If We're Unable to Consult, We Enable Ourselves!

Sep 2012
... used to travel some of the great rivers in South America, so many vivid memories are flooding back to me ...
tx for ur note, if u get a chance pse share how u had a toucan, were u staying in one place? For me this December marks 20 years in this end of panama after 25 w/ the canal. Somehow I'd thought the only places toucans lived was in either Panama or Fruitloops boxes but now I find they live in rainforest canopes thoughout Central and South America.
... when you translate Baha’u’llah’s words, or Abdu’l-Baha’s words, or the Guardian’s words, you translate them exactly as they are. You can’t change anything...
That's interesting to see how the translation problem affected the Inuits. Before we'd married my wife had lived w/ an indigenous people in northern Colombia where their language had one verb conjugation for a man speaking and another for women. This made translating the prayers extremely awkward, and a woman believer reading any of the relieved prayers is severly hampered. Their culture is a matriarchy, and it's be like requiring a European man to wear a woman's clothing in order to say obligatory prayers.
... is global warming actually down to the “fire of the love of God” spread by the Eskimos, or is it due to human negligence? It really depends on how people wish to view it...
Abdu’l-Baha was no stranger to science and he had to know the physical impacts of "in Greenland, all the ice of that country will be melted, and its cold weather become temperate". It's believable that he'd also heard about the medieval warm period as well the little ice age few hudred years later, although not by those names. To me it brings forcefully the substance of this passage in the 29 November 2017 letter you linked:
The question of the impact of climate change, and to what extent it is man-made and its effects can be ameliorated, is today a major aspect of this larger problem. The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh directly and indirectly touches on a range of such concerns in a manner that speaks to a harmony between society and the natural world. It is essential, therefore, that Bahá’ís contribute to thought and action regarding such matters.
To me this represents an urgent moral imperitive that we consult together on this.
...I have always been fortunate in the field of consultation because no subject is ever taboo to me. With a little work any issue can be resolved providing all parties are prepared to entertain the values of courtesy and perspective...
This is important to me so if you've got the time/energy/interest I'm willing to be flexible w/ your preferences as to mode and venue.
Jan 2012
Now that I've gone this far, I might as well post my own thoughts about all this. I suspect that a lot of what is being said about climate change is corrupted by global monopoly interests, in ways that facilitate and help perpetuate crimes against humanity, but I don't think it serves Baha'u'llah's purposes at all for His followers to try to sort that out. We can all have our own initiatives, based on our own understanding of what is needed and what we see Baha'u'llah calling us to do, and those of us who already agree about what to do can work on those ideas together, but I don't see any excuse for any member of the Baha'i Faith to be campaigning for other Baha'is to be doing anything except what the House of Justice is calling for us to do, which is the kind of community building that it has been promoting for 20 years. I know, I was guilty of that myself once in these forums.

Besides that, in my understanding it's diametrically opposed to Baha'u'llah's purposes and prescriptions, and against explicit instructions from Abdu'l-Baha, for Baha'is to be discussing policies. Participation in public discourse means discussing principles, not policies, and if any Baha'is wants to participate in public discussions about climate change and what to do about it, I suggest that they start by reading all of the statements about it from the Bahai' International Community, and then study the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

People who talk about "scientific consensus" might need to be reminded how many times, and with what grievous consequences "scientific consensus" has been wrong? Seriously? What about race theories that were used to justify slavery? What about continental drift? What about homosexuality? "Scientific consensus"? Seriously? The consensus that the House of Justice talks about is consensus about what to do, not about what to think. There has been some consensus among decisions makers about what to do, and that is in the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Jan 2012
@Pete in Panama I don't see that you have any interest in anything that I would call "consultation," or in any kind of discussion with me at all, about climate change, about what Baha'is do on the Internet, about consultation, or about anything else, but if you would like me to respond to anything you say, then as Abdu'l=Baha advises us to do, tell us all about what you think about climate change or any issue you would like to discuss, what you see as the spiritual principles involved, and what you think that any of us or anyone following this discussion might be able to do about it. If your only response to this is more baiting, I will ignore it.
Jan 2012
I went through the letter again, from the House of Justice 29 November 2017, responding to questions about climate change issues from three individuals. I’ll post some key points for me.

Climate change issues are part of a larger problem: “how a growing, rapidly developing, and not yet united global population can, in a just manner, live in harmony with the planet and its finite resources.” “It is essential, therefore, that Bahá’ís contribute to thought and action regarding such matters.” That is, such matters as how we can, in a just manner, live in harmony with the planet and its finite resources.”

... at a time when nations have difficulty reaching agreement on many important issues, the governments of nearly every country on earth have reached political consensus on a joint framework, in the Paris accord, to respond to climate change in a manner that is anticipated to evolve over time as experience accumulates. ... The agreement represents a starting point for constructive thought and action that can be refined or revised on the basis of experience and new findings over time.
... there are no doubt many uncontroversial areas of overlap where the effort to address the question of anthropogenic climate change corresponds with widely accepted approaches to improving the environment.
One example of how we can help elevate conversations about it is by addressing “moral questions of consumption and excessive materialism that are associated with the exploitation and degradation of the environment.”

My purpose in any consultation here about climate change would be for us to get ideas and encouragement from each other, for what each of us is doing in our everyday lives for the sustainable development goals proposed by the Baha’i International Community and by the U.N., and to help raise the level of public discussions above the level of debating about policies, to the level of spiritual principles.
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Jan 2012
This is for anyone who agrees with Baha’is trying to learn to follow Bahá’u’lláh together. These are some thoughts about what kinds of discussions we might have in these forums, about current issues, for that purpose. What I would most like to see is for us to be getting ideas and encouragement from each other, for whatever good each of us is doing or hoping to do, online or offline. If anyone wants to try doing that with me, let me know.

