Friday, December 31, 2010

On Ruhi Crafts: A website dedicated to the role of artistic endeavours in the advancement of Baha'u'llah's cause

Laurie is bringing some great ideas to our Baha'i Ruhi 1 study circle, such as the use of scrapbooking for creating individualized "books" of prayers. Here is a web site devoted to the inclusion of craft activities as part of the Ruhi learning experience. -gw

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On Immigration: Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor, lest heedlessness lead them into the path of destruction

Immigration is a controversial issue in so many parts of the world. In the U.S., certainly. But in many other places in the world, too. In the last several days I listened on radio to a program on the controversy in part of a series on Nomadic Migration and Skin color on PRI's The World. Other' in the series:
People want to better their lives. People immigrate for economic reasons. And to feel safe. Someone after the devotional meeting on Sunday was saying, the greatest challenges in future years will come from conflict between the rich and poor. The gap between is growing. We know what Baha'u'llah had to say about that.
Here is an excerpt from a blog devoted to a man's efforts to immigrate with his family to Canada. Click over to read his entire post. It's a fascinating reflection. -gw
> About Me: Born and living in Guayaquil. Married, two children. Baha'i since December 25, 2008. English teacher for the last 7 years. TEFL trainer for the last 2 months.
They started washing my filthy car and I was standing there watching them and thinking to myself. I noticed they were getting water from a pipe in an unused house lot and the electricity from the street wires. They were working as fast as they could and doing their best. I started thinking about the things people do to make money. At least, these guys are doing something not criminal or endangering other people's lives.
I felt happy they had something to do and get money to eat. I felt happy I didn't and don't have to do this kind of jobs because I am a professional. Not that I could not do this job, it's just that I am making more money and my family feels safe. All of a sudden I thought I may have to do these in Canada. Could people do this in Canada? I mean, can you just go, connect your super pump in someone else's water pipe, hang some wires and get the electricity, and just start washing cars in the street and make a living out of it?
Will I end up doing this to provide for my family? How would my kids feel? One thing for sure is I won't let my loved ones just starve, I will do whatever necessary to feed them, anything provided it is legal, of course. I don't want to drift away from God.

Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor, lest heedlessness lead them into the path of destruction, and deprive them of the Tree of Wealth.

Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created. Since We have created you all from one same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest.

– Bahá'u'lláh


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Thursday, December 30, 2010

On Being Lifted Up to Such Wonderful Heights: Studying the letter from the Universal House of Justice

Last night I had the just-released 12-28-10 letter from the Universal House of Justice, the Baha'i world governing body, up on the computer screen when Tom and Renee came over for a visit. There was no Ruhi 1 study circle last night as we usually have each Wednesday, just some heart-felt conversation interspersed with a few songs at the end -- Tom played a great Hugh Masekela track.
My eye caught lines of text of the letter from time to time. I said to myself, "Everyone in this room is a part of this upcoming plan." Baha'is all over the world are studying the House's letter with awe and wonder. -gw
December 28th, 9:30 pm. I have just finished my first read of this Message, gasped at the number 5000, and been lifted up to such wonderful heights by the vision of the Universal House of Justice. There is so much I want to write, but I know that I need to go over this message again. And again. And again.

I have no doubt that what I want to say will shift and change as I really sit down and study it.

But my first thought, dear Reader, was of you. I wanted to encourage you to read this message as soon as you can, and study it with as many of the friends as you can. Read it section by section, and all the while look how to apply it. I'm sure you will, but I wanted to make sure to throw in a word of encouragement, just in case it takes that little extra nudge.

After my own first quick read of this letter, one thing in particular really stands out to me. It is found on page 14, or paragraph 37.


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Monday, December 27, 2010

On Found on Flickr: Moon over Miami

For quite a few years now I've shared my Flickr account, Baha'i Views / Flitzy Phoebie, with my wife. (Our view count is up to 553,673, amazingly.)
The photos Bonita puts up surprise me sometimes. Like this one, Moonscape During the Equinox. I didn't even know she was interested in astronomy let alone that she was taking pictures of celestial objects. -gw

Friday, December 24, 2010

On Frangos and Study Circles on the Eve of Christmas: Christians in Bethlehem and Baha'is in Haifa

Just four days before Christmas, this is Renee, seller of Frango mint chocolates at Macy's, at study circle right after getting off an extra-long day's work.

