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Posts Tagged ‘Baha’u’llah’

End, for Now

As you will have noticed, I have not been posting lately. That lull is a result of several factors, most prominently my impending move to the other side of the planet, my increasing (paid) work load, and several local and international trips. Unfortunately, I do not see my time getting any more free in the immediate future, what with the aforementioned international move, starting a new job, and the arrival in January of our first child. So, with great reluctance, I’m going to call a halt to posts for now. There may be a few scenarios under which I could begin posting again in 2010, but I’m not willing to bank on it at this point.

I will leave all the posts here as a record. Of course, feel free to refer to them as you’d like.

I appreciate all the readers I’ve had, and especially those who found the material worthy of comment. I should especially thank Jesse, who contributed the most comments throughout the life of this blog. I hope you all have enjoyed and been stimulated by my thoughts. It has been my great pleasure to write them.

I’ll end with a quotation from the Hidden Words of Baha’u’llah, which I think will be the theme of my life in the next year:

O SON OF MAN! If thou lovest Me, turn away from thyself; and if thou seekest My pleasure, regard not thine own; that thou mayest die in Me and I may eternally live in thee.

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Reading this article about US Senate majority leader Harry Reid today, I was reminded of Glenn Greenwald’s analysis of how politics currently operates in Washington, D.C.

In the face of such a political culture, perhaps Mr. Reid will listen, as he drafts his bill, to the exhortation of Baha’u’llah, Whose choice of metaphor is remarkably apt in the current crisis.

O YE the elected representatives of the people in every land! Take ye counsel together, and let your concern be only for that which profiteth mankind, and bettereth the condition thereof, if ye be of them that scan heedfully. Regard the world as the human body which, though at its creation whole and perfect, hath been afflicted, through various causes, with grave disorders and maladies. Not for one day did it gain ease, nay its sickness waxed more severe, as it fell under the treatment of ignorant physicians, who gave full rein to their personal desires, and have erred grievously. And if, at one time, through the care of an able physician, a member of that body was healed, the rest remained afflicted as before. Thus informeth you the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

We behold it, in this day, at the mercy of rulers so drunk with pride that they cannot discern clearly their own best advantage, much less recognize a Revelation so bewildering and challenging as this. And whenever any one of them hath striven to improve its condition, his motive hath been his own gain, whether confessedly so or not; and the unworthiness of this motive hath limited his power to heal or cure.

That which the Lord hath ordained as the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of all the world is the union of all its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith. This can in no wise be achieved except through the power of a skilled, an all-powerful and inspired Physician. This, verily, is the truth, and all else naught but error…

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Our hope is that the world’s religious leaders and the rulers thereof will unitedly arise for the reformation of this age and the rehabilitation of its fortunes. Let them, after meditating on its needs, take counsel together and, through anxious and full deliberation, administer to a diseased and sorely-afflicted world the remedy it requireth.

The Great Being saith: The heaven of divine wisdom is illumined with the two luminaries of consultation and compassion. Take ye counsel together in all matters, inasmuch as consultation is the lamp of guidance which leadeth the way, and is the bestower of understanding.

Those words of Baha’u’llah were on my mind today as I read the news of and some reaction to the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision to award this year’s Peace Prize to President Obama. Baha’u’llah sets a lofty standard: “Let them, after meditating on its needs, take counsel together and, through anxious and full deliberation, administer to a diseased and sorely-afflicted world the remedy it requireth.”

In its press release, the committee focused only on Obama’s ability to get world leaders to “take counsel together,” commending him for the change he has wrought in the tone of international politics:

Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations.

The committee made no mention of any movement among world leaders, sparked by Obama or not, to “administer to a diseased and sorely-afflicted world the remedy it requireth.” Many of the reactions I have been reading seem to have a similar bent.

Keeping that caveat in mind, I want to note that the Nobel Committee also focused specifically on the values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population:

Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.

I know of no better expression of those shared values and attitudes than that found in the Writings of Baha’u’llah. Shoghi Effendi, cataloguing in God Passes By the prophecies for which Baha’u’llah is the fulfillment, writes, “To Him Isaiah, the greatest of the Jewish prophets, had alluded as the ‘Glory of the Lord,’ the ‘Everlasting Father,’ the ‘Prince of Peace,’…”.

