Welcome to the Month of Perfection 172
In this issue – Equality of Women and Men
How ‘Abdu’l-Baha Taught Equality
Thornton Chase, named by the Master as the first American Bahá’í, along with Carl Scheffler and Arthur Agnew, members of Chicago’s House of Spirituality, arrived in the Holy Land, right after Corrine True had departed and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá surprised them all. When, responding to a question by Mr. Chase about the Temple, He said, “When you return consult with Mrs. True – I have given her complete instructions.” These directions baffled the three men because, up to that point, only men had served on the House of Spirituality and were involved in decision-making. Being given the responsibility for the Temple was extremely challenging, particularly as a woman in a country where women did not yet have the opportunity to vote. (Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 110-111)
‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s sense of justice and equality also embraced the quality of relationship between men and women. He once smilingly turned to the ladies in a group of listeners in America and said that, ‘in Europe and America, many men worked very hard so that their wives could have luxuries. He related, again with a smile, the story of a husband and wife who once visited Him. Some dust had settled on the wife’s shoes, and she told her husband peremptorily to wipe it off, which he dutifully did. Did she do the same for her husband, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had queries. No, had been the reply, she cleaned his clothes. But that was not equality, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had remarked. “Now, ladies,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, “you must sometimes stand up for the rights of men.” It was all said with good humour, but the lesson was plain: moderation in all things.’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 113)
O my God! O my God! Verily, these are servants at the threshold of Thy mercy, and maidservants at the door of Thy oneness. Verily, they have gathered in this temple to turn to Thy face of glory, holding to the hem of Thy garment and to Thy singleness, seeking Thy good pleasure and ascent into Thy Kingdom. They receive effulgence from the Sun of Reality in this glorious century, and they long for Thy goodwill in all great affairs. O Lord! Illumine their sight with a vision of Thy signs and riches, and quicken their ears with hearkening to Thy Word. Render their hearts replete with Thy love, and gladden their spirits with Thy meeting. Deign to bestow upon them spiritual good in Thine earth and heaven, and make them signs of unity among Thy servants in order that the real unity may appear and all may become one in Thy Cause and Kingdom. Verily, Thou art the Generous. Verily, Thou art the Mighty, the Spiritual. Thou art the Merciful, the Clement. (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 193)
This month I’d like to feature 3 artists who are teaching what equality means.
In the first video, called “Dear Women” we see men issuing a sincere apology on behalf of all men, for all the ways men have treated women badly. When I first heard it, it went a long way towards healing all the ways my heart has been broken by men; and I thought at that time, that every woman should listen to it as many times as it took, in order to believe it; accept it, and forgive them. It’s still one of my most favorite videos!
The second movie, “Run like a Girl is an advertisement for menstrual pads which was shown at the Super Bowl, and has won kudos all over the Internet for changing the conversation about what it means to run, throw and do pretty much any activity “like a girl.”
The third video, “The Horrible Truth about What it Means When Men are Silent” is a rap poem of “a conversation that never happened”. It’s about how the myth of the “good guy” helps perpetuate rape culture by allowing some of us to distance ourselves from what is too-often perceived as the actions of a few disturbed individuals and not a chronic, persistent, society-wide epidemic of violence against women.
Hope you enjoy all 3!
Advancement of Women: A Baha’i Perspective by husband and wife team Janet and Peter Khan addresses those aspects of equality of the sexes that are usually ignored or glossed over in the existing literature. Tactfully treating a subject that often provokes argumentation, contention, polarization of attitudes, and accusations, the authors elevate the discussion to a new level that challenges all while offending none. It covers some of history of women’s contributions to the Baha’i Faith, descibes the vital role that they will make in the future. While it’s of interest to everyone, those interested in women’s studies will especially find it a “must read”.
A couple of months ago, I wanted to feature Victoria Laine and her Whole-Food Nutrition Kitchen in my issue on diet. Unfortunately her website was undergoing a massive reorganization at that time, but I’m thrilled to report it’s back up, and really worth the wait!
Victoria is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who asks: Are you tired of struggling with a bloated belly, heartburn, embarrassing gas, excess weight or disordered eating, constipation or an irritable bowel, that’s holding you back from living fully? If so, she will help you overcome your digestive distress, so you can enjoy a calm tummy, healthy weight, and vibrant energy and live your life to the fullest.
Victoria’s Blissful Belly Personalized Program includes the following assessments and coaching, and more:
· food and beverage assessment to discern potential deficiencies or excesses
· body symptom assessment to discern potential imbalances that need correction
· individualized and focused goal setting
· step-by-step action plan to help propel you forward with your health goals
· meal planning guidance and strategies
· delicious, easy recipes
· grocery shopping techniques and tips
· label reading know-how
· email check-ins between appointments
The Tahirih Justice Center is an American non-profit organization founded in 1997. They have an amazing record of assisting nearly 17,000 women and children seek protection from gender based human rights abuses such as rape, female genital mutilation, domestic violence, human trafficking, honor crimes, and forced marriage. They help their clients achieve the legal status they are entitled to under U.S. law, so they can be free from violence and rebuild their lives in safety and with dignity. Inspired by the principles of the Bahá’í Faith, Tahirih is committed to creating a world where all women and girls enjoy equality.
Our Readers Write:
Talk about inspired – this is a great topic for today! I could tell you a little story from quite long ago – about 1964 – 5. I was one of the early members of the women’s centre in Kingston – far away from the campus. It was quite active and fascinating to participate in. After about a year several black women came to participate and one of them sneered at me about what could I know because I was a ‘white woman of privilege’. Not having any idea how to address the injustice of that, I simply stopped going there. But I had no trouble at all dealing with the Communists or SDS because none of the exchanges/attacks were that kind of personal. The concept that our ‘privileges’ were different, and that because we were women we had things in common wasn’t part of the discourse back then. Perhaps other women got to that point, but I didn’t. So, please do keep on! We’ve all got lots to learn.
And I just loved the one about teaching children about apologizing and forgiveness. That’s pretty relevant today too. (Jane Graves)
Thanks so much for the note of encouragement, Jane! I wasn’t sure if people would relate to the topic of racism, particularly in Canada, where life feels very safe! But all the stories of all the ways racism is being played out in other parts of the world (especially in the US) made me want to do something. Showing the practical application of the teachings is the best I could offer! Please God, let the world hear and understand!
I tried the exercise on “What is Privilege” as a speech at Toastmasters a couple of weeks ago, and even in our small, white, homogenous group there were a lot of differences – but one person heckled me – she didn’t agree with the questions; and several others started agreeing or disagreeing and I didn’t handle it very well either! I just kept going because it wasn’t the time or place, but like the video said in our last newsletter, I wish I’d said something! 🙂 O well, little by little, day by day, right? 🙂
Thanks to all who write in! Your encouragement really keeps me going!
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See you next month! Hope it’s a month filled with perfection!