So glad to have Deb as tutor and Laurie as support at our Wednesday combined Ruhi 1 Baha'i study circle.

Thursday was Christmas Party Two where I work. Not having participated in the Secret Santa gift exchange, and having truned down the opportunity at last minute to DJ for the party,  I found meaningful work to do taking pictures instead.

And then there is this, Brynne Annaë's delightful "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" post up on her blog this evening about her non-traditional gathering tomorrow.

 In the Holy Land Christians are gathered in Bethlehem, and Baha'is in Haifa. Just got an email from a Child of Africa who is on pilgrimage with her family. So wonderful to hear from her. -gw
We are currently in Israel on a 9-day pilgrimage to the Baha'i Holy Places visiting the final resting place of Baha'u'llah and the places associated with His exile, imprisonment and life here in the late 1800s at the end of the Ottoman Empire. Our visit has been an intensely spiritual and sacred experience as well as a little taste of paradise. The Baha'i gardens and holy places are exquisite in their beauty and refinement. We have had lots of time for refreshing personal reflection and prayer. A wonderful way to prepare for the New Year and the rest of our lives!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

On Nothing Like Gunfire to Make You Hike Faster: And other reasons to buy a Hummer

OK, so it was a joke. We didn't trade in the Transit Connect for a Hummer. Irony and humor doesn't come across very well on the 'net. But if I was going to decide to buy a Hummer, it would have been because of this experience hiking in the Capitol Forest.
OK, so we were hiking right next to a shooting range. And it still is hunting season for some prey. What else should we have expected? As far as I can tell, no one was shooting a Krupp gun or a Mauser rifle. -gw
And among the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh is that although material civilization is one of the means for the progress of the world of mankind, yet until it becomes combined with Divine civilization, the desired result, which is the felicity of mankind, will not be attained. Consider! These battleships that reduce a city to ruins within the space of an hour are the result of material civilization; likewise the Krupp guns, the Mauser rifles, dynamite, submarines, torpedo boats, armed aircraft and bombers—all these weapons of war are the malignant fruits of material civilization. Had material civilization been combined with Divine civilization, these fiery weapons would never have been invented. Nay, rather, human energy would have been wholly devoted to useful inventions and would have been concentrated on praiseworthy discoveries. Material civilization is like a lamp-glass. Divine civilization is the lamp itself and the glass without the light is dark. Material civilization is like the body. No matter how infinitely graceful, elegant and beautiful it may be, it is dead. Divine civilization is like the spirit, and the body gets its life from the spirit, otherwise it becomes a corpse. It has thus been made evident that the world of mankind is in need of the breaths of the Holy Spirit. Without the spirit the world of mankind is lifeless, and without this light the world of mankind is in utter darkness. For the world of nature is an animal world. Until man is born again from the world of nature, that is to say, becomes detached from the world of nature, he is essentially an animal, and it is the teachings of God which convert this animal into a human soul.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

On Making a Move: We're now in a wide ride ( 86.5 inches wide)

We've sold the Ford Transit Connect and bought this instead. Bonita insisted. -gw

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

On Outdated Medicine for Mankind: Old religion, should be discarded

I love Dr Sabets occasional posts citing the Baha'i Faith on his behavioral health blog. -gw

Expiration date … for religions?!

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

On Once in Every Week: Engage together in praising and glorifying the Lord

"Once in every week, gather ye the steadfast friends together in a meeting place, and there let them engage praising and glorifying the Lord."
--'Abdu'l-Baha, "The Importance of Obligatoy Prayer and Fasting"
I knew about the importance of choosing to recite one of the three obligatory prayers revealed by Baha'u'llah each day. These prayers are meant to be said privately. They are for the individual believer for his or her personal communion with God. And there are enumerable other revealed prayers we can draw on to have conversation with Him.
Today I learned -- I mean REALLY learned -- about the place that collective worship has in the Baha'i Faith.
We are called on by Baha'u'llah to gather together for devotional gatherings. The multiplication of devotional meetings is an essential element in the expansion of the Cause. The first act of service to our community that we can provide is to offer a devotional in our home. An outcome of participation in Ruhi Book 1, "Reflections on the LIfe of the Spirit," is the establishment by the graduate of his or her own devotional.

