Light, Out of Calamity

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March 27, 2020-

In some of mankind’s darkest moments,  advances have come from the suffering, like small mammals coming forth after the Age of Dinosaurs.  These advances, in short order, became a part of the fabric of human culture.

After the Great Plague, of the Fourteenth Century, Europeans began to return to embracing science, rather than superstition, in treating illnesses.  The primacy of Cardinals and Bishops began to face widespread scrutiny, and the stirrings of Protestantism were felt.  The Catholic Church itself had to make changes, under Ignatius Loyola.  Advances in scientific discovery came, as a result of these trends.

After the American Civil War, the Red Cross was started, by Clara Barton, as a means of assisting soldiers, in time of calamity.  It quickly expanded to help society at large, in times of disaster.

After World War I, movements to assist disabled and unassisted veterans, in returning to civilian life began, with the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans. These organizations still make large scale efforts to assist those who suffer from dislocation, or from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

After World War II, mass production of houses, the science of rocketry, television and large computers became part of the civilian world, having been first advanced within the military sphere.  From large, room-sized computers have come hundreds of technological products, many of them falling into the realm of nanotechnology.

Now, we will await the advances coming out of the struggle against Coronavirus Disease 2019.  Teleconferencing, already available for business, government and limited conversations between family members and other small groups, has exploded in use, as nearly every group, which conducted its business in person, has found ways to meet virtually. Even when the crisis has ended, I can see the sheer range of teleconferencing leading to its continued wide use among the public at large.  It will also greatly modify the educational process, even more than it has to date.

The retrofitting of factories that produce a wide variety of products, from airplanes to distilled spirits, are now also producing items that will help face the virus.  Ventilators, medical-grade masks and hand sanitizer will still need to be stockpiled, even after this virus has spent its rampage.  Preparedness will not soon, if ever, be relegated to the realm of memory.

There will be many tasks, which the technology and skill sets coming out of the current crisis will need to be called to perform. Not the least of these is completing the still gargantuan effort to provide all homes with clean, running water and reliable heat or cooling.  This work will occupy post-pandemic humanity for years, if not decades.

Out of  the darkness comes a greater light.  Baha’u’llah teaches:

“O SON OF MAN! My calamity is My providence, outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy. Hasten thereunto that thou mayest become an eternal light and an immortal spirit. This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it.”

 

 

An Eastward Homage, Day 34: Europe in the Rear View Mirror

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June 29, 2014, Boston-  The writer, Froma Harrop, in discussing the need for balance between travel and homing, mentions the Shakespearean character, Jaque, from As You Like It, as having bemoaned his own constant travel.  She muses about seniors, who give up everything binding, and make perpetual travel their endgame.

I have been tempted, now and then, to engage in just such an endeavour.  There are, in fact, a few years in the offing when my travel will be of a long-term nature.  The first such will be 2017, in fact.  Nevertheless, my meanderings are always going to be rooted in purpose.  This past June’s journey had three themes:  Seeing the ancestral home town of my father’s paternal lineage (Rouen); paying respects to my late father-in-law and other veterans of the two World Wars (Normandy, Brest, Amiens, Bastogne, Metz and Berga); and connecting with my fellow Baha’is (Paris, Rouen, Brussels, Luxembourg, Strasbourg and Frankfurt).  Of course, there were cultural stops, fun restaurants and parks, great architecture and wonderful, captivating people in the mix.  These, I find everywhere, though, and they may be found in abundance, right here in Prescott.  My Baha’i friends are my tap root, and will remain so, regardless of how often I am in and out of town.  A dozen or so others are my branch roots, also keeping me focused.

Let me get back to the journey.  The flight back from Frankfurt was smooth as silk.  I was in the delightful company of a young baker, from Frankfurt to Montreal.  She had many stories of her own travel, across France and Germany, from Paris to Berlin, with Frankfurt as base camp, and as a vegan.  Taking a night bus from Berlin to Frankfurt sounded a bit rough; but there she was, happy and fully in the moment.  I have kept in contact with her, in the months since, and wish her a long and happy series of life experiences, as I do with all I met, east of the Atlantic.

There are those I will see again, and those whose lives will probably not intersect again with mine. There are the people with whom I experienced mutual joy and there are folks who saw me stumbling about, now and then, and threw up their hands in exasperation.  There were times of great exhilaration, quiet reverence, stern admonition- both given and received, physical and emotional near-exhaustion, and momentary confusion.  It was all worthwhile.

So, here’s to you:  The gate keepers and window clerks at each train and bus station; the desk clerks and maids at each of my hotels; the seat mates on trains and buses; the taxi drivers in the areas of Mont Saint-Michel and Carnac; my friends in the standage on the train from Rennes to Paris, all the restaurateurs who served me so graciously, from the brasseries and kebab shops to the high-end New Colours, of Luxembourg and Leo’s, of Bastogne; the people manning the natural and historical sites; the performance artists and street musicians; the scammers and the schemers, who got precious little, if anything, from me; the people who earnestly tried to help me, even when I was in a momentary state of suspicion; the lovers whose space I may have momentarily crowded; the police who kept us safe, without resorting to brute force; the grand musicians at Luxembourg’s National Day; the young folks whose energy and antics were invariably heart-warming; and, most of all, my brothers and sisters in faith, who were anchors throughout.  All of you made this, my fledgling solo voyage abroad, a memorable and reaffirming occasion.

So, I’ve been back in the home ground that is North America, since the date above.  There was a revelation, though:  Europe is also my home. The rest of the world will be, as time goes on. I can go from home, to home, to home, as the circumstances of this wonderful life lead me. Prescott is like my room, Arizona, my domicile and North America, my neighbourhood.  Home, though, is where the heart lives, and my heart is with all of you.