Saturday, May 3, 2008

Baha'is on the Internet

I disagreed with something someone was saying the House of Justice has said about study circles, and I asked for a reference. She told me it was in Turning Point, and said that book is being used a lot as a reference in cluster development. I decided to study it, to be better prepared to respond to misinformation.

On page 41, I found this:
How can the lovers of the Blessed Beauty allow tribal prejudice and rivalry to be practiced in their midst when He has made unity the pivotal principle and goal of His Faith?

(The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 153, 1996 - Africa)
That helps remove some doubts about spending so much of my time responding to feuding among Baha'is on the Internet.

That was from a letter to the Baha'is of Africa at the beginning of a Four Year Plan. The preceding paragraph gives me some ideas for possible priorities in my Internet initiatives:
You will of necessity give concentrated attention to various plans and programmes of activity if you are to advance to new stages of entry by troops, but simultaneously certain underlying requisites will claim your special vigilance and exertion. These are the elimination of tribal prejudice, the transformation of prevailing social practices, and the fostering of education.
1. Elimination of tribal prejudice
I'm thinking of Baha'i Internet feuds over administration, but there might be others. I see a division over gays that erupts sometimes in Baha'i forums.

2. Transformation of prevailing social practices
Some harmful prevailing online social practices that have alarmed me the most revolve around thinking of the Internet as only a place to talk and write, and thinking of what we do there as something apart from "real life." I'd like to see more people practicing spiritual principles and community service, and working on community development, in online communities. I'd like to see more people spending more of their online time in fellowship across religious boundaries.

3. Fostering of education
That's a new thought for me. Some of what I've been doing and wanting to do on the Internet might serve that purpose, but I haven't been thinking of it that way. How might forums, blogs, Web pages and other Internet activities be better used for educational purposes, and how can I help?

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