Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Commotion

Know ye from what heights your Lord, the All-Glorious, is calling? Think ye that ye have recognized the Pen wherewith your Lord, the Lord of all names, commandeth you? Nay, by My life! Did ye but know it, ye would renounce the world, and would hasten with your whole hearts to the presence of the Well-Beloved. Your spirits would be so transported by His Word as to throw into commotion the Greater World—how much more this small and petty one! Thus have the showers of My bounty been poured down from the heaven of My loving-kindness, as a token of My grace, that ye may be of the thankful. (Baha'u'llah, Kitab-i-Aqdas, paragraph 55)

My wife and I were reading this the other day, talking about our understanding of this paragraph. Or, in my case, lack thereof.

We thought the beginning of the quote was fairly obvious to understand. "You think you know Me? Heh." There's even more to Him than we can possibly imagine. If we had but an inkling of His true Station, wow, then just imagine what we would do to share it with others. And if we really had the slightest awareness of that, we would give up everything in this world and "hasten" with our "whole hearts" to His presence.

But wait a second.

How can we hasten to His presence? He has passed on to His eternal home. Does that mean we would kill ourselves? Nah. I don't think so.

I think it means that those who read it while He was alive would quickly go to be with Him, while the rest of us, and those who read these words for the next thousand years, have to strive to live our lives so well that we feel His presence in our daily lives. Or it could mean going to work in the Holy Land, but again, I don't think so. To me, it means striving every day through prayer and service to live my life ever closer to how the Master lived His.

But this is not what caught our attention.

No, what really got us talking was the next sentence: "Your spirits would be so transported by His Word as to throw into commotion the Greater World—how much more this small and petty one!"

To start, what is meant by "the Greater World"? We presume He is referring to the spiritual realms, the next world, that place to which our spirits go when we bite the big one. So how in the world would we "cause a commotion" there? What could that possibly look like?

Aside - I'm reminded of the story of the misery of the devil in the 1960s. Someone went down to hell and Satan was just miserable. When the person looked around there were all these wonderful activities happening. Children were all playing together. People were praying. When asked what was going on, Satan said, "It's the Baha'is. They're all Pioneering down here."

All right. This is really beyond me. I honestly have no clue. A commotion in the Greater World? I think I'll just leave that one alone for now.

So what about "this small and petty one"? That I can relate to. Small and petty is so much easier for me to grasp.

Well, to be honest, I'm reminded of my Facebook feed. (Hmmm. Feed? I really don't like that term. Feed is the nutritional stuff that you give farm animals. I think I'll refer to it as my wall instead.)

(Okay. Take two.)

Well, to be honest, I'm reminded of my Facebook wall. (That's better.)

I've been noticing a series of very disturbing trends on the internet over the past little while. People are becoming more and more divided, less tolerant, more judgmental. People are becoming far more openly racist, misogynistic, and hateful of the other. Or they are becoming more judgmental of the abuser, refusing to listen to them, insistent on swift punishment, demanding harsher and harsher penalties immediately. But really, I see these both as the same thing. I think this comes from an insistence that others be more like oneself.

Now I'm not saying that we should tolerate the racist, or the abuser. No. I believe we should educate them. They are human, worthy of honour and respect, the same as any other person. They should be subject to the same laws, and the same rights as anyone else.

Personally, I have no problem if someone is uncomfortable with me, solely due to my skin colour. My problem arises when this affects their hiring of me for a job, or their basing legalistic decisions on that same discomfort. This is when the discomfort of the unknown turns into the disease of racism. That's where I draw the line. But honestly, I can't fault anyone else for being uncomfortable around the different.

Then there's the issue of gun control in the US, to name a singular example. Despite what many of my friends believe, I'm not against gun ownership. I truly believe that they have a place in the world, in society. But I do question the gross proliferation of gun ownership there, and the laxity in the application of the laws regarding that. I do question the use of gun ownership as a means of identity. I highly question the lack of moral education that is being given to those who most heatedly contend the need for guns. There are many things that I question, but gun ownership itself? No. I see the call for safety on both sides of the issue and do not see it as the dichotomic issue that many would try to force on me.

Quick aside: I'm so very grateful to my friends on Facebook who respond so eloquently on both sides of this issue, clearly stating their points, and respecting those on the other side of this divisive issue. They set such a great example. And the fact that not a single friend has "unfriended" me on it speaks volumes for their integrity and willingness to work with the "other" side.

Anyways, where was I? Oh yes, commotion.

I've been posting some very contentious posts in recent months. Just recently I posted some things about those high profile people in the news who have been fired from their jobs, digitally edited out of movies, or otherwise punished based solely on accusations of sexual abuse. Now to be clear, I'm not promoting sexual abuse. I never have, and I never will. What I'm pointing out, though, is the lack of justice these people are facing without due process of law. They are being presumed guilty, and suffering harsh consequences based on nothing more than an accusation. Now some of these people have admitted guilt, and that's fine and wonderful. I'm glad for them. But some are denying it, and they deserve the chance to face these charges.

However, I'm not really looking at the Hollywood bigwig side of the issue. As I wrote in response to one comment on my.... wall, "I'm not talking about the ultra-privileged, but the local school teacher who is fired because a student decides to toss out an unfounded accusation because the teacher gave them a harsh grade on a test, or the individual who loses their desperately needed job at a local store due to another accusation merely because they wouldn't give someone a refund."

You see, it's really easy to say "This person did such and such, and since they are in the position of power, they must be harshly punished." And yes, we can look back at the history of abusers in the court system and easily recognize how rarely they get found guilty. And of course we can also look at the untold horrors that the victims often face, usually in those same courts that are designed to punish the guilty. None of this is in question here. My point, though, is that every accused must have the opportunity to defend themselves, should they wish. Without that, then there is no purpose to the legal system, and public lynching is, quite simply, the next step.

Of course we need to revamp the legal system. After all, it's only concerned about legality, not justice. This has been demonstrated time and again.

And as you can see, by really pushing for justice, both for the accuser and the accused, I am creating something of a commotion. Because I am not willing to see this as a dichotomy. I do not believe that you are either for the abuser or for the victim, with no in-between.

I stand for justice.

Baha'u'llah has placed justice on so high a pedestal that I am willing to go through hell and high water to defend it. "No light", are His poignant words, "can compare with the light of justice. The establishment of order in the world and the tranquility of the nations depend upon it." We only need to look at the pain and suffering going on around us to begin to get a sense of the truth of these words.

So when I read this quote from the Kitab-i-Aqdas, this is what I am reminded of. I feel like my spirit is so transported by His vision of Justice, as just a singular example, that I may be causing a bit of commotion in my small part of this world.

And you know what? I am thankful. Maybe, just maybe, I can help a few of my friends see beyond the divisiveness and find solace in the greater truths that Baha'u'llah has shared.

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