Baha’i Elections – How To Improve Them? – part I

bahai-elections-voting.pngSo everyone is poring over the recent Universal House of Justice (UHJ) message of March 25 2007 on Baha’i elections. You should read the UHJ’s letter for yourself but if you’re feeling lazy, I’ll offer to save you the trouble and summarize it:

A bunch of fluffy and very nice sounding rhetoric. A dash of quotes from the writings of Shoghi Effendi (kind of obligatory in a message from the UHJ). Followed by a lot of empty platitudes. And finally the real ‘meat’ of the letter, the reason why the Universal House of Justice wrote it in the first place and what they hope Baha’is ‘get’ about how to vote in this coming round of elections at Ridvan:

From among the pool of those whom the elector believes to be qualified to serve, selection should be made with due consideration given to such other factors as age distribution, diversity, and gender.

That’s in the 3rd to last paragraph by the way. Now, I totally sypmathize with the Universal House of Justice. They are faced with the Herculean task of trying to do something about the ossification of the administrative order. So by saying that, they are hoping that when when Baha’is gather this Ridvan (April 21st 2007) to vote for their new assemblies, they will vote in some new people.

It is not really news that in Baha’i communities everywhere, small and large, third world countries and first world contries, across all cultures and all nationalities, a very small group of Baha’is are elected to serve on assemblies over and over and over and over again. Leading communities into the death grip of group think, close mindedness and far too often, corruption and scandals. In fact, this unfortunate pattern can be found in the revolving door between the International Teaching Center and the Universal House of Justice – as well as the incumbancy inherent in the membership of the UHJ itself.

So I can totally understand and sympathize with the almost palpable desperation in the letter. Something must be done. I agree. Things just can not continue like this. I have some ideas of my own and I’ve run across some even better ones in Baha’i discussion groups. I will explore these ideas in the second part. But what I’d like to do in this first part is to explore the letter of the Universal House of Justice.

The House quotes Shoghi Effendi liberally in their March 25th letter on elections. If I may, I’d like to quote the Guardian as well:

“…I do not feel it to be in keeping with the spirit of the Cause to impose any limitation upon the freedom of the believers to choose those of any race, nationality or temperament, who best combine the essential qualifications for membership of administrative institutions. They should disregard personalities and concentrate their attention on the qualities and requirements of office, without prejudice, passion or partiality. The Assembly should be representative of the choicest and most varied and capable elements in every Baha’i community.”
(Letter from the Guardian to an individual believer: August 11, 1933)

This contradicts with what the House of Justice is saying in their letter (see above). But we do know that in the Baha’i Faith, a great deal of respect and leeway is given to minorities:

If any discrimination is at all to be tolerated, it should be a discrimination not against, but rather in favor of the minority, be it racial or otherwise… So great and vital is this principle that in such circumstances, as when an equal number of ballots have been cast in an election . . . [and] are balanced between the various races, faiths or nationalities within the community, priority should unhesitatingly be accorded the party representing the minority, and this for no other reason except to stimulate and encourage it, and afford it an opportunity to further the interests of the community.
(Shoghi Effendi – The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 34)

So what Shoghi Effendi is saying is that we must begin the process of Baha’i elections with the intention of choosing the best candidate for the job. And if as a result of doing so, we come face to face with a situation where there is a tie (“balance of votes”) then it should be broken in favour of the minority candidate.

bahai-elections-voting-ballot-box.pngThat is a far cry from what the House of Justice is advocating: initiating the voting process with consideration given to “age, ethnic and gender diversity”. But again, while I may not see how the statement of the House of Justice is congruent with Shoghi Effendi’s clear exposition of the nature of Baha’i elections, I do sympathize with them.

And I believe there are much better and more effective ways of ‘fixing’ the broken Baha’i election process. But you’ll have to practice the virtue of patience and wait till the second part.

  • Craig Parke

    Hi Baquia,

    After 36 years in the Baha’i Faith in which I faithfully voted in every election (32 in person) (2 by mail) with 2 missed due to sudden illness on the day of the election here are my TOP TEN SUGGESTIONS to save the Baha’i Faith from the current deteriorating situation:

    (1) Term limits on the UHJ (10 years), NSA’s (6 years), and LSA’s (4 years).

    (2) Term limits on the UHJ (10 years), NSA’s (6 years), and LSA’s (4 years).

    (3) Term limits on the UHJ (10 years), NSA’s (6 years), and LSA’s (4 years).

    (4) Term limits on the UHJ (10 years), NSA’s (6 years), and LSA’s (4 years).

    (5) Term limits on the UHJ (10 years), NSA’s (6 years), and LSA’s (4 years).

    (6) Term limits on the UHJ (10 years), NSA’s (6 years), and LSA’s (4 years).

    (7) Term limits on the UHJ (10 years), NSA’s (6 years), and LSA’s (4 years).

    (8) Term limits on the UHJ (10 years), NSA’s (6 years), and LSA’s (4 years).

    (9) Term limits on the UHJ (10 years), NSA’s (6 years), and LSA’s (4 years).

    (10) Term limits on the UHJ (10 years), NSA’s (6 years), and LSA’s (4 years).

    For the UHJ and NSA total accrued lifetime service. For LSA’s 4 years on any one particular LSA.

  • Craig Parke

    Hi Baquia,

    After 36 years in the Baha’i Faith in which I faithfully voted in every election (32 in person) (2 by mail) with 2 missed due to sudden illness on the day of the election here are my TOP TEN SUGGESTIONS to save the Baha’i Faith from the current deteriorating situation:

    (1) Term limits on the UHJ (10 years), NSA’s (6 years), and LSA’s (4 years).

    (2) Term limits on the UHJ (10 years), NSA’s (6 years), and LSA’s (4 years).

