Tuesday, April 29, 2008

a different story about elections!

Are you wishing for a new and refreshing election story? How about this one that has the hearts of Baha'is all over the world soaring--today was the day when delegates from around the world came together in Haifa, Israel to elect the Universal House of Justice, the governing body of the Baha'i International Community.
At this time in the US where the end seems to justify the means, the part that thrills me about the election of the nine member Universal House of Justice is in fact not the specific individuals who will be chosen but rather the process by which they are chosen. Members of the human family from ALL OVER THE WORLD, from every imaginable racial, ethnic, national, and religious background came together in love, spirituality and unity and, in an atmosphere completely sanctified from the slightest taint of campaigning, cast their ballots. Enough to take your breath away.

To read the whole story from the Baha'i World News Service click here.

In a global procession, ballots are cast for the Universal House of Justice

29 April 2008
HAIFA, Israel —

In a ceremony that combined spiritual dignity with global diversity, a thousand Bahá’ís from 153 countries cast ballots today in an election to choose the nine members of the Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the Bahá’í Faith.

The event was a study in globalism, a hallmark of the Bahá’í Faith, which has some five million followers and is established in virtually every nation.
Delegates were called by name, in alphabetical order by country. Many proudly wore traditional or native dress, an acknowledgment of their belief in the concept of unity in diversity.
The result was colorful and joyous, as women in bright ethnic dresses or simple pantsuits mixed with men in Western business suits or gaily decorated tribal costumes.
Chief head teller Thelma Khalghati of Guinea reads the names of each delegate as they bring their ballots forward.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


this evening I went to a panel entitled "Black Rage vs. White Guilt" organized by the student group on campus called Ubuntu. The panel was really very good. I particularly liked the presentations given by Edward Ramsamy and Saladin Ambar.

Ramsamy's presentation touched both mind and soul.

He quoted liberally from a range of writings in the humanities and from the words of Desmond Tutu, one of the four nobel peace laureates from South Africa.

The philosophy of ubuntu is the foundational philosophy of the new South Africa and the African renaissance. In Desmond Tutu's words:

"Ubuntu is very difficult to render into a Western language... It is to say, 'My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in what is yours.'"

Tutu said that Ubuntu was the gift that Africa was going to give to the world. Yes please please let us accept this gift! How very desperately we are in need of it. Here is Nelson Mandela on "ubuntu".

Monday, April 21, 2008

catching up on botany in time for spring

i purchased a Golden Field Guide to North American Trees at the New Jersey Audubon Society Plainsboro Preserve yesterday. A few of us went for a little spring stroll there.

Naim amassed an impressive collection of sticks and stones...

And we also had an exciting encounter with the tiniest turtle I have ever met... and close encounters with a snake, a hawk, and some geese...all out there in the wild.

With the aid of my new book--the Golden Field guide to North American Trees I have finally been able to set to rest a question that no one has been able to give me a satisfying answer to... What are those beautiful trees that people tell me are Tulip Trees? Are they Magnolias or not? In fact they ARE! They are not native to the US. They are Japanese Magnolias. Well they seem to be doing very well in New Jersey. They had their week of splendor and now we have to wait for another year before we can enjoy them again.

In the meantime we still have time to enjoy the non-Magnolia type of tulips like these that George and Cherie planted at the Philadelphia Baha'i Center.

My newly acquired book has also enabled me to confidently identify the tree outside my window as an American sycamore.
Outside the other window I have a Ginkgo tree. Did you know there is only one species in the Ginkgo family? There were many species in prehistoric times but now only one remains. That does give this tree an added air of mystery don't you think?

I have always associated it with mystical moments around Buddhist temples in China and so have been delighted to have one so close to my bed.

ala ghawas "hums"

current comfort listening

listen here

Sunday, April 20, 2008

north to south

well life seems to be getting too full for blogging. this is probably a good thing. the last few months have been full of travels, hard work and happy learning from myriad interactions with different beautiful members of the human race...

yang xiao and i went to three academic conferences, two of them in New York City...

And one in Atlanta where we ate some good old southern home cooking...
okra, fried green tomatoes, collard greens, mac & cheese, and peach and berry cobbler for dessert.
while in Atlanta we also immersed ourselves in important American history and culture...
we made our pilgrimage to the MLK center for nonviolent social change. what a moving experience. it should be a required trip for ... well for everyone in the world really.
"We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles, rather than by the quality of our service and our relationship to humanity." Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"As long as there is poverty in the world I can never be rich, even if I have a billion dollars. As long as diseases are rampant and millions of people in this world cannot expect to live more than twenty-eight or thirty years, I can never be totally healthy...I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the way our world is made. No individual or nation can stand out boasting of being independent. We are interdependent." Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"In the final analysis the white man cannot ignore the Negro's problem, because he is part of the Negro adn the Negro is part of him. The Negro's agony diminishes the white man, and the Negro's salvation enlarges the white man...I doubt if the problems of our teeming ghettos will have a great chance to be solved until the white majority, through genuine emphathy, comes to feel the ache and anguish of the Negroe's daily life." Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
We happened to be in Atlanta on the day of the anniversary of Dr. King's death.
While in Atlanta we also made it to Sunday morning program at the Baha'i Unity Center. Wow!! What powerful spirit in the South ...soulful music, soulful speakers. Baha'i communities in the rest of the United States are urgently in need of the brilliance, spirit and passion of their African American brothers and sisters.
As a result of having the opportunity to hear the New World Unity Ensemble at the Unity Center I have a new cd that I am listening to over and over again--David Guillory's "Thy Name is My Healing." Mm mm beautiful.
Escola came with us on our trip to the Baha'i Center. She has only been in the US for a short time. She and her family are refugees from Burundi. I just wonder what this quiet stoic little tender soul has witnessed and experienced in her life. Please keep her in your prayers.