Gather ye together with the utmost joy and fellowship and recite the verses revealed by the mericful Lord.

-- Baha'u'llah, quoted in "Thje importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Undrstanding of the Faith"


...all should gather together, and, harmoniously attuned one to another, engage in prayer...

--'Abdu'l-Baha, "Star of the West, May 1919"


...the holding of regular meetings for worship open to all and the involvement of Baha'i communities in projects of humanitarian service are expressions of ... a further step in the implementation of the Law of God.

-- The Universal House of Justice, "Further Application of Devotional Laws, 28 December 1999

We're going to Tim and Deb's devotional tomorrow. What fond memories we have of their devotional over the years! -gw

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On Christmas at Gil's: Warm and fuzzy

It is a tradition when the team I work with gathers for its annual Christmas party to have a gift exchange of previously owned (if not read) books.
This year we met at Gil's place. The low-light conditions gave me plenty of opportunity to come up with photos that have that fuzzy-painting look. Warm and fuzzy, like the feelings I have for my highly esteemed co-workers. -gw

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On iMemorize for iPhone and iPad: 5000 quotations on religion/spirituality, philosophy, historical figures & inspiration

iMemorize, downloadable from the Internet, is loved by Baha'is for use in commiting to memory passages from the Baha'i Writings. iMemorize for both the iPhone and the iPad includes quotations from many sources at the ready for memorizing.  -gw
iPhone/iPod Touch version:
iPad version:

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On Serve, Blog, Link: My endorsement

I've started another blog. This one's just for photos taken during my noon hour hike in the Illahee Preserve across the street from where I work: It's for my work colleagues enjoyment and my own. It's not a blog about the Faith, but everything that a Baha'i does reflects on the Faith in some way. 
Here's the latest photo set featured on it.
I heartily endorse Phillippe's call for Baha'is to blog. As busy we get in the our engagement with the process of building spiritual community, there is always time to blog. Whether we're tuoring a study circle every week, teaching a children's class, animating a junior youth group, offering a devotional meeting in our home, serving on a Baha'i spiritual assembly, orworking on a cluster or regional level in any one of the positions associated with the Institute Process, there are a few minutes here or there to share an insight or an experience in a blog post.
It's easy to start up a blog. Here are all the blogs I've started since 2006 that are still up on the 'net. -gw

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

On a Stormy Feast of Masa'il: Warm inside

It was a stormy day for Baha'i Feast. The rain lashed the windows. But it was warm inside at Deb & Tom's. -gw

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On an Expanded Online Presence of Baha'i Video Material: And all downloadable

Baha'i Newsreels, always a welcome treat to be viewed by the friends gathered at Baha'i Feasts, will now be available for all online. But that's not all. The official Baha'i site in the U.S. is expanding its online presence and offers dozens of videos on a variety of subects dear to Baha'is, such as community building. The site is gorgeous and easy to peruse. And you can download the videos, too. -gw
The U.S. Bahá’í Video Library contains video features produced exclusively for online distribution and intended to be easily shared via social media. ... The Video Library also contains several years’ worth of video features from the U.S. Bahá’í Newsreel, categorized by subject, as well as other specials programs, such as in memoriam videos and historical features. The videos can not only be embedded in other websites and shared on social networks, but can also be downloaded to portable media like CDs or USB flash drives

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On Remembering Ruby Gubatayao: Tsimshian elder

The friends at Feast remembered Ruby Gubatayao from Alaska. At one time she was a member of the Tacoma community, as was her daughter Mary. Deb remembers running into Ruby at the airport in Amsterdam. Ruby was in transit between the U.S. and Lapland, land of the Sami people, and Deb and her family were on their Baha'i pilgrimage. Small world, this one. Next world, bigger. -gw


Sunday, December 12, 2010

On Gwen Goes Recruting at the Football Banquet: Community building within the UTYA community