    (3) Term limits on the UHJ (10 years), NSA’s (6 years), and LSA’s (4 years).

    (4) Term limits on the UHJ (10 years), NSA’s (6 years), and LSA’s (4 years).

    (5) Term limits on the UHJ (10 years), NSA’s (6 years), and LSA’s (4 years).

    (6) Term limits on the UHJ (10 years), NSA’s (6 years), and LSA’s (4 years).

    (7) Term limits on the UHJ (10 years), NSA’s (6 years), and LSA’s (4 years).

    (8) Term limits on the UHJ (10 years), NSA’s (6 years), and LSA’s (4 years).

    (9) Term limits on the UHJ (10 years), NSA’s (6 years), and LSA’s (4 years).

    (10) Term limits on the UHJ (10 years), NSA’s (6 years), and LSA’s (4 years).

    For the UHJ and NSA total accrued lifetime service. For LSA’s 4 years on any one particular LSA.

  • David

    The first passage you quote from the Guardian ends “[t]he Assembly should be representative of the choicest and most varied and capable elements in every Baha’i community.” I’m curious how you read that, especially the “most varied…elements”, if not as a call for the voter to take into consideration the diversity of the community when voting.

    Morever, though, the second passage from the Guardian is truncated (though I recognize not necessarily by you) in such a way as to lose the most relevant sections. In the same paragraph in ADJ (p35), directly after the section you quoted ends, the Guardian continues:

    “…it should be the duty of every Bah??’? community so to arrange its affairs that in cases where individuals belonging to the divers minority elements within it are already qualified and fulfill the necessary requirements, Bah??’? representative institutions, be they Assemblies, conventions, conferences, or committees, may have represented on them as many of these divers elements, racial or otherwise, as possible. The adoption of such a course, and faithful adherence to it, would not only be a source of inspiration and encouragement to those elements that are numerically small and inadequately represented, but would demonstrate to the world at large the universality and representative character of the Faith of Bah??’u’ll??h, and the freedom of His followers from the taint of those prejudices which have already wrought such havoc in the domestic affairs, as well as the foreign relationships, of the nations (emphasis mine).”

    Shoghi Effendi was quite clear here, I think, in saying that Baha’i voters should take into account both the qualities of individuals as well as the demographic make-up of the Assembly as a whole, ie, when deciding amongst the qualifed pool of people things like race and ethnicity should be factored in – exactly what the House says in its recent letter.

  • David

    The first passage you quote from the Guardian ends “[t]he Assembly should be representative of the choicest and most varied and capable elements in every Baha’i community.” I’m curious how you read that, especially the “most varied…elements”, if not as a call for the voter to take into consideration the diversity of the community when voting.

    Morever, though, the second passage from the Guardian is truncated (though I recognize not necessarily by you) in such a way as to lose the most relevant sections. In the same paragraph in ADJ (p35), directly after the section you quoted ends, the Guardian continues:

    “…it should be the duty of every Bah??’? community so to arrange its affairs that in cases where individuals belonging to the divers minority elements within it are already qualified and fulfill the necessary requirements, Bah??’? representative institutions, be they Assemblies, conventions, conferences, or committees, may have represented on them as many of these divers elements, racial or otherwise, as possible. The adoption of such a course, and faithful adherence to it, would not only be a source of inspiration and encouragement to those elements that are numerically small and inadequately represented, but would demonstrate to the world at large the universality and representative character of the Faith of Bah??’u’ll??h, and the freedom of His followers from the taint of those prejudices which have already wrought such havoc in the domestic affairs, as well as the foreign relationships, of the nations (emphasis mine).”

    Shoghi Effendi was quite clear here, I think, in saying that Baha’i voters should take into account both the qualities of individuals as well as the demographic make-up of the Assembly as a whole, ie, when deciding amongst the qualifed pool of people things like race and ethnicity should be factored in – exactly what the House says in its recent letter.

  • Ed

    Dear Rant,

    I do not think the Universal House of Justice has contradicted the Guardian at all.

    Simply put, the idea of choosing the best candidate for the job does not contradict the idea of striving to promote diversity as well. Indeed, one way of finding the best candidates to vote for might be to consider people from many different demographic categories, to make the LSA a more effective representation and microcosm of the community they are being elected to serve.

    Moreover, promoting diversity (while maintaining focus on finding the highest quality members) seems also as one way to increase the bond between the Assemblies and their communities. If I see someone like myself working side by side with other people of all different types, then perhaps I will be inspired to respect the edicts of that Assembly, to beleive that my concerns are being addressed, and to feel confident that “my” Assembly is in fact working towards “my” interests as well as the interest of the community as a whole.

    In short, there is no contradiction whatever in this instance.

    All the best,
    Ed

  • Ed

    Dear Rant,

    I do not think the Universal House of Justice has contradicted the Guardian at all.

    Simply put, the idea of choosing the best candidate for the job does not contradict the idea of striving to promote diversity as well. Indeed, one way of finding the best candidates to vote for might be to consider people from many different demographic categories, to make the LSA a more effective representation and microcosm of the community they are being elected to serve.

    Moreover, promoting diversity (while maintaining focus on finding the highest quality members) seems also as one way to increase the bond between the Assemblies and their communities. If I see someone like myself working side by side with other people of all different types, then perhaps I will be inspired to respect the edicts of that Assembly, to beleive that my concerns are being addressed, and to feel confident that “my” Assembly is in fact working towards “my” interests as well as the interest of the community as a whole.

    In short, there is no contradiction whatever in this instance.

    All the best,
    Ed

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    David,
    thank you for your comment. You say:

    I’m curious how you read that, especially the ?most varied…elements?, if not as a call for the voter to take into consideration the diversity of the community when voting.

