God Bless America

All research or scholarship questions
Baha'i Warrior
Posts: 753
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 10:07 am
Location: U.S.A.

God Bless America

Postby Baha'i Warrior » Thu Aug 31, 2006 1:17 pm

As Baha'is, how patriotic can we be without looking partisan? For example, are we only able to say we love our country? Should/can we show support for our government, President, etc., and in what ways? I have met countless people (including Baha'is) speaking ill of our President, and that is not right, at least in a Baha'i gathering. So then maybe we are not permitted as Baha'is to do the opposite—that is, to state good things about our country, President, etc.?

This topic isn't meant to excite/encourage subversive statements about our country or our President. It's meant to discuss our role as Baha'is in supporting/being loyal to our country without being partisan. Like, is merely not saying negative things about the government, etc., considered supportive? Or can we/should we go beyond that to show people that we as Baha'is are loyal to our country?

I'm wondering what the Baha'is here think. (Supported with quotations from the Baha'i Writings, of course.)

Jonah
Site Admin
Posts: 412
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2003 1:25 pm
Location: St Catharines, Ontario (near Niagara Falls)
Contact:

Postby Jonah » Fri Sep 01, 2006 12:15 am

I've been pondering a dozen responses all day. For now, let me just say that I don't want to discuss Bush on this forum. Politics, sure. <a href="http://physics911.net">9/11</a>, absolutely. But specific politicians, let's not.

If such a political discussion does arise, I'm pretty sure we'll need to create a separate category for it. For now, this category (Discussion) is fine.

-Jonah

Baha'i Warrior
Posts: 753
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 10:07 am
Location: U.S.A.

Postby Baha'i Warrior » Fri Sep 01, 2006 9:24 am

Thanks for the input, Jonah. Like you, I don't want to discuss Mr. Bush (or other politicians for that matter) for the following reasons (see quote on behalf of Guardian at end of post): (1) That would look partisan, and as Baha'is we shouldn't give that impression; and (2) most Americans passionately dislike Mr. Bush and like I said this forum topic isn't meant for subversive statements (or even praise, though I highly doubt that'd happen) about our President/government from such people.

By the way, just for the record. It's not because of preference that we will/won't discuss political figures. It's because we are instructed as Baha'is specifically not to:

    Reference to Political Figures. The Guardian wishes me to draw the attention of the Friends through you that they should be very careful in their public addresses not to mention any political figures—either side with them or denounce them. This is the first thing to bear in mind. Otherwise they will involve the friends in political matters, which is infinitely dangerous to the Cause. (Letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi by his Secretary)
Source: http://bahai-library.com/?file=compilation_principles_bahai_administration.

So this topic is more general, about what it looks like to be loyal to your country.

Jonah
Site Admin
Posts: 412
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2003 1:25 pm
Location: St Catharines, Ontario (near Niagara Falls)
Contact:

Postby Jonah » Fri Sep 01, 2006 2:36 pm

to be loyal to your country

I've started and deleted responses to this thread, and to the above concept, probably 5 times in the last day. The problems for me are partly that it's such a huge, huge topic, but mostly that most North Americans, presumably Baha'is among them, <i>have never learned its history.</i> Not only that, they don't know they haven't learned it, because they've taken history in high school and college and think it taught them history. More likely than not, it didn't.

The secondary-source textbooks used both in high school and college are astoundingly incomplete and one-sided. For example, before the Native American activism preceding the quincentennial "celebrations" of 1492, something like 94% of Americans never knew that their country was founded on history's largest genocide, and of one of the world's oldest continuous civilizations. (It sure was never discussed in my high school or college history texts of the late-1980s.)

And worse, of the perhaps 6% that did know that, probably almost none knew that the genocide was in large degree planned and coordinated. My saying that will, I know, cause the rhetorical flag "conspiracy theory" to be raised in the reader's mind -- but I also know that odds are nil that the reader has encountered any of the evidence to the contrary. However, it's a recent phenomenon. Contemporaneous policy makers and thinkers, circa 1500-1700, were fully aware that the Savages had to be eliminated for Manifest Destiny (and its earlier versions) to be realized. Yes, there were many instances of intercultural cooperation and friendly relations, and yes, those are the instances that became standard "history" by the 1800s and later enshrined in our North American rituals and celebrations. However, one need only read a few texts from the 1600s to see that our current reverence for the early "settler" days is a fairly recent phenomenon, and that systematic genocide was understood, at the time, to be the necessary way of things.