Our cluster Junior Youth Coordinator Gwen recruiting a bit early a sure-fire junior youth animator
Here are all the photos and video I took last Sunday at the Tiger's banquet.I was only able to catch the first part, because I had to get back to the house for our Ruhi 1 class. Glad that Gwen and Joe had a chance to join me. Gwen is looking for animators for Baha'i-inspired junior youth groups, you see. It was a great opportunity for them to be introduced to the Upper Tacoma Youth Athletics family I have come to appreciate so much.  
And here are 73 (!) video clips of Tigers playing ball back in the summer sunshine. Warms me up just looking at 'em. -gw

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On Jamie's Appreciation of the Baha'i Month of Masa'il: A well-aimed question has been known to bring fortresses of fundamentalism crashing to the ground.

ok, George, one more month

The Baha'i month of Masa'il, my favorite attribute of gods and humans .......

..... Jamie

Being able to post Jamie's set on the theme of the current Baha'i month is something I greatly look forward to each month. -gw
 Baha'u'llah Himself took seriously the questions of those sincerely looking for the truth. He wrote the Book of Certitude in response to the questions of the Bab's eldest uncle - whom Baha'u'llah told to write down all of his questions and bring them to Him. In answering this one man's questions, Baha'u'llah changed profoundly our vision of the religions we thought we knew.
As its title suggests, "Asking Questions" was written in an attempt to explore the subtle threat posed by questions to all bastions of fundamentalism. A well-aimed question has been known to bring such fortresses crashing to the ground. In the sense in which it is used in the book, fundamentalism can be seen not only as dogmatic rigidity within religious structures, but as any thought which plods blindfold around the treadmill of its own unquestioning assumptions.

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On Studying "Prayer" During Ruhi Book 1: Intone the verses

Wednesday night we had a Ruhi 1 with participants combined from the two Baha'i Study Circles that take place in our home. A benefit when you start two books at the same time is that, if you have to miss your regularly scheduled circle, you can always go to the other, as they are proceeding at about the same pace.
Our study is augmented through the inclusion of occasional musical selections. Here I play Katharine Key's exquisite "Intone" from her album of the same name. -gw

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

On What's in Rocky's Heart: Meditations on the anniversary of his mother's passing

These are some video clips of what's in  Rocky's heart as shared at a recent Baha'i devotional in our home. -gw

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Friday, December 10, 2010

On Core Strength Training: The Baha'i core activities for football players

When I was talking with Charles at his home last weekend, before we headed over tot he awards ceremony for the Tacoma Tigers, he mentioned that the he hopes the adult football club he will be coaching this year can incorporate service to the community as a part of their committment t tahe team. That, of course, is a Baha'i perspective. Service should be a fundamental part of our lives. 
It got me to thinking.  A focus on the importance of service is an outcome of study of what is God's purpose for us in this day. A vehicle to arrive at such a focus is the Baha'i Study Circle. I am imagining the 25 or 30 men in the football club participating in multiple study circles; there are Baha'i tutors who would be happy to facilitate these circles. (I'm thinking Lori would be good. She is a tutor and has an appreciation of sports.)
Another core activity for spiritually minded people is the habit of prayer and devotion. I am imagining a regular devotional meeting for football club members each week to keep them spiritually in tune. (I'd love to help with setting those up.)
Many of these men have children. I'm thinking children's classes, perhaps while Dads practice over at Jennie Reed Elementary School. (Hey Helen, what Baha'i children's class teachers are ready to arise?)
I'm imagining core strength training! -gw

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On Fitting in Exercise: Walking during the noon hour

I sent out an invitation to my colleagues at work to join me for a noon time hike in the country park across the street from our main campus and, happily, had a response from several who hope to join me.
The essential oneness of all the myriad forms and grades of life is one of the fundamental teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. Our physical health is so linked up with our mental, moral and spiritual health, and also with the individual and social health of our fellowmen, nay, even with the life of the animals and plants, that each of these is affected by the others to a far greater extent than is usually realized. There is no command of the Prophet, therefore, to whatever department of life it may primarily refer, which does not concern bodily health.

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Thursday, December 09, 2010

On a Story About Larry Kramer: This is where you belong at whatever age

A story about a Chicago Baha'i, recently departed. -gw
"I became a Baha'i at 18," he said, "and at age 22, I was appointed to this committee. I walked into the hotel room where the first meeting was to take place and there was Dorothy Baker, Sarah Pereira and Amelia Collins." All of these women were at least twice his age, if not older.