    If you notice, the Guardian writes the elements in a specific order. He writes “choicest” first and then the others. When you read what he has written prior to this sentence (guiding Baha’is to elect the best person for the job) it is clear – atleast to me – that we should give first priority to electing the best person for the job.

    If through that process we come to having a tie – then that tie should be broken in favor of the minority.

    This is reminiscent of the same method we apply the principle of equality of the sexes within a family. If a family has a son and a daughter and only funds to send one to school, then as Baha’is we are guided to have the daughter go to school. But notice that this is only applied as a tie breaker. We are not guided to immediately enroll the daughter!

    Hope that answers your question.

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    David,
    thank you for your comment. You say:

    I’m curious how you read that, especially the ?most varied…elements?, if not as a call for the voter to take into consideration the diversity of the community when voting.

    If you notice, the Guardian writes the elements in a specific order. He writes “choicest” first and then the others. When you read what he has written prior to this sentence (guiding Baha’is to elect the best person for the job) it is clear – atleast to me – that we should give first priority to electing the best person for the job.

    If through that process we come to having a tie – then that tie should be broken in favor of the minority.

    This is reminiscent of the same method we apply the principle of equality of the sexes within a family. If a family has a son and a daughter and only funds to send one to school, then as Baha’is we are guided to have the daughter go to school. But notice that this is only applied as a tie breaker. We are not guided to immediately enroll the daughter!

    Hope that answers your question.

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Ed,
    Simply asserting that there is no contradiction does not make it so.

    It may be a fine distinction, I give you that, but it is still quite distinct. The Guardian is counselling Baha’is to vote for the best person with only regards to :

    …concentrate their attention on the qualities and requirements of office, without prejudice, passion or partiality

    If we insert, as the UHJ is suggesting, a consideration of age, race, etc. into our initial deliberations, we are introducing “prejudice, passion” and “partiality”.

    The same sort of fiasco that we see in society at large going by the name “positive discrimination” or “affirmitive action”. We all know down what disasterous ways that has lead. I think Shoghi Effendi was quite clear that Baha’is shouldn’t head down that road.

    Yet his guidance to give consideration to minorities in the event of a tie shows that flexibility and compassion do have a place in Baha’i community life. Hope that answers your question.

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Ed,
    Simply asserting that there is no contradiction does not make it so.

    It may be a fine distinction, I give you that, but it is still quite distinct. The Guardian is counselling Baha’is to vote for the best person with only regards to :

    …concentrate their attention on the qualities and requirements of office, without prejudice, passion or partiality

    If we insert, as the UHJ is suggesting, a consideration of age, race, etc. into our initial deliberations, we are introducing “prejudice, passion” and “partiality”.

    The same sort of fiasco that we see in society at large going by the name “positive discrimination” or “affirmitive action”. We all know down what disasterous ways that has lead. I think Shoghi Effendi was quite clear that Baha’is shouldn’t head down that road.

    Yet his guidance to give consideration to minorities in the event of a tie shows that flexibility and compassion do have a place in Baha’i community life. Hope that answers your question.

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  • David

    Baquia,

    You wrote: “Simply asserting that there is no contradiction does not make it so.”

    And simply asserting there *is* a contradiction doesn’t make it so either. While this is something we’re likely not to agree on, I still don’t think you’ve addressed much of what the Guardian wrote in the quoted passages. What I and (I think Ed) are saying is not that ‘unqualified’ people should be elected to Assemblies, but that when there is a pool of qualified people among whom we are choosing, that taking into consideration having an Assembly that reflects the diversity of the community is an important factor. Again, the Guardian wrote that the Baha’i commuity should “arrange its affairs” so that *qualified* minority members of the community “may have represented on [Assemblies and committees] as many of these divers elements, racial or otherwise, as possible.” This is a call for something far beyond just a rule for tie-breaking, this is a call for communities to be arranged around creating diverse Assemblies and other leadership bodies. That the House says voters should keep this in mind hardly seems to me a contradiction. In fact I suspect few Baha’is realize the emphasis the Guardian placed on the importance of Assembly diversity.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, but as far as I can tell your sense that there is a contradiction rests on the idea that taking demographics into consideration goes against the directive that we vote without “prejudice, passion, or partiality.” But if I am voting and there are several qualified people from whom I have to choose and I factor in that, say, the current Assembly is quite old so as an internal tie-breaker I choose the younger of the people I am deciding between, how have I acted with ‘prejudice, passion’ or ‘partiality’? It seems to me I’ve done the opposite – I’ve made a very impartial and impassioned decision in which I use the Guardian’s guidance that Assembly’s should be divese as a way to decide between otherwise equally qualified people.

    That anyone thinks we should be use race, age, etc., as a sole criteria is a straw-man. No one – I, Ed, the House – is saying this. The contradiction exists only if it is impossible to simultaneously factor in personal qualifications and overall group makeup when voting. If you are absolutely convinced you know the nine best people, by all means vote for them. If you think there are 12 people who all have the qualifications to be Assembly members, than take into consideration the diversity of the Baha’i and outside communities. I know for me personally, the second example is more typical – that its almost never clear to me that there are nine people who are clearly the nine best qualified, that usually there are more than nine I think would be good Assembly members and I have no real way of knowing how to narrow it down. In that case I think about the overall makeup of the Assembly. Not only do I see no contradiction, I see myself as having done exactly what the Guardian asked us to do.

    Best,
    David

  • David

    Baquia,

    You wrote: “Simply asserting that there is no contradiction does not make it so.”

