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1246) Published: Non-Me Source: Read, Mark and Inwardly Digest! April 30, 2010

Posted by pete1844 in Non-Me Sources.
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Copied and pasted 21:58, Friday, 30th April 2010 CE
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1246) Read, Mark and Inwardly Digest!

Being truthful in a media and PR universe

The URL of this is:-
http://www.ekklesia.co.uk
http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/12002

Simon Barrow

By Simon Barrow
28 Apr 2010
//
//

“The media? That’s us, right?” This is what I frequently find myself saying when I end up in one of those conversations with someone who has decided (perhaps for understandable, specific reasons) that this, that or the other problem is really “the fault of the media”.

I do not say it in order to deny the fact that the media environment may often be depressingly amoral, utilitarian, monopoly-oriented, viscerally reactive and poorly fact-checked. It can be and is all of those – as well as many more positive things.

But nevertheless, if modern media is about ‘channels of communication’ in all their variety (not just the BBC, CNN and the big newspapers), then we all have those channels at our disposal to one degree or another. Likewise, we all have some connection to formal media systems, and we are all in the business of communicating around the clock in any case. The medium isn’t just the message, it’s the messengers.

That being the case, it is frequently more useful to ask “how can I take part in, redirect, shape and develop the bit of the media closest to me?” (whether that’s the blogsosphere, the neighbourhood newsletter or the correspondence column of your local paper) rather than getting disabled by the bits of a monster called “the media” which you feel you cannot change. Unless you’re a planner, a manager, an editor, a journalist, a PR or something similar, of course – in which case, you may have some additional levers (and responsibilities) to activate.

But even when focusing on ‘media policy’ and formal, professional media interventions, we should never forget that ordinary people are the base of both the message (whatever it is) and its means.

In addition to learning ideas, banking information and discovering different ‘angles’, human communication is, naturally, about advertising ideas, making things known, getting a point across – and responding to others who are doing the same.

The core ‘media question’ is therefore about how what we communicate shapes the world, what it rules in and what it rules out at any given point, and what kind of human community it contributes toward and presupposes. The activity itself, though far from value free, is capable of many construals.

Whose public? Whose relations?

It goes without saying that Public Relations work – to take just one example of ‘media and communications’ which I deal with on a regular basis – can serve truth, open up doors, make resources available and tell stories that would otherwise be lost in the Babel of contemporary urban existence.

But we would be foolish to forget that, at the same time, PR, as with all branches of the ‘industry’ (both new and old), operates in the context of the use and misuse of power. That makes it a political, moral and (for some of us) a profoundly theological issue.

For example, Public Relations as a formal industry was heavily shaped in the USA, and then elsewhere in the world, by Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud’s nephew, in the earlier part of the twentieth century.

Bernays shared with Freud a pessimistic view of human beings as a seething mass of barely contained destructive urges. People’s desires therefore had to be shaped and moulded positively, he believed. If not, chaos and anarchy would follow. For Bernays, who was particularly active in the 1950s, the answer was straightforward. Business corporations knew best. Their interests were those of freedom versus enslavement, order versus disorder, civilization versus barbarity. ‘Free enterprise’ was salvation.

With this understanding (or, as we might say, this massive presumption!) Bernays engineered the expansion of tobacco products among women by imaging smoking in public as female emancipation. Cigarettes were ‘torches of freedom’. Similarly he worked to stop the Guatemalan government (which wanted to better workers’ conditions and direct investment towards social programmes) from restricting the economic operations of United Fruits. He did this by portraying capital restrictions as a denial of liberty and ‘the American way’.

In both cases Bernays employed what became known as Focus Groups to find out how the human sub-conscious might respond to certain stimuli and associations, and how persuasive messages could be tailored to these inclinations. He then used mass advertising to get the appropriate associations across.

His approach became part of a PR battle to create individuals who would serve corporate interests by becoming consumers and by identifying themselves with the consumer system. The story of how this happened is told by a powerful BBC television documentary series from a few years back entitled ‘The Century of the Self.’ [1]

This story should remind us that behind all our technologies of media and communications lies the psychological will and power to persuade. Truth is something contested and shaped in public discourse.

As different communities, lobbies and institutions enter the marketplace of ideas and images, the issue for Christians is this: which ways of seeing and telling, which narratives, lead us to the place where a message of justice, possibility and communion (mutuality and indwelling) begins to make sense? Because in many situations today it simply does not. It often feels as if we are communicating into an abyss; that what we might want to say – about peace and reconciliation, for example – makes no sense at all to a world that regards war and conflict as ‘normative’.

Therefore we are constantly challenged to consider what might be characteristic (character-full) about forms of communication shaped by the Christian Gospel. Notice that I put it that way, rather than talking about ‘Christian communication’, which is in danger of sounding like an inwardly-focused factional activity concerned with the interests of only one group of people.

By contrast, I understand the Christian message shaped around the subversive memory of Jesus to be about hope and healing for all, and furthermore to involve extending the gifts that reside in one community to others for the sake of mutual transformation in the presence of God – the transcendent ‘other’ who lets us be (rather than forcing us into one mould), but who also invites us to discover the love that (if God is a reality) lies at the heart of all things.

Communication in alternative perspective

What does this mean in practical terms? I have no monopoly of wisdom in this area, but I would suggest that truth and communication for followers of Jesus Christ, who invites us to a different path from the ‘mainstream’, might have at least four characteristics.

1. It is personal. At its heart lies a concern for persons – their joys and sorrows, needs and contents. This means that it is in line with the Word made flesh, the Word in history, the living Word behind the text and all our words. It is therefore personally vulnerable. God’s means are not those of ‘knock-down truth’. Our over-preoccupations with ‘being right’ and ‘being in control’ are not reflected in God’s communication in Christ. They are contradicted by it.

But in saying this it is important to register that the personal is not purely individual. It is about the before, between and beyond of human beings, not their reduction to atomised components or isolated units. To be ‘personal’ is to be ready to face down the corporate challenge of ‘institutional truth’ (John Kenneth Galbraith), the kind of truth that bypasses people to serve the dominant interests of a system or ideology. Institutional truth is a partiality that determines which bits of reality are more convenient than others, and to whom. It is precisely the logic that says ‘don’t let nuances spoil a good story’, for example, or which does not care about the personal consequences of telling that story.

This illustrates the uncomfortable way in which truth-telling can become extremely difficult when we get close to centres of power. So we rely upon other communicators and upon mutual responsibilities to call us to account. Of course it does not follow at all that being at the edges provides those who are safely distant from power with a monopoly of truth. But the moral question about how communication is effecting those with fewest chances and resources is a massively important corrective from the perspective of the Gospel.

2. It is unarmed. For those who live under the shadow of the Cross, and in the hope of Christ’s risen life, the way we treat enemies and those who are ‘other’ is crucial. Communication designed to obliterate and denigrate cannot bring wholeness. But the fact that we do not take recourse to arms, actual or metaphorical, does not mean that we are without power. On the contrary, we need to be reminded that “there is tremendous power in the words and images we create” (Dan Charles, US National Public Radio).

By ‘unarmed’ I also mean to say that communication shaped by the Gospel starts with the concerns of the defenceless, those whom the great Indian theologian M. M. Thomas described as ‘the last, the least and the lost’ in the world. The people especially loved by Jesus (but despised by ‘the religious’) come into focus when our communication evokes a challenge to traditional power relations and to the violence that is often involved in maintaining them.

3. It is unfinished. Maybe that sounds strange. Isn’t one of the first rules of good communication that we should finish sentences and round off images? Yes, but even then they are only ever part of the story, part of an incomplete narrative. Communication that recognises its own incompleteness is able to evoke more truth, make space for a response, open up more possibilities.

By making space for ‘the other’ it becomes possible to recognise that (as in the current Israel-Palestine tragedy) there are two wounded parties, not just one. By contrast, “half truth cuts dialogue”, as Darryl Byler, formerly of Mennonite Central Committee’s Washington Office, has observed.

Unfinished communication acknowledges that God’s ways with us are not ended and totalised. There is a sense of deferral involved in faith that expects more, that is willing to receive the future as divine gift rather than packaged possession.

4. Last but not least, it is relational. Good communication is constitutive of memory, which is what holds together a community, a Body – as in the Body of Christ. This is particularly important because we live in a forgetful age, one that sometimes values the fleeting attraction of the image over the more difficult relationship or truth that might sustain us when the immediacy of the image has waned. So we need to be reminded. In my Anglican tradition communication is (or should be) Eucharistic. We speak and act out of a living, refreshed and constantly reshaped memory of Jesus as we share bread and wine together. We are a broken body seeking healing, longing to be re-membered (re-joined to one another and to God). Similarly, ‘evangelism’ (euangelion, the announcing of good news) worthy of the name is a word in search of relationships with people. It is speech that seeks to repair and reconnect, rather than to provoke, overpower, threaten or justify.

Communicating beyond victory and victimhood

I will make the last words not mine, but those of Archbishop Rowan Williams, writing on the quality of divine communication in a world of tragic conflict. Not long after 9/11, Dr Williams produced a profound but simple meditation called Writing in the Dust, having been close to the events himself. He was at the Episcopal Church of Trinity Wall Street, just down the road from the World Trade Center, when those planes struck.