I will end with quotations from that Prince of Peace, all of which are taken from a compilation on peace, which I heartily recommend to you, with the hope and the prayer that Baha’u’llah’s vision may be made real, through the efforts of all of us, whether we be President, Nobel Peace Prize winner, or otherwise.

O ye that dwell on earth! The distinguishing feature that marketh the preeminent character of this Supreme Revelation consisteth in that We have … laid down the essential prerequisites of concord, of understanding, of complete and enduring unity. Well is it with them that keep My statutes.

The purpose of religion as revealed from the heaven of God’s holy Will is to establish unity and concord amongst the peoples of the world; make it not the cause of dissension and strife. The religion of God and His divine law are the most potent instruments and the surest of all means for the dawning of the light of unity amongst men. The progress of the world, the development of nations, the tranquillity of peoples, and the peace of all who dwell on earth are among the principles and ordinances of God. Religion bestoweth upon man the most precious of all gifts, offereth the cup of prosperity, imparteth eternal life, and showereth imperishable benefits upon mankind. It behoveth the chiefs and rulers of the world, and in particular the Trustees of God’s House of Justice, to endeavour to the utmost of their power to safeguard its position, promote its interests and exalt its station in the eyes of the world. In like manner it is incumbent upon them to enquire into the conditions of their subjects and to acquaint themselves with the affairs and activities of the divers communities in their dominions. We call upon the manifestations of the power of God—the sovereigns and rulers on earth—to bestir themselves and do all in their power that haply they may banish discord from this world and illumine it with the light of concord.

The Great Being, wishing to reveal the prerequisites of the peace and tranquillity of the world and the advancement of its peoples, hath written: The time must come when the imperative necessity for the holding of a vast, an all-embracing assemblage of men will be universally realized. The rulers and kings of the earth must needs attend it, and, participating in its deliberations, must consider such ways and means as will lay the foundations of the world’s Great Peace amongst men. Such a peace demandeth that the Great Powers should resolve, for the sake of the tranquillity of the peoples of the earth, to be fully reconciled among themselves. Should any king take up arms against another, all should unitedly arise and prevent him. If this be done, the nations of the world will no longer require any armaments, except for the purpose of preserving the security of their realms and of maintaining internal order within their territories. This will ensure the peace and composure of every people, government and nation. We fain would hope that the kings and rulers of the earth, the mirrors of the gracious and almighty name of God, may attain unto this station, and shield mankind from the onslaught of tyranny. …The day is approaching when all the peoples of the world will have adopted one universal language and one common script. When this is achieved, to whatsoever city a man may journey, it shall be as if he were entering his own home. These things are obligatory and absolutely essential. It is incumbent upon every man of insight and understanding to strive to translate that which hath been written into reality and action…. That one indeed is a man who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race. The Great Being saith: Blessed and happy is he that ariseth to promote the best interests of the peoples and kindreds of the earth. In another passage He hath proclaimed: It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.

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I ended Friday’s post with the point that, contrary to what John Cassidy and Barry Ritzholtz assume in their arguments, what is rational is not necessarily good. The blurring of the line between reason and goodness comes, ultimately, from the ascendancy of atheism and, hence, materialism among intellectuals. In place of fundamental and eternally-established goods present in a theistic worldview, materialism turns to reason as capable of determining what’s good. I don’t know where Cassidy and Ritzholtz stand on the existence of God, but they both argue from materialist assumptions. To illustrate the difficulty that causes in seeing how to deal with the sources of the financial crisis, let’s take a look at a few quotations from Cassidy’s arguments.

In explaining the problems with getting cooperative behavior in a prisoner’s dilemma, Cassidy writes:

Attempts to act responsibly and achieve a coöperative solution cannot be sustained, because they leave you vulnerable to exploitation by others. If Citigroup had sat out the credit boom while its rivals made huge profits, Prince would probably have been out of a job earlier. The same goes for individual traders at Wall Street firms. If a trader has one bad quarter, perhaps because he refused to participate in a bubble, the results can be career-threatening.

In these two examples, Cassidy assumes that, at base, the good is self-interest. He notes that Prince would have been out of a job if he did not lead Citigroup into the credit boom and that individual traders who do not participate in bubbles stand to lose their job or see their career prospects damaged. All of those things may be true, but we can see fairly easily that, although the decision of a trader to participate in a bubble may be rational if he has the end of keeping his trading job, it would be irrational if he has the goal of only earning a living through activity that did not lead to long-term harm to himself and others. Indeed, if he has the second goal, his behavior in participating in the bubble would be illogical.

