
"Let us pray to God that in these days of world-encircling gloom, when the dark forces of nature, of hate, rebellion, anarchy and reaction are threatening the very stability of human society, when the most precious fruits of civilization are undergoing severe and unparalleled tests, we may all realize, more profoundly than ever, that though but a mere handful amidst the seething masses of the world, we are in this day the chosen instruments of God’s grace, that our mission is most urgent and vital to the fate of humanity, and, fortified by these sentiments, arise to achieve God’s holy purpose for mankind."

 ~ Shoghi Effendi, Baha'i Administration, pp. 50-52

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