    And simply asserting there *is* a contradiction doesn’t make it so either. While this is something we’re likely not to agree on, I still don’t think you’ve addressed much of what the Guardian wrote in the quoted passages. What I and (I think Ed) are saying is not that ‘unqualified’ people should be elected to Assemblies, but that when there is a pool of qualified people among whom we are choosing, that taking into consideration having an Assembly that reflects the diversity of the community is an important factor. Again, the Guardian wrote that the Baha’i commuity should “arrange its affairs” so that *qualified* minority members of the community “may have represented on [Assemblies and committees] as many of these divers elements, racial or otherwise, as possible.” This is a call for something far beyond just a rule for tie-breaking, this is a call for communities to be arranged around creating diverse Assemblies and other leadership bodies. That the House says voters should keep this in mind hardly seems to me a contradiction. In fact I suspect few Baha’is realize the emphasis the Guardian placed on the importance of Assembly diversity.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, but as far as I can tell your sense that there is a contradiction rests on the idea that taking demographics into consideration goes against the directive that we vote without “prejudice, passion, or partiality.” But if I am voting and there are several qualified people from whom I have to choose and I factor in that, say, the current Assembly is quite old so as an internal tie-breaker I choose the younger of the people I am deciding between, how have I acted with ‘prejudice, passion’ or ‘partiality’? It seems to me I’ve done the opposite – I’ve made a very impartial and impassioned decision in which I use the Guardian’s guidance that Assembly’s should be divese as a way to decide between otherwise equally qualified people.

    That anyone thinks we should be use race, age, etc., as a sole criteria is a straw-man. No one – I, Ed, the House – is saying this. The contradiction exists only if it is impossible to simultaneously factor in personal qualifications and overall group makeup when voting. If you are absolutely convinced you know the nine best people, by all means vote for them. If you think there are 12 people who all have the qualifications to be Assembly members, than take into consideration the diversity of the Baha’i and outside communities. I know for me personally, the second example is more typical – that its almost never clear to me that there are nine people who are clearly the nine best qualified, that usually there are more than nine I think would be good Assembly members and I have no real way of knowing how to narrow it down. In that case I think about the overall makeup of the Assembly. Not only do I see no contradiction, I see myself as having done exactly what the Guardian asked us to do.

    Best,
    David

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Thanks David,
    I appreciate your comments. You’ve given me much to mull over.
    Allah-u-Abha :-)

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Thanks David,
    I appreciate your comments. You’ve given me much to mull over.
    Allah-u-Abha :-)

  • Bill

    The belief in term limits, as one respondent has suggested ten times, robs the individual elector of the right and responsibility to vote for those he/she believes best exemplify the qualities required. There is no provision in the Baha’i writings or in any of the precedents set by Shoghi Effendi to make term limits an electoral principle, let alone a solution for the presumed problem of “ossification.” I suggest a reading of Arash Abizadeh’s recent article: “Democratic Elections without Campaigns : Normative Foundations for National Bah??’? Elections,” World Order, v.37 no.1 (2005), pp. 7-49.

    The scandal in Italy to which the blogger refers can just as easily be blamed, not on repeated election of the same people, but on a serious lack of management controls, which every Spiritual Assembly should put into effect so that transactions have multiple approvals and books are thoroughly audited by trained auditors. The election process has nothing to do with the predations by Mr. Ceccherini; it was a lack of good management practices.

  • Bill

    The belief in term limits, as one respondent has suggested ten times, robs the individual elector of the right and responsibility to vote for those he/she believes best exemplify the qualities required. There is no provision in the Baha’i writings or in any of the precedents set by Shoghi Effendi to make term limits an electoral principle, let alone a solution for the presumed problem of “ossification.” I suggest a reading of Arash Abizadeh’s recent article: “Democratic Elections without Campaigns : Normative Foundations for National Bah??’? Elections,” World Order, v.37 no.1 (2005), pp. 7-49.

    The scandal in Italy to which the blogger refers can just as easily be blamed, not on repeated election of the same people, but on a serious lack of management controls, which every Spiritual Assembly should put into effect so that transactions have multiple approvals and books are thoroughly audited by trained auditors. The election process has nothing to do with the predations by Mr. Ceccherini; it was a lack of good management practices.

  • Craig Parke

    Hi Bill,

    Is there an on-line link for this Word Order article?

    I don’t know how long you have lived on this planet, but my experience has been that the greatest problem on this planet is mental illness. When you have a system that elects a closed cadre of lifetime incumbents in every election of the governing organization decade after decade, you are asking for major catastrophic problems. The history of the Administrative Order of the Baha’i Faith is a history of decades long missed opportunities, mind bending mismanagement, and completely needless over control of everything. What do you think the remedy is?

    I know that term limits will never be legislated in the current culture because that would require breathtaking courage and truly open and selfless leadership. But what could be done is to establish a culture among the rank and file that sees someone who servers more than 10 years on the UHJ or more than 8 years on an NSA as a person serving in personal bad form.

    That such a person is entirely suspect in their motives and as being an egomaniac and suffering from a self centered major personality disorder. I myself think that a person who serves beyond these terms of service serves in utter disgrace in world history.

    The first UHJ is exempt of this standard. They did the very best they could to hold the Faith together in a different time and situation. I personally knew Dr. Ruhe who served on the UHJ for many years and thought he was truly one of the finest human beings I ever met. I am sure there were many other fine men.

    But now that the Faith is established I believe anyone serving beyond these term limits since the elections starting in the late 1980′s truly risk disgracing themselves. Especially people who came directly from the ITC without any experience on an NSA somewhere out in the actual real world of the rank and file. A class of “think tank” careerists should never be elected to anything in any organization anywhere on Earth for any reason, let alone the Baha’i Faith.

    The function of organizational leadership is to liberate and empower individual human energies and initiative not to destroy it.

    Have you ever worked in a business that went bankrupt or served in an army that lost a war? I suggest until you know what that tastes like and what that smells like be very very careful with every vote you have in life in any electorate. Be afraid. Be very afraid. The stakes are very, very high in the world right now for every electorate on Earth including that of the Baha’i Faith.

