O Son of Man! Wert thou to speed through the immensity of space and traverse the expanse of heaven, yet thou wouldst find no rest save in submission to Our command and humbleness before Our Face. Bahai writings

I was driving with Moojan from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Wilmette, Illinois, on 20 July 1969, trying to arrive there before the astronauts landed on the moon. We had car trouble on the way and I had to use a coat hanger to keep the exhaust in place as we drove through Nebraska.

I had not been to my family’s home in Wilmette, as they have only recently moved there, and had no idea where the street they lived on might be. There was no such thing as a SatNav and the map we had showed Wilmette as a suburb of Chicago but no streets. Once in the Chicago area, I just pointed the car towards Wilmette and, having arrived there, looked for the dome of the Baha’i House of Worship above trees, as I knew the street to be nearby. Just before 3:00 in the afternoon I pulled into the parking lot next to the House of Worship, my car roaring as the silencer (muffler, for those in the US) had completely gone. A car was just leaving the car park as I drove in, so I asked the driver where Greenleaf was — and got directions from Hand of the Cause Zikrullah Khadem!

We quickly drove the two blocks and ran into the house just in time to sit with my family to watch the historic moon landing at 3:17 Chicago time.

We were thrilled by the words of  Neil Armstrong as he set his foot on the moon’s surface: `That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’ – they seemed to capture the very spirit of the changes and advances that were happening in the world. For me, it was particularly poignant to watch with my grandmother, the first Baha’i in our family, who was born in Norway in 1896 and had come to the US on a ship in 1902.

But it was Buzz Aldrin who, unwittingly, echoed Baha’u’llah’s truth-statement of more than a century before – `Wert thou to speed through the immensity of space and traverse the expanse of heaven, yet thou wouldst find no rest save in submission to Our command and humbleness before Our Face – when, in the first broadcast from the moon, he requested us to be show humility and gratitude to our creator: `I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.’

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wendi

Women Advance

So it will come to pass that when women participate fully and equally in the affairs of the world, when they enter confidently and capably the great arena of laws and politics, war will cease; for woman will be the obstacle and hindrance to it. This is true and without doubt. Bahai writings

We can tell that women still do not `participate fully and equally in the affairs of the world’ because we still do not have universal peace. However, compared to the status of women in 1912 when `Abdu’l-Baha made this statement to a women’s suffrage meeting in New York, we are advancing along this trajectory. Witness the number of women now in government, business, the law, the professions, in contrast to the number a hundred years ago – not enough, certainly, but many more. Witness also the growth in the organisations that work for the advancement of women. equality and justice.

Last evening I attended the 40th anniversary of the establishment the independent advisory body set up under the Wilson government as the interface between the British government and women and women’s organisations: the Women’s National Commission (WNC). Over 450 organisations in the UK are partners, organisations concerned inter alia with the advancement of women, women’s rights, the education of women and girls, the role of women in peace and security, mothers, women workers, women scientists, family planning, grandparents, widows, housing, health, justice, trafficking, violence against women, families, women in politics and gender and equality issues in general, as well as faith communities, cultural organisations, professional associations and trades unions. The role of the WNC is to ensure that the views of women are taken into account by the government and are heard in public debate. Although paid for by the government, the WNC comments independently on government policy and advises the government. And, in my experience, actually listens to the people and organisations it represents and includes them in forming its policies and recommendations.

I was invited as a co-founder of Advance, a Baha’i-inspired organisation (follow us on Twitter: advancewomennow). One of the aims of Advance is to introduce the principles and concepts found in the Baha’i writings into the discourse on gender and equality issues being conducted by the Women’s National Commission and its partners. The statement made by Prime Minister Harold Wilson at the launch of the WNC in 1969 resonate with the Baha’i teachings: `Women’s experiences, capabilities and sensibilities enable them to contribute something additional, valuable and possibly different, to thought and discussion on public issues.’

The 40th anniversary celebration was held on the terraces of the House of Lords, so was quite a prestigious event and I was really honoured to be invited. Most of the people there were commissioners or former commissioners of the WNC, statesmen, politicians, lawyers, social activists, educators – women who have `entered confidently and capably the great arena of laws and politics’. They represented many cultures, backgrounds and religions, united in their dedication to making the world more equitable and just.

