Sunday, January 11, 2009

Seeking a wider embrace

"Across my dreams,
With nets of wonder,
I chase the bright elusive butterfly of love."
- Bob Lind

In Generation of Knowledge and the Advancement of Civilization, Haleh Arbab says:
The founders of FUNDAEC decided early on that issues related to the generation, application, and flow of knowledge need to be approached with a much more sophisticated conception of development, one which recognizes that no enduring change can be brought about without the full participation of the people themselves—they must be the real protagonists of the development process. If indeed that is the conception to which one adheres, then it is no longer acceptable to view the development of a people merely as the object of academic study. Rather, development should be the object of learning of an institution that somehow belongs to the people themselves and which enables them to promote and systematize their own learning. Every developing region, FUNDAEC suggested, is in need of an institution devoted to the formal generation, application, and propagation of knowledge, not necessarily in the forefront of modern science and technology, but in areas where the natural and social sciences must together tackle specific problems of specific people. It then set out to create such an institution in a particular region, an institution that over the years came to be called University for Integral Development. In the context of development as capacity building, the essential function of this university is research, action, and training that are related to the entire spectrum of processes of social, economic, and cultural life of the population it serves. It is not concerned with mere academic activity, but with research carried out with the participation of the population in the very spaces where they are engaged in such undertakings as agricultural and industrial production, marketing, education, socialization of values, and cultural enrichment.
I like that vision very much.

I would like to add something to that vision about attending to divisions that arise between the community and other people, and to people who are adversely affected by the behavior of the community. That seems to me to be an inseparable part of moving towards the unity and justice envisioned in the writings of Baha'u'llah. That has been part of my lifework, in the margins of the Baha'i community and of other communities, on line and off line.

"They [Spiritual Assemblies] must endeavor to promote amity and concord amongst the friends, efface every lingering trace of distrust, coolness and estrangement from every heart, and secure in its stead an active and whole-hearted cooperation for the service of the Cause."

(Compilations, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Baha'i Communities)

The administrators of the Faith of God must be like unto shepherds. Their aim should be to dispel all the doubts, misunderstandings and harmful differences which may arise in the community of the believers."

(Compilations, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Baha'i Communities)

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