In my recent travels to different parts of the country, I visited groups of mostly Baha’i children in conferences and Baha’i schools. I shared with them the project of “Drawing the Circle of Unity”. I shared with them the story of the Baha’i children and their families in Iran and how they are unable to stand up and share in school what they think, feel or believe and how frightened they are when their homes are raided and their parents are harassed and imprisoned by the government authorities for being Baha’is. I shared with them the story of the young girl, Taraneh and the havij (carrot plant) her mom grew for her birthday in the prison.I told them that the Baha’i children in Iran cannot share their worries and concerns with their teachers or classmates. I ask them what can they say or draw for their Baha’i friends in Iran to comfort and console them? I asked, if they were in similar situation, what would they want others to say and do for them.
To my great delight most of the children were not just eager but quite articulate sharing their views. Many had loving solutions such as telling their friends to please be sure of their love and support, and of their prayers, and that Abdu’l-Baha is with them. Many said we will tell them to be patient, don’t loose hope, hang in there, God will not leave you alone, He is hearing your prayers. They all got ready to write and draw their thoughts and feelings for their beleaguered friends.
But then one big boy about 10-11 raised his hand and had a different reaction. His face became sad and then outraged and his body tensed up and his voice reached almost the point of crying. He took a deep breath and said; why we cannot do more? Why should they wait and do nothing? Why can’t we ask our government to interfere and to help the innocent Baha’i children and their families? If I was treated with cruelty and violence and my parents were beaten, and dragged out of our house, and put into prison for being a Baha’i, I wouldn’t want somebody to tell me be patient!! I want someone to do something more, to stop the bad guys, to punish the bullies, I want justice!
The rest of the children listened and seems startled. His sentiments introduced a different sense of reaction and reality most kids in United States can identify with because they have been taught about the importance of being treated with fairness and justice. The teachers and I felt surprised and were facing a most compelling question. The boy was right but! How do we teach about human rights without soliciting what could become human wrongs? The young boy was right to ask for the swift hand of justice. The Baha’i perspective is very clear about the importance of justice but in a unique way puts the responsibility of justice solely on the shouldre of institutions of justice keeping the individuals safe from the possibility of wrong in the name of what is rights. According to the Baha’i Teachings, the individual has the privilege of radiating compassion, kindness, patience and mercy at all times and under all conditions.
The teacher told them Baha’u’llah has declared this age the age of maturity of the human race and the mark of our maturity is understanding the principle of unity. It is upon the shoulders of Baha’u’llah’s believers and lovers to understand, teach and live the principle of the oneness, that truly all humanity are like cells of one body. Baha’u’llah has also given us a most unique tool and process for minding the human rights without committing human wrongs. Each one of us can contact the proper institutions that are there to make this world a safe refuge for all. Global organizations such a United Nations, Amnesty International, etc. are created for the purpose of global order and safety. As individuals we are completely spared from doing anything wrong in the name of justice or right. The individual is granted the full opportunity of radiating compassion, love, forbearance, patience, mercy. With this balance, we will be able to rescue humanity from its violent past and usher in the age of peace and oneness for all.
The children felt satisfied and comforted to be able to do both through different channels. They said a prayer and continued to learn about their relationship with the all knowing, all powerful, all wise, kind and compassionate God that has created us all to radiate His attribute, His love and His knowledge. The teacher told them the only way to know and love God is by turning to His great luminaries such as Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Jesus, Mohammad, the Bab, and Baha’u’llah. The children love to hear stories about these points of love and light who endured patiently and radiantly in the face of the horrible treatment and persecution.
The lessons continued about how to relate to other human beings as though each one is another cell in ones’ own body. The concept of oneness is very complex yet central to the understanding of the message of God for today and continuation of human civilization. The children read and discussed the following passage from Baha’u’llah:
“O contending peoples and kindreds of the earth! Set your faces towards unity, and let the radiance of its light shine upon you. Gather ye together, and for the sake of God resolve to root out whatever is the source of contention amongst you. Then will the effulgence of the world’s great luminary envelop the whole earth, and its inhabitants become the citizens of one city, and the occupants of one and the same throne.”