Chair Baroness Joyce Gould

Baroness Gould

outlined the evolution of the WNC and the issues it tackled, starting with a review of family law in the early 1970s, and moving on to equal pay legislation, tackling violence against women and female genital mutilation, issues concerning older women, and how to engage more women in public life. This last was of particular relevance to me, as it was through the efforts of the WNC that the government was persuaded to actively recruit more (and younger) women to positions such as non-executive director of health boards, one of which recruited me in 1990 (I am still serving on the successor board, NHS Bedfordshire).

Minister for Women and Equality, Harriet Harman,

harriet harman

spoke of the progress made and work still to be done in all these areas, particularly in this time of financial difficulty, when the temptation to backtrack on issues such as childcare for working women, equal pay and support for families is great.

It wasn’t all serious, though. Comedian Jo Brand

Jo Brand

made us laugh at ourselves (`Feminists range from women in high heels and lipstick to those in overalls and Doc Martens. I’m the first but I look like the second.’)

And among the hundred or so people there were Carwen Wynne Howells, Federation President of Soroptimist International of Great Britain and Ireland; Jonathan Rees, Director-General of the Government Equalities Office; members of UNIFEM NC UK – and two other Baha’is, Lois Hainsworth MBE, veteran activist for women’s rights; and Mieko, co-founder, with Zarin Hainsworth-Fadaei and me, of Advance.

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The unity of the human race, as envisaged by Bahá’u’lláh, implies the establishment of a world commonwealth in which all nations, races, creeds and classes are closely and permanently united, and in which the autonomy of its state members and the personal freedom and initiative of the individuals that compose them are definitely and completely safeguarded. Bahai writings

Today, 11 July, is Baha’i Rights day, when bloggers and tweeters offer a thought on the rights of  Baha’is. Organised by the Muslim Network for Baha’i Rights http://www.bahairights.org/, it is an opportunity to communicate some of the human rights abuses that the Baha’i suffer in many parts of the world.

I expect quite a few people will do this, so I thought I might take a different approach.  `Abdu’l-Baha says that `the moderate freedom which guarantees the welfare of the world of mankind and maintains and preserves the universal relationships, is found in its fullest power and extension in the teachings of Baha’u’llah’. So what does the Baha’i Faith say about human rights and what freedoms does it guarantee?

When He was travelling in America in 1912, `Abdu’l-Baha described the how much more effective, progressive and just a community was if its people were granted certain rights: `Under an autocratic government the opinions of men are not free, and development is stifled, whereas in democracy, because thought and speech are not restricted, the greatest progress is witnessed. It is likewise true in the world of religion. When freedom of conscience, liberty of thought and right of speech prevail — that is to say, when every man according to his own idealization may give expression to his beliefs — development and growth are inevitable.’

In my reading of the writings of Baha’u’llah, `Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi and the published talks of `Abdu’l-Baha I have come across many statements that describe the legal, equitable or moral entitlements of individuals within a society functioning according to the Bahá’í teachings. These are sometimes expressed as `freedoms’ and sometimes as `rights’. Many of these are the very entitlements that Baha’is – and others – are denied in their home countries today.

Freedoms (those that are more or less the same I have grouped together):

Freedom to worship God as one believes to be right
Freedom of belief
Freedom of choice of  religion

Freedom of conscience
Freedom of thought

Freedom of speech
Freedom of expression
Freedom to have and express one’s own opinion
Freedom to criticise
Freedom of the press

Freedom of investigation

Freedom from government oppression
Freedom of the person
Freedom from slavery and bondage
Freedom from oppression
Freedom from all forms of abuse

Freedom from fear
Freedom from want
Freedom to marry the person of one’s choice (for Baha’is, conditioned on the consent of the parents)
Freedom of movement
Freedom of the voter to vote for whom he chooses
Freedom to bequeath ones property as one wishes

Rights of the Individual

Right of the family to maintain itself under conditions favourable to body, mind and spirit.
Right to survive
Right to hold opinions and express these opinions appropriately
Right to information

Right to establish centres of worship

Right to a happy, comfortable life
Right to a social order
Right to be citizens in good standing
Right to be recognized as a person before the law
Right to privacy
Right to freedom from racial discrimination
Right to expect that those cultural conditions essential to one’s identity enjoy the protection of national and international law