"Whatever," the reader says. That's ancient history, and now "our country" has grown to become a thing worthy of reverence. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Even quite recent history has undergone a complete whitewash, intentional or otherwise. The case of the Second World War is a good one. Now it's common for Americans to think of it as "the Good War." Little do they know the extent to which America was an instigator of and even participant in the atrocities leading up to it, and was the world's major <i>obstacle</i> in preventing the spread of the Third Reich. Not an opponent of the Third Reich, but a supporter of it. Think that's a conspiracy theory? OK, have you read what the US politicians, bankers, and leaders of industry were saying and writing in 1935, 1939, 1941? With the supreme counter-example of FDR, almost the entirety of the American "industrial-military-financial complex" was solidly behind Germany through the 1930s, as was the American population. It's not theory, it's history -- just not one that was preserved in textbooks or history courses written after the 1950s, or the television and mainstream print media which came to saturate our lives starting in the mid-1950s.

Assuming that either (1) the above is news to the reader or (2) the reader has already dismissed me as crazy, try skimming just one book by a famed Repubican historian (credited with the birth of modern Republicanism), Kevin Phillips' <i><a href="http://www.americandynasty.net">American Dynasty</a></i>. Rather than citing dozens of books or articles, I'll single out this one because of its solid Republican credentials, and because written by an eminent, non-crazy historian. (Based on its cover you'd think this book was just about the Bushes, but it's more broadly a capsule summary of the entire American Twentieth Century, with specific emphasis on the first two world wars.)

I'll be the first to admit that I once would have thought it all crazy, too. But in 1991, purely out of personal interest (my Jewish grandparents fled Poland very early), I focussed my history course on one particular topic: to what degree was Hitler personally responsible for the Final Solution? I had expected it to be clear-cut. I was wrong. This paper, I think, is what started a whole chain of eye-opening re-examinations of history I had long thought I understood. The factors leading to the Final Solution, I found at the time (and lacking the wealth of books that came out in the 1990s), were so wide-spread and involved so many different interests and countries, I ended up concluding it was very much a group effort, and one that was conducted (thousands of documents show) with the awareness and even complicity — viz. GM and Ford — of major sectors of Wall Street and US industry. I got an A on the paper, but the professor said he only gave me an A based on the strength of my research, but that my findings were clearly wrong because they didn't match what he'd learned in school.

Coming from that perspective, then, how do I interpret "be loyal to your country"? Easy. My country is humanity. Individual nation-states, even usually beneficent ones like Canada, are not entities I could possibly feel much allegiance towards. My patriotism is to my family first, my neighbourhood second, my city third, my geographic region fourth, and the world fifth. "Country" is but a recent and transitory concept, and national governments often have very ugly pasts (and presents).

brettz9
Posts: 1366
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 12:12 pm
Contact:

Postby brettz9 » Fri Sep 01, 2006 3:03 pm

I agree with you BW...It is disappointing when people slide into partisan comments, or even, I would say, to harbor private ill will at all.

" Except to speak well of them, make thou no mention of the earth's kings, and the worldly governments thereof. Rather, confine thine utterance to spreading the blissful tidings of the Kingdom of God, and demonstrating the influence of the Word of God, and the holiness of the Cause of God."

(Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 92)


Although there may be a fine line between 'siding with' (which we are not to do) and 'speaking well of' such figures (which we can do), I think there can be a difference, especially (or rather only) when 'speaking well of them' does not relate to any partisan issues.

I think there are a number of areas in which Bush could be praised as well, but there is a knee-jerk reaction by people to be ridiculously suspicious of the motives of the other party on (mostly just two parties in the U.S.--reemphasizing the tendency to argue and think in black-and-white--whatever the side) any subject whatever. Of course, despite George Washington's preferences to the contary, despite the complaints of Americans about the negativism in campaining, and despite the many examples of partisanship inflaming tensions within countries around the world--even to the point of war--I'd say Americans are too complacent in what they perceive (or accept) to be the freest, best system on earth--to be willing to reconsider this aspect of democracy (or be aware of or willing to entertain the possibility of a democracy even being non-partisan). To paraphrase someone's words in another matter, "if it was good enough in the time of Martin Van Buren..." Americans on the whole--especially as distilled to us by most media which is readily available to us--don't even consider learning about other countries (except for the argumentative aspects or to oneup others in demonstrating their knowledge--next-to-never to learn something to apply to their own way of life and system); this is a sad contrast to the Founding Fathers who seemed eager to investigate a wide variety of external (and internal) models, at least for governance.

Back to praise, I liked an example I heard Dr. Henderson give of a slave who had the detachment to speak of how his owner had been very good to his own family (despite the slave's own poor treatment). This is justice--really the primary one, which is often ignored--where one can find the merits of the "other".

As far as patriotism, maybe someone can dig up the quote that Baha'is are encouraged to vote. As far as discourse, I think 'Abdu'l-Baha's statement to an American official about how he could best serve his country by bringing about its own principles of federalism to the world stage are appropriate.

