EDUCATING CHILDREN KEY DUTY IN BAHAI FAITH
The Bahai faith places a great deal of importance on the education of all the children of the world.
This main tenet of our faith may not seem like something new. When compared to other world religions, however, the Bahai writings on compulsory and mandatory education for all children are the clearest, most powerful I've ever read.
The education of our children is a duty that we all need to strive for. Our children are our future; I can't tell you how many times I've heard this expression; but has it really sunk into our collective consciousness? Are we walking our talk? Are we doing all we can for our children's moral education?
Beginning at home is the best place to start. The proper education of our own children is one of the most important services we can strive to achieve. Think about what a great world we would live in if all mothers and fathers made a conscious and concerted effort to better educate their children.
We need to help our children become all they can, and through this effort everyone will benefit. If moms and dads everywhere were to begin by making sure their children are properly educated, the world would be transformed into heaven on earth, spiritually, scientifically and artistically.
Bahai fathers and mothers understand the significance of this. Our writings tell us we are ultimately responsible for our children's learning, and we know we need to make great efforts in this endeavor - not just for our children, but for all children. This education is key in helping to bring about world peace, a major goal of the Bahai faith.
Of course, our schools have an important role to play in the education of our children and I believe religious teaching should be part of that formal education. You may ask, why teach religion in school? What value could it have?
For starters, religious teachings train our children in proper behavior and good character. They guide us so that we can find a way to get along with one another, to live in peace.
For example, most religions teach, in one way or another, do unto others as you would have them do unto you (the "golden rule"). This suggests that we need to think about other people's needs as we would our own. If we put the golden rule into practice, maybe we'll be respectful of one another and find a way to get along. If children all learn to live right, by the laws of God, world peace would become inevitable. I believe we move closer to world peace, one soul at a time. Our children can and will greatly influence humankind's destiny.
MUST BE SCHOOL PRIORITY
Religious/moral education should be a priority in schools. However, it must be handled in an appropriate and positive manner. The Bahai concept and acceptance of one God and many prophets would certainly help. We believe that Buddha, Abraham, Moses, Christ, Muhammad and Baha'u'llah (just to name a few) are all messengers from God.
A great deal needs to change before the concept of religious unity could be generally accepted. But when large numbers of people realize that the religions of the world are part of the same progressive religion of God, as I believe, then we will be able to make the world a better place to live for everyone.
We must not forget the important role teachers play in the education of our children. They hold a station in society that cannot be underestimated. Bahai teachings state, "Among the greatest of all services that can possibly be rendered by humans to Almighty God is the education and training of children . . . It is however, very difficult to undertake this service, even harder to succeed in it."
I would like to share a Bahai prayer that I often say for my sons, Dylan and Ethan.
O God! Educate these children. These children are the plants of Thine orchard, the flowers of Thy meadow, the roses of Thy garden. Let Thy rain fall upon them; let the Sun of Reality shine upon them with Thy love. Let Thy breeze refresh them in order that they may be trained, grow and develop, and appear in the utmost beauty.
John Pammer is a London resident and an adherent of the Bahai faith.
©Copyright 1998, The London Free Press