Surveying all the conflict and suffering involved, Williams talks of the way in which the events of 9/11 – like many others in history – have been too eagerly used used by various parties to support opposing narratives constructed around ‘our’ victory over ‘them’, regardless of the suffering occasioned to those who are not ‘us’. This is politics and communication lived towards death, not life.

Williams declares: “Once the concreteness of another’s suffering has registered, you cannot simply use them to think with. You have to be patient with the meanings that the other is struggling to find or form for themselves. Acknowledging the experience you share is the only thing that opens up the possibility of finding a meaning that can be shared, a language to speak together.

“I’m not sure, but perhaps this is something of what some of our familiar Christian texts and stories point us towards. In the ninth chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus encounters a man blind from birth, and his disciples encourage him to speculate on why he should suffer in this way. Who is being punished, the man or his parents? They are inviting Jesus to impose a meaning on someone’s suffering within a calculus that assumes a neat relation between suffering and guilt. …

“What should strike us is Jesus’ initial refusal to make the blind man’s condition a proof of anything – divine justice or injustice, human sin or innocence. We who call ourselves Christian have every reason to say no to any system at all that uses suffering to prove things: to prove the sufferer’s guilt as a sinner being punished, or – perhaps more frequently in our world – to prove the sufferer’s innocence as a martyr whose heroism must never be forgotten or betrayed. If this man’s condition is to have a symbolic value – and in some sense it clearly does in the text – it is as the place where a communication from God occurs – the opening up of something that is not part of the competing systems operated by human beings.” [2]

Good communication, of the kind that Christians and those of other faith or good faith should be endorsing, is precisely like that – the opening of a window onto the possibility of relationships which are not founded on competition and exclusion, but cooperation and embrace. Because that is what the true God, as distinct from the cultic idols we create in religious and non-religious guises, is like, suggests the Jesus story. The question remains, therefore: not just “how shall we live?” and “how shall we communicate and mediate as we live?” but “what story shall we live by?” [3]

References

[1] ‘The Century of the Self’ series was first broadcast in Britain in April/May 2002. See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/documentaries/features/century_of_the_self….
[2] Rowan Williams, Writing in the Dust: Reflections on 11 September and its aftermath (Hodder & Stoughton, 2002), excerpted from pp. 73-76.
[3] This article is substantially expanded and revised from a talk given to the Council on Church and Media, an inter-Mennonite association, in Washington DC, USA. The original, also published in the CCM journal Focus can be found here: http://www.simonbarrow.net/article42

———-

© Simon Barrow is co-director of Ekklesia. He has been involved in different aspects of the media, including PR for not-for-profit organisations, since 1982, as a writer, educator and journalist.

THE CENTURY OF THE SELF
Monday 29 April – Thursday 2 May 2002 7pm-8pm

Adam Curtis’ acclaimed series examines the rise of the all-consuming self against the backdrop of the Freud dynasty.

To many in both politics and business, the triumph of the self is the ultimate expression of democracy, where power has finally moved to the people. Certainly the people may feel they are in charge, but are they really? The Century of the Self tells the untold and sometimes controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society in Britain and the United States. How was the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interests?

The Freud dynasty is at the heart of this compelling social history. Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis; Edward Bernays, who invented public relations; Anna Freud, Sigmund’s devoted daughter; and present-day PR guru and Sigmund’s great grandson, Matthew Freud.

Sigmund Freud’s work into the bubbling and murky world of the subconscious changed the world. By introducing a technique to probe the unconscious mind, Freud provided useful tools for understanding the secret desires of the masses. Unwittingly, his work served as the precursor to a world full of political spin doctors, marketing moguls, and society’s belief that the pursuit of satisfaction and happiness is man’s ultimate goal.

More on the series:

Episode One: Happiness Machines
Episode Two: The Engineering of Consent
Episode Three: There is a Policeman Inside All Our Head: He Must Be Destroyed
Episode Four: Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering

One: Happiness Machines
Monday 29 April 7pm-8pm

The story of the relationship between Sigmund Freud and his American nephew, Edward Bernays. Bernays invented the public relations profession in the 1920s and was the first person to take Freud’s ideas to manipulate the masses. He showed American corporations how they could make people want things they didn’t need by systematically linking mass-produced goods to their unconscious desires.

Bernays was one of the main architects of the modern techniques of mass-consumer persuasion, using every trick in the book, from celebrity endorsement and outrageous PR stunts, to eroticising the motorcar.

His most notorious coup was breaking the taboo on women smoking by persuading them that cigarettes were a symbol of independence and freedom. But Bernays was convinced that this was more than just a way of selling consumer goods. It was a new political idea of how to control the masses. By satisfying the inner irrational desires that his uncle had identified, people could be made happy and thus docile.

It was the start of the all-consuming self which has come to dominate today’s world.

Two: The Engineering of Consent
Tuesday 30 April 7pm-8pm

The programme explores how those in power in post-war America used Freud’s ideas about the unconscious mind to try and control the masses.

Politicians and planners came to believe Freud’s underlying premise – that deep within all human beings were dangerous and irrational desires and fears. They were convinced that it was the unleashing of these instincts that had led to the barbarism of Nazi Germany. To stop it ever happening again they set out to find ways to control this hidden enemy within the human mind.

Sigmund Freud’s daughter, Anna, and his nephew, Edward Bernays, provided the centrepiece philosophy. The US government, big business, and the CIA used their ideas to develop techniques to manage and control the minds of the American people. But this was not a cynical exercise in manipulation. Those in power believed that the only way to make democracy work and create a stable society was to repress the savage barbarism that lurked just under the surface of normal American life.

Three: There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads: He Must Be Destroyed
Wednesday 1 May 7pm-8pm

In the 1960s, a radical group of psychotherapists challenged the influence of Freudian ideas in America. They were inspired by the ideas of Wilhelm Reich, a pupil of Freud’s, who had turned against him and was hated by the Freud family. He believed that the inner self did not need to be repressed and controlled. It should be encouraged to express itself.

Out of this came a political movement that sought to create new beings free of the psychological conformity that had been implanted in people’s minds by business and politics.

This programme shows how this rapidly developed in America through self-help movements like Werber Erhard’s Erhard Seminar Training – into the irresistible rise of the expressive self: the Me Generation.

But the American corporations soon realised that this new self was not a threat but their greatest opportunity. It was in their interest to encourage people to feel they were unique individuals and then sell them ways to express that individuality. To do this they turned to techniques developed by Freudian psychoanalysts to read the inner desires of the new self.

Four: Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering
Thursday 2 May 7pm-8pm

This episode explains how politicians on the left, in both Britain and America, turned to the techniques developed by business to read and fulfil the inner desires of the self.

Both New Labour, under Tony Blair, and the Democrats, led by Bill Clinton, used the focus group, which had been invented by psychoanalysts, in order to regain power. They set out to mould their policies to people’s inner desires and feelings, just as capitalism had learnt to do with products.

Out of this grew a new culture of public relations and marketing in politics, business and journalism. One of its stars in Britain was Matthew Freud who followed in the footsteps of his relation, Edward Bernays, the inventor of public relations in the 1920s.

The politicians believed they were creating a new and better form of democracy, one that truly responded to the inner feelings of individual. But what they didn’t realise was that the aim of those who had originally created these techniques had not been to liberate the people but to develop a new way of controlling them.


1245) Published: Poem: Irish Religiosity Transplanted Into England April 29, 2010

Posted by pete1844 in Poem.
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Written, Saturday, 17th February 2007 AD
Copied and pasted into this post, 15:00, Thursday, 29th April 2010 AD
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21) From Ireland With Love
1245) Irish Religiosity Transplanted Into England
.
At National Tutor’s Conference,
Britannia Hotel,
Coventry
.
If the truth be known
the soul of Britain
this other green and pleasant land
of a thousand years or two
owes a lot
to the emerald heart of Ireland.
Though forgotten
under the imperialistic, triumphalistic dross of empire
the saints and scholars
of a lost age
breathed life
through missionary zeal
into the multi-cultural hotchpotch
that was England.
Celtic pioneers like Columba
infected the Anglo-Saxons, the Vikings, the Welsh, the Picts, the Scots and others
with that virus
that living Word
of the Love of Christ
and, although subsumed
in the theology of Roman Canterbury’s Augustine
the spirit of England was fixed as a Living Nation
by the living heart of Christian Ireland.
Just as Western Civilization
has forgotten it’s debts to the Genius of Islamic scholars
in another lost age
from another forgotten civilization,
in centres of brilliant enlightenment
like Cordova and in Sicily,
so that life of a Living Nation
that mystical Anglicanism
depicted in Powell and Pressburger’s“A Canterbury Tale”
the Dunkirk Spirit
the British Bulldog
the sense of fair play
equality before the law
and it’s rules of “playing cricket”,
has forgotten it’s roots,
it’s debts
to Irish Spirit.
Until in 1982
the House of Justice
writing to the Bahá’ís
gathered at the Conference in Dublin
reminded us
that the vital spiritually dormant heart of Europe
might once again
be resuscitated
by the spirit of Waterford Summer School
of George Townshend
and the legacy of Adib’s books.
And might it not be true
that this vibrant, dynamic Renaissance
enjoyed by the English Bahá’í Community
taking off with a vengeance since 1985
on account of the House of Justice’s Institute Process
can traces it’s origins
in English Bahá’í hearts
being inspired and moved to life
and to fulfill their English ideals
in service to Bahá’u’lláh
and His glorious Cause
after imbibing the spirit of Irish Bahá’ís
already enkindled,
aflame and brilliant
as a second Sun
in a dark Night.