Right to a living
Right of the workers to share in the profits of the enterprise
Right to dignity
Rights of minorities and fostering their interest

Right to development
Right of women to equality with men
Right to help others
Right basic necessities such as food, shelter and health care
Right to education (also, `daughters have a prior right to education over sons’)

Baha’is believe that `rights and responsibilities are inextricably linked’ thus for every `right’ there is a counterpart responsibility

Responsibilities of individuals

To recognize the essential oneness of the human race
To promote the human rights of others
To uphold the rights of others
To develop a personal commitment to building a broader sense of community
To promote the well-being, and respect for the rights, freedoms, identity and human dignity of others
To promote the rights of women and children
To obey the law
To educate children

Responsibilities of governments

To respect the rights and freedoms listed above and to find ways to foster their expression

To respect the rights of minorities, women, children and the disabled

To be fair in their judgement

To provide employment for everyone

These are a few of the freedoms, rights and responsibilities of individuals and their governments that are described in the Baha’i teachings.

Today the trial of the seven imprisoned Baha’is facing the death penalty in Tehran was due to start. We have just learned that it has been postponed. Whether there has been the usual kind of judicial delay or there has been a change of heart, whether this is yet one more ploy by an unscrupulous administration to achieve some undisclosed agenda or is an attempt to deflect international criticism has yet to be determined. Whatever today’s event, the rights of the Baha’is are still severely restricted so a focus on them in still very much required.

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wendi

Trails to Trials

l have rolled up the world and all that is therein, and spread out a new Order in its stead.’ `The day is approaching when God will have raised up a people who will call to remembrance Our days, who will tell the tale of Our trials, who will demand the restitution of Our rights. Bahai writings

Like Christians, Baha’is annually commemorate the state execution of a person considered by the leaders of His day to be a criminal. Like Jesus, who prayed as He was crucified,`Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do’ (Luke 23:34), when the Bab was set before a firing squad in Tabriz, Iran, on 9 July 1850, He explained to His executioners that they had no idea who He was and what they were doing. His last words were: `O wayward generation! Had you believed in Me every one of you would have followed the example of this youth [Anis], who stood in rank above most of you, and would have willingly sacrificed himself in My path. The day will come when you will have recognized Me; that day I shall have ceased to be with you.’

Both Jesus and the Bab were around 30 when they died. Both envisaged the Kingdom of God on earth. Both taught a message of love. Both were victims of ignorance and fear. Both suffered at the hands of government. Both faced a show trial where the verdict was determined before they ever appeared. Both were deemed to be criminals and executed as such. Both were told that their religion would die as soon as they did. Both proved this expectation to be wrong.

But the fear and ignorance remain. Although the Bab died 159 years ago today, His followers are still being persecuted. Seven are locked up in prison. Their trial is set for 11 July. Their prospects are not good. In the end, the charges against them will not matter: their actual crime is to be a follower of the Bab and His successor, Baha’u’llah. No doubt there will be a show trial to prove that the Baha’is are criminals, not followers of a religion. If things get that far, no doubt there will be calls for their execution.

So while today Baha’is around the world are remembering the Bab and recalling His life and martyrdom, they will also be remembering the Evin Seven and praying for their safety and eventual release.

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wendi

Insight into Buying a New Car

. . .  open the eye of thine insight, travel in all the realms of God, see the splendour of the Kingdom and behold the effulgence of the Realm of might. Bahai writings

My old car was becoming a liability and beginning to cost a lot to repair and service, so I decided to take advantage of the UK government’s old car scrappage scheme, which gives you £2000 towards a brand new car if you scrap your old one.

There are some rules for this: your old car must be a passenger car or small van up to 3.5 tonnes in weight; it has to have been registered in the UK before 1 August 1999; it must still be registered with the DVLA; it must have an MOT certificate; and you must have owned it for more than one year. The rules are to prevent people from buying up rusty wrecks for a few hundred pounds and scrapping them for unfair profit.

The general idea is that there will be fewer high carbon emitting cars on the road. The other idea is that the ailing motor industry will get a boost. The idea for me was, for the first time since 1975, to get a new car.