Although there may be a few instances where one's own native country should have some primacy, the interconnectedness of the world (and for Americans, especially, its own great wealth) really limits this need drastically.

To me, a Baha'i response to issues of country differ according to the person (esp. if they are talking with Baha'is):

1) To those who speak ill of specific leaders or of American's capacity (or excessively dwell on (albeit correctly recognize) its admitted moral, social and administrative ethical deficiencies--as outlined by Shoghi Effendi in the Advent of Divine Justice), we need to remind them and ourselves of America's promise and good aspects (some of which were also outlined in the Advent of Divine Justice), and that being a citizen of the world does very much also include a concern for American's spiritual and social welfare and moral progress (though it doesn't necessitate living there--service abroad can also return to benefit the U.S. as well)--such as to become active to translate any frustrations into real action--foremost starting with ourselves.

2) To those who rail against immigrants, trade imbalances, free trade (or other right/left causes (sorry to use these curse words of division) often tied up in 'patriotism'), we can either point to the scientific evidence of all of their benefits (at least in the overall and in a not-too-precipitous implementation) and/or to their inevitability according to both science and religion. We can point to either religion (God never mentioned America as being free from all error in the Bible, etc. or being preferential in his consideration of American citizens) or science (sufficient studies abound as to the overall benefits of the above--again necessarily acknowledging however that there can be problems with it being too precipitous).

Often the cause of nationalism is tied up in selective choosing of religion (e.g., 'those nations are backwards--as we can so clearly see solely through our television without any need for further study or dialogue with others--because of their religion'), proofs of the legitimacy of other religions also often becomes necessary.

So, as I see it, and as I believe the Writings do as well, serving one's country goes far, far beyond waving a flag...It involves nuance and a real strong active recognition and promotion of ourselves all as world citizens--interconnected to others, but also concerned and working with those local to us--especially those like-minded (e.g., Shoghi Effendi's admonition to join like-minded organizations, and, for those with the inclination to lead the way, to move away to teach in less materialistic areas/among more receptive populations, etc.)

take care,
Brett

Baha'i Warrior
Posts: 753
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 10:07 am
Location: U.S.A.

Postby Baha'i Warrior » Sat Sep 02, 2006 1:59 pm

Great insights Jonah and Brett.

To Jonah: yes, I know about the ways we (Americans) exterminated the Native Americans. One way we killed off a lot of them was through the introduction of pox (their bedding was contaminated with it, I believe). America certainly has a morbid past, with many grisly crimes...I watched a documentary on television some while ago, and it seems like we (the Americans) were the real barbarians. They went into villages, killed women and children, and even ripped out females' genitals and placed it on their (the solder's) heads...wierd, horrendous stuff like that. So probably Americans calling the Native Americans the "Savages" was really, in psychoanalytic terms, 'projection'. If Native Americans did anything cruel, it was because they were defending themselves.

Also, I agree that there is a lot of bias in our history books. Heck, in college, I've found many of the textbooks (for example psychology, sociology texts, etc.) to be biased by ignoring a lot of research and just narrowly focusing on a few studies that suits them.

Great ending paragraph too, Jonah. "My patriotism is to my family first": that's the kind of response this thread needs.

To Brett: As always, I appreciate the quotes you post. I have always had a feeling that it is wrong to ridicule the President, especially in a Baha'i setting. I wonder: would it be wrong to let these people know that they shouldn't be doing this, or would it be better to counter that person's statement by saying something good about the President? When such things happen, it always feels awkward...

As far as patriotism, maybe someone can dig up the quote that Baha'is are encouraged to vote.


Here's one:

    Non-Political Character of the Faith. The Guardian . . . feels under the responsibility of stating that the attitude taken by the Master (i.e., that American citizens are in duty bound to vote in public elections) implies certain reservations. He, therefore, lays it upon the individual conscience to see that in following the Master's instructions no Bahá'í vote for an officer nor Bahá'í participation in the affairs of the Republic shall involve acceptance by that individual of a programme or policy that contravenes any vital principle, spiritual or social, of the Faith. . . I feel it incumbent upon me to clarify the above statement, written on my behalf, by stating that no vote cast, or office undertaken, by a Bahá'í should necessarily constitute acceptance, by the voter or office holder, of the entire programme of any political party. No Bahá'í can be regarded as either a Republican or Democrat, as such. He is above all else, the supporter of the principles enunciated by Bahá'u'lláh, with which, I am firmly convinced, the programme of no political party is completely harmonious.

