New to the City

Although I am new to British Columbia, I am not new to the interfaith scene.

My family and I have just moved here, and are only barely getting used to the scenery, flora, fauna and people. But really, it is not that different from our old home, Winnipeg. I mean, it's not that different except for the flora, fauna, mountains, sky, ocean, and noticeable lack of mosquitoes. I won't comment about the temperature difference, because it's always the same back in the Peg. It's always + or - 40. But the people are very much the same.

It reminds me of a story, about a man who is walking along the road between two towns. He stops at the side of the road to rest, and sits next to an old man who just seems to spend the day watching the people and the carts going by. After a little while, another person comes by and asks the old man what the people are like in the town to the east. "Well," he says, "What were they like back where you came from?" "Oh, they were awful. They were rude, self-centred and mean." "Yeah," he agrees, "That's just what they're like over in the other town." A few minutes later, another person comes by, and asks the old man the same question. "Well, what are they like back where you came from?" "Oh, there? They were great. They were so friendly and nice, and always concerned about each other." The old man smiles in agreement, and says, "Yeah, that's just what they're like over in the other town."

{josquote}I have noticed that those people who judge the followers of any one faith by a few fanatics or terrorists, also tend to be the very ones who are fanatical about their own path...{/josquote}

Say what you will about Winnipeg, and congratulate me for moving out here if you want, but I love the old city. I will truly miss the kind and loving people I have left behind. But I have no concerns, for I know the people here are just the same.

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A Rally For Rediscovering Values (And What It Means For Gen Y)

On Saturday, I was part of the estimated 250,000 who gathered for the “Rally-To-Restore-Huh?” on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. (It was actually called the “Rally to Restore Fear And/Or Sanity” and hosted by the two Comedy Central icons, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Maybe you heard about it; or maybe I’ve been too swept up as a “Washington insider”).

It was a satire of rallies in general, and a compelling dose of healthy media criticism. There’s no way to really categorize the attendees. Many came to see the TV celebrities, or the musical acts. Others came to push their own messages (i.e. legalize marijuana). Young and old, from both sides of the aisle, from D.C. to California – “diverse” is a good word to describe the audience. Best of all were the satirical signs, some of which pushed the envelope, and others that were just plain silly (“I stand for good posture” and “Make falafel, not war”).

{josquote}My friend Aaron spends his Saturdays introducing youth in his D.C. neighborhood to community service projects as part of the local Baha’i community.{/josquote}

My favorite part of the rally was a particular metaphor that John Stewart used to describe how American can – and should – work. He described a traffic-jam. Most drivers become frustrated and stingy about “letting in” other drivers when roads converge (I know I do so reluctantly…).

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Effort is the Key to Excellence (2): further implications

No matter how strong the measure of Divine grace, unless supplemented by personal, sustained and intelligent effort it cannot become fully effective and be of any real and abiding advantage.

Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, 27 February 1928)

The previous post ended by saying that Matthew Syed makes a point of fundamental importance that I would return to again later (Bounce: pages 103-104):

It is only in sport that the benefits of purposeful practice are accrued by individuals at the expense of other individuals, and never by society as a whole. But this is precisely the area in which purposeful practice is pursued with a vengeance, while it is all but neglected in the areas where we all stand to benefit. . . . The talent theory of expertise is not merely flawed in theory; it is insidious in practice, robbing individuals and institutions of the motivation to change themselves and society.

Before giving that the attention it deserves there’s a bit more ground to cover.

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{amazon id='0853983143'} {josquote}He spoke for quite some time about the danger of questions, and how we need to be very careful with them.{/josquote}

I really love the Baha'is in my community. They are so wise, kind and courteous. Whenever I approach any of them and share a silly idea for a post, like this one, they sit there and say, "Wow, that's a great idea." And quite often they then add in a wonderful and insightful comment that really helps me get on track.

Today we were talking, and I mentioned my love for the Baha'i calendar. I mean, come on, how can I not love it? It isn't really based on the lunar months, nor even on the solar cycle. No. I think it is based on pure math, with a bit of the sun thrown in for good measure.

As I'm sure you know, it is 19 months of 19 days each, which totals 361 days. Then, to round out the solar year, there are 4 days thrown in for fun, or 5 in a leap year. Oh, and I do mean "for fun", because they are even called the Days of Ha, Ayyam-i-Ha. How much more fun can you get?

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The Heaven of Statesmanship

Thomas Friedman had a thought provoking piece in the New York Times yesterday about the need for more leaders like Nelson Mandela in the world. Here's a taste of it:

{amazon id='B002JCSWV6'} I just saw the movie “Invictus” — the story of how Nelson Mandela, in his first term as president of South Africa, enlists the country’s famed rugby team, the Springboks, on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup and, through that, to start the healing of that apartheid-torn land. The almost all-white Springboks had been a symbol of white domination, and blacks routinely rooted against them. When the post-apartheid, black-led South African sports committee moved to change the team’s name and colors, President Mandela stopped them. He explained that part of making whites feel at home in a black-led South Africa was not uprooting all their cherished symbols. “That is selfish thinking,” Mandela, played by Morgan Freeman, says in the movie. “It does not serve the nation.” Then speaking of South Africa’s whites, Mandela adds, “We have to surprise them with restraint and generosity.”

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