  • Craig Parke

    Hi Bill,

    Is there an on-line link for this Word Order article?

    I don’t know how long you have lived on this planet, but my experience has been that the greatest problem on this planet is mental illness. When you have a system that elects a closed cadre of lifetime incumbents in every election of the governing organization decade after decade, you are asking for major catastrophic problems. The history of the Administrative Order of the Baha’i Faith is a history of decades long missed opportunities, mind bending mismanagement, and completely needless over control of everything. What do you think the remedy is?

    I know that term limits will never be legislated in the current culture because that would require breathtaking courage and truly open and selfless leadership. But what could be done is to establish a culture among the rank and file that sees someone who servers more than 10 years on the UHJ or more than 8 years on an NSA as a person serving in personal bad form.

    That such a person is entirely suspect in their motives and as being an egomaniac and suffering from a self centered major personality disorder. I myself think that a person who serves beyond these terms of service serves in utter disgrace in world history.

    The first UHJ is exempt of this standard. They did the very best they could to hold the Faith together in a different time and situation. I personally knew Dr. Ruhe who served on the UHJ for many years and thought he was truly one of the finest human beings I ever met. I am sure there were many other fine men.

    But now that the Faith is established I believe anyone serving beyond these term limits since the elections starting in the late 1980′s truly risk disgracing themselves. Especially people who came directly from the ITC without any experience on an NSA somewhere out in the actual real world of the rank and file. A class of “think tank” careerists should never be elected to anything in any organization anywhere on Earth for any reason, let alone the Baha’i Faith.

    The function of organizational leadership is to liberate and empower individual human energies and initiative not to destroy it.

    Have you ever worked in a business that went bankrupt or served in an army that lost a war? I suggest until you know what that tastes like and what that smells like be very very careful with every vote you have in life in any electorate. Be afraid. Be very afraid. The stakes are very, very high in the world right now for every electorate on Earth including that of the Baha’i Faith.

  • Gaps

    Beloved co-workers,

    I always find it hard to brake away from Vision and Practicality!! As the discussion seems to flow it reminds me how I use to get frustrated with the pace of the community when compared to the great future foretold and promised by the Blessed Beauty. It sometimes feels like things just don’t seem to move fast enough. But in time I have learned that time itself is the key. I soon realized that my frustration wasn’t related to the lack of achievements but my expectation that things promised in the distant future should all be accomplished in my lifetime. I believe that as individuals we are able to see from the writings the vision and from it draw hope and build up faith!! But as to the timing of the implementation of the various teachings, that is where I believe the institution of the UHJ breaks it down into chunks according to the capacity of the worldwide community. And speaking of failed armies and run down businesses, I find it interesting how they both often suffer from the same illnesses, one being the lack of obedience and willingness to sacrifice for ones belief and the other not so rare element of corruption and distrust that exists in today’s society. If these could be dispelled in every believer then there could only be great things ahead. How easy it is to forget that this is a dispensation that has not been around for too long and yet has caught the attention of the masses in a way never seen before. All I wanted to say is, it is yet too early to truly measure this revelation with only our minds eye. After all what is 200 years in human history?!?! So what if we are yet to learn from our mistakes, and who said that we are at the end of our mission!?!?! ? ?as ye have faith so shall your powers and blessings be?
    ?We must trust to time, and the guidance of God’s Universal House of Justice, to obtain a clearer and fuller understanding of its provisions and implications. But one word of warning must be uttered in this connection. Let us be on our guard lest we measure too strictly the Divine Plan with the standard of men. I am not prepared to state that it agrees in principle or in method with the prevailing notions now uppermost in men’s minds, nor that it should conform with those imperfect, precarious, and expedient measures feverishly resorted to by agitated humanity. Are we to doubt that the ways of God are not necessarily the ways of man? Is not faith but another word for implicit obedience, whole-hearted allegiance, uncompromising adherence to that which we believe is the revealed 63 and express will of God, however perplexing it might first appear, however at variance with the shadowy views, the impotent doctrines, the crude theories, the idle imaginings, the fashionable conceptions of a transient and troublous age? If we are to falter or hesitate, if our love for Him should fail to direct us and keep us within His path, if we desert Divine and emphatic principles, what hope can we any more cherish for healing the ills and sicknesses of this world?? (Shoghi Effendi, Baha’i Administration, p. 62)

    Your servant.

  • Gaps

    Beloved co-workers,

    I always find it hard to brake away from Vision and Practicality!! As the discussion seems to flow it reminds me how I use to get frustrated with the pace of the community when compared to the great future foretold and promised by the Blessed Beauty. It sometimes feels like things just don’t seem to move fast enough. But in time I have learned that time itself is the key. I soon realized that my frustration wasn’t related to the lack of achievements but my expectation that things promised in the distant future should all be accomplished in my lifetime. I believe that as individuals we are able to see from the writings the vision and from it draw hope and build up faith!! But as to the timing of the implementation of the various teachings, that is where I believe the institution of the UHJ breaks it down into chunks according to the capacity of the worldwide community. And speaking of failed armies and run down businesses, I find it interesting how they both often suffer from the same illnesses, one being the lack of obedience and willingness to sacrifice for ones belief and the other not so rare element of corruption and distrust that exists in today’s society. If these could be dispelled in every believer then there could only be great things ahead. How easy it is to forget that this is a dispensation that has not been around for too long and yet has caught the attention of the masses in a way never seen before. All I wanted to say is, it is yet too early to truly measure this revelation with only our minds eye. After all what is 200 years in human history?!?! So what if we are yet to learn from our mistakes, and who said that we are at the end of our mission!?!?! ? ?as ye have faith so shall your powers and blessings be?
    ?We must trust to time, and the guidance of God’s Universal House of Justice, to obtain a clearer and fuller understanding of its provisions and implications. But one word of warning must be uttered in this connection. Let us be on our guard lest we measure too strictly the Divine Plan with the standard of men. I am not prepared to state that it agrees in principle or in method with the prevailing notions now uppermost in men’s minds, nor that it should conform with those imperfect, precarious, and expedient measures feverishly resorted to by agitated humanity. Are we to doubt that the ways of God are not necessarily the ways of man? Is not faith but another word for implicit obedience, whole-hearted allegiance, uncompromising adherence to that which we believe is the revealed 63 and express will of God, however perplexing it might first appear, however at variance with the shadowy views, the impotent doctrines, the crude theories, the idle imaginings, the fashionable conceptions of a transient and troublous age? If we are to falter or hesitate, if our love for Him should fail to direct us and keep us within His path, if we desert Divine and emphatic principles, what hope can we any more cherish for healing the ills and sicknesses of this world?? (Shoghi Effendi, Baha’i Administration, p. 62)

