Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Growth, whether personal or communal, is always the result of conflict -- one could make that almost a truism. Certainly, every turn in my own inner progress has been the result of dealing with inner conflict. Religions are the same -- one could view their whole history in terms of response to both external and internal pressures. One of the sicknesses present in the Baha’i community is that we view conflict as unnatural, and alien. We are supposed to be united; there isn’t supposed to be conflict. Yet, even the most cursory and surface glance at our history shows that we have been shaped by conflict, and indeed, have experienced some terrible internal rifts. The back-and-forth push in the Faith between freedom and authority, between individualism and community has shaped us into what we are.

For someone who said she was going to turn inward, I guess I’m still saying a lot about the community. But the struggle with community issues, and the inner conflict that the discovery of the terribly wrong things the administration has done has caused me has been an important thing for my own growth. My spiritual life is much more rich and deep than it was when I was enrolled. In exploring what it means to be a Baha’i outside the community, my inner life has become stronger -- in some ways because it has become more important. Not that I’ve resolved all conflicts. I don’t ever know if I will resolve the contradiction between promised divine guidance at the helm, and the glaring fact that many of their decisions have nothing at all to do with God, except to say that this Covenant has been, in some way, at some point, broken beyond repair. But in my own soul, I still respond to the Covenant of Alast -- something which actually makes it impossible for me to be “faithful” to what most Baha’is mean by the Covenant i.e. passive acceptance of all UHJ actions as the will of God.

Except in the sense that “all things are of God”, and “all are His servants and all abide by His bidding.”

I suppose the really spiritual thing to do would be to cultivate a sense of forgiveness and compassion. I’ve come a long way in forgiving my local community -- at least partly because I discovered online that things could be worse. And partly, because the people here are the victims of the situation; we were asked to do the impossible, and I suppose every individual here did the impossible the best way they knew how. There is a growing consciousness out there that the orientation of our communities must change -- but for so many, many people it is too little, too late. It will take a whole new Baha’i generation, before we can begin to recover from the mistakes of this one. We will have far fewer communities, but they will be stronger.

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