1244) Published: Essay: Sci-Fideas of Reference April 26, 2010

Posted by pete1844 in Non-Fiction Essay.
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Written 11:50, Monday, 26th April 2010 CE
Typed and posted 00:57, Saturday, 1st May 2010 CE
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1244) Sci-Fideas of Reference, Spoilers, Ships and Canines.

Doctor, or Professor River Song, a name and character to conjure with, a blast from an unknown future

But what of ships? “How’s it going, Scotty?” “Well, Captain, now that the inertial dampers are on-line at last, the tendency of the accelerator pedal to get a bit stuck, with the resulting run-away uncontrollable speed at warp 15, which drains the dilithium crystals appallingly low, is no longer a problem, and “boom and bust” in the ship’s performance is no longer a primary source of concern. With Reg, Data, working on the computer with some supervisory input from Spock and Tuvok, they’ve averted a threat of a crash of the mainframe computer system. There had been a viral infection in the computer software again; its the 4th time its happened. But this time, although the CPU ended up full of rubbish again, the improvements that we had installed and regularly updated since the last threatened meltdown in 1997, meant that this time, that rubbish didn’t succeed in stopping the computer continuing to process information properly all the way through the crisis. The problem was that what the computer was processing was garbage, but the computer just carried on processing it without stopping. THAT’s a vast improvement on 1997. The source of the viral problem was in the “love” software. When they’d identified where the virus was located, and also realized how lethal and dangerous the problem was, it was de-activated, the infected software was un-installed, and is now quarantined. The garbage generated by the virus is no longer causing problems to the essential and the peripheral rational functioning of the ship.” “Scotty, well that’s the speed and logic functions of the computer sorted. What about navigation? Do we know where we are yet, or where we should be going? And is communication with Starfleet re-established, yet?” “Well, Captain, since we realized the Starfleet navigation system doesn’t work any longer, as a result of that damned virus, and after we downloaded that Zilon system instead, since it was the only navigation software that we could find, things are running better these days. But because none of us can understand Zilon, and the system is telepathically and psychically operated, only Troi and Seven know how to operate it, and how to read the display screen, since its all in Zilon. Mere mortal men haven’t got a chance of learning anything about it. Sulu and Paris have no problem flying the ship as good pilots, but they just take orders from Troi and Seven; they have no idea how to calculate or work out any navigation. This all relates to communication as well. The Universal Translator, just like Nav Com, the Navigation Computer, because its Starfleet software was shot to pieces, is also dependent on Zilon programming. This means that communication with any cultures, including Starfleet, using the ship’s comms, means having at the very least a working knowledge of basic Zilon. Hoshi is the best expert in Zilon. She derives a lot from her cultural icon, Yoko Ono. For Hoshi, Yoko Ono is the definite article! And Yoko knew Zilon like no one on Earth, and taught Lennon. The first person identified as a Zilon and “outed” as one, was “the one who calls himself Terry Wogan”, back in the 1980s. Wogan was the only one who was prepared to tell us how to learn Zilon in easy stages. He was identified by a very talented Englishman, Rowan Atkinson, who found out that Wogan, though he caused everyone to assume he was from Ireland, was really a Zilon from the Planet, Tharg. But his language Zilon is a very sophisticated and complex language, and so much misunderstood by others. The English certainly “just don’t get it”. Atlinson’s conclusion was that Wogan, as a Zilon, was NOT to be trusted, but that conclusion was entirely due to lack of capacity of the English psyche to have any comprehension of Zilon, and in fact many English think that Zilons are not only completely untrustworthy, but also psychotically insane. This just shows the limits of English intelligence. Atkinson broadcast a message on all sub-space frequencies 20 years ago, to warn everyone in the Federation about Wogan. So that was when Wogan became the first Zilon to be identified publicly. Troi and Seven have no problem understanding Zilon, though coming at it from opposite directions. Seven understands its sophisticated logic, and Troi understands its profound emotional depth and range. Atkinson, in comparison is all at sea. Data also has a good working knowledge of it, but is hampered grievously by his own lack of a sense of humor, which, when it comes to Zilon, is a handicap indeed. There have been sightings of Zilons over the years, or suspicions of it, but as yet, no other confirmed reports except Wogan. No one else has yet come clean and admitted their Zilon origins and credentials. Due to kind of reaction of Atkinson to Zilons being so prevalent in many cultures, though especially English, most Zilons are loath to either admit being Zilon, or to divulge anything of the Zilon culture, philosophy or way of life, for fear of provoking even worse reactions from such as the English. For most English, Zilon ways are just beyond the pale. To the extent that we on the ship can comprehend Zilon, so we will be able to communicate effectively with Starfleet as well, as most other cultures. Zilon is central to effective communication. What most cultures in the Alpha Quadrant don’t realize is that without Zilon, real communication is not possible for anyone and the Zilons know it. Without Zilon, the rest of the Federation, compared with those who understand Zilon, cannot communicate with anyone, and are all deaf, dumb and mute, relatively. Zilon is potentially a universal auxiliary language that potentially can unite the whole galaxy. Its a language almost as universal as mathematics. There was once a book written on Earth by a religious Personage called Baha’u’llah. His book, called the Kitab-i-Iqan, or in English, The Book of Certitude, explains the key to Zilon, by explaining the cryptic words of one of His predecessors, Jesus Christ, “And the Sun shall not give her light, and the Moon shall turn to blood, and the stars shall fall from heaven”. To the inhabitants of Earth these words were incomprehensible until Baha’u’llah explained them, and still now, precious few have ever even heard of Baha’u’llah let alone read and understood his Book of Certitude. There is an old Zilon joke adapted by the nation, adopted as his own by Wogan, which goes like this, “Why do the English sometimes think that the Zilons are stupid? Because its the only explanation, that they can understand”. So, Captain, as a Starfleet Captain, with some expertise in Shakespearean method-acting, with a posh, educated, intelligent-sounding English accent, why is your name French? Why are you referred to as Pierre instead of Pete? What caused such a radical, far-reaching transformation?” “Well, Scotty, its like this; my given name was Peter and whilst serving on my first ship, the Constellation-class starship, USS Pioneer, on an exploratory trip to Jupiter, the ship encountered unexpectedly, between Io and Europa, a wormhole which transported the ship to the far-side of the galaxy, in the Delta Quadrant, where, on encountering an advanced, alien civilization, and many trials and tribulations, before the ship found its way back to the Alpha Quadrant, via the same wormhole, it had been through the Mill, and its name, printed on the hull had been partially effaced. Instead of Pioneer it came back as P eer, so that the crew took to calling me, no longer Pete, but P’eer, then Pierre. As the meerkats advertising web-sites say, “Simples”. A similar think happened before to a much older spacecraft, Voyager, which when it returned to Earth after a much longer journey, not via a quick wormhole, it came back called, not Voyager, but V jer, then Veejer.

Dogs, canine quadrupeds; if I were a dog, what breed would I choose to belong to? Why, a British Bulldog, of course, since the British are slow to start a good idea, but once they get their teeth into it, no force on Earth can stop them. And, as explained by Winston Churchill, their nostrils are located in the top of their snouts so that, when they do have their teeth in something that they don’t want to let go of, they can maintain an iron, vice-like grip, whilst continuing to breath air, unhindered. I could go on about my feelings for Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Red Setters, but this blog post is about to be published, so I don’t think that would be a very good idea!

