Tuesday, January 25, 2011

On Positive Outcomes for Society: An end to complacency and catalepsy

I enjoy reading about cold places in the wintertime, so picked up "In Siberia" by Colin Thubron. It is only through the exquisite richness of Thubron's prose that I can continue to read this narrative, pockmarked with the horrors of the Gulag, Soviet exploitation of natural resources, and the sludge of corrupt, inefficient bureaucracy.
In contrast, there are stories of human compassion and an unshakable desire to believe in hopeful outcomes, despite the miasma of the past, the ever-present struggle, the bored catalepsy of stagnant institutions and their administrators.
It is the old women who remember the prayers of long ago, who rekindle religious traditions of the past, even if the clergy cannot always remember the prayers. With the old babushkas there is an unshakable desire to believe, a hopefulness born of faith. They want to live for the future.
The youth are not similarly inclined. They move forward, hopeful of material security.
I read Thubron during our Baha'i IPG - Intensive Program of Growth. At our IPG we learned what it takes to believe in a process - 'the how and why'; adapting and changing; learning to persevere, straining every fiber to foster altruism and neighborliness, to care about the needs of families, children and youth.
Two words are on my mind - complacency, mentioned at the IPG, and this new word in Thubron's book, catalepsy. The former refers to a feeling of self-satisfaction that can inhibit taking in critical information. And the latter, catalepsy, refers to a trance like state with loss of voluntary motion and failure to react to stimuli. Both conditions sabotage positive outcomes for society.
Thubron listened to an old woman lament, her eyes brimming. She said she hoped for so much better, saying a city was founded. Yet in time schools were demolished, libraries closed down. People lost all belief - faith. She surfed through television channels with discontent, then switched it off saying, "...to think that it's come to this!"
This is Bonita's blog reflection on the Baha'i Intensive Program of Growth, 22nd cycle, now underway in our area. And below is a second installment of photos from the IPG gathering in our home this past weekend. -gw

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