    The Master surely never desired the Friends to use their influence towards the realization and promotion of policies contrary to any of the principles of the Faith. The Friends may vote, if they can do it, without identifying themselves with one party or another. To enter the arena of party politics is surely detrimental to the best interests of the Faith and will harm the Cause. It remains for the individuals to so use their right to vote as to keep aloof from party politics, and always bear in mind that they are voting on the merits of the individual, rather than because he belongs to one party or another. The matter must be made perfectly clear to the individuals , who will be left free to exercise their discretion and judgment. But if a certain person does enter into party politics and labours for the ascendancy of one party over another, and continues to do it against expressed appeals and warnings of the Assembly, then the Assembly has the right to refuse him the right to vote in Bahá'í elections. (Shoghi Effendi)

    Source: <http://bahai-library.com/?file=compilation_principles_bahai_administration>

Based on this quote by Shoghi Effendi, it seems that it is best to focus on our Baha'i activities, and not on "issues the governments of the world are struggling over" or even on being patriotic, to extend that idea:

    Relationship of Bahá'ís to Politics. It is often through our misguided feeling that we can somehow aid our fellows better by some activity outside the Faith, that Bahá'ís are led to indulge in politics. This is a dangerous delusion. As Shoghi Effendi's secretary wrote on his behalf. "What we Bahá'ís must face is the fact that society is disintegrating so rapidly that moral issues which were clear a half century ago are now hopelessly confused and, what is more, thoroughly mixed up with battling political interests. That is why the Bahá'ís must turn all their forces into the channel of building up the Bahá'í Cause and its administration. They can neither change nor help the world in any other way at present. If they become involved in the issues the governments of the world are struggling over, they will be lost. But if they build up the Bahá'í pattern they can offer it as a remedy when all else has failed." ... "...We must build up our Bahá'í system, and leave the faulty systems of the world to go their way. We cannot change them through becoming involved in them; on the contrary, they will destroy us." Source: same as above.

Jonah
Site Admin
Posts: 412
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2003 1:25 pm
Location: St Catharines, Ontario (near Niagara Falls)
Contact:

Postby Jonah » Sat Sep 02, 2006 4:43 pm

Thank you for your thoughtful follow-up, Baha'i Warrior. I posted my thoughts with great trepidation, knowing how "radical" they might sound, especially to people who hadn't been exposed to a fuller range of facts. And truth be told, I would have thought it all impossibly radical a few years ago, too. I'm thankful I didn't cause offense by speaking my mind.

-Jonah

Baha'i Warrior
Posts: 753
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 10:07 am
Location: U.S.A.

Postby Baha'i Warrior » Sat Sep 02, 2006 8:19 pm

This is something you probably already know: the U.S. government never officially apologized for the treatment of the Native Americans, at least as far as I understand.

My patriotism is to my family first, my neighbourhood second, ...

How you ended your second-last post was great, and I feel that way too. Despite being born in Canada (in Vancouver) and moving to the U.S., truthfully, I don't feel any more Canadian than American. (Like you said, "'Country' is but a recent and transitory concept.") In my opinion your post wasn't "radical." And thanks for speaking your mind, we don't hear that much from you.

—Warrior

Hasan
Posts: 194
Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2004 10:03 am
Location: Lima - Perú
Contact:

Postby Hasan » Sat Sep 02, 2006 11:41 pm

God bless America??? Come on!!! Let's talk with a clear tongue... In our writings America and Iran are mentioned as worse countries not good ones; let's not make this something like "chosen people" as Jews incorrectly think. These days, to me Mr. Bush and his mercenaries are just Mr. Danger and friends; we only need to reflect on the recent attacks on Lebanon (with forbidden weapons, cowards!!!), how many innocent people die? Just the “trio” UK, USA and Israel supported that.

Moreover, Communism and Capitalism are only forms of dictatorship; they are obsolete systems. What these systems really say about poor people? Answer: They don’t care us at all. And… could you be sure if CIA is not tracking this? :shock: This kind of freedom they proclaim...

Zazaban
Posts: 249
Joined: Sun Jun 18, 2006 9:16 pm
Location: Canada

Postby Zazaban » Sat Sep 02, 2006 11:53 pm

Good for you jonah, Whenever I say anything like that I just get shouted at by american nationalists and given the speech about how terrorists will kill my family and other scare tactics :?
Justice and equity are twin Guardians that watch over men. From them are revealed such blessed and perspicuous words as are the cause of the well-being of the world and the protection of the nations.
~ Bahá'u'lláh

Baha'i Warrior
Posts: 753
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 10:07 am
Location: U.S.A.