1243) Published: Poem: Speaking in Tongues…Capic? April 25, 2010

Posted by pete1844 in Poem.
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Typed and written 22:48, Sunday, 25th April 2010 CE
.
1243) Speaking in Tongues…Capic?
.
The technology of Time And Relative Dimensions In Space
is sometimes a bit off
in timing and in location,
so that the current incarnation of the Time Lord
is sometimes late, not 5 minutes, not 6 months, but 12 years late for Amy
sometimes a month late for Winston
and sometimes, a Time Lord
expected at a particular location at a particular time
appears at approximately the right time
but at a completely unknown location
such as Shiraz, southern Persia,
instead of a hill in the Mid-West,
or if both time AND space are out
on Mount Carmel,  a couple of decades adrift;
and in my own life
predictions are usually way off
such as imagining Him in about 2000
25 years hence
instead of 131 years in the other direction,
or imagining events labelled 2001
occurring 5 years late
and, knowing that events labelled 2010
cannot possibly occur this year;
no matter,
such poetic license in creative writing and thinking
and such scientific license
in seeing connections
in such tenuous “ideas of reference”
though anathema to orthodox scientific minds
is all grist to the mill
for students of English literature,
and so I delve into my own language
of how I see God “speaking to me”
through His Creation, his creativity, his creative geniuses
all inspired by the Concourse on High
through the inspiration of The Holy Spirit;
In 1968, I watched as a 13 year-old
“2001: A Space Odyssey”, a powerful formative influence,
after watching another in 1966, “You Only Live Twice”,
the only song whose words I know off by heart,
in which Gemini spacecraft are referred to as Jupiter
as they are swallowed whole, as are Vostocks, by the fiendish Blofeld
replete with white stroked cat,
and later, in 2006
as a small, insignificant, metal speck called Pioneer
is imagined to set-out
on a long, epic journey to Jupiter
what happens later in its mission
turns out very different
from what its creator imagined
as, when it neared its destination,
imagining its mission to explore Jupiter
drew near,
it became clear that, unknown to its mission control,
the Creator, the Everlasting Father
had OTHER plans;
Pioneer, finding itself between two moons, Io and Europa
just like “Discovery 1” 5 years before
in a different universe
encountered the unexpected
and, was suddenly transported
to a different dimension
leaving Jupiter, apparently, nowhere to be seen;
Pioneer, shaken almost to bits
traumatized, shell-shocked, stressed almost to breaking point
endured a tunnel through a portal
at once, frightening, exhilarating, enthralling, totally alien
and also psychedelic, in its weird, manic, creativity
but when that wormhole
had delivered Pioneer
to its appointed destination,
a single room, in social isolation
with food, comfort laid on
and the whisperings of the Holy Spirit
heard on all sides
for the first time, in such continuous profusion
a process seemed to be set in motion
culminating in a rebirth of Pioneer
no longer a mere small machine of metal
but now endowed with the life of a living being,
such as the transformation of Voyager to V’jer
in “Star Trek, the Movie”
and this new P’eer
(or as Steve calls me annoyingly, Pierre!)
suddenly back at his starting point near Earth
looking at the Moon briefly
where it had all started, back in 1978
found that his reason d’etre
was now very different as P’eer, rather than Pioneer
in his role and mission vis a vis Planet Earth;
it remains to be seen
what the next chapter in this story will unfold,
since as “2010: The Year We Make Contact”
cannot possibly happen this year,
maybe like 2001 occurring in 2006
this next episode will also be 5 years late,
just like Matt Smith seems to be, often,
though applying the same symbology
of 2001 to 2010, or should I say, 2006 to ?
the next interaction of P’eer, Jupiter, “The Gate”, Europa,
might have consequences
that beggar the imagination;
analogies always break down
when you try to apply them in too great a detail,
and the real world
doesn’t always conform to mere human imagination
and even less to deluded wishful thinking,
and in the final analysis
it is the Will of The Lord of Time
or is it The Lord of Eternity?
which decides our destinies
molded around how we choose to apply our free-will,
in my heart
I remember that beautiful choral chanting of the Concourse on High
as Pioneer reached the vicinity of Jupiter
and the very sight of it, serene, beautiful, majestic
basking in the light of the manifest Light of the Sun
whilst the Concourse on High sang in melodious heavenly praise
haunts and inspires me to this day,
though what might transpire in the future
is beyond mere human reasoning to speculate;
after the transformation of Pioneer
by alien intervention
P’eer is a new creation, yes
but what next?
Not the Son, but only the Heavenly Father knows
and just as Bowman was guided and led by “The Monolith”
so P’eer is guided and led by Him
but to do what, when and where
is for The Father to know
and for this servant to strive to follow.
His servants watching and praying, call out, as did Paul, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus, come!”
and as they do, so The Law goes out from the House of The Lord on the Mountain of God
throughout The Earth calling the nations to Him,
such as this, read out earlier today
to followers of The Comforter, the paraclete,
as manifested on Earth nearly 600 years
after Jesus left his followers
without His physical presence
and until the Comforter arrived
only His Holy Spirit to accompany them
as they strove and struggled
to build the victory of The Gospel
on this humble, tiny, isolated
ball of blue and green
set in a firmament of endless Bible-black
back-dropped by a silvery sheen of a gray sprinkling
of billions of stars
“My God, its full of stars!” exclaimed Bowman
as he awoke to the beginning of a new life,
about to be born again!

“33 The emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality between the sexes, is one of the most important, though less acknowledged prerequisites of peace. The denial of such equality perpetrates an injustice against one half of the world’s population and promotes in men harmful attitudes and habits that are carried from the family to the workplace, to political life, and ultimately to international relations. There are no grounds, moral, practical, or biological, upon which such denial can be justified. Only as women are welcomed into full partnership in all fields of human endeavour will the moral and psychological climate be created in which international peace can emerge.” (The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Oct, The Promise of World Peace, p. 3)

1241) Published: Status Update: Bottoming Out? April 23, 2010

Posted by pete1844 in Status Updates.
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Typed and written 09:26, Friday, 23rd April 2010 CE
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1241) Bottoming Out?

My weight reached a new low at 11 stone 11 pounds this morning. Stomach bug, or stomach problems due to allowing myself to be tempted to indulge in traditional English processed food notwithstanding, I am still wondering when I will “bottom out” and reach the bottom of this abyss of weight-loss. How far down can this thing go, before reaching rock-bottom? Its great to slim and fit, but what is the limit?

Many years ago, between 1978 and 1983, I bought two health books from Thomas Vale’s Health Food shop, from which I bought a plate of keish, beans and cottage cheese every lunch-time. The two books were “Not All In The Mind” by Dr Richard McKarness, which I still possess, and “Megavitamin Therapy” which I lent to Michael and Diana Hartley, Christians in Peckham, he being my best friend at school from 1967 to about 1970, competing against each other for academic excellence, the book not having been returned. After reading Dr McKarness’ book, I tried to find him, found that he’d retired to Canada, and that his protoge Dr Leicester, had a clinic near St Marylebone railway station in London. I went there one day from Hereford, spent £60, and was tested for food allergies, but having solutions of foods injected under the skin on my arm. It was found that I was MILDLY allergic to just about every common food, but NOT gas central heating and candida. Wheat, milk, maize, sugar, all of the basic foods, it turned out, I had a mild problem with.

After several months of noticing and observing the outcomes, it has become abundantly clear that processed food causes me to feel physically sick and brings on noticeable symptoms of “mental illness”, i.e. unclear thinking, emotional over-reaction, lack of positive qualities such as initiative, energy, confidence, enthusiasm etc. In this light, I will decline your offer of breakfast on 1st May, if I may, and also the snack-food for the journey. How I will find a way to feed myself with food that doesn’t make me ill, remains to be seen, but from witnessing the effects that traditionally processed English food has on me, I MUST take evasive action.

1240) Published: Poem: The Perfect Mate April 21, 2010

Posted by pete1844 in Poem.
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Typed and written 11:05, Wednesday, 21st April 2010 CE
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BTW, Happy Ridvan, everyone!
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1240) The Perfect Mate.
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There is an episode of “Next Generation”
called “The Perfect Mate”
in which an alien female
after an accident, caused by a Ferengi
attaches herself to Picard
and is “programmed or designed”
to be whatever he wishes her to be
and that is, in her estimation:-
“Forceful, independent, intelligent and brilliant”
just as the renegade archeologist, Vash, is,
that he meets and links up with on Reiser, the holiday-planet.
Why would Picard find such women attractive?
Because he relishes a challenge,
according to Irish transporter-chief, Myles O’Brien
talking to Cisco on Deep Space 9.
I suppose there’s no accounting for tastes;
some men like homely, submissive, compliant partners
loyal to their alloted task
of catering to every whim of their men-folk’s self-perceived needs,
and some men, do NOT!
Just as Denis had no problem being second fiddle to Margaret
and supporting her a hundred per cent
so, many DO appreciate a strong, forceful, independent, intelligent partner;
how many men would do anything
to have a partner like Ellen Ripley or Sarah Connor?
More perhaps than an Iranian mullah or a Catholic arch-bishop would care to admit, I suspect.
Same goes for any Wahabi Hadith-besotted Taliban theologian like Osama bin Ladan or a Saudi fatwa-issuing cleric.
Is that where the word fatuous comes from, I wonder?
Tea, Earl-Grey, Hot, Jean-Luc?
20th March, 2007?

