so Counsellor Scott graciously took time out of his busy schedule to visit with us in Ottawa tonight, and share with us progress happening in the Baha’i community. He started out by reminding us that “being” and “doing” are inseparable—you cannot change your own self or change your community in a vacuum; both will always change in tandem, and in order for our own hearts to change, we must teach and serve humanity. The image reminded me of the “two movements” we sometimes hear about: the movement of people from one course in the institute process to the next, and the movement of communities (“clusters” maybe—or even neighbourhoods?) from one stage of development to the next. The two must happen simultaneously, no?
He peppered his talk with colourful stories of amazing strides that have come about in places like Toronto, with its “Pebbles to Pearls” program, in which individuals arose to offer junior youth groups (studying books like Breezes of Confirmation, which is Bahá’í-inspired and seeks to build capacity and raise consciousness in 12-year-olds); how a children’s class grew naturally out of the first junior youth group; how a prayer meeting with the parents soon followed; and how more and more of the participants, as their capacity increased, became trained to offer these kinds of service to others. We’re talking about people who met their first Baha’is maybe a few months ago, and are now being trained to help teach Baha’i children’s classes. Uhhhh cool?
He stressed the notion that these “core activities”—be they children’s classes, junior youth groups, study circles, and prayer meetings—are not just fun little activities or “get-togethers” or “events” as we may think of them. They’re civilization-building activities, activities that create communities. He emphasized the fact that every human being has the inalienable right to participate in the process of building civilization. (consider how many people waive that right throughout the world every day.) that being said, he challenged us to involve more and more people in that process by committing to long-term action with receptive communities—committing to offering these “core activities” to people around us who might really need them. With respect to children’s classes, he cited the cases of families throughout the country who’ve been left behind by an educational system that fails to respond to their needs—who’s going to offer spiritual education to a child whose parents work 12 hours a day and barely make enough to make ends meet? Whose teachers can’t use the word “God” because it’s been legislated out of existence?
So much meat in that short span of time—so exciting to feel that we’re able to contribute to the building of a new civilization! I only hope that we can rise to the occasion and be fully ready for our talk. Please feel free to share thoughts as comments to this post—there’s far more to tell, but it’s late and I need sleep.