Something else we might try would be consultation about current issues. I see from our scriptures that there are certain conditions for discussions to be fruitful and not harmful. For me to participate I would need to see at least one other person who is actively involved some way in the community development that the House of Justice is promoting, who has studied the statements from the BIC and the U.N. agreements on the topic of discussion, who is visibly putting Bahá’u’lláh’s purposes and prescriptions ahead of all other considerations, and whose purpose in the discussion is to agree on some actions for some of us to try, or for some people to try who are willing to follow our advice. I would not participate in any discussions about specifically what anyone else should be doing besides us and anyone who is looking to us for advice.
Jan 2012
I came here because I was invited here by Pete, and I mistakenly thought that we had some common interests in Internet discussions. I see value in some things that are happening here, including the notes from the course on climate change, but I have other interests and priorities. If anyone here is actively involved in the community building that the House of Justice is promoting, or in experimenting with ways of bringing that into online neighborhoods, that would interest me.
Sep 2010
Normanton, Far North West Queensland
If anyone here is actively involved in the community building that the House of Justice is promoting, or in experimenting with ways of bringing that into online neighborhoods, that would interest me
That would be a great thing to get started in the community where we live and we are in need for a door to open.

Time wise, I am trying to do less on the net.

Regards Tony
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Dec 2012
Greetings Pete,

For the most part I was largely based around states in the northern part of South America. My trip began up the Orinoco in Venezuela, but I just kept travelling because something touched me with both the river and the native peoples there. My toucan, originally called Tucán, was actually a gift from a client. Due to his plumage and strutting he also acquired the name of Simón Bolívar. Keeping highly exotic birds is a challenge in its own right, even when they are well domesticated. So in the end, before leaving South America, I felt obliged to repatriate him back with his original owner. But he made an excellent travelling companion and made me look and feel more like a traveller from the 19th century. Travelling long rivers is a life changing event in its own right as is meeting people that have lived on its banks longer than the span of recorded human history. I have a special fondness for sailing waterways and seas.

Bahá’í translations, as your wife has correctly indicated, can be very awkward because there is a form of cultural imperialism transpiring. It is not intentional, but it is important to recognise it. Like it or not, until the wider population of Bahá’ís can better grasp Arabic and Persian, we have to accept the simple fact that Bahá’ís are largely illiterate to the original Writings of the Bahá’í Faith. This is why I tend to say the Bahá'ís of today, through no fault of their own, are very similar to the illiterate slaves that accepted Christianity in the times of the Roman Empire. Slavery is state of mind and it still exists today in different guises. For instance one of my family relatives was captured in Singapore during the 2nd World War and he was forced to build the Burma Railway, also known as the Death Railway. He managed to survive the brutal environment because he was a very tough individual, but when he was liberated he weighed under 100 pounds and needed medical treatment for the numerous beatings he had sustained. We need to understand that even today humans still have the capacity to be very brutal to one another. The French author, Pierre Boule, captured the atmosphere well in Bridge over the River Kwai and also, rather interestingly, this inspired him to write Planet of the Apes too. Indeed all dystopian fiction is founded on some form of historical fact. This is why any form of cultural imperialism can pose a potential problem. I rather suspect it will remain until the Universal House of Justice starts to operate in other languages rather than Persian and English. So change will come once it is in a position to better understand matters outside of its current linguistic perspectives.

The idea of climate change is nothing new. There are many approaches towards addressing this subject matter. We need to understand that every generation believes they are the first to have a stake in this subject matter. In reality every generation since the founding of city states and political governance could see the way that humans have been behaving is not conducive to our overall wellbeing. The core issue here is not with the realisation, but rather in understanding the way in which human liberty has constantly been abused and eroded by those that seek to exert power and authority over others. Indeed three field attract people with sociopathic, narcissistic and psychopathic outlooks more than any others. These are governments, corporations and, wait for it, religions. Indeed far from being an example, criminal cases have transpired against Bahá’ís serving Bahá’í Institutions. The cases range in severity, but it is important to know such matters because some Bahá’ís are too prone to romanticising issues and present an unrealistic outlook. Today all people face challenges placing people with genuine spiritual capacity into responsible positions. People with psychopathy do not possess any empathy. This naturally allows them to present themselves in ways that will attract people in their respective field to them. In reality they learn to act in ways that attract people to vote for them. So all democratic systems are constantly being abused. Psychopaths are not really cold blooded murders, they are highly motivated people that desire power and authority over others, be it through legislation (governments), finance (corporations) or belief (religions). So in order to solve any matter of importance, like global warming, human hearts need to be liberated from the control of spiritually ill people first and foremost.

Incidentally, if you want to engage in a good series of firesides on this topic, might I recommend that you obtain the two series documentary entitled Life After People and watch one with your guests every week. There are twenty different subjects in the entire series, so that makes twenty weeks worth of prime fireside material. When we tried this approach we found that it worked very well because while it does not seek to explain how humans could go extinct, our guests naturally become fascinated in exploring the Bahá’í Faith. We think this is because they naturally came to understand the need for global rather than national solutions. Indeed they did not even need prompting. We still uses this series from time to time and it has always proved successful. Just be aware that it tends to work best when other Bahá’ís are not invited, or if they are, ensure they tend to be quiet and unassuming in their outlook.

We are currently in the process of moving to another country, so naturally we are a little busy at this time. But we can certainly arrange to meet up for a later time once we are settled. In the mean time please feel free to send personal messages through message system. I might not respond immediately because I handle all communications like I do regular mail, but I will always respond when time permits.

I hope this helps to answer some of your questions.

All good things,