Let’s take another example. Writing about the subprime mortgage boom, Cassidy notes that

…many mortgage companies extended home loans to low- and middle-income applicants who couldn’t afford to repay them. In hindsight, that looks like reckless lending. It didn’t at the time. In most cases, lenders had no intention of holding on to the mortgages they issued. After taking a generous fee for originating the loans, they planned to sell them to Wall Street banks, such as Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs, which were in the business of pooling mortgages and using the monthly payments they generated to issue mortgage bonds. When a borrower whose home loan has been “securitized” in this way defaults on his payments, it is the buyer of the mortgage bond who suffers a loss, not the issuer of the mortgage.

Here, Cassidy gives the basic logic of companies giving home loans to people who cannot afford them. (For a first-person account of this logic in action, listen to This American Life, Episode #390, Return to the Giant Pool of Money. The whole episode, really the whole series of episodes about the economic crisis, is great, but the relevant section starts at about 17:05 on my podcast version.) Again, we can call the logic rational, but only if the goal of the mortgage company is to make money on a product that doesn’t have intrinsic value. If we assume that a mortgage company’s goal is to make money by providing loans to people who have a good likelihood of paying them back, then the mortgage companies Cassidy describes were acting completely irrationally.

So, if we cannot judge the goodness of an action by its rationality, we need to have another way of determining whether an action is good. This is where externally-established standards come into play. In a column in last Monday’s New York Times, David Brooks wrote about such standards and the role they have played in American national history. After quoting several statistics about ballooning personal and public debt in the U.S., Brooks makes the following observation and recommendation:

These may seem like dry numbers, mostly of concern to budget wonks. But these numbers are the outward sign of a values shift. If there is to be a correction, it will require a moral and cultural movement.

Our current cultural politics are organized by the obsolete culture war, which has put secular liberals on one side and religious conservatives on the other. But the slide in economic morality afflicted Red and Blue America equally.

If there is to be a movement to restore economic values, it will have to cut across the current taxonomies. Its goal will be to make the U.S. again a producer economy, not a consumer economy. It will champion a return to financial self-restraint, large and small.

In the broad strokes, Brooks is exactly right. We do need a “moral and cultural movement” to confront the shift in values away from discipline and rectitude, and it must be broadly-based. Whoever would like to be a part of that movement would do well to consider these two exhortations from The Hidden Words of Baha’u’llah:

O MY SERVANT! The basest of men are they that yield no fruit on earth. Such men are verily counted as among the dead, nay better are the dead in the sight of God than those idle and worthless souls.

O MY SERVANT! The best of men are they that earn a livelihood by their calling and spend upon themselves and upon their kindred for the love of God, the Lord of all worlds.

Only with such standards in mind can we use rationality to determine which actions are good and which are not.

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At the Millennium Villages blog I mentioned yesterday, John McArthur writes about the need for a new kind of education to tackle the new kinds of challenges we increasingly face.

The world of multisectoral multilateralism requires trained professionals at all levels, across all countries, who are able to connect practical problem-solving across specialized disciplines on a day-to-day basis. Unfortunately, the world does not yet train people for these tasks. Our higher education systems overwhelmingly reward targeted, single discipline studies while so many of the world’s most pressing issues require solutions that draw systematically from insights across disciplines. Specialists remain essential but vastly more people should have at least a basic understanding of the spectrum of topics underpinning core global challenges.

As a solution to this limitation of the current system of education, McArthur and his colleagues have founded a multi-campus Master’s in Development Practice:

We identified a stark need for scientifically savvy policy generalists, practitioners who can bridge the work of specialists through knowledge of four pillars of sustainable development: natural sciences, health sciences, social sciences and management. In academic jargon, one could say that the commission outlined the need for “science-based policy MBAs.”
The Commission recommended a new global form of graduate degree program, a Master’s in Development Practice, to train professionals across the four basic pillars, with an emphasis on practical skills and field training. It also recommended that students practice working in networks across borders and time zones as a normal habit, empowered by simple webcams and cheap software.

No doubt this Master’s degree will enable people to study “useful” sciences, which Baha’u’llah indicates will “redound to the progress and advancement of the people.” If you’re of an age and so inclined, I would certainly recommend the program.

