January 15th, 2007 is Martin Luther King Day, an American national holiday that celebrates the birthday—and the life and times—of Martin Luther King Jr., a Christian minister who championed the Civil Rights movement in America in the 1960s. You may be familiar with his “I Have a Dream” speech, given at the March on Washington in 1963, when he expressed the hope that the black and white races would one day live in perfect equality, harmony and unity. This sentiment is echoed in Bahá’u’lláh’s command unto humanity: “Close your eyes to racial differences, and welcome all with the light of oneness.”
Since Martin Luther King Day is celebrated as a Day of Service, we may also want to consider today ways in which we can serve humanity. Visit the US Government’s official MLK Day website for service ideas, or consider your own ways you can volunteer or be of service. (Hint: to go along with the picture above, you may want to help out at your friendly neighbourhood children’s class!)
While waiting for the bus on my way to work last Tuesday, a headline in one of the local free news dailies (that is, reuters/cp/torstar repeaters) caught my eye. “All they need is love”. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be the following Canadian Press story about the rise of interreligious marriages. Hmm. That’s a pretty cheesy title. Maybe “Interreligious marriages on the rise” was too bland. Anyway, the story’s based on a study published by Statistics Canada. Check it out.
Interreligious marriages on the rise: study
By LORRAYNE ANTHONY
TORONTO (CP) – Tina Verma wore a traditional red sari when her bridegroom placed a wedding band on her henna tattooed hand. It was the picture perfect Hindu wedding for a girl born in New Delhi – unless the guests took into account the man beside her.
The groom, a Canadian Christian, wore a black western suit. A few minutes after the Hindu ceremony, the two were married by a United Church minister. Then they walked down the aisle as guests threw flower petals on the newly married couple for good luck – a Hindu tradition.
As Canada becomes more culturally diverse, nuptials involving individuals from different denominations and faiths are also becoming more common, a new study finds.
While only 15 per cent of married or common-law couples were interreligious in 1981, by 2001 such unions had grown to 19 per cent, Statistics Canada reported Tuesday.
Of the 14.1 million Canadians in couples, nearly 2.7 million had a partner from a different religious group, the study based on census data finds.
at this point, few details about the recent shooting at Dawson College in Montreal have been released. someone, apparently a 25-year-old white male armed with a machine gun, approached the front steps of the College and began shooting—indiscriminately, it appears. the shooter entered the college, moved through the atrium, and into the cafeteria. eyewitnesses have been telling their stories; so far, at least one of them has blogged what he saw while the shooting was taking place.
You can follow the story by checking with CBC / Radio-Canada. The French content is being updated quicker than the English in this case, so I recommend Radio-Canada for best results. See their in-depth coverage. 20 people were reported injured. As of midnight, two deaths were confirmed; the shooter as well as an 18-year-old woman.
Once I began to read about the story I just got so sad, angry, incensed. I suppose it hit home because I have connections to Montreal; I was born there, I’ve spent some time there, and I have friends there. But it affects me on a human level as well, and it frustrates me to see people flip out like the Dawson College shooter did. Weirdly, I feel like I can empathize with everybody in this story—the victims who had to endure this horribly traumatic experience; the families who were worried to death that something terrible had happened to someone dear to them; and yes, even the shooter, who appeared (from what little we know) to have been so badly traumatized, wounded or deprived during his life that he decided to inflict his pain on others. It makes me angry both that someone would choose to do such a callous, atrocious, cruel and senseless thing, and that the family, the community, the society and the world he lived in seems to have been so unable to provide the support, the fellowship, and the education he may have needed to learn how to live and act in accordance with his own nobility as a human being and to reflect divine qualities and attributes, rather than abasing and degrading himself with conduct that not even animals would engage in.
Sorry. I don’t make a habit of posting rants. Prayers are in order for all those involved—prayers for physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual healing. Also, prayers for unity are in order. I feel that one of the most fundamental reasons why tragedies like this happen is lack of unity. we all know the world is in trouble and needs help, but it seems like nobody can—or will—agree on what to do about it. as long as we come to the discussion table with our hidden agendas and vested interests, as long as we fight each other trying to prove each other wrong instead of working together to investigate and understand the truth, as long as we mistrust one another and set ourselves apart from others, tragedy upon tragedy will keep dogging us like the waves of a slowly rising sea. without unity, no social progress is possible; the longer we quibble, the more people will hurt.