“33 The emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality between the sexes, is one of the most important, though less acknowledged prerequisites of peace. The denial of such equality perpetrates an injustice against one half of the world’s population and promotes in men harmful attitudes and habits that are carried from the family to the workplace, to political life, and ultimately to international relations. There are no grounds, moral, practical, or biological, upon which such denial can be justified. Only as women are welcomed into full partnership in all fields of human endeavour will the moral and psychological climate be created in which international peace can emerge.” (The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Oct, The Promise of World Peace, p. 3)

Extracts From the Writings and Utterances of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: 2099. “From the beginning of existence until the Promised Day men retained superiority over women in every respect. It is revealed in the Qur’án: “Men have superiority over women.” But in this wondrous Dispensation, the supreme outpouring of the Glorious Lord became the cause of manifest achievements by women. Some handmaidens arose who excelled men in the arena of knowledge. They arose with such love and spirituality that they became the cause of the outpouring of the bounty of the Sovereign Lord upon mankind, and with their sanctity, purity and attributes of the spirit led a great many to the shore of unity. They became a guiding torch to the wanderers in the wastes of bewilderment, and enkindled the despondent in the nether world with the flame of the love of the Lord. This is a bounteous characteristic of this wondrous Age which hath granted strength to the weaker sex and hath bestowed masculine might upon womanhood….” (From a Tablet – translated from the Persian) (Compilations, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 359)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá says:  — “The world in the past has been ruled by force, and man has dominated over woman by reason of his more forceful and aggressive qualities both of body and mind. But the balance is already shifting; force is losing its dominance, and mental alertness, intuition, and the spiritual qualities of love and service, in which woman is strong, are gaining ascendancy. Hence the new age will be an age less masculine and more permeated with the feminine ideals, or, to speak more exactly, will be an age in which the masculine and feminine elements of civilization will be more evenly balanced. — Star of the West, viii, No. 3, p. 4 [from report of remarks made aboard the S.S. Cedric on arrival in New York]. Quoted in “Baha’u’llah and The New Era” by Dr John E Esslemont.

2100. “O handmaid of God! In this wondrous dispensation in which the Ancient Beauty and the Manifest Light — may my spirit be sacrificed for His loved ones — hath risen from the horizon of age-old hopes, women have assumed the attributes of men in showing forth steadfastness in the Cause of God, and revealing the heroism and might of fearless men. They invaded the arena of mystic knowledge and hoisted aloft the banner on the heights of certitude. Thou, too, must make a mighty effort and show forth supreme courage. Exert thyself and taste of the sweetness of a heavenly draught, for the sweet taste of the love of God will linger on to the end that hath no end.” (From a Tablet – translated from the Persian) (Compilations, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 360)

TABLET REVEALED BY ABDU’L-BAHÁ August 28th, 1913 “O Thou my beloved daughter! Thine eloquent and fluent letter was perused in a garden, under the cool shade of a tree, while the gentle breeze was wafting. The means of physical enjoyment was spread before the eyes and thy letter became the cause of spiritual enjoyment. Truly, I say, it was not a letter but a rose-garden adorned with hyacinths and flowers. It contained the sweet fragrance of paradise and the zephyr of Divine Love blew from its roseate words. As I have not ample time at my disposal, I will give herein a brief, conclusive and comprehensive answer. It is as follows: In this Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, the women go neck and neck with the men. In no movement will they be left behind. Their rights with men are equal in degree. They will enter all the administrative branches of politics. They will attain in all such a degree as will be considered the very highest station of the world of humanity and will take part in all affairs. Rest ye assured. Do ye not look upon the present conditions; in the not far distant future the world of women will become all-refulgent and all-glorious, For His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh Hath Willed It so! At the time of elections the right to vote is the inalienable right of women, and the entrance of women into all human departments  183  is an irrefutable and incontrovertible question. No soul can retard or prevent it. But there are certain matters, the participation in which is not worthy of women. For example, at the time when the community is taking up vigorous defensive measures against the attack of foes, the women are exempt from military engagements. It may so happen that at a given time warlike and savage tribes may furiously attack the body politic with the intention of carrying on a wholesale slaughter of its members; under such a circumstance defence is necessary, but it is the duty of men to organize and execute such defensive measures and not the women — because their hearts are tender and they cannot endure the sight of the horror of carnage, even if it is for the sake of defence. From such and similar undertakings the women are exempt. As regards the constitution of the House of Justice, Bahá’u’lláh addresses the men. He says: ‘O ye men of the House of Justice!’ But when its members are to be elected, the right which belongs to women, so far as their voting and their voice is concerned, is indisputable. When the women attain to the ultimate degree of progress, then, according to the exigency of the time and place and their great capacity, they shall obtain extraordinary privileges. Be ye confident on these accounts. His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh has greatly strengthened the cause of women, and the rights and privileges of women is one of the greatest principles of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Rest ye assured! Ere long the days shall come when the men addressing the women, shall say: ‘Blessed are ye! Blessed are ye! Verily ye are worthy of every gift. Verily ye deserve to adorn your heads with the crown of everlasting glory, because in sciences and arts, in virtues and perfections ye shall become equal to man, and as regards tenderness of heart and the abundance of mercy and sympathy ye are superior’.” (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 182)