Postby Baha'i Warrior » Sun Sep 03, 2006 1:14 pm

To Hasan, etc.:

Here's a quote about America, by 'Abdu'l-Baha qtd. in ADJ:

    One more word in conclusion. Among some of the most momentous and thought-provoking pronouncements ever made by `Abdu'l-Bahá, in the course of His epoch-making travels in the North American continent, are the following: "May this American Democracy be the first nation to establish the foundation of international agreement. May it be the first nation to proclaim the unity of mankind. May it be the first to unfurl the Standard of the Most Great Peace." And again: "The American people are indeed worthy of being the first to build the Tabernacle of the Great Peace, and proclaim the oneness of mankind.... For America hath developed powers and capacities greater and more wonderful than other nations.... The American nation is equipped and empowered to accomplish that which will adorn the pages of history, to become the envy of the world, and be blest in both the East and the West for the triumph of its people. ...The American continent gives signs and evidences of very great advancement. Its future is even more promising, for its influence and illumination are far-reaching. It will lead all nations spiritually."

Therefore, God Bless America! And again...

(We have prayers revealed for America, don't we? :) )

Hasan: please do not forget 'Abdu'l-Baha's/Shoghi Effendi's direct orders, if you have been following this thread. So this would mean not to speak ill of President Bush (i.e. referring to Mr. Bush and those under him as "mercenaries"). As Baha'is—and this is a point Ruhiyyih Khanum made—we won't stand out from the rest if we act like them. One example is saying subversive things about the President. If everyone does it, and if it is the "in thing" to do, it still doesn't give us as Baha'is the right to do it. If you feel that what America is doing is wrong—which it may or may not be—you should keep it to yourself, based on what I understand from the Writings, and you certainly should not ascribe such things to the American President.

Again, the quote posted by Brett:

    "Except to speak well of them, make thou no mention of the earth's kings, and the worldly governments thereof. Rather, confine thine utterance to spreading the blissful tidings of the Kingdom of God, and demonstrating the influence of the Word of God, and the holiness of the Cause of God."


(Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 92)

So, please let us not engage in such dialog.

To Jonah: please feel free to lock this thread if it gets too out of control.

brettz9
Posts: 1366
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 12:12 pm
Contact:

Postby brettz9 » Sun Sep 03, 2006 2:55 pm

Hello all,

By the way, Jonah, I didn't see your post when I made my post--I wasn't responding to it, but I agree with BW, it's nice to hear your voice here a bit more... :)

Certainly the Writings do not imply that any country is above reproach...e.g.,:

Unlike the nations and peoples of the earth, be they of the East or of the West, democratic or authoritarian, communist or capitalist, whether belonging to the Old World or the New, who either ignore, trample upon, or extirpate, the racial, religious, or political minorities within the sphere of their jurisdiction, every organized community enlisted under the banner of Bahá'u'lláh should feel it to be its first and inescapable obligation to nurture, encourage, and safeguard every minority belonging to any faith, race, class, or nation within it.

(Shoghi Effendi, Advent of Divine Justice, p. 35)


and there is also a reference which I remember reading recently (and thinking I should have noted the reference down!) to the at-least-sometime hostility accompanying Zionism (at the time of his writing)), but for the life of me, I cannot seem to find it now...

Nevertheless, as far as America being one of the worst--this is in connection with its poor morality/materialism as well as its partisanship and such corrupt practices. Statements about both its general form of government (despite its lack of a symbolic monarch--which the Writings do praise) as well as its government's generally positive destiny in bringing about the oneness of humanity are also repeatedly reaffirmed by 'Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi. Also, its qualities of "high intelligence, of youthfulness, of unbounded initiative, and enterprise", referred to in the Advent of Divine Justice, are praised--note that this praise was for the country as a whole, with his subsequent indication that Baha'is will need to embrace these values themselves.

But more to the point, there is such praise as this (by 'Abdu'l-Baha):
Praise be to God! I find these two great American nations highly capable and advanced in all that appertains to progress and civilization. These governments are fair and equitable. The motives and purposes of these people are lofty and inspiring.

(Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 318)


Of course 'Abdu'l-Baha has a sin-covering eye, and is focusing on the positive, but He was not so extreme in this so as to make statements which were wholly contrary to an overall generalization He wished to make...

As far as the chosen people, that is true on both counts that elitism coming from whatever direction is misplaced, however, there is a basis of truth of Jews having been (and even to some degree being) the chosen people. The Bible speaks of this, but the interpretation can to a large degree be that the Jews are blessed for having so many Prophets appear in their land. However, there is a special blessing foretold in the Bible (Hebrew Bible and the New Testament) for the "remnant"--those Jews who were faithful to accepting Christ (as well as those who earlier accepted Muhammad). As an aside, there is this quotation from God Passes By:

The conclusion of this terrible conflict, the first stage in a titanic convulsion long predicted by Bahá'u'lláh ... produced those revolutionary changes which, on the one hand, fulfilled the ominous predictions made by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, and enabled, according to Scriptural prophecy, so large an element of the "outcasts of Israel," the "remnant" of the "flock," to "assemble" in the Holy Land, and to be brought back to "their folds" and "their own border," beneath the shadow of the "Incomparable Branch," referred to by `Abdu'l-Bahá in His "Some Answered Questions," and which, on the other hand, gave birth to the institution of the League of Nations, the precursor of that World Tribunal which, as prophesied by that same "Incomparable Branch," the peoples and nations of the earth must needs unitedly establish.