As my car was well over 10 years old, I’d owned it for most of that time, it was MOTed and everything, it qualified. What I didn’t realise was that `scrapping’ means `crushing’. This is how it works. Once you have decided what new car you want, you have to ascertain that it is actually available. This is because under this scheme you have to hand over your old car to the dealer before you can get the new car. You also have to hand over your car registration document and MOT tax disc. Then the dealer contacts the crushing service, which has 48 hours to collect your old car. From the time of collection, it then has 48 hours to crush your car and issue a certificate of crushing to the dealer – in fact, though, there is a backlog, as so many people have taken up this option this may take longer. Until the dealer gets the certificate of crushing, your new car cannot be registered to you. In the meantime, you have no car . . .

You also need to arrange the insurance for the new car, as it cannot be registered until you have this. Of course, until you have the registration number of the car, you can’t get insurance. So the timing is a bit tricky. In the meantime, you have no car . . .

Once the registration number has been assigned, you can buy insurance. For me, this was the longer part of the whole thing. I compared insurance prices on line – but when I went to buy the insurance, it `only’ took four hours (most of the time was trying to get through to the chosen insurance company on the phone, as a crucial question needed to be answered by a real person). Getting the certificate to the dealer is also tricky. The dealer cannot accept anything other than the original certificate of insurance or cover note – a fax won’t do, `for security reasons’ the insurers won’t email it to you and the cover note can’t be delivered for a week, during which you have no car…

But once all these issues are sorted, you can get your new car. I bought a bright red Honda Insight, a petrol-electric hybrid. I really love it!

honda_insight_hybrid-thumb-450x291

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wendi

Passages

. . . the human spirit is a Divine Trust, and it must traverse all conditions; for its passage and movement through the conditions of existence will be the means of its acquiring perfections. Bahai writings

This week two very well known entertainers passed away:  Michael Jackson, a unique musician, and Farah Fawcett, a popular TV actress.

Two less widely known people also passed away and it is to them that I wish to pay tribute.

The first was Archie Webster, a fellow magistrate who lived in the same village I live in. When I first met him in 1982, I was taken with his broad smile and warm welcome, wise words and excellent example. He had a generous spirit, was kind and helpful, courteous and dignified – spiritual qualities that just oozed out of him as he served the local church and community. I am going to miss him a lot.

The second was David Lewis, a British Baha’i, father of my friend and colleague at George Ronald, Publisher, Erica Leith. David too had a generous spirit, was the very essence of kindness, wisdom and service, was perhaps the most courteous man I have ever met and was dignity personified. His service to the Baha’i community was unstinting. These spiritual qualities shone from his ever-smiling face. I’m already missing him.

These two men – one a Christian, one a Baha’i – shared so many qualities and characteristics, both physical and spiritual. It is a shame that they never met in this life. However, having shared their passage into the next world, I suspect they will recognise the spiritual beauty of each other now that they are there and become friends.

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wendi

Progress

Consider what a vast difference exists between modern democracy and the old forms of despotism. Under an autocratic government the opinions of men are not free, and development is stifled, whereas in democracy, because thought and speech are not restricted, the greatest progress is witnessed. Bahai writings

I have not actually left the planet but I have been away from home rather a lot. My niece Courtney Gundry married Andy Primus at the end of May in Tennessee and the wedding was a real family reunion. The EBBF conference `Living Values’ in Acuto, Italy, was sold out. I’ve had tea with the Duchess of Bedford at Woburn Abbey (lovely woman, very big house!), sped up the M1 to the Multi-Faith Centre at the University of Derby, watched my grandson Dreyfus run the relay and tackle the obstacle course (came in 1st!) at te sports day at St Christopher’s school in Letchworth, served the food at the Community Foundation‘s `foal parade’  and talked about UNIFEM to the Women’s Institute in Sunningdale. We have watched our vegetable garden grow – and have eaten some of the lettuce and radishes and strawberries (giving up some to the slugs). All in all a very pleasant summer so far!

But behind all this are other trends: the deepening economic situation, the near melt-down of the British parliament over members’ expenses, international threats in North Korea and Afghanistan, the apparent end of the Tamil Tigers after a horrifying two decades and the depressing problems that continue in the Middle East. The beautiful wedding I attended was in stark contrast to the wedding of two Baha’is in Iran, whose celebrations were interrupted by agents of the Ministry of Intelligence.