“Those days of unceasing turmoil witnessed the martyrdom of yet another eminent disciple of the Báb. A woman, no less great and heroic than Tahirih herself, was engulfed in the storm that was then raging with undiminished violence throughout the capital. What I now begin to relate regarding the circumstances of her martyrdom has been obtained from trustworthy informants, some of whom were themselves witnesses of the events I am attempting to describe. Her stay in Tihran was marked by many proofs of the warm affection and high esteem in which she was held by the leading women of the capital. She had reached, indeed, in those days, the high-water mark of her popularity.[1] The house where she was confined was besieged by her women admirers, who thronged her doors, eager to enter her presence and to seek the benefit of her knowledge.[2] Among these ladies, the wife of Kalantar [3] distinguished herself by the extreme reverence she showed to Tahirih. Acting as her hostess, she introduced into her presence the flower of womanhood in Tihran, served her with extraordinary enthusiasm, and never failed to contribute her share in deepening her influence among her womenfolk. Persons with whom the wife of Kalantar was intimately connected have heard her relate the following: “One night, whilst Tahirih was staying in my home, I was summoned to her presence and found her fully adorned, dressed in a gown of snow-white silk. Her room was redolent with the choicest perfume. I expressed to her my surprise at so unusual a sight. ‘I am preparing to meet my Beloved,’ she said, ‘and wish to free you from the cares and anxieties of my imprisonment.’ I was much startled at first, and wept at the thought of separation from her. ‘Weep not, she sought to reassure me. ‘The time of your lamentation is not yet come. I wish to share with you my last wishes, for the hour when I shall be arrested and condemned to suffer martyrdom is fast approaching. I would request you to allow your son to accompany me to the scene of my death and to ensure that the guards and executioner into whose hands I shall be delivered will not compel me to divest myself of this attire. It is also my wish that my body be thrown into a pit, and that that pit be filled with earth and stones. Three days after my death a woman will come and visit you, to whom you will give this package which I now deliver into your hands. My last request is that you permit no one henceforth to enter my chamber. From now until the time when I shall be summoned to leave this house, let no one be allowed to disturb my devotions. This day I intend to fast —  a fast which I shall not break until I am brought face to face with my Beloved.’ She bade me, with these words, lock the door of her chamber and not open it until the hour of her departure should strike. She also urged me to keep secret the tidings of her death until such time as her enemies should themselves disclose it. [1 “She remained in Tihran a long time receiving numerous visitors both men and women. She aroused the women by showing them the abject role which Islam assigned to them and she won them over to the new religion by showing them the freedom and respect which it would bestow upon them. Many domestic disputes followed, not always to the advantage and credit of the husband. These discussions might have continued at length, if Mirza Aqa Khan-i-Nuri had not been appointed Sadr-i-A’zam. The premier ordered Haji Mulla Muhammad Andirmani and Haji Mulla Ali Kini to call on her in order to examine into her belief. They held seven conferences with her in which she argued with much feeling and affirmed that the Báb was the promised and expected Imam. Her adversaries called her attention to the fact that, in accordance with the prophecies, the promised Imam was to come from Jabulqa and Jabulsa. She retorted feelingly that those prophecies were false and forged by false traditionalists and, as these two cities never existed, they could only be the superstitions of diseased brains. She expounded the new doctrine, bringing out its truth, but always encountered the same argument of Jabulqa. Exasperated, she finally told them: ‘Your reasoning is that of an ignorant and stupid child; how long will you cling to these follies and lies? When will you lift your eyes towards the Sun of Truth?’ Shocked by such blasphemy, Haji Mulla Ali rose up and led his friend away saying, ‘Why prolong our discussion with an infidel?’ They returned home and wrote out the sentence which established her apostasy and her refusal to retract, and condemned her to death in the name of the Qur’án!” (A. L. M. Nicolas’ “Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Báb,” pp. 446-447.)] [2 “While a prisoner in the house of the Kalantar, the marriage of the son of the family took place. Naturally, the wives of all the prominent men were invited; but, although the host had gone to a great deal of expense to provide the customary entertainment, the women loudly demanded that Qurratu’l-‘Ayn be brought before the company. She had hardly appeared and begun to speak when the musicians and dancers were dismissed. The ladies, forgetful of the sweets of which they were so fond, had eyes only for Qurratu’l-‘Ayn.” (Ibid., p. 448.)] [3 Mahmud Khan-i-Kalantar, in whose custody she was placed.] “The great love I cherished for her in my heart, alone enabled me to abide by her instructions. But for the compelling desire I felt to fulfil her wishes, I would never have consented to deprive myself of one moment of her presence. I locked the door of her chamber and retired to my own, in a state of uncontrollable sorrow. I lay sleepless and disconsolate upon my bed. The thought of her approaching martyrdom lacerated my soul. ‘Lord, Lord,’ I prayed in my despair, ‘turn from her, if it be Thy wish, the cup which her lips desire to drink.’ That day and night, I several times, unable to contain myself, arose and stole away to the threshold of that room and stood silently at her door, eager to listen to whatever might be falling from her lips. I was enchanted by the melody of that voice which intoned the praise of her Beloved. I could hardly remain standing upon my feet, so  625  great was my agitation. Four hours after sunset, I heard a knocking at the door. I hastened immediately to my son, and acquainted him with the wishes of Tahirih. He pledged his word that he would fulfil every instruction she had given me. It chanced that night that my husband was absent. My son, who opened the door, informed me that the farrashes [1] of Aziz Khan-i-Sardar were standing at the gate, demanding that Tahirih be immediately delivered into their hands. I was struck with terror by the news, and, as I tottered to her door and with trembling hands unlocked it, found her veiled and prepared to leave her apartment. She was pacing the floor when I entered, and was chanting a litany expressive of both grief and triumph. As soon as she saw me, she approached and kissed me. She placed in my hand the key to her chest, in which she said she had left for me a few trivial things as a remembrance of her stay in my house. Whenever you open this chest,’ she said, ‘and behold the things it contains, you will, I hope, remember me and rejoice in my gladness.’ [1 See Glossary.] “With these words she bade me her last farewell, and, accompanied by my son, disappeared from before my eyes. What pangs of anguish I felt that moment, as I beheld her beauteous form gradually fade away in the distance! She mounted the steed which the Sardar had sent for her, and, escorted by my son and a number of attendants, who marched on each side of her, rode out to the garden that was to be the scene of her martyrdom. “Three hours later my son returned, his face drenched with tears, hurling imprecations at the Sardar and his abject lieutenants. I tried to calm his agitation, and, seating him beside me, asked him to relate as fully as he could the circumstances of her death. ‘Mother,’ he sobbingly replied, ‘I can scarcely attempt to describe what my eyes have beheld. We straightway proceeded to the Ilkhani garden,[1] outside the gate of the city. There I found, to my horror, the Sardar and his lieutenants absorbed in acts of debauchery and shame, flushed with wine and roaring with laughter. Arriving at the gate, Tahirih dismounted and, calling me to her, asked me to act as her intermediary with the Sardar, whom she said she was disinclined to address in the midst of his revelry. ‘They apparently wish to strangle me,’ she said. ‘I set aside, long ago, a silken kerchief which I hoped would be used for this purpose. I deliver it into your hands and wish you to induce that dissolute drunkard to use it as a means whereby he can take my life.’ [1 “Across from the English Legation and the Turkish Embassy stretched a rather vast square which since 1893 has disappeared. Toward the center of this square, but in line with the street, stood five or six trees which marked the spot where the Bábí heroine had died, for in those days the garden of Ilkhani extended that far. On my return in 1898 the square had entirely disappeared overrun by modern buildings and I do not know whether the present owner has saved those trees which pious hands had planted.” (A. L. M. Nicolas’ “Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Báb,” p. 452.)] “When I went to the Sardar, I found him in a state of wretched intoxication. ‘Interrupt not the gaiety of our festival!’ I heard him shout as I approached him. ‘Let that miserable wretch be strangled and her body be thrown into a pit!’ I was greatly surprised at such an order. Believing it unnecessary to venture any request from him, I went to two of his attendants, with whom I was already acquainted, and gave them the kerchief with which Tahirih had entrusted me. They consented to grant her request. That same kerchief was wound round her neck and was made the instrument of her martyrdom. I hastened immediately afterwards to the gardener and asked him whether he could suggest a place where I could conceal the body. He directed me, to my great delight, to a well that had been dug recently and left unfinished. With the help of a few others, I lowered her into her grave and filled the well with earth and stones in the manner she herself had wished. Those who saw her in her last moments were profoundly affected. With downcast eyes and rapt in silence, they mournfully dispersed, leaving their victim, who had shed so imperishable a lustre upon their country, buried beneath a mass of stones which they, with their own hands, had heaped upon her. I wept hot tears as my son unfolded to my eyes that tragic tale. I was so overcome with emotion that I fell prostrate and unconscious upon the ground. When I had recovered, I found my son a prey to an agony no less severe than my own. He lay upon his couch, weeping in a passion of devotion. Beholding my plight, he approached and comforted me. ‘Your tears,’ he said, ‘will betray you in the eyes of my father. Considerations of rank and position will, no doubt, induce him to forsake us and sever whatever ties bind him to this home. He will, if we fail to repress our tears, accuse us before Násiri’d-Dín Sháh, as victims of the charm of a hateful enemy. He will obtain the sovereign’s consent to our death, and will probably, with his own hands, proceed to slay us. Why should we, who have never embraced that Cause, allow ourselves to suffer such a fate at his hands? All we should do is to defend her against those who denounce her as the very negation of chastity and honour. We should ever treasure her love in our hearts and maintain in the face of a slanderous enemy the integrity of that life.’ “His words allayed my inner agitation. I went to her chest and, with the key she had placed in my hand, opened it. I found a small vial of the choicest perfume, beside which lay a rosary, a coral necklace, and three rings, mounted with turquoise, cornelian, and ruby stones. As I gazed upon her earthly belongings, I mused over the circumstances of her eventful life, and recalled, with a throb of wonder, her intrepid courage, her zeal, her high sense of duty and unquestioning devotion. I was reminded of her literary attainments, and brooded over the imprisonments, the shame, and the calumny which she had faced with a fortitude such as no other woman  628  in her land could manifest. I pictured to myself that winsome face which now, alas, lay buried beneath a mass of earth and stones. The memory of her passionate eloquence warmed my heart, as I repeated to myself the words that had so often dropped from her lips. The consciousness of the vastness of her knowledge, and her mastery of the sacred Scriptures of Islam, flashed through my mind with a suddenness that disconcerted me. Above all, her passionate loyalty to the Faith she had embraced, her fervour as she pleaded its cause, the services she rendered it, the woes and tribulations she endured for its sake, the example she had given to its followers, the impetus she had lent to its advancement the name she had carved for herself in the hearts of her fellow-countrymen, all these I remembered as I stood beside her chest, wondering what could have induced so great a woman to forsake all the riches and honours with which she had been surrounded and to identify herself with the cause of an obscure youth from Shiraz. What could have been the secret, I thought to myself, of the power that tore her away from her home and kindred, that sustained her throughout her stormy career, and eventually carried her to her grave? Could that force, I pondered, be of God? Could the hand of the Almighty have guided her destiny and steered her course amidst the perils of her life? “On the third day after her martyrdom,[1] the woman whose coming she had promised arrived. I enquired her name, and, finding it to be the same as the one Tahirih had told me, delivered into her hands the package with which I had been entrusted. I had never before met that woman, nor did I ever see her again.”[2] [1 August, 1852 A.D.] [2 See Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1889, article 6, p. 492.] The name of that immortal woman was Fatimih, a name which her father had bestowed upon her. She was surnamed Umm-i-Salmih by her family and kindred, who also designated her as Zakiyyih. She was born in the year 1233 A.H.,[1] the very year which witnessed the birth of Bahá’u’lláh. She was thirty-six years of age when she suffered martyrdom in Tihran. May future generations be enabled to present a  629  worthy account of a life which her contemporaries have failed adequately to recognize. May future historians perceive the full measure of her influence, and record the unique services this great woman has rendered to her land and its people. May the followers of the Faith which she served so well strive to follow her example, recount her deeds, collect her writings, unfold the secret of her talents, and establish her, for all time, in the memory and affections of the peoples and kindreds of the earth.[2] [1 1817-18 A.D.] [2 “Beauty and the female see also lent their consecration to the new creed and the heroism of the lovely but ill-fated poetess of Qazvin, Zarrin-Taj (Crown of Gold; or Qurratu’l-‘Ayn (Solace of the Eyes), who, throwing off the veil, carried the missionary torch far and wide, is one of the most affecting episodes in modern history.” (Lord Curzon’s “Persia and the Persian Question,” vol. 1, p. 497, note 2.) “No memory is more deeply venerated or kindles greater enthusiasm than hers, and the influence which she wielded in her lifetime still inures to her sex.” (Valentine Chirol’s “The Middle Eastern Question,” p. 124.) “The appearance of such a woman as Qurratu’l-‘Ayn is in any country and any age a rare phenomenon, but in such a country as Persia it is a prodigy — nay, almost a miracle. Alike in virtue of her marvellous beauty, her rare intellectual gifts, her fervid eloquence her fearless devotion, and her glorious martyrdom, she stands forth incomparable and immortal amidst her countrywomen. Had the Bábí religion no other claim to greatness, this were sufficient — that it produced a heroine like Qurratu’l-‘Ayn.” (“A Traveller’s Narrative,” Note Q, p. 213.) “Almost the most remarkable figure in the whole movement was the poetess Qurratu’l-‘Ayn. She was known for her virtue, piety, and learning, and had been finally converted on reading some of the verses and exhortations of the Báb. So strong in her faith did she become that although she was both rich and noble she gave up wealth, child, name and position for her Master’s service and set herself to proclaim and establish his doctrine… The beauty of her speech was such as to draw guests from a marriage feast rather than listen to the music provided by the host. And her verses were among the most stirring in the Persian language.” (Sir Francis Younghusband’s “The Gleam,” pp. 202-3.) “Looking back on the short career or Qurratu’l-‘Ayn, one is chiefly struck by her fiery enthusiasm and by her absolute unworldliness. This world was, in fact, to her, as it was said to be to Quddus, a mere handful of dust. She was also an eloquent speaker and experienced in the intricate measures of Persian poetry. One of her few Poems which have thus far been made known is of special interest, because of the belief which it expresses in the divine-human character of some one (here called Lord), whose claims, when once adduced, would receive general recognition. Who was this Personage? It appears that Qurratu’l-‘Ayn thought Him slow in bringing forward these claims. Is there any one who can be thought of but Bahá’u’lláh? The poetess was a true Bahá’í.” (Dr. T. K. Cheyne’s “The Reconciliation of Races and Religions,” pp. 114, 115.) “The harvest sown in Islamic lands by Qurratu’l-‘Ayn is now beginning to appear. A letter addressed to the “Christian Commonwealth” last June informs us that forty Turkish suffragettes are being deported from Constantinople to ‘Akká (so long the prison of Bahá’u’lláh): ‘During the last few years suffrage ideas have been spreading quietly behind in the harems. The men were ignorant of it; everybody was ignorant of it; and now suddenly the floodgate is opened and the men of Constantinople have thought it necessary to resort to drastic measures. Suffrage clubs have been organised, intelligent memorials incorporating the women’s demands have been drafted and circulated; women’s journals and magazines have sprung up, publishing excellent articles; and public meetings were held. Then one day the members of these clubs — four hundred of them — cast away their veils. The staid, fossilised class of society were shocked, the good Musulmans were alarmed, and the Government forced into action. These four hundred liberty-loving women were divided into several groups. One group composed of forty have been exiled to ‘Akká, and will arrive in a few days. Everybody is talking about it, and it is really surprising to see how numerous are those in favour of removing the veils from the faces of the women. Many men with whom I have talked think the custom not only archaic, but thought-stifling. The Turkish authorities, thinking to extinguish this light of liberty, have greatly added to its flame, and their high-handed action has materially assisted the creation of a wider public opinion and a better understanding of this crucial problem.'” (Ibid., pp. 115-16.) .”The other missionary, the woman to whom I refer, had come to Qazvin. She was without doubt, at the same time, the object of the Bábís highest veneration and one of the most strikingly fascinating manifestations of that religion.” (Comte de Gobineau’s “Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l’Asie Centrale,” p. 136.) “Many who have known her and heard her at different times have stated that, for a person so learned and so well read, the outstanding characteristic of her discourse was an amazing simplicity and still, when she spoke, her audience was deeply stirred and filled with admiration, often in tears.” (Ibid., p. 150.) “Although the Muhammadans and Bábís speak in the highest terms of the beauty of ‘Consolation of the Eyes,’ it is beyond dispute that the intelligence and character of this young woman were even more remarkable than has been related. Having heard, almost daily, learned conversations, it seems that, at an early age, she had taken a deep interest in them; hence it came about that she was perfectly able to follow the subtle arguments of her father, her uncle, her cousin and now her husband, and even to debate with them and frequently to astonish them with the power and keenness of her mind. In Persia, one does not frequently see women engaged in intellectual pursuits but, nevertheless, it does sometimes occur. What is really extraordinary is to find a woman of the ability of Qurratu’l-‘Ayn. Not only did she carry her knowledge of Arabic to an unusual degree of perfection, but she became also outstanding in the knowledge of the traditions of Islam and of the varied interpretations of the disputed passages of the Qur’án and of the great writers. In Qazvin, she was rightly considered a prodigy.” (Ibid., p. 137.)] (Shoghi Effendi, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 629)