Now, in the Baha'i age, it is promised that their future will also be glorious:

"You have asked Me a question with regard to the gathering of the children of Israel in Jerusalem in accordance with the prophecy.

"Jerusalem, the Holy of Holies, is a revered Temple, a sublime name, for it is the City of God... The gathering of Israel at Jerusalem means, therefore, and prophesies, that Israel as a whole is gathering beneath the banner of God and will enter the Kingdom of the Ancient of Days. For the celestial Jerusalem, which has as its center the Holy of Holies, is a City of the Kingdom, a Divine City. The East and West are but a small corner of that City.

"Moreover, materially as well (as spiritually), the Israelites will gather in the Holy Land. This is irrefutable prophecy, for the ignominy which Israel has suffered for well-nigh twenty-five hundred years will now be changed into eternal glory, and in the eyes of all, the Jewish people will become glorified to such an extent as to draw the jealousy of its enemies and the envy of its friends."

(According to information received by the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States several years ago this Tablet was revealed by the Master in the year 1897 to a Jewish Community in the Orient: Baha'i News, No. 250, December 1951, p. 5, in Lights of Guidance, no. 1677)


and:

"Regarding your question concerning the future of the Jews: They certainly have, as explicitly stated by the Master, a great spiritual destiny, and will gradually enter the Faith in large groups."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 13, 1937, Lights of Guidance, no. 1681)


There are pilgrim's notes of Shoghi Effendi attributing him to the effect (as I recall from the notes as published here at BLO) to have said that the Jews will eventually become defenders of the Faith (in Israel) and bring administrative excellence. Another pilgrim's note (I know, just a pilgrim's note) stated that the enemies of Israel don't want peace (obviously, if true, this would have been a generalization, and again, Israelis are not wholly exonerated from the capacity for injustice).

Also from the Baha'i World Centre (of course this is not a racial or government statement):
"Historically the Holy Land has exercised an influence in human affairs beyond all proportion to its size and will continue to do so in the future..."
(Haifa, August 1968, in Baha'i Holy Places from the World Centre)


In contrast, I believe I have heard that Baha'u'llah is to have written that the yoke that was put on the Jew has now been lifted and put on the Muslim. Although I can't confirm this, the following is in fact from authentic text...Shoghi Effendi said in this remarkably and tragically prophetic quotation:

Islám, at once the progenitor and persecutor of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, is, if we read aright the signs of the times, only beginning to sustain the impact of this invincible and triumphant Faith. We need only recall the nineteen hundred years of abject misery and dispersion which they, who only for the short space of three years persecuted the Son of God, have had to endure, and are still enduring. We may well ask ourselves, with mingled feelings of dread and awe, how severe must be the tribulations of those who, during no less than fifty years, have, "at every moment tormented with a fresh torment" Him Who is the Father, and who have, in addition, made His Herald--Himself a Manifestation of God--to quaff, in such tragic circumstances, the cup of martyrdom.

(Promised Day is Come, March 28, 1941, par. 249)


Mind you that, as I have also supplied quotations for in another thread, the Jews are also admonished that their own sufferings will, however, continue until such time as they acknowledge Jesus and Muhammad, and again, that this doesn't mean that any government's actions are always ethical.

The degradation is not merely in the afflictions and conflicts--it is also in the growing moral degradation....Look at this Holocaust cartoon outrage... One newspaper publishes offensive cartoons, so an entire government then retaliates by seeking to deny a beyond-words-awful travesty of recent history? Is there any comparison in justice between the official handling (not the individual actions, but the official handling) of these soldiers accused of killing an Iraqi for whom the death penalty has now been recommended and for the deliberate and systematic plan (exposed by the U.N. mind you) to eliminate the cultural roots of the whole Baha'i community--including abroad, systematically denying them pensions, university education and the like (while Western (including Israeli) governments continue to offer all of these to its Muslim citizens)?!? Or for a war that deliberately sought to avoid the killing of civilians (for whatever cynical motive you want to give to it) and subterfuge and incitement to civil strife? Not only 'Abdu'l-Baha, Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice, but also the Transcendent Personages, Baha'u'llah and the Bab Themselves) have spoken of the distinctive (albeit relative) openness both to the Faith and general progress of the West versus Islam. Even those parochial Christian clergy--while they vainly (and counterintuitively) have opposed the U.N., despite their understanding of its association with events preceding the Return of Christ, are not so inane as to actually promote immorality, despite it, as with the Islamic prophecies, being one of the signs of the Return. There is a world of difference here, even while it must be acknowledged that all sides should be taking themselves more to task (not simply materially, but also, as should be obvious, spiritually).

