Monday, April 14, 2014

Insights, Part 3 (or Part 2, depending...)

Well, I'm still looking at that document, Insights from the Frontiers of Learning, and while I'm at it, I should mention that any look at it is fairly incomplete without also looking at the video / movie. (To watch it, or, in other words, to see what the Baha'is around the world are actually doing to make the world a better place, click here.)

For now, though, I'm just going to continue to put down a few thoughts regarding the study of the text here. (But not the text. I've already explained why not. It's just too long, and is available in many other places.)

2. Emerging Programmes of Growth

First, I noted who it is that has to maintain those core activities. It's not just the usual few who maintain most of the activities int he community. It's in particular those who are progressing through the sequence of courses. This, as far as I can tell, keeps it dynamic, as well as allows each individual to find their own area of service, one they are passionate about.

Then I wondered what the word "nascent" means. It means budding, or just coming into existence.

And what are those two nascent capacities? The first of them, and they are sequential, is for the tutors to help other study the Ruhi materials and accompany them into their service as they begin their own core activities. Tutoring isn't enough. It must be accompanied by helping others begin their initial steps of service.

The second capacity is that those who are doing these services, those who are in the courses, must learn to attract others to participate in their core activities. After all, hosting some sort of activity that no one attends doesn't really do all that much good to building a new civilization, does it?

2.1 Establishing a Basis for Building Capacity

We "should feel no hesitation to initiate (our) own effort to establish a programme of growth." After all, if we do feel hesitant, what are we waiting for? Who else will do it? As they say, start small. I mean, you can start big if you have the resources, but don't feel bad about starting small. Just start. We can all learn as we go. But if we don't begin, we'll never learn.

Then the section goes on. Pioneers? Visiting teams? Great if you can get them, but really, not our problem here. Let's go on.

Institutional support? Great idea, but what is it that they are supporting? And please remember, dear Reader, I'm looking at my own little cluster here. My own community. You need to look at yours, and decide what is relevant. So, what is actually needed on our part? As a community, I think we need to ask this question, and be very honest about it. I have no answers to provide here, and hope that my community will consult on this during our deepening.

Of course, we likely won't spend too much time here. I think another 20 minutes for this whole section, given that most of it is out of our hands. But before we go on, the next sub-section is actually quite relevant.

2.2 Expanding the Reach of Core Activities

This begins with the individual taking advantage of the opportunities in our daily life. It does not mean twisting all conversations beyond their natural reach (see Bahai-jacking), but rather making those natural connections that help bring the level of conversation to a more meaningful level. In other words, when I talk with my friends, we don't just talk about the weather, or who won the latest sports game. Quite often we talk about movies, and we always talk about what we learned, and the characters could have acted differently. We also talk about current events in our community, or the world, and how they impact us and our families. We talk about issues that have meaning to us, and how we can act to make the world a better place.

You see, what is important to me is what it means to have a conversation. Rather than just talk about "raising conversations" or "making them meaningful", let's describe it. Let's consciously figure out what it means.

To me, a conversation is, primarily, two-way. And it is mostly about listening. (There's the old saying about how God gave us two ears and only one mouth for a reason.) It is also relevant to all parties.

You see, this first paragraph also talks about the spiritual and material conditions of the community. How do we know what these conditions are? Are we guessing? Or do we know from talking to people about it?

Aside - I remember going to one community years ago. It was a fairly rural community, and I got there about 5 hours early, meaning before the meeting I was supposed to address began. Naturally, I did what I always do. I went out for coffee and talked to the people I met in the coffee shop. Later that evening, when I was talking to the community (Baha'i, in this instance), it somehow came up that we needed to address the concerns of the community (greater, here). That was when I asked the friends what the people in their community were concerned about. I honestly thought they knew, and was looking for the obvious answers. What they gave me were some things about world peace, gender equality, and all these other global issues. That kind of made me stop. I said, "That's what you're interested in. And they are really worthy of concern. But what is the average person in town concerned about?" They really didn't know, because they never listened. (They said as much.) (Ironic as that is.) I told them that the people I met on the street and in that coffee shop that afternoon were far more concerned about the increased drug use in their community, and getting the harvest in. Those were their two primary concerns. From there, we talked about the spiritual implications of both concerns, safety and security being high on the list. Evidently, it really changed their focus of activities.

So what do I get out of this? We rally need to take the time to have conversations, meaningful conversations and not just ones that are entertaining (although conversations should be fun) (like blog articles), or superficial. And we need to really listen.

Oh, and one other thing. In that second paragraph, it briefly mentions how, in Belarus, activities really took off when a "mother and her husband" began "to serve as animators". Check that. It was not a couple of youth, or even young adults. It was two parents with children. Time and again I say this: While youth may be the most effective animators, they are not the only ones who can do this important service. It is very dis-heartening to hear over and over again from people older than thirty who are discouraged from acting as animators, or even told not to do it. If we need animators, and there are people willing to serve in that capacity, let them. This faith is all about encouraging people, helping them arise to serve, and not about turning them away. (At least, that's my opinion. So there.)

And how long will it take us to talk about part 2? Again, I would say about 30 minutes. A few minutes for a couple of points mentioned above, and the majority of it talking about the last part. So up to this point, we've probably spent about an hour deepening on this document. Oh, the joys of reading it ahead of time.

1 comment:

  1. When you watch the movie Frontiers of Learning you might be interested in comparing figures given in the part about Indian cluster Bihar Sharif with the data from the same cluster several years before given in ‘Attaining the dynamics of growth’ (p.25)