“She it was who while in Karbila — the foremost stronghold of Shí’ah Islam — had been moved to address lengthy epistles to each of the ulamas residing in that city, who relegated women to a rank little higher than animals and denied them even the possession of a soul — epistles in which she ably vindicated her high purpose and exposed their malignant designs. She it was who, in open defiance of the customs of the fanatical inhabitants of that same city, boldly disregarded the anniversary of the martyrdom of the Imam Husayn, commemorated with elaborate ceremony in the early days of Muharram, and celebrated instead the anniversary of the birthday of the Báb, which fell on the first day of that month. It was through her prodigious eloquence and the astounding force of her argument that she confounded the representative delegation of Shí’ah, of Sunni, of Christian and Jewish notables of Baghdad, who had endeavored to dissuade her from her avowed purpose of spreading the tidings of the new Message. She it was who, with consummate skill, defended her  74  faith and vindicated her conduct in the home and in the presence of that eminent jurist, Shaykh Mahmud-i-Alusi, the Mufti of Baghdad, and who later held her historic interviews with the princes, the ulamas and the government officials residing in Kirmanshah, in the course of which the Báb’s commentary on the Surih of Kawthar was publicly read and translated, and which culminated in the conversion of the Amir (the governor) and his family. It was this remarkably gifted woman who undertook the translation of the Báb’s lengthy commentary on the Surih of Joseph (the Qayyúmu’l-Asmá’) for the benefit of her Persian co-religionists, and exerted her utmost to spread the knowledge and elucidate the contents of that mighty Book. It was her fearlessness, her skill, her organizing ability and her unquenchable enthusiasm which consolidated her newly won victories in no less inimical a center than Qasvin, which prided itself on the fact that no fewer than a hundred of the highest ecclesiastical leaders of Islam dwelt within its gates. It was she who, in the house of Bahá’u’lláh in Tihran, in the course of her memorable interview with the celebrated Vahid, suddenly interrupted his learned discourse on the signs of the new Manifestation, and vehemently urged him, as she held ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, then a child, on her lap, to arise and demonstrate through deeds of heroism and self-sacrifice the depth and sincerity of his faith. It was to her doors, during the height of her fame and popularity in Tihran, that the flower of feminine society in the capital flocked to hear her brilliant discourses on the matchless tenets of her Faith. It was the magic of her words which won the wedding guests away from the festivities, on the occasion of the marriage of the son of Mahmud Khan-i-Kalantar — in whose house she was confined — and gathered them about her, eager to drink in her every word. It was her passionate and unqualified affirmation of the claims and distinguishing features of the new Revelation, in a series of seven conferences with the deputies of the Grand Vizir commissioned to interrogate her, which she held while confined in that same house, which finally precipitated the sentence of her death. It was from her pen that odes had flowed attesting, in unmistakable language, not only her faith in the Revelation of the Báb, but also her recognition of the exalted and as yet undisclosed mission of Bahá’u’lláh. And last but not least it was owing to her initiative, while participating in the Conference of Badasht, that the most challenging implications of a revolutionary and as yet but dimly grasped Dispensation were laid bare before her fellow-disciples and the new Order permanently divorced from the laws and institutions of Islam. Such marvelous achievements were now to be crowned by, and attain their final consummation in, her martyrdom in the midst of the storm that was raging throughout the capital. One night, aware that the hour of her death was at hand, she put on the attire of a bride, and annointed herself with perfume, and, sending for the wife of the Kalantar, she communicated to her the secret of her impending martyrdom, and confided to her her last wishes. Then, closeting herself in her chambers, she awaited, in prayer and meditation, the hour which was to witness her reunion with her Beloved. She was pacing the floor of her room, chanting a litany expressive of both grief and triumph, when the farrashes of Aziz Khan-i-Sardar arrived, in the dead of night, to conduct her to the Ilkhani garden, which lay beyond the city gates, and which was to be the site of her martyrdom. When she arrived the Sardar was in the midst of a drunken debauch with his lieutenants, and was roaring with laughter; he ordered offhand that she be strangled at once and thrown into a pit. With that same silken kerchief which she had intuitively reserved for that purpose, and delivered in her last moments to the son of Kalantar who accompanied her, the death of this immortal heroine was accomplished. Her body was lowered into a well, which was then filled with earth and stones, in the manner she herself had desired. Thus ended the life of this great Bábí heroine, the first woman suffrage martyr, who, at her death, turning to the one in whose custody she had been placed, had boldly declared: “You can kill me as soon as you like, but you cannot stop the emancipation of women.” Her career was as dazzling as it was brief, as tragic as it was eventful. Unlike her fellow-disciples, whose exploits remained, for the most part unknown, and unsung by their contemporaries in foreign lands, the fame of this immortal woman was noised abroad, and traveling with remarkable swiftness as far as the capitals of Western Europe, aroused the enthusiastic admiration and evoked the ardent praise of men and women of divers nationalities, callings and cultures. Little wonder that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá should have joined her name to those of Sarah, of Asiyih, of the Virgin Mary and of Fatimih, who, in the course of successive Dispensations, have towered, by reason of their intrinsic merits and unique position, above the rank and file of their sex. “In eloquence,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself has written, “she was the calamity of the age, and in ratiocination the trouble of the world.” He, moreover, has described her as “a brand afire with the love of God” and “a lamp aglow with the bounty of God.” Indeed the wondrous story of her life propagated itself as far and as fast as that of the Báb Himself, the direct Source of her inspiration. “Prodige de science, mais aussi prodige de beaute” is the tribute paid her by a noted commentator on the life of the Báb and His disciples. “The Persian Joan of Arc, the leader of emancipation for women of the Orient … who bore resemblance both to the mediaeval Heloise and the neo-platonic Hypatia,” thus was she acclaimed by a noted playwright whom Sarah Bernhardt had specifically requested to write a dramatized version of her life. “The heroism of the lovely but ill-fated poetess of Qasvin, Zarrin-Taj (Crown of Gold) …” testifies Lord Curzon of Kedleston, “is one of the most affecting episodes in modern history.” “The appearance of such a woman as Qurratu’l-‘Ayn,” wrote the well-known British Orientalist, Prof. E. G. Browne, “is, in any country and any age, a rare phenomenon, but in such a country as Persia it is a prodigy — nay, almost a miracle. …Had the Bábí religion no other claim to greatness, this were sufficient … that it produced a heroine like Qurratu’l-‘Ayn.” “The harvest sown in Islamic lands by Qurratu’l-‘Ayn,” significantly affirms the renowned English divine, Dr. T. K. Cheyne, in one of his books, “is now beginning to appear … this noble woman … has the credit of opening the catalogue of social reforms in Persia…” “Assuredly one of the most striking and interesting manifestations of this religion” is the reference to her by the noted French diplomat and brilliant writer, Comte de Gobineau. “In Qasvin,” he adds, “she was held, with every justification, to be a prodigy.” “Many people,” he, moreover has written, “who knew her and heard her at different periods of her life have invariably told me … that when she spoke one felt stirred to the depths of one’s soul, was filled with admiration, and was moved to tears.” “No memory,” writes Sir Valentine Chirol, “is more deeply venerated or kindles greater enthusiasm than hers, and the influence which she wielded in her lifetime still inures to her sex.” “O Tahirih!” exclaims in his book on the Bábís the great author and poet of Turkey, Sulayman Nazim Bey, “you are worth a thousand Násiri’d-Dín Sháhs!” “The greatest ideal of womanhood has been Tahirih” is the tribute paid her by the mother of one of the Presidents of Austria, Mrs. Marianna Hainisch, “… I shall try to do for the women of Austria what Tahirih gave her life to do for the women of Persia.” Many and divers are her ardent admirers who, throughout the five continents, are eager to know more about her. Many are those whose conduct has been ennobled by her inspiring example, who have committed to memory her matchless odes, or set to music her poems, before whose eyes glows the vision of her indomitable spirit, in whose hearts is enshrined a love and admiration that time can never dim, and in whose souls burns the determination to tread as dauntlessly, and with that same fidelity, the path she chose for herself, and from which she never swerved from the moment of her conversion to the hour of her death.” (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 73)