On what I hope is a more temperate, not to mention definitive note, as far as the ultimate Baha'i position on the issue (my comments above are intended to bring what I hope would be a greater balance and perspective--not to encourage people to be drawn into taking sides--we could also focus on the retributions spoken of in the Writings of materialism and secularism affecting the West and undermining its sacerdotal institutions' influence, for example) Shoghi Effendi stated when this specific question was posed to him by the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine:

"The Bahá'í Faith is entirely nonpolitical and we neither take sides in the present tragic dispute going on over the future of the Holy Land and its people nor have we any statement to make or advice to give as to what the nature of the political future of this country should be. Our aim is the establishment of universal peace in this world and our desire to see justice prevail in every domain of human society, including the domain of politics. As many of the adherents of our Faith are of both Jewish and Moslem extraction, we have no prejudice towards either of these groups and are most anxious to reconcile them for their mutual good and for the good of the country."
"What does concern us, however, in any decisions made affecting the future of Palestine, is that the fact be recognized by whoever exercises sovereignty over Haifa and Acre, that within this area exits the spiritual and administrative world center of a world Faith, and that the independence of that Faith, its right to manage its affairs from this source, the right of Bahá'ís from any and every country of the globe to visit it as pilgrims (enjoying the same privilege in this respect as Jews, Moslems and Christians do in regard to visiting Jerusalem), be acknowledged and permanently safeguarded."
(at http://statements.bahai.org/47-0702.htm)


The above was also apparently mentioned in Citadel of Faith by Shoghi Effendi in these terms: "the submission to the General Assembly of the United Nations of the thorny and challenging problem of the Holy Land," (p. 33)

Baha'i Warrior
Posts: 753
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 10:07 am
Location: U.S.A.

Postby Baha'i Warrior » Mon Sep 04, 2006 2:25 pm

I don't know what this forum would be without you, Brett. Thanks for your brilliant insights :)

brettz9
Posts: 1366
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 12:12 pm
Contact:

Postby brettz9 » Tue Sep 05, 2006 3:48 pm

Nice to hear your kind words, BW. Everyone here is important to the site, not the least of which yourself.

all the best,
Brett

Sean H.
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:25 pm

Re: God Bless America

Postby Sean H. » Wed Sep 13, 2006 1:44 am

Baha'i Warrior wrote:As Baha'is, how patriotic can we be without looking partisan?


BW,

The whole issue is determined by the varying perceptions of people receiving a statement of "patriotism".

Liberals and progressives (post-moderns/greens/etc.), in general, will obviously become very upset, or at least annoyed, when hearing a "traditional" patriotic statement.

Some progressives will attempt to "redefine" patriotism.

George Lakoff, a progressive political/cultural guru (and scientist) is a very good example of that.

Conservatives and (american) "traditionalists" will more or less do the opposite, they celebrate and defend "patriotism".

You really can't make everyone happy, so my suggestion is to use "realism", and advocate that people try to understand and comprehend "the other", rather than "merely oppose".

Having gown up in a ideologically "moderate" military family in the 50s/60s (with lots of conservative/evangelical relatives), I heard all the arguments from both "sides", and I mostly just try to use a "comparative" approach to understand them all.

I was "liberal" (counterculture/hippy/etc.) when young, and now see that liberalism has as many weakness as conservatism does. I live in a liberal city, in a liberal state, work at a liberal university, and see huge problems that result when liberals come to power and try to impose failed utopian ideas.

So, I tend to agree with various parts of the conservative/libertarian criticism of liberalism, but am skeptical of some of the "solutions" that conservatives propose.

As an Integralist, I simply take the best from both liberalism and conservatism, and leave the bad parts behind.

George Lakoff's theory is that liberals express the universal archetype of the "nurturing mother", and conservatives the "strict father".

Lakoff claims that recent research indicates that MOST AMERICANS ARE IDEOLOGICALLY BLENDED (are usually *not* exclusively "liberal" or "conservative" about everything).

Sean H.
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:25 pm

George Lakoff (harmony of science, religion and politics?)

Postby Sean H. » Wed Sep 13, 2006 2:13 am

personal statement of bias: I'm a John McCain supporter. Independent. fwiw, since I'm an ex-Baha'i, I am willing to speak more openly than many Baha'is about "politics", but I'm mainly interested in political sociology as it related to consciousness studies. Talking about things like public schools brings out the "libertarian" (Whig) in me. I'm from a southern family of transplanted yankees and midwestern (german) mennonites.

warning:

the audio archives at the following web page contain analysis and criticism of ideological and political perspectives. the attempt is to base the criticism on "social science", so there is some attempt at "objectivity" involved.

however, the interview is overall "liberal", but some liberals are excoriated by the professor for having severely biased viewpoints and not understanding how to "properly" define "conservatism" from a social science perspective.

