January 2016

 Thoughts on a Stormy Night


I lie awake in bed, listening to the storm. Ice against the windows, roaring wind, the occasional car returning home. And then I hear the snow plow and with it the reassurance of being taken care of.

And I think about how fortunate I am to live in such an orderly part of the world. We have snow plows, sidewalk clearing and sand trucks to see us through the winter. In every season we have emergency services and utility companies seeing to our needs and well-being. We have hospitals, school busses, parks, arenas and libraries. Sometimes we even have bike lanes.

When conditions are imperfect and we are without something we consider essential, it usually lasts for just a few hours or maybe a few days. But we know that eventually it will be restored or replaced. Most of us have enough food in the house to keep from starving, sweaters and blankets to keep from freezing. We have books, games and other diversions even if we are without electricity, cell service or the internet. And for those among us who do not have the essentials, we fund and support social services entrusted to assist them.

Yes, we are fortunate, though nothing I’ve mentioned is so extraordinary that it shouldn’t be universal. Yet our level of comfort, security and ease is almost beyond imagining in much of the world. As a society we subscribe to the idea that everyone deserves an agreed-upon standard of living; this is just and right. So it is clear that our work is not finished, even here within our own country.

Integral to being human is helping each other. Our inter-dependence is obvious as we see the complexities of our lifestyle and realize that without other people and our institutions we could never achieve or maintain it.

The Baha’i Writings tell us that the need and obligation to help each other is Divinely ordained. Abdu'l-Baha said: “All religions teach that we must do good, that we must be generous, sincere, truthful, law-abiding, and faithful; all this is reasonable, and logically the only way in which humanity can progress.”

The Baha’i International Community connects humanity’s progress to both spiritual maturity and economic well-being: “When individuals develop moral capacities and spiritual qualities, the skills and knowledge they acquire are likely to promote the well-being of the community as a whole . . . The economic relationships of a society reflect the values of its members . . . Until justice is valued over greed, the gap between the rich and the poor will continue to widen . . . “

In our neighborhoods, towns and even globally, we live together, work together, strive and thrive together. Abdu'l-Baha offers a glimpse into how this might look: “. . . love each other, constantly encourage each other, work together, be as one soul in one body, and in so doing become a true, organic, healthy body animated and illumined by the spirit.”

I offer these thoughts at the beginning of a new year in hopes that we as individuals and as a society may increasingly consider the needs of our brethren around the world with justice, compassion and love.


© Jaellayna Palmer 2016