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Last Friday marked the eighth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers in New York and the Pentagon in Virginia. To reflect on those events and their place in the American consciousness, The Washington Post ran an article about a new high school curriculum designed to help students learn about the attacks. Apparently, many of them are too young to remember that day or to know the degree to which it influences American thought and politics today. Despite what that fact says about the level of our public discourse and our ability as a culture to engage young people with important events, I was most struck by the narrative about one student who, for extra credit in Michael Hutchinson’s social studies class in Vincennes, Indiana, interviewed her grandfather about his response that day.

JaLeah Hedrick, 18, had never learned about Sept. 11 in school until she entered Hutchison’s class this week, but consequences of that day surrounded her as she began her pursuit of extra credit. For Hedrick, Sept. 11 was the pledge of allegiance that Vincennes area schools had begun playing over loudspeakers every morning since late 2001. It was the “Threat Level Orange” that she heard each time she visited the Indianapolis airport. It was the way her grandfather, a World War II veteran, grimaced when he spoke of “those Muslims.” It was the USA T-shirt her dad wore when he picked her up from school in an aging Pontiac with a red-white-and-blue license plate inscribed with the phrase “In God We Trust.”

And now, it was homework — due to Hutchison by 1 p.m. Friday.

Hedrick wanted to interview her grandfather Ed Hedrick, because he is a veteran and, she said, “an American hero.” Other classmates were planning to interview fathers serving in Iraq or distant relatives who had worked at the Pentagon, but Ed Hedrick, 83, was the only person his granddaughter knew whose recollections of Sept. 11 might have the gravitas worthy of extra credit.

She rode a mile across town and sat across from her grandfather on his front porch. She pulled a blue notebook and a pink pen from her backpack and then looked at a class handout that provided a list of possible interview questions. “I have to ask you some of these for homework,” she told her grandfather, her eyes still fixed on the sheet. “Where were you when you first heard about the attack?”

“I was sitting in that red chair over there in the living room,” he said.

She nodded and then read the next question. “Did you continue to listen to the radio or watch TV?”

“Yes,” her grandfather said. “I barely moved all week. I couldn’t stop watching.”

“How did it affect you?” she asked.

“Severe anger, for days,” he said.

“What action did you want the government to take?” she asked.

“Well, I guess I wanted them to load up three or four of those H-bombs and send them over there. That’s how I felt at the time.”

Mr. Hedrick’s response struck me because his desire for vengeance mirrored so closely the reaction many of my students had on that clear fall day eight years ago. I remember very clearly my sixth period class. By the time they entered, we had been aware of the attacks for at least three hours. Most of us had watched the plane hit the second tower, had seen the towers collapse, had heard about the destruction at the Pentagon and the crash near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. We had had some time to process our emotions. Still, the faces of the juniors entering my class were dark.

We began to discuss their thoughts and feelings, and I was taken aback by the strength of their emotions. As I asked them to consider what they thought we ought to do, one student yelled, “Just go over there and blow ’em all up, just wipe the whole place out!” No matter that he couldn’t say who they were or where we should wipe out, he was hurt and wanted to express that hurt with the most destructive violence he could imagine. This lashing out, as a cursory reading of the news of any day will tell you, is a common response to violence against one’s own. Though it is a thirst for vengeance, it is also the root of the desire for justice, for an evening of the scales of rights done and wrongs inflicted. In her book Payback, transcribed from her Massey Lectures for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Margaret Atwood fixes this pattern within the larger cultural pattern of debts, going back at least to the Code of Hammurabi in ancient Mesopotamia.

Another Washington Post article, this one from Saturday, documents an different response to the tragedy, more in keeping with hindsight and coolness of mind.

Obama designated Sept. 11 a national day of service and encouraged communities across the United States to participate. It was part of a national push to commemorate the attacks through good works.

The Obamas helped paint the living room in a Habitat for Humanity housing project in the Deanwood neighborhood of Northeast Washington. The president opted for a roller; the first lady used a brush.

About 200 volunteers with Greater DC Cares were at RFK Stadium, piecing together quilts to give to children who have parents serving overseas in the military. Douglas Cribbes smoothed an iron across a piece of cloth printed with a photograph of a newborn, whose tiny pink hand held his father’s finger. A team from Rolls-Royce North America of Reston cut, ironed and sewed scraps of fabric into a gift for the little boy.