"I thought I was in the wrong room," he continued. "So, I said, 'excuse me' and started to back out through the door. Before I could leave, they called me back in and said 'No, this is where you belong.'"

He reported never once feeling as though these women, who each could have easily been his mother, thought he was just 21 or that he was just a new Baha'i. They interacted with him on equal footing, as peers. They didn't lower themselves to become 18. They simply spoke with him as adults.


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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

On an Open Letter to the Iranian Judiciary from the Baha'i International Community: Everything your country overtly professes to seek on the world stage is contradicted by your treatment of your own people at home

This is the text in English of the letter sent by the Baha'i International Community to the Iranian Judiciary today, described in this story from the Baha'i World News Service. -gw


United Nations Office

866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 120, New York, NY 10017 USA

Authorized Translation

7 December 2010
Ayatollah Mohammad Sadeq Larijani
Head of the Judiciary

Islamic Republic of Iran

Your Honor,

You are undoubtedly aware of the outcome of the trial and the subsequent appeal of Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie,Mrs. Mahvash Sabet, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm the seven individuals who before their arrest were responsible, as the members of the group known as the Yaran for administering the social and spiritual affairs of the Bahá’í community in Iran.

The lives of these seven Bahá’ís typify not only the lives of the Bahá’ís of Iran but also those of high-minded and noble-hearted Iranians of every creed and class. They are true citizens of that nation who have striven to dedicate themselves to its service. Their birthplaces span the entire country from its capital city, to Sangsar, Yazd, Abadan, Ardestan, Mashhad, and Urumiyih. Their ages range from thirty-seven to seventy-seven. Some of them have aging parents; all of them have children, the youngest one of whom was only nine when his father was arrested. Their professional occupations are also varied and include developmental psychologist, founder of the first automated brick factory in Iran, manager of a textile factory, agricultural engineer, school principal, social worker, and optician. Alongside their professional pursuits and family duties, they have rendered, on a purely voluntary basis, distinguished service to the people of that land, as, for example, in the advancement of women, in the promotion of literacy among the country’s general population, and in the provision of the means of education for the thousands of Bahá’í youth who have been denied admission to Iranian universities since the inception of the Islamic Revolution.

Convinced that they had committed no wrong, and as there existed no proof whatsoever to support the accusations leveled against them, they had every hope that the judicial proceedings would exonerate them. Sadly, however, their hopes have thus far been frustrated, and the treatment they have received has unjustly violated every legal norm and every standard of fairness and equity. As history bears witness, whenever innocent citizens are brought before show trials, it is the judicial system itself and those who wield authority within it that are on trial before the public gaze. The case of these seven individuals, which from the outset has been watched with growing interest by Iranians and non-Iranians alike, has been marked by such egregious violations of the law at every turn as to call into question the adherence to the principle of justice by a system that claims to uphold Islamic values.

The blatant injustice of a sentence to ten years’ imprisonment handed down to such honest and law-abiding citizens impels us, as the representatives at the United Nations of one hundred and eighty-six national Bahá’í communities, to ask you to rectify this grave failure and accord the defendants the justice they have been denied. This request comes not only from their coreligionists throughout the world but from the United Nations, from governments and parliamentarians across the globe, from agencies of civil society, and from humanitarians and social thinkers, all of whom join their voices to ours in calling for the immediate release of these wronged individuals.

The officials of the Ministry of Intelligence, resorting to many reprehensible measures illegal detention, denial of proper access to legal representation, interrogation methods that contravene standards of civilized behavior and aim to extract false confessions all of which transgress even the current law of the land, exerted every effort to build a case against them.

Despite this, the prosecutors were ultimately unable to present any credible evidence in support of their claims. Instead, what was exposed was the nefarious schemes of certain officials, as well as the inhumane conduct and sinister motives of the interrogators. Indeed, what is now starkly visible to all is the willingness of the authorities to trample the very standards of justice they are mandated to uphold on behalf of the people of Iran.