Professor Lakoff explains the "bubba" phenomena, why only one member of the Bush family speaks "Texan".

http://www.kqed.org/epArchive/R607261000

excerpt:

Wed, Jul 26, 2006 -- 10:00 AM
George Lakoff: "Whose Freedom?"
Listen (RealMedia stream)
Download (MP3)
(Windows: right-click and choose "Save Target As." Mac: hold Ctrl, click link, and choose "Save As.")


Michael Krasny discusses the meaning and uses of the word "freedom", and its political significance, with linguist George Lakoff.
Host: Michael Krasny

Guests:
George Lakoff, Richard & Rhoda Goldman Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at UC-Berkeley, a founding senior fellow at the Rockridge Institute, and author of "Whose Freedom? The Battle Over America's Most Important Idea"

---end excerpt---

http://www.motherjones.com/radio/2006/0 ... f_bio.html

excerpt:

. . .

Lakoff has published a multitude of articles in major scholarly journals and edited volumes. He is the author of the influential book "Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think." He is also the author of "Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal About The Mind" and co-author of "Metaphors We Live By" with Mark Johnson, "More Than Cool Reason" with Mark Turner, "Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge To The Western Tradition" with Mark Johnson, "Where Mathematics Comes From: How the Embodied Mind Brings Mathematics Into Being" with Rafael Núñez, and, most recently, "Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values, Frame the Debate."

. . .

---end---

The interesting thing to me is that Lakoff is trying to "redeem" liberalism by doing a course correction based on what cognitive theory (" brain science") tells us about how human consciousness actually functions.

(such "brain science" is going to tell us a lot about spirituality before long, and as such will revolutionize almost every field of knowledge by "legitimizing" spirituality as a topic of scientific work).

I don't think that Lakoff will entirely succeed at reforming liberalism, but he is at least trying to get liberals and progressives to think, at a deeper level than most are accustomed to, about why their ideology frequently fails to produce the results that they claim it will.

fwiw, Rush Limbaugh has stated that he thinks that Lakoff's theories have some validity!

So, there you have it: integral theory apparently can produce some "common ground" between people that would normally only hate each other's viewpoints.

Regards,
Eric

Baha'i Warrior
Posts: 753
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 10:07 am
Location: U.S.A.

Re: God Bless America

Postby Baha'i Warrior » Wed Sep 13, 2006 9:59 am

epierce wrote:As an Integralist, I simply take the best from both liberalism and conservatism, and leave the bad parts behind.


So, there you have it: integral theory apparently can produce some "common ground" between people that would normally only hate each other's viewpoints


The Baha'i Faith also takes the best from different political systems, etc. You know that Baha'u'llah states that the best form of govt. is a constitutional monarchy.

About your posts, that's a little deeper than I expected, but thanks. As Baha'is though as you know we should not refer to specific politicians, parties, or things that will get the Baha'is engaged in politics. Of course you are an ex-Baha'i. But still I think it's best to make general references, if any, to for example politican parties—maybe it's even better to err on the side of being too general, in a Baha'i context that is.

But I did some research and now have a bit of a better understanding of what loyalty means in Baha'i terms. Even though the authenticity is always questionable there were some interesting statements in "Notes on Shoghi Effendi's Table Talk" by by Mabel Hyde Paine. It's many short statements but puts everything together. Like "Bahais are loyal to the government," "Bahais are not to meddle in politics."

Also I saw the wisdom in this statement: "When asked whether Bahais should vote he answered that it was better for them not to. If questioned about their position in this respect they have a good opportunity to explain their attitude of loyalty to the government." Because a few paragraphs down, Shoghi Effendi says "Bahais will have little to do with establishing the new world order" which was really a surprising quote for me (any comments Baha'is :?:). The major events that are occuring now in the world, for example the war in the middle east, are major events that are to precede a new world order as I see it. As I take it from a statement in the paper, war is needed to destroy the old structure. Probably many more major events have to take place until for civilization the time is ripe for the Baha'i Faith to be incorporated into society at large, since to that extent it seems we are largely out of the picture. anyway that's off topic.

Still, it's an interesting question, because "loyalty" is referred to many times in the Writings, esp. by Shoghi Effendi. Maybe it's defined somewhere, maybe not. Or some principles might have to be put together to gain a understanding of what loyalty to country involves.

Referenced notes by Mabel Paine: http://bahai-library.com/?file=paine_notes_table_talk.


Return to “Discussion”