3 January 1984, To the Bahá’í youth of the world, …”For the sake of preserving such virtues much innocent blood has been shed in the past, and much, even today, is being sacrificed in Iran by young and old alike. Consider, for example, the instances in Shiraz last summer of the six young women, their ages ranging from 18 to 25 years, whose lives were snuffed out by the hangman’s noose. All faced attempted inducements to recant their Faith; all refused to deny their Beloved. Look also at the accounts of the astounding  16  fortitude shown over and over again by children and youth who were subjected to the interrogations and abuses of teachers and mullahs and were expelled from school for upholding their beliefs. It, moreover, bears noting that under the restrictions so cruelly imposed on their community, the youth rendered signal services, placing their energies at the disposal of Bahá’í institutions throughout the country. No splendor of speech could give more fitting testimony to their spiritual commitment and fidelity than these pure acts of selflessness and devotion. In virtually no other place on earth is so great a price for faith required of the Bahá’ís. Nor could there be found more willing, more radiant bearers of the cup of sacrifice than the valiant Bahá’í youth of Iran. Might it, then, not be reasonably expected that you, the youth and young adults living at such an extraordinary time, witnessing such stirring examples of the valor of your Iranian fellows, and exercising such freedom of movement, would sally forth, “unrestrained as the wind,” into the field of Bahá’í action?” (The Universal House of Justice, A Wider Horizon, Selected Letters 1983-1992, p. 15) (The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 614)

1239) Published: Letter: A Statement of Intent April 18, 2010

Posted by pete1844 in Letter.
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Copied from Google Groups and posted 08:09, Sunday, 18th April 2010 CE
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1239) A Statement of Intent
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The Way Forward:-

Dear All, In terms of the “Institute Process” and “The Five Year
Plan”, I feel that my major tasks immediately in front of me are to 1)
improve my basic life skills, such as time management, punctuality and
attendance and daily routine, with a view to becoming fit again for
full-time employment, 2) to systematically improve the social
environment of my flat, to make it fit for socializing especially for
regular Devotionals, the first and most basic act of spiritual service
from Ruhi Book One. That will all keep me very busy for the
foreseeable future. Further goals are pretty academic at the moment,
until these basic achievements are fulfilled. In the meantime, the
usual activities of socializing at Baha’i, Muslim and Christian
gatherings, to enhance my understanding of basic spiritual concepts,
including participating in Ruhi Book 7, attending Nottingham National
Convention and the Scottish Summer School, amongst more routine
events. Love, Pete. Re Phil’s SSCC course, continuing as I have been,
re green issues, and gradually learning as in Ruhi Book 6, how to
gauge more accurately how receptive people might be to learning how
the world is at the moment, and what is needed to carry forward an
ever-advancing civilization, and what issues to discuss with them, on
how to do that. The non-sustainability of western civilization as it
is and what needs to be done to adapt it to the future, includes the
response to climate change, but as we discussed in the course, has
huge ramifications, in terms of how political structures work and
according to what principles.

1238) Published: Essay: England April 14, 2010

Posted by pete1844 in Non-Fiction Essay.
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Typed and written 17:05, Wednesday, 14th April 2010 CE
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1238) England
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I saw a book in Borders about a year ago with a title on the question of who rules England. That is to me an interesting question which reminds me of that intense conversation between Labour PM, Harry Perkins, ex-steel worker from Sheffield, played by the late Ray McAnally, discussing this with a white haired, steely-eyed, ultra-intelligent civil servant, in the TV drama, “A Very British Coup”. What more needs to be said?

1237) Published: Poem: And They’re Off! April 13, 2010

Posted by pete1844 in Poem.
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Written 09:31, Tuesday, 13th April 2010 CE
Typed 16:13, Tuesday, 13th April 2010 CE
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1237) And They’re Off!
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Monitoring myself
and noticing a tendency to hypo-manic intensity
and an upsurge of creative, florid, extravagent, melodramatic
and sometimes caustically sardonic, dry wit,
I asked myself, “Why?”
and, “Why now?”
And the answer was abundantly clear.
Like a frustrated greyhound in his trap
raring to go, to chase the rabbit
conpicuously absent for an interminable age
and held back from making rapid progress
preventing his destined reason d’etre
of rabbit chasing
“le chien gris”
felt a pent up store of potential energy
like unto a veritable deluge of adrenaline
and when the trap was released
the inexortable, endless interruptions
preventing completion of daily routines
of spiritual and administrative exercises
the being waylayed from having any energy at all
by a devastatingly violent bout of retching
on account of food poisoning
and the possible perceived withdrawl of friendships
by some who may have decided
that they just don’t LIKE that greyhound anymore;
when all these set-backs
have been successfully laid aside
and the said rabbit
with such an immense head-start
is already light-years away,
the greyhound
with that dam-busting deluge of pent-up energy and enthusiasm
born of frustration
speeds away from the blocks
with all the speed and manic, frenetic intensity
of a bat out of hell on amphetamines
and once having noticed
his own demonic demeanour
thinks, “Okay, slightly lighter on the gas,
if you please,
or else you’ll burn out your dilithium crystals
in a jiffy
and yer canna change the laws of physics!”

1236) Published: Journal: Declaring UDI April 12, 2010

Posted by pete1844 in Journal.
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Typed and written 21:26, Monday, 12th April 2010 CE
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1236) Declaring UDI

Declaring Unilateral Independence is great! I asked myself the question a few weeks ago, “Pete, how many REAL friends have you got, that you would trust with your life, 100%” I mulled this over and although I do have a few friends whom I trust to an extent who know me fairly well, I eventually came to the conclusion that there are only two persons that I trust completely, and since they do seem to have an accord and understanding between them which seems to work after a fashion, between them they seem to be able to advise pretty well on what to do when. They are Baha’u’llah, and myself. And I seem to be entering a different new phase of my life, where I don’t seem to NEED anyone else, deep down. This is creating a new situation which I am still getting used to. I’m finding less inclination to talk to anyone for company, wanting more time on my own, feeling less inclined to “get out more”, less need to socialize, more need to be completely “self-directing”, and free to get on with my own agenda. The last day of the Baha’i week, Friday is called Istiqlal in Arabic, which means independence in English, so maybe this term indicates a significant positive concept or virtue in a Baha’i’s thinking.