Around Hometown: Day 2

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May 18, 2021, Saugus- My visit with Mom, this evening, produced a lot of talk of her long life, with the joyous acknowledgement that her life is far from over. She is grateful that she has us, her children, tending to the house and making time to visit her in this first week in new quarters. None of us would have it any differently. Mother has given us so much of herself, from my own Day One, onward. Another woman in our nuclear family has taken on so much of tending to her needs- as well as initiating and maintaining the process of clearing and selling the old house. This week is the least we men can do to help out. I will likely be back, in late July or early August, to follow up with Mom’s progress in adjusting to her new home. In the meantime, she has plans to join in the Center’s activities and I know she will make new friends.

Curiously, the “don’t forget about us” calls and messages I have been getting, from elsewhere in the country and across the globe, have both made me put this current effort into perspective, and have triggered some old trauma, which has only been vaguely in my memory. I have figured a way to help another family, experiencing dislocation, even as my mother has successfully been resettled. There is someone else, in another part of the world, whose difficulties are, in large part, the result of his community’s failure to act in concert with one another. When I have encountered such dystopia, in the past, the feelings that have arisen are confusion, anxiety, then sadness, and finally, an angry outburst at those who refuse to work together. There is also a measure of self-loathing, as invariably those same people will turn and list all of what they claim are my own shortcomings and all the ways that I have failed them.

My psyche is changing, though, and I am seeing more clearly that the only way out of any impasse is for those on the ground to work together-and never for someone from outside to swoop in, throw money at the problem, and leave. That colonialist and patriarchal method has become the default for so many, in impoverished communities, both in this country and elsewhere. I am no longer going to blame myself for the refusal of others to help themselves, regardless of their own past experiences.

When I left Saugus, so many years ago, I was hobbled by fear, uncertainty of self-worth and the Rescuer Syndrome. That was not my parents’ fault, but it was my burden to cast aside. It is gone, now, and I feel it important to hold others to the same standard. All communities, especially those which are disadvantaged, need to band together and raise themselves up-confronting, as a unit, every single obstacle in their way.

Two Centuries Ago

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October 29, 2019-

Two hundred years ago,

Europe was pulling itself out of the wreckage of  the Napoleonic Wars.

The young United States of America was also healing from the wounds of  its second major war.

Asia was finding that Europeans, and some Americans, were interested in far more than trading goods. British outposts in Australia and India were established, towards the goal of domination of Asia. Spain had done likewise, in the Philippines.  France, Portugal and the Netherlands were not far behind.

Africa was seeing its enslavement declining, but a bigger problem-European ownership of land, would soon become the order of the age.  The Dutch had already established a settlement near the Cape of Good Hope.

In Persia (now Iran), a land that was seeing its own slow decline, two children were born, one in 1817, the other in 1819- with their birthdays coming a day apart. These boys would grow into men who would realize high spiritual stations.   These Messengers would stand out from Their peers, require little or no formal education and stand up, however respectfully, to the increasingly corrupt and wayward clergy and royalty of the Persian Empire.

The first of the two to declare His Mission was Mirza Ali Muhammad, known to posterity as al-Bab (  “Bab” being Arabic for “gate”.  He is commonly called The Bab, in English-speaking countries.) He was born in 1819, thus being honoured in the Bicentenary of His Birth, during this week.

Al-Bab was the Herald, or Forerunner, of Baha’u’llah, and declared His Mission in May, 1844, in the southern Persian city of Shiraz.  He appealed to thousands who were disillusioned by the state of Persian society.  Corruption and decadent behaviour were rife, across the country.  It was to this scene that Al-Bab spread His message that the human race should prepare itself for a Messenger, Who would bring Teachings that would unite humanity-not by force or by deception, but by independent investigation of truth and gradual bringing together of the hearts and minds of men.  This, of course, alarmed the powers that were, who, fearing the loss of their status, imprisoned al-Bab in three separate locations.  None of the three served to squelch His appeal to the masses.  Thus, in July, 1850, al-Bab was executed by firing squad, in the main square of Tabriz, in northwest Persia.  This, likewise, failed to destroy the Faith He had established.

Baha’u’llah, likewise, would endure His own series of persecutions,  to which I will refer tomorrow, on the 202nd anniversary of His birth.