Ninety-four years ago, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrived in North America and paid a visit to Montreal, staying in a home not very far from the place where Dawson College stands today. Here’s one of the things he said while he was here:
“…the oneness of the world of humanity shall be realized, accepted and established. When we reflect upon this blessed principle, it will become evident and manifest that it is the healing remedy for all human conditions.” (source)
more imperfections, more faults, it’s just making me sick, sick, sick, the feeling i get when i look at the faults of others just makes me sick. my own faults are enough. why do i need to see those of others? why not let them deal with their own stuff? leave me alone, negative voice. get out of my head and go get counselling somewhere.
this negative voice haunts me. it calls me names whenever I do something that isn’t quite right. nothing I ever do is good enough. negative voice, why don’t you ever say good things about me? there are a lot of good things about me to talk about. why must you always focus on my faults?
I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to be aware of one’s own faults – that’s the rice and légumes of day-to-day existence, to become aware of your own faults and to work to correct them with determination, patience, love, effort, forbearance and compassion.
but there is a line to be crossed between being aware of one’s faults and discouraging oneself with them! In no part of the Writings does anyone say “you should get so hung up on your faults and weaknesses that you become unable to believe in yourself”! On the contrary. Whenever you read what Shoghi Effendi or the Universal House of Justice wrote, or what ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’u’lláh, or the Báb wrote, it’s always about arising to serve humanity, casting aside fear, leaving behind the attachments of this world, and doing the best you possibly can with what you have.
negative voice, I know that you can serve a useful purpose in my life, but you need to be tempered or else you’ll destroy me!
if you have a spare moment, utter a prayer for me and my negative voice. pray that we might end up a little more positive.
A while back, a good friend of mine told me I always seemed so positive, that I always seemed able to look on the bright side. I always try to project positivity in my life. But often I don’t feel positive. And I’m learning that that’s okay. There are good times and bad times in life, and it’s okay to shed a tear every now and then. And I certainly have shed tears in this past year. If no one else, God will forgive me. And he’s got a nice big shoulder to cry on.
Here’s a run-down: yesterday I popped by one of the local churches to attend an information session about a gospel choir. That was pretty cool. Actually, it wasn’t the church, it was the pastoral house (or whatever it’s called), right next to the church. Nice place. You can tell the Catholic Church makes a lot of money. So, anyway, that’s nice, I might be able to sing regularly this year.
Also yesterday, we had an assembly meeting, but a really phat one, the best we’ve ever had. We were united, we were organized, we discussed some great topics, we all participated — man, I’m just blown away. It was a great, great meeting. Alhamdu’lillah! It was nice to see. I hope we have some more like that.
Meanwhile, today I worked some more at Loblaws. Yay money! I’m pretty certain that I’ll have to keep looking for a job though, just as a precaution. Since I’m not part of any union, they can cut me whenever they want me to — which may be far away, but may also be within a month or two. You never know. And there has been a lot of talk about said cuts. Oh well. That’s okay. As long as I can find something else that’s phat.
Um, what else? I made photocopies. I did a pretty good job facing, too. I was pretty focused, and I’m becoming more efficient all the time.
you can tell I need practice before I go into personnel management. I still have difficulty remembering to call people in to do stuff 😉 the phone is my friend!
gah, feeling a little daunted today. lots of challenges. starting the study circle and trying to get everything off to a good start… waiting to start work… managing little contracts here and there… and in the meantime there are spiritual challenges as our community learns to live together. actually yesterday we had a really good experience as a community at the nineteen-day feast. it was lots of fun. so there are fun parts and there are difficult parts I guess.
It all goes so much better when you just give up all the criticism and fault-finding. you know, those things that “quench the light of the heart and extinguish the life of the soul”. it just does no good to even point out to someone that they have a certain fault. they get defensive, offended, angry, they stop being receptive, and you get frustrated because they won’t listen to you, and then estrangement grows. and of course the worst of the worst is backbiting, which completely destroys unity and shakes the foundations of a community to its core.
yeah. when you think about the faults a person has, you also get discouraged because you think “oh noooo, there’s so much work to do!” but in fact, that’s not your work, your work is on yourself. let others work on their stuff and focus on perfecting yourself. there’s no time to worry about other people’s faults. try working with what you’re given instead. find the positive and bring it out, and see how it can contribute to the overall working of the group.
I think that’s been bothering me lately, without me knowing it. I was getting kind of frustrated with some people and I kept on thinking “if only this person would change” and so on. but let’s be real, I can’t do anything to make that other person change! so I better just mind my own development, and keep doing God’s work instead of worrying about the little things.