The elections in Iran caught my attention – I am always fascinated by elections – and I was particularly interested in this one because of the situation of the Baha’is there. It was amazing to see crowds of people in the streets, some shouting that the Baha’is in Iran should have their rights, others wanting the liberation of women, still others wanting a change from despotic rule. It seemed a change of heart might occur and the country offer its people, including the Baha’is, a wider range of human rights, although I did not hold out much hope of this. A very high proportion of people came out to vote – much higher than we have seen in recent western elections.

Yet voting alone does not create democracy. In common with other commentators on political processes, the Baha’i International Community has identified `three factors that largely determine the state of governance’: `the quality of leadership, the quality of the governed and the quality of the structures and processes in place’. They point out that `there is an emerging international consensus on the core characteristics of good governance’: `democracy, the rule of law, accountability, transparency and participation by civil society’. Further, the Baha’i International Community recognises that `Governance must be guided by universal values, including an ethic of service to the common good.’ See the whole of the BIC statement on Valuing Spirituality in Development here.

By this definition, most countries have some way to go before they will attain the state of `good governance’ and democracy. Are we making progress?

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wendi

Breathing while Baha’i

. . . be so faithful and sincere in all your actions that every member may be known as embodying the qualities of honesty, love, faith, kindness, generosity, and courage . . . be detached from all that is not God, attracted by the Heavenly Breath . . . Bahai writings

Free the Evin Seven!

You may have heard of the phrase `Driving While Black’, a word play on the offence of driving while intoxicated. Coined in the United States, it refers to the racial profiling allegedly used by the police who, it is said, will stop, question, search and charge a driver just because he or she is black. Such is the legacy of racism in America.

Free the Evin Seven!

Baha’is in Iran know exactly what this is like. Arbitrary arrests, houses looted, books destroyed, children taunted at school by their own teachers, older students denied access to training and higher education – such have the Baha’is endured since the resurgence of persecution against the community in recent years.

Free the Evin Seven!

If you are breathing and Baha’i in Iran, then you are likely to find yourself charged with what I will call `breathing while Baha’i’. By definition, your very being makes you illegal, a `danger to national security’. Iran’s Prosecutor General, Ayatollah Qorban-Ali Dorri-Najafabadi, has stated that the very expression of affiliation to the Baha’i Faith is illegal. A Baha’i is, by definition, dangerous. A Baha’i who expresses anything about his or her beliefs – even practising them – is a criminal. Such is the legacy of `racism’ in Iran.

Free the Evin Seven!

It is not hard to see, then, that a Baha’i who puts into practice the teachings of Baha’u’llah on serving humanity, treating women and men equally, honesty, trustworthiness and so on is likely to find himself or herself in prison. Such a dangerous person cannot be trusted to have legal counsel (Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr Shirin Ebadi) – in fact, good idea to lock up the legal adviser too! – and there is no need to charge a Baha’i with anything as just being a Baha’i already condemns him.

Free the Evin Seven!

So it is no wonder that seven prominent Iranian Baha’is are today commemorating their first year in prison. There really is no way to avoid such a fate if you insist on breathing while Baha’i. Charges have yet to be laid upon the seven but they are accused by Dorri-Najafabadi of  `espionage for Israel’ and `insulting religious sanctities’. And now the Baha’i International Community is reporting that they will be charged with `spreading corruption on earth’. (Read more about this here.)

Free the Evin Seven!

Now, you might think that such a concept is a little odd. If you look at the teachings of Baha’u’llah and look at Baha’is and then compare them with the people who traffic in drugs, people, weapons and pornography — or even with some politicians —  it is very difficult to see how Baha’is could ever be considered people who spread corruption. But then you discover that this catch-all phrase is used for a whole host of  `criminals’ and particularly those with whom the Iranian leadership has a fundamental theological disagreement. Ah, there you have it! They fundamentally disagree with the Baha’is.

Free the Evin Seven!

Unfortunately, being convicted of the crime of  `spreading corruption on earth’ can lead to execution. We pray this is not the fate of the seven leaders wasting away in Evin Prison in Tehran.

Free the Evin Seven!

You can see that breathing while Baha’i can be very dangerous – but then, I like to live dangerously, what about you?

Free the Evin Seven!