The trial itself was so devoid of the impartiality that must characterize judicial proceedings as to render the process a complete mockery. The defendants, certain of their own innocence and having nothing to hide, had asked for an open hearing. What then, one might ask, was the reason for the judge to have declared the proceedings to be “open and public” and yet refuse requests for attendance from observers, including representatives of diplomatic missions? Why was it made so difficult for the families of the defendants to attend the trial?

Why were journalists excluded, while government cameramen were allowed an active presence? What was the reason for permitting the menacing presence of the agents of the Ministry of Intelligence throughout the trial? How was it that the verdict issued by the judges could refer to the religion of the defendants as a “misguided sect”? Is this not a clear sign that the court has violated the legal principle of neutrality? The obvious conclusion is thatsuch actions have been motivated by blind prejudice and hatred against the Bahá’í community for its religious beliefs. How can a just society, or a just world, be built on a foundation of irrational oppression and the systematic denial of basic human rights to any minority? Everything your country overtly professes to seek on the world stage is contradicted by your treatment of your own people at home.

The 12 September 2010 ruling issued by the court of appeal overturned the verdict of the lower court in relation to the charges of espionage, collaboration with the State of Israel, and provision of classified documents to foreign nationals with the intention of undermining state security. The lower court itself had already found the defendants not guilty of the charge of “tarnishing the reputation of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the international arena” and of “spreading corruption on earth”. What remained of the case, therefore, were those charges that pertained to the activities undertaken by these seven individuals in administering the social and spiritual affairs of the Iranian Bahá’í community. Meanwhile, the judges, well aware that there were no grounds whatsoever for the charge of acting against the interests of Iran and its citizens, were under pressure from officials bent upon a finding of guilt. Consequently, the judiciary chose in essence to distort and present as illegal the religious beliefs of the defendants and their service to the Bahá’í community a selfless service which their fellow Iranian Bahá’ís warmly acknowledged and appreciated. Thus, the seven were each sentenced to ten years in prison. This sentence has been strongly denounced not only by the defendants themselves, their families, and the Bahá’í International Community but by advocates of justice in Iran and the world over.

Given that for the past twenty years the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has been fully aware of the work of these individuals in managing the affairs of the Bahá’í community, to accuse them now of illegal activities is as baseless and unjust as it is inexplicable.

Our open letter dated 4 March 2009 to the Prosecutor General of the Islamic Republic of Iran established in detail the spurious character of the charges leveled against the Yaran and we commend it to your attention. An unbiased reading of that letter will confirm that there are no grounds whatsoever on which the Islamic Republic could assert that the Bahá’ís of Iran, including these seven individuals, represent the least threat to public order or to the common weal in that land.

There is not a shred of evidence to support the accusation that these Bahá’ís were seeking to compromise national security, participating in subversive activities, or engaging in propaganda against the regime, charges which the defendants themselves have categorically denied. Such accusations are entirely inconsistent with the outstanding record of the Bahá’ís in Iran and around the world, who regard service to one’s homeland and to humankind as an inescapable moral obligation. Nor do they accord in any way with the Bahá’í teachings, which assert that “in every country where any of this people reside, they must behave towards the government of that country with loyalty, honesty, and truthfulness.” The approach adopted by the judiciary and the accusations leveled against these individuals constitute again a patent violation of the freedom of conscience and belief of Iranian citizens, and are a brazen contravention of Article 14 of the Iranian Constitution, which stipulates: “In accordance with the sacred verse, ‘God doth not forbid you to deal with kindness and fairness towards those who have not made war upon you on account of your religion, or driven you forth from your homes’ [60:8], the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and all Muslims are duty-bound to treat non-Muslims kindly and in accordance with the principles of Islamic justice and equity, and to respect their human rights.”

Now in their third year of what is shamelessly still termed a “temporary” detention, these seven prisoners have been subjected to every manner of indignity and violation of their fundamental rights. Their high resolve and their gracious character amidst the hardships they have been made to endure stand in sharp contrast to the brutality of their oppressors and attest their forbearance and purity of motive. This is a truth to which the noble people of Iran can now bear witness. The accounts we have received indicate that fellow inmates admire their conduct and demeanor, see them as beacons of hope and sources of consolation and comfort, seek strength from their wisdom, and regard them as the symbols of the free spirit and sincere heart that are characteristics of the people of Iran.