Harper Holmes and Seven Bloom, both 19, turned up at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bethesda, helping about 45 other volunteers write postcards to service members overseas, sand doors, weed the yard or just clean up. The pair were sixth-graders when the towers fell, and now work with the National Civilian Community Corps, a public service program for young adults.

They’ve spent the past several months traveling across the country doing community service projects. “To see fear turned into a mass uprising of people working for others is amazing,” Bloom said.

Those who strive through these acts of service to transform fear and anger into development and advancement have perhaps a different notion of justice than Mr. Hedrick does. No doubt, theirs is easier to hold eight years after the tragedy than on that day of violence.

In a world where no one nation can claim authority over others or others’ citizens, where the interactions between nations are necessarily the interactions of peers, it is not easy to move away from the tit-for-tat pattern of justice. How is a nation to respond to aggression by another nation or by the citizens of other nations? With no higher authority for appeal, a nation must seemingly use its own power of deterrence. Unfortunately, that power of deterrence is often used out of anger rather than justice. Presidents, prime ministers and kings follow Mr. Hedrick’s feelings and “load up” some bombs.

Baha’u’llah in “Words of Paradise” makes the following exhortation to rulers:

A king who is not deterred by the vainglory of power and authority from observing justice, nor is deprived of the splendours of the day-star of equity by luxury, riches, glory or the marshalling of hosts and legions shall occupy a high rank and a sublime station amongst the Concourse on high. It is incumbent upon everyone to extend aid and to manifest kindness to so noble a soul. Well is it with the king who keepeth a tight hold on the reins of his passion, restraineth his anger and preferreth justice and fairness to injustice and tyranny.

In Tablet of Maqsud, He further commands:

Take heed, O concourse of the rulers of the world! There is no force on earth that can equal in its conquering power the force of justice and wisdom. I, verily, affirm that there is not, and hath never been, a host more mighty than that of justice and wisdom. Blessed is the king who marcheth with the ensign of wisdom unfurled before him, and the battalions of justice massed in his rear. He verily is the ornament that adorneth the brow of peace and the countenance of security.

Perhaps if the rulers of the world restrained their anger to act with justice and combined justice with wisdom in their actions, a new pattern of relations between states would emerge. Then we might imagine a world in which we are not still waging two wars in response to the actions of a small group of terrorists on one day eight years ago.

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“O YE RICH ONES ON EARTH! The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My trust, and be not intent only on your own ease.”

Such is the exhortation of Baha’u’llah in the Persian Hidden Words, #54. The difficult thing, of course, is translating that high ideal into practical reality.

In at least one sphere, child mortality, a New York Times article today indicates that some progress is being made. According to Unicef, 2008 was the first year since 1960, when the fund began keeping records, that fewer than nine million children under the age of five have died.

The article uses activities and programs in Malawi as a case study of how the change has been about. Two paragraphs are especially interesting:

Malawi illustrates the essence of the most successful efforts to reduce child mortality: it has found many creative ways to get the most cost-effective treatments and prevention methods to women and children, even in remote rural areas. Those interventions have included not just mosquito nets and vaccinations, but also deworming medicines and vitamin A supplements that boost children’s immunity.

Perhaps Malawi’s most powerful weapon is its ranks of more than 10,000 high school-educated village health workers. With a minimum 10 weeks of training, medical checklists to aid them in diagnosing childhood killers and hardy bicycles to get around, they dispense medicines and give injections, tasks only doctors and nurses do in many other countries.

These village health workers play a crucial role in the reduction of child mortality because they are local. Malawi has seen that its own people are excellent resources: raising their capacity allows the country to tackle its difficult problems. The article gives one example of a health worker at work:

“These days, when a child falls sick in the night, the mother can knock on the door of the health assistant,” said Teresa Frazier, 40. Her own 5-year-old daughter died after falling violently ill one night when Ms. Frazier was a young mother in a Malawian village of mud huts that, at the time, was many miles from the nearest medical help.

But as the sun went down on Monday, Ms. Frazier walked up to the tiny, two-room home of Blessings Mwaraya, 27, a health worker who lives amid banana, avocado and mango trees. Ms. Frazier, who gave birth to nine children, seven of whom survived, said she could not manage any more.

