July 3, 2021- The comely young woman set down her blanket, just six feet from where I sat in my foldable studio chair, and proceeded to writhe and shift herself back and forth, finally finding a relatively comfortable position. As she was wearing a fairly short skirt, I felt it seemly to look straight ahead and not make her obvious discomfort even worse. Her two children were off and running, to other parts of the park, so she had that, too, to handle-and was constantly sitting up and looking past me, until finally spotting the kids. Poor soul was definitely stressed and barely able to relax, so after the family had watched five minutes or so of “Grease”, on the outdoor screen, and mother had wrapped herself in the blanket, they stood up and left. Hopefully, she got the rest that was so obviously in order.
Men, especially of my age group, were raised, mostly by the wider society, to hold the opposite sex in a sort of special status-not quite looking at girls and women we didn’t know very well, in a less than whole human perspective. I can say, truthfully, that this was also true of how we viewed ANY stranger, but was especially so in male-female interactions. It has been a hallmark of my married life, and widowhood, that coming to view every human being in a holistic manner has replaced the old “meat market ethic”. Misogyny, and its derivatives, were quite frankly the bane of my existence-and I don’t miss them at all.
My friends, women and men alike, are people I can hug (pandemic protocol permitting) or at l least fist bump, and with whom I can share just about any insights. This, to me, is the feeling of true liberation. I look forward to the day when ANYONE can feel the same about traveling alone as I do, about being where they like to be and not feeling awkward or at risk, and being seen as complete human beings-from childhood onward.
Thanks so much for your very healthy, healing Baha’i view of relationships. I’m so weary of the prevailing attitudes about relationships between women and men! It keeps us all separated into our lonely boxes unable to feel connected because most of society sees just friendships with suspicion thinking that there must be something sexual going on! And it’s not healthy fo a marriage either to put this undue emphasis on the physical aspect of marriage.
“ Marriage, among the mass of the people, is a physical bond, and this union can only be temporary, since it is foredoomed to a physical separation at the close.”
Whereas from the Baha’i perspective we can connect with anyone on a spiritual level and that relationship will last forever!
“In the same way, when any souls grow to be true believers, they will attain a spiritual relationship with one another, and show forth a tenderness which is not of this world. They will, all of them, become elated from a draught of divine love, and that union of theirs, that connection, will also abide forever. Souls, that is, who will consign their own selves to oblivion, strip from themselves the defects of humankind, and unchain themselves from human bondage, will beyond any doubt be illumined with the heavenly splendours of oneness, and will all attain unto real union in the world that dieth not.“
Some of our culture – movies – social media – are beginning to feature strong women as heroines who don’t need to be rescued and or have physical relationships. It’s going to take more time to see the evolution that our Faith promises! We’re on the journey together!
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Baha’u’llah cautions men to see beyond the physical attributes of women-and by extension for women to do the same, regarding men. The most important thing that anyone can do, for another soul, is to acknowledge their full beings.