Your honor, we ask you, what purpose is served by seeking to extinguish such moral attributes and spiritual qualities? Are such acts of oppression faithful to the high principles extolled by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him)? In Gohardasht Prison, there are surely other innocent inmates. How can you allow any soul to be subjected to that prison’s appalling state of filth, pestilence, disease, and the privation of facilities for basic personal hygiene? Such an odious and degrading environment is unworthy of even the most dangerous criminals. Does the government of Iran believe the principles of Islamic compassion and justice to be consistent with the imposition of such conditions on citizens? Why are the prisoners’ pressing needs for medical care and treatment ignored? Who will be called to account if the health of any of these seven further deteriorates? Why are these innocent individuals not given adequate food, and why are they confined to prison cells of such insufficient space as to make it difficult for them to lie down or even to perform their daily prayers? Why has the judiciary callously deprived them of their right to compassionate leave? Are not all of these privations intended to break their spirits and those of the other Bahá’ís of Iran? Consider how the members of the Bahá’í community are continually forced to withstand the slander of their beliefs and the distortion of their history in government-supported mass media; to endure provocations in the streets, from the pulpits, and with the support of certain officials, that incite hatred against them; to suffer illegal imprisonment; to see themselves denied access to higher education and to the means of earning a livelihood; to have their children suffer abuse and vilification in schools; and to witness their properties destroyed and their cemeteries desecrated with the support and approval of government authorities. Yet, what results have such efforts yielded?

The response of the Bahá’ís of Iran to the persecution they have suffered in recent decades has made them, in the eyes of the Iranian population, embodiments of unyielding attachment to spiritual principle and of constructive resistance to oppression . What is more, it has brought about a heightened desire among that population to become acquainted with the verities of their Faith.

In January 2010, the Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the Bahá’í Faith, noted in a message addressed to the Bahá’ís in Iran that, when those in authority conspire against innocent citizens, their actions ultimately vitiate their own credibility. In a similar vein, in our 4 March 2009 letter to the Prosecutor General of the Islamic Republic, we pointed out that the decisions of the Iranian judiciary with respect to the Bahá’ís will have implications well beyond the Bahá’í community in that land and will extend to the very freedom of conscience of all its citizens. Our hope was that, for the sake of the honor and reputation of Iran, the judiciary would seek to be fair in their judgment.

The Bahá’ís are not “others” in your country: they are an inseparable part of the Iranian nation. The injustices meted out to them are a reflection of the terrible oppression that has engulfed the nation. Your respect now for the rights of the Iranian Bahá’ís would signal a willingness to respect the rights of all the citizens of your country. Redressing the wrongs suffered by the Bahá’ís would bring hope to the hearts of all Iranians that you are ready to ensure justice for everyone. Our call, then, is in reality a call for respect of the rights of all the Iranian people.

With our hearts filled with love for Iran and our earnest hopes for the exaltation and glory of that land, we urge you, in your capacity as the Head of the Judiciary, to release the former members of the Yaran from prison and, along with them, all the Bahá’ís who are incarcerated across the country. These include Miss Haleh Rouhi, Miss Raha Sabet, and Mr. Sasan Taqva, the three young Bahá’ís who have now entered the fourth year of imprisonment in Shiraz for the crime of helping impoverished children to learn how to read and write. We likewise request that the Bahá’ís in that country be granted their full rights of citizenship, in order that they may be able to fulfill their heartfelt aspiration to contribute, alongside their fellow citizens, to the advancement of their nation. This, indeed, is no more than what you rightfully ask for Muslim minorities who reside in other lands.

Bahá’ís merely seek the same treatment from you.


Bahá’í International Community

cc: Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations

On O God, Make Me a Brilliant Star: Jayren from Salishan feted at football banquet

Jayren, a devoted participant in Baha'i children's classes in the Salishan neighborhood of Tacoma, often would show up for those classes in his football uniform. Why, because he plays for the Tacoma Tigers. Coach Charles, a Tacoma Baha'i, coached his team this year. The Tiger players and their families gathered for their annual banquet held this year in the Lincoln High School cafeteria. Jayren was one of those who received a pendant. -gw

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Monday, December 06, 2010

On a Visit to Ferngully: Look, what do you do all day? Help things grow.