She had come for an injection of Depo Provera for birth control. Mr. Mwaraya, who earns $90 a month, painstakingly shook the little glass bottle containing the solution, drew it into the needle and stuck it in her arm. Health experts say family planning enables women to space births apart and have fewer children, aiding them in bearing healthier babies and better providing for them as they grow up.

“It’s still difficult to feed them all,” Ms. Frazier said of her surviving children, noting the paltry yield of corn on her small plot. Had Mr. Mwaraya been in the village in her younger days, she would have chosen to have had only four children, she said.

And Mr. Mwaraya clearly has the spirit of service in mind as he fulfills his role:

“My interest was to assist my fellow Malawians who were falling sick but never had treatment at the village level,” said Mr. Mwaraya, dressed in a uniform of light blue pants and a short-sleeve jacket.

Even though he is not among the “rich ones on earth,” Mr. Mwaraya is guarding the poor among his countrymen through his work. His work at the local level strikes me as being crucial to its success; he has undergone training that allows him to fulfill a role in the heath of his community, but he is not expected to have advanced training which his work does not require. So what might be perceived as a weakness – his lack of formal education – does not become a barrier to improving the lives of people in the country.

Mr. Mwaraya’s work parallels the work happening in Papua New Guinea under the auspices of a Baha’i-inspired agency, the Rays of Light Foundation, and their Preparation for Social Action program. This program focuses on building capacities for people to be of service to their communities.

One of the first texts studied is “Classification” which engenders in students the capability to classify things. One of the themes explored in this text is that of ‘parasitism’, i.e. when one species benefits at the expense of another. A case study on malaria is presented giving explanation of how the disease is transmitted, how it affects the body and information about how the disease can best be minimised is given to the reader.

The World Health Organization has described malaria as the “leading cause of illness and death in Papua New Guinea” and statistics show over 70000 reported infections for the year 2003. Many communities in Papua New Guinea are plagued with mosquitoes and are often ill-informed about the disease and have little access to relief from it. By being able to inform others of the key prevention techniques and by undertaking projects such as draining stagnant water holes the PSA group is able to help lessen the impact of malaria in their microregion.

Training that took place in Lae, Papua New Guinea in 2008 included one such project on the grounds where the training was taking place. Participants noticed that a ditch dug for a fish pond that was never completed was harbouring thousands of mosquito larvae and was one of the probable causes for sickness of some of the attendees. By filling in the pond the PSA tutors took one step towards protecting the surrounding inhabitants from malaria. Draining swampy areas, using protective clothing and mosquito nets, educating community members about the responsible use of anti-malarial medicines, reducing exposure to mosquitoes during the peak hours of transmittance of the disease and other similar steps are all different aspects of this grass roots approach to solving one of the world’s most widespread problems.

So, just as in Malawi, local people do the work of improving their own communities. This is part of a larger effort within Baha’i communities to engage in meaningful and productive social action, beginning in earnest in the 1990s. Century of Light, a publication commissioned by the Universal House of Justice on the twentieth century, and titled with the name given to that century by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, describes the 1990s this way:

The decade that followed saw wide experimentation in a field of work for which most Bahá’í institutions had little preparation. While striving to benefit from the models being tried by the many development agencies operating around the world, Bahá’í communities faced the challenge of relating what they found in various areas of concern—education, health, literacy, agriculture and communications technology—to their understanding of Bahá’í principles. The temptation was great, given the magnitude of the resources being invested by governments and foundations, and the confidence with which this effort was pursued, merely to borrow methods current at the moment or to adapt Bahá’í efforts to prevailing theories. As the work evolved, however, Bahá’í institutions began turning their attention to the goal of devising development paradigms that could assimilate what they were observing in the larger society to the Faith’s unique conception of human potentialities.

Perhaps the world is learning how to guard Baha’u’llah’s sacred trust.

UPDATE
It’s also important to note that at least some of the “rich ones on earth” are doing their part, too. From the Times article again.

Wealthy nations, international agencies and philanthropists like Bill and Melinda Gates have committed billions of dollars to the effort. Schoolchildren and church groups have also pitched in, paying for mosquito nets and feeding programs.

“If we say as a world we care about saving children, and tackle the problem systematically, piece by piece, we can make progress, and it’s really important for people to know that,” Mrs. Gates said in an interview.

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