    Your servant.

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Gaps,
    thank you for your comments. I can’t speak for others but myself, I’m not impatient. I would be overjoyed to see baby steps in the right direction. What I’m seeing though has been a very fast paced goose step full tilt in the wrong direction:

    boycotting Kalimat
    unenrolling scholars out of the Faith
    censoring and controlling Baha’i scholarship
    opacity and secrecy
    a KGB like ‘secret police’ that uses the Covenant like a blunt instrument
    etc…

    Baha’u’llah did not come to bring pain and suffering for us until some as yet unkown future when the AO will get its act together. He came to bring a message of peace and love for today. Today.

    Again, for today. So puh-lease don’t ply these tired cliches of ‘just you wait!’ I have been waiting. For decades. And many others for even more decades.

    What we’re seeing is not even a snail pace crawl towards anything better but a bullet train ride backwards towards insular, group think hell.

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Gaps,
    thank you for your comments. I can’t speak for others but myself, I’m not impatient. I would be overjoyed to see baby steps in the right direction. What I’m seeing though has been a very fast paced goose step full tilt in the wrong direction:

    boycotting Kalimat
    unenrolling scholars out of the Faith
    censoring and controlling Baha’i scholarship
    opacity and secrecy
    a KGB like ‘secret police’ that uses the Covenant like a blunt instrument
    etc…

    Baha’u’llah did not come to bring pain and suffering for us until some as yet unkown future when the AO will get its act together. He came to bring a message of peace and love for today. Today.

    Again, for today. So puh-lease don’t ply these tired cliches of ‘just you wait!’ I have been waiting. For decades. And many others for even more decades.

    What we’re seeing is not even a snail pace crawl towards anything better but a bullet train ride backwards towards insular, group think hell.

  • Craig Parke

    Hello Gaps,

    “And speaking of failed armies and run down businesses, I find it interesting how they both often suffer from the same illnesses, one being the lack of obedience and willingness to sacrifice for ones belief and the other not so rare element of corruption and distrust that exists in today’s society. ”

    There are American soldiers dying in Iraq every single day now who are “obedient” and “willing to sacrifice” for OTHER PEOPLE’S beliefs (which calls for even more guts than sacrificing for one’s own beliefs) unto death. THEY are NOT the cause of the war being lost so far! It is the thoughtless leadership that sent them into this terible situation where their sacrifice is militarily inconsequential to solving the situation.

    What have you, yourself, ever faced in your life at that level of intensity? I have been a Baha’i for 36 years. I gave it everything I had. This religion is going backwards as Baquia says, because it’s rank and file are cowards with easy lives who have never faced anything in life and have thoughtlessly allowed a permanent entrenched lifetime incumbent class to run this religion completely into the ground.

    Contact me off-line and I will be very glad to drive you to the nearest U.S. Armed Forces recruiting office where you can face something in life besides speaking platitudes that begin in words and end in words. Let’s send you where you can get shot, blown to pieces, or your head chopped off for your beliefs instead of someone else now currently in your place. Let’s see how your parroted automaton platitudes hold up on the front lines facing violent battlefield death at every turn. Let’s see if you are obediant unto death with exemplary willingness to sacrifice for the U.S. Armed Forces.

    You speak in easy words, brother. Let’s put you to the test.

  • Craig Parke

    Hello Gaps,

    “And speaking of failed armies and run down businesses, I find it interesting how they both often suffer from the same illnesses, one being the lack of obedience and willingness to sacrifice for ones belief and the other not so rare element of corruption and distrust that exists in today’s society. ”

    There are American soldiers dying in Iraq every single day now who are “obedient” and “willing to sacrifice” for OTHER PEOPLE’S beliefs (which calls for even more guts than sacrificing for one’s own beliefs) unto death. THEY are NOT the cause of the war being lost so far! It is the thoughtless leadership that sent them into this terible situation where their sacrifice is militarily inconsequential to solving the situation.

    What have you, yourself, ever faced in your life at that level of intensity? I have been a Baha’i for 36 years. I gave it everything I had. This religion is going backwards as Baquia says, because it’s rank and file are cowards with easy lives who have never faced anything in life and have thoughtlessly allowed a permanent entrenched lifetime incumbent class to run this religion completely into the ground.

    Contact me off-line and I will be very glad to drive you to the nearest U.S. Armed Forces recruiting office where you can face something in life besides speaking platitudes that begin in words and end in words. Let’s send you where you can get shot, blown to pieces, or your head chopped off for your beliefs instead of someone else now currently in your place. Let’s see how your parroted automaton platitudes hold up on the front lines facing violent battlefield death at every turn. Let’s see if you are obediant unto death with exemplary willingness to sacrifice for the U.S. Armed Forces.