Swan Creek and Indian dinner 019
I came across a forest fairy during an almost wintertime visit to Ferngully on Saturday. -gw
Zak: What about you, Crysta? What is it that fairies do?
Crysta: Do?
Zak: Yeah, do you have jobs or something?
Crysta: What's a job?
Zak: Guess that answers that question. Look, what do you do all day?
Crysta: Help things grow.
Zak: Really? That sounds cool.
Crysta: No, usually it's warm.
Zak: No, cool means it's hot.
Crysta: What?
Zak: You know - bodacious, bad, tubular...
Batty Koda: Awesome use of the language, dude.
Zak: As in, you are one bodacious babe.
Crysta: And that's good... I mean, cool?
Zak: That's right! We're communicating.


On What Is Envisioned: Many people want to transform their community in ways that align with the Baha'i teachings

What is envisioned for the world: Every neighborhood, every block, every apartment building ... every home ... will have its regularly scheduled Baha'i devotional.
Nothing in the development of the Institute Process in Tacoma pleases me more than the establishment of a Baha'i devotional through the combined efforts of Cornelia and Kim. I was privileged to attend their very first last Wednesday. We ate together. We studied a prayer together; a unity prayer was Cornelia's choice. We listened to recorded music. We offered individual prayers. We consulted. Kim spoke of wanting to gather friends together to provide service to the larger community. Prayer and action.
You can read about what Baha'is are doing in other communities through their blogs. A case in point ... -gw
Right now, I am working in consultation with a few people who are trying to motivate their own neighbourhoods. They are making awesome strides in developing relationships. They have discovered that there are numerous people around them who want to transform their community in ways that align with the Baha'i teachings. By lovingly accepting any and all help, by introducing the idea of consultation and helping their friends focus on the spiritual issues, they are succeeding in developing this culture "in which all consider themselves as treading a common path of service".

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On Happy Holidays: I'm not even going to make a fuss

I'm not going to tear down the holly wreaths on campus, I'm not going to bemoan the fact that there are poinsettias everywhere, and I won't complain when Christmas Carols are played nonstop.  In fact, I'm not even going to make a fuss. ...
I'm a Baha'i.  I celebrate Naw-Ruz, which is in March.  And I don't have a problem with Christmas in the least.  But I do have a problem with the fact that people seem to forget there are others out there that don't celebrate Christmas.  We just had World Week at UAF.  Wasn't that all about diversity?  Well, where is the diversity now?
We're going to a Christmas family celebration at my son's , and at work I've been invited to two Christmas parties again this year. I'm going to one of them, the one the team I'm on (the Community Support Team) has. This was last year's. -gw

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Sunday, December 05, 2010

On Making an Investment in Youth: Giving direction to the day

We're making an investment in youth, and giving them direction in building a world civilization.  And that's what we Baha'is are best at.
Coach Charles
A "Banquet @ Lincoln High School" for the Upper Tacoma Youth Athletics is scheduled for today at 3:00 pm. Gwen, Joe, and I are going to do some home visiting before it, then stop by.  The day should provide some wonderful opportunities to talk about the possibilities for junior youth spiritual empowerment groups.
Seeing the announcement reminded me that I hadn't uploaded the photos from the UTYA  Tacoma Tigers game I attended back in August. Lots of junior youth there. -gw

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Saturday, December 04, 2010

On an Invitation to the Random Hacks of Kindness, Dec 4th, Bangalore , India: RHOK on

Download now or preview on posterous
RHoK Intro PPT.pdf (4183 KB)

From: praveen
Subject: Invitation to the Random Hacks of Kindness Dec 4th Bangalore , India

Dear Friends Family

This Weekend I am helping organize a Technology Conference in Bangalore which is one in a series of 21 around the world that would happen simultaneously called as "Random Hacks of kindness"  or RHok in short . it is a forum/space that creates a discourse between SME's  [subject matter experts]from the development sector and friends from tech background so that together they can solve real world issues like disaster management/landslide/Bush fires/emergency response systems etc.  more details on . attaching the details of the conference.  do fwd to interested friends  who may wish to participate in the hackathon at various places around the world mentioned on the site.. 

Warm  Greetings,

RHOK on, Praveen! -gw

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