January 2013

Signs and Directions – To a Peaceful Destination


I went for a walk around town this afternoon, and the closer I got to the downtown area the more I noticed signs, lots of them. Street names, stop signs, road closures, businesses open, apartments for rent, churches with special events, stores with discounts, garage sales – signs and more signs, everywhere.

And then something happened that couldn’t have been better timed if it were being staged for a movie. A car pulled over, and the driver asked for help with directions. No wonder he was lost and confused, considering the barrage of signage compounded by ambiguity of some of the road names and numbers.

After helping him to get onto the right route, I considered what signs I pay attention to. With so much beckoning me in, warning me, directing me, selling to me, how do I make my own most important decisions? Beyond everyday commercial and transportation needs, what do I seek, trust and ultimately follow? How do I navigate through this life?

As a Baha’i I trust the teachings of Baha’u’llah and His successors. This means I apply principles including unity, justice, freedom from prejudice, and the equality of men and women to guide my own actions and decisions. I can also ask myself “What would Abdul-Baha do?” when I am uncertain or lost, perhaps even facing apparent contradictions.

Through the principle of independent investigation of the truth I am learning to discriminate between truth and propaganda; between honest reporting and bias; between integrity and commercial incentive. I do not accept everything I read or hear on the news. Instead, I consider the source and evaluate for myself as best I can. And then over time I find who I can rely on.

There is great power in honest, frank consultation. I can invite friends or other trusted people to help with difficult decisions, weighing options, even just finding the right questions to ask. If it is true consultation, then no one has a position or ego to protect. Instead of serving individual interests, we are engaged in assessing alternatives and then finding the best answer.

Yet another way to make decisions is to follow my “guts.” We all have inner-knowing and are connected to ourselves and our personal truth in ways we can’t consciously reach. Try flipping a coin to choose between two options, and your “guts” will tell you if you like the result or not. And then act accordingly. The relief that comes from following our “guts” is evidence of its power.

Not all signs are written in words. Climate is changing, economic hardship lingering, political conflicts accelerating, and social systems deteriorating. These are signs that it is time for us to re-direct our efforts and energies. If we cast aside old solutions that fail to address today’s problems then we can move instead toward a global, unified approach. Then we can conduct our affairs and make decisions for the long-term benefit of all people and our planet.

These principles and practices may not help us make an on-the-spot choice between a left and a right turn, but they do offer guidelines for living. Carefully followed, they will someday get us all to our destination — a better, peaceful future.


© Jaellayna Palmer 2013