    You speak in easy words, brother. Let’s put you to the test.

  • Gaps

    My dearest brothers,

    First of all I love you very much and with every bit of my heart. I’m very happy to hear you ask about what I do as you have great concern for the actions rather than words. Well the vibes that comes out of the comments so far is definitely far from the message of peace so far dwelt on and certainly wouldn’t want anyone to be in that state. Today the army we speak of is nothing to do with guns and bullets but the devotion and love of serving humanity with all our hearts. So whether you find the current guidance sufficient of not it doesn’t negate the need to act according to your beliefs. And to be true to anyone’s self if you don’t believe don’t follow. I have dedicated my heart to the Baha’I cause and if I have to die for it then that shall be an honor. And I’m glad you asked that question because it made me realize how easy it was for me to answer it. But then again it made me sad that I may stir in your hearts feelings of anger which I didn’t intend. That is where I would like to apologies and wish you the very best in your search for truth and service to your Lord. Since I do not hold the truth in my hands I would like to now step back and do what is on my hands, and that is the choice to act in accordance to the Baha’I teachings and a choice that dearly cherish. I wish you joyous a Ridvan and a great year of service.
    O FRIEND! In the garden of thy heart plant naught but the rose of love, and from the nightingale of affection and desire loosen not thy hold….
    (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words)
    Your brother always.

  • Gaps

    My dearest brothers,

    First of all I love you very much and with every bit of my heart. I’m very happy to hear you ask about what I do as you have great concern for the actions rather than words. Well the vibes that comes out of the comments so far is definitely far from the message of peace so far dwelt on and certainly wouldn’t want anyone to be in that state. Today the army we speak of is nothing to do with guns and bullets but the devotion and love of serving humanity with all our hearts. So whether you find the current guidance sufficient of not it doesn’t negate the need to act according to your beliefs. And to be true to anyone’s self if you don’t believe don’t follow. I have dedicated my heart to the Baha’I cause and if I have to die for it then that shall be an honor. And I’m glad you asked that question because it made me realize how easy it was for me to answer it. But then again it made me sad that I may stir in your hearts feelings of anger which I didn’t intend. That is where I would like to apologies and wish you the very best in your search for truth and service to your Lord. Since I do not hold the truth in my hands I would like to now step back and do what is on my hands, and that is the choice to act in accordance to the Baha’I teachings and a choice that dearly cherish. I wish you joyous a Ridvan and a great year of service.
    O FRIEND! In the garden of thy heart plant naught but the rose of love, and from the nightingale of affection and desire loosen not thy hold….
    (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words)
    Your brother always.

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Gaps,
    How I wish every Baha’i thought as you do. How I wish that they realized that this great Faith is about love. How I wish that they wouldn’t use the Covenant as a weapon. How I wish that they would open their eyes to the dawning of man’s advancement and put away such childish X-year plans and mind numbing memorization classes.

    How I wish… you have no idea.

    And thank you for your comments and the loving attitude with which they are delivered.

    It would have been even better to not have ignored the ideas and concepts that we are discussing. But I can understand the dissonance that such practical ideas can create in Baha’is so I don’t blame you too much.

    It is much easier to wave them away and quote a Hidden word. Believe me, I can understand.

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Gaps,
    How I wish every Baha’i thought as you do. How I wish that they realized that this great Faith is about love. How I wish that they wouldn’t use the Covenant as a weapon. How I wish that they would open their eyes to the dawning of man’s advancement and put away such childish X-year plans and mind numbing memorization classes.

    How I wish… you have no idea.

    And thank you for your comments and the loving attitude with which they are delivered.

    It would have been even better to not have ignored the ideas and concepts that we are discussing. But I can understand the dissonance that such practical ideas can create in Baha’is so I don’t blame you too much.

    It is much easier to wave them away and quote a Hidden word. Believe me, I can understand.

  • Craig Parke

    Hi Brother Gaps,

    You write:

    “Today the army we speak of is nothing to do with guns and bullets but the devotion and love of serving humanity with all our hearts.”

    WRONG!

    That was the OLD BAHA’I FAITH. That was what the Prophets and Holy Manifestations taught. That was what I joined in 1971. That is now completely passee, brother. That is so, well, “1960′s”! THIS is the NEW MODERN 21st Century Baha’i Faith under the NEW lifetime incumbent professional cadre class:

    “You’ll recall that the U.S. was ‘dragged’ into WWII with the attack on Pearl Harbor. Our boys were sleeping off Saturday night while the enemy schemed — but America soon woke up. So when you see the U.S. in Cambodia or in Vietnam — or when you see America’s young men in Lebanon, or knocking around in the Balkans — ‘please, will you be quiet and let God do His work!’”

    Glenford Mitchell
    Member of the Universal House of Justice
    Baha’i Faith
    10/11/2001

    So if you want to spread some love between filling out Ruhi lock step cookie cutter group think spiritual comic books start visiting some of the 25,921 wounded GI’s in VA hospitals who have been sent to “DO GOD’S WORK” so the Baha’is can step over their dead bodies and push aside the grieving families of the 3,680 dead obsessed with going on their selfish pilgrimages in Iraq once the war is “over”.

    You can start finding some people to help here:

    http://www.iava.org/

    http://www.iava.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=14&Itemid=119

    I suggest you leave the Baha’i Faith to those who have destroyed it, and take the Teachings of Baha’u’llah and go out into the world and selflessly help someone without any regard toward converting them to be in a pie chart in someone’s Power Point presentation on “THE PLAN”. I spent 36 years in this. I do not keep faith with these sorry idiots any longer. Deeds not words. This is what I am doing. This is my path of service.

    I wish you well in your journey to get out of the cult bubble and actually help someone.