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wendi

Running on Empty

At that hour . . . your religion shall remain an empty word on your tongues. And when these signs appear amongst you, anticipate the day when the red-hot wind will have swept over you . . . or when stones will have rained upon you. Islamic tradition, quoted in the Bahai writings

A fascinating piece of research came my way today, a document based on a survey of over four thousand Iranians both in and out of Iran. Over half the respondents were 20 to 29 years old, demographically the largest age group in the country. While 62 per cent of the men and 77 per cent of the women said their religion was Islam, only 15.6 per cent of men and 22.5 of women said they practised their religion, while overall 38 per cent of all respondents identified themselves as secular.

It was interesting, therefore, to read in our parish magazine today the response of our local vicar to the news that two eminent Christian clerics have suggested there be a general boycott of television because there has not been enough religious broadcasting during the Easter season. The vicar said he was amazed that there was any religious broadcasting at all, given the degree of secularisation that has taken place in the UK. He doubted the ability of religious programmes on TV to turn this around. Getting people to come to church, he said, is not so difficult – it is teaching Christianity in such a way that it transforms the lives of those who hear it.

It is exactly at the point when the world is spiritually running on empty that God provides a top-up of information and education. The universal, eternal principles by which all people are to live are reiterated and refreshed, and the application of those principles made appropriate for that epoch. He does this by providing a great teacher, a Manifestation, who brings God;s current plan for humanity.

That God has, over the whole history of humanity, gradually provided guidance that is fine-tuned to the increasing and nuanced needs of His people seems to have eluded most of us. But it should not be so strange. All education is provided progressively, with more sophisticated concepts being introduced after less complicated ones are learned. Schools are based on this very principle. Yet some people still seem to think the world can run effectively on information that has not been updated in millennia.

Baha’is are currently celebrating the twelve-day festival of Ridvan, the period when Bahá’u’lláh, the begetter of the Baha’i Faith, made public in 1863 something He had known for a decade – that God had chosen Him to be the vehicle for God’s Word for this age, a Manifestation of God. Not perhaps so surprising. given this is an age of secularisation and cynicism and scepticism. Bahá’u’lláh Himself wrote of this very phenomenon:

The vitality of men’s belief in God is dying out in every land; nothing short of His wholesome medicine can ever restore it. The corrosion of ungodliness is eating into the vitals of human society; what else but the Elixir of His potent Revelation can cleanse and revive it? Is it within human power . . . to effect in the constituent elements of any of the minute and indivisible particles of matter so complete a transformation as to transmute it into purest gold? Perplexing and difficult as this may appear, the still greater task of converting satanic strength into heavenly power is one that We have been empowered to accomplish. The Force capable of such a transformation transcendeth the potency of the Elixir itself. The Word of God, alone, can claim the distinction of being endowed with the capacity required for so great and far-reaching a change.

To commemorate Ridvan, on Wednesday evening Moojan and I attended the celebration at the Houses of Parliament – you can read the details of this annual event here.  A happy occasion, though overshadowed by the ongoing persecution of the Baha’is in Iran and the imprisonment of the seven Baha’is leaders there. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in a letter addressed to the reception hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Friends of the Baha’is, expressed his `respect and admiration’ for the British Baha’i community which, he said, `makes a contribution to British life out of all proportion to its size’. Too sad, then, that the Baha’is in Iran are unable to contribute to their own country’s progress. But this is what happens when a whole world is running on empty.

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wendi

— Dashing Around —

There is a power in this Cause, a mysterious power, far, far, far away from the ken of men and angels . . . It moves the hearts. It rends the mountains . . . It inspires the friends. It dashes into a thousand pieces all the forces of opposition. It creates new spiritual worlds. This is a mystery of the Kingdom of Abha.  Bahai writings

For some, it might be the height of insult to have their entire religious belief system represented by nothing more than a straight line — but for the Baha’is in Egypt it is a cause of great rejoicing. The Baha’i World News Service is reporting today that, after a long struggle, minority religious communities in Egypt, including the Baha’is, will be able to get government documents. No longer will they have to fill in the space on such documents that denotes their religion with one of the three recognized ones — Islam, Christianity, Judaism — they can use a dash — instead.

It means Baha’is, Hindus, Buddhists and others can get the all-important ID card that enables them to undertake basic activities such as enrolling their children in school and university, receiving medical treatment and buying a car.

While this might seem a small victory, or perhaps even a non-victory, it allows them to realise their rights of citizenship. As my English grandfather would have said, it’s a dashed good idea!

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