  • Craig Parke

    Hi Brother Gaps,

    You write:

    “Today the army we speak of is nothing to do with guns and bullets but the devotion and love of serving humanity with all our hearts.”

    WRONG!

    That was the OLD BAHA’I FAITH. That was what the Prophets and Holy Manifestations taught. That was what I joined in 1971. That is now completely passee, brother. That is so, well, “1960′s”! THIS is the NEW MODERN 21st Century Baha’i Faith under the NEW lifetime incumbent professional cadre class:

    “You’ll recall that the U.S. was ‘dragged’ into WWII with the attack on Pearl Harbor. Our boys were sleeping off Saturday night while the enemy schemed — but America soon woke up. So when you see the U.S. in Cambodia or in Vietnam — or when you see America’s young men in Lebanon, or knocking around in the Balkans — ‘please, will you be quiet and let God do His work!’”

    Glenford Mitchell
    Member of the Universal House of Justice
    Baha’i Faith
    10/11/2001

    So if you want to spread some love between filling out Ruhi lock step cookie cutter group think spiritual comic books start visiting some of the 25,921 wounded GI’s in VA hospitals who have been sent to “DO GOD’S WORK” so the Baha’is can step over their dead bodies and push aside the grieving families of the 3,680 dead obsessed with going on their selfish pilgrimages in Iraq once the war is “over”.

    You can start finding some people to help here:

    http://www.iava.org/

    http://www.iava.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=14&Itemid=119

    I suggest you leave the Baha’i Faith to those who have destroyed it, and take the Teachings of Baha’u’llah and go out into the world and selflessly help someone without any regard toward converting them to be in a pie chart in someone’s Power Point presentation on “THE PLAN”. I spent 36 years in this. I do not keep faith with these sorry idiots any longer. Deeds not words. This is what I am doing. This is my path of service.

    I wish you well in your journey to get out of the cult bubble and actually help someone.

  • Gaps

    My dearest Brother!!

    I had this big smile on my face upon reading your comments!!
    It reminded me of a comment someone once made that said; ?We all mean well?. What I love about all these discussions so far is that we all love our faith soooo dearly that we find it important that it is represented and presented right. And for that my brother I take my hat off. As to the way we go about doing it will most certainly be at variance. But for me to know that you and I both want what is best for the future of humanity and that we will make every effort to dedicate our energies for its advancement brings joy beyond measure. If you were near I would have hugged you but the distance in space keeps us apart. And as you have so rightly put it;
    ?— ?please, will you be quiet and let God do His work!’? indeed who am I to decide what He wills as I’m sure upon our leaving this world it shall all be made clear anyways right!??!

    Thanking you for your kind assistance and wish you the very best in serving His will.

    Your bro always.

  • Gaps

    My dearest Brother!!

    I had this big smile on my face upon reading your comments!!
    It reminded me of a comment someone once made that said; ?We all mean well?. What I love about all these discussions so far is that we all love our faith soooo dearly that we find it important that it is represented and presented right. And for that my brother I take my hat off. As to the way we go about doing it will most certainly be at variance. But for me to know that you and I both want what is best for the future of humanity and that we will make every effort to dedicate our energies for its advancement brings joy beyond measure. If you were near I would have hugged you but the distance in space keeps us apart. And as you have so rightly put it;
    ?— ?please, will you be quiet and let God do His work!’? indeed who am I to decide what He wills as I’m sure upon our leaving this world it shall all be made clear anyways right!??!

    Thanking you for your kind assistance and wish you the very best in serving His will.

    Your bro always.

  • Craig Parke

    Hi Gaps,

    For some people the Baha’i Faith is now solely about a top down organization with massive, laborious, and endless “PLANS” as the central object of the individual believer’s worship and their reason for being. In essence, the organization itself is their God.

    But for me it is about God and God alone – the Mystery of the Universe – and no human organization whatsoever will ever be my God.

    Thinking daily spiritually and pursuing the independent investigation of truth in all things is my “core activity”. Not inflicting a series of comic book glue stick execises on other people designed by people who went to some dip s**t teacher’s college who now call themselves “educators”.

    So after 36 years in the Baha’i Faith serving in many capacities, I will live out my life with my project to assist combat veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and their families. I will never mention the Baha’i Faith to any of them.

    With people like Glenford Mitchell at the top, it would be an insult to what they have been through as souls that have come from God. War is most definitely NOT “God’s work” and anyone who thinks it is is both incredibly thoughtless of other people’s terrible experiences and incredibly insane.

    You have a pleasant way. I appreciate the thought of the hug! I wish you well, brother, in all your endeavors on your path. Act from love, as you say, and you will do fine and have an effect in whatever you do.

    Peace.

  • Craig Parke

    Hi Gaps,

    For some people the Baha’i Faith is now solely about a top down organization with massive, laborious, and endless “PLANS” as the central object of the individual believer’s worship and their reason for being. In essence, the organization itself is their God.

    But for me it is about God and God alone – the Mystery of the Universe – and no human organization whatsoever will ever be my God.

    Thinking daily spiritually and pursuing the independent investigation of truth in all things is my “core activity”. Not inflicting a series of comic book glue stick execises on other people designed by people who went to some dip s**t teacher’s college who now call themselves “educators”.

    So after 36 years in the Baha’i Faith serving in many capacities, I will live out my life with my project to assist combat veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and their families. I will never mention the Baha’i Faith to any of them.

    With people like Glenford Mitchell at the top, it would be an insult to what they have been through as souls that have come from God. War is most definitely NOT “God’s work” and anyone who thinks it is is both incredibly thoughtless of other people’s terrible experiences and incredibly insane.

    You have a pleasant way. I appreciate the thought of the hug! I wish you well, brother, in all your endeavors on your path. Act from love, as you say, and you will do fine and have an effect in whatever you do.

    Peace.

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