A Stronger Neighbourhood
Western Australian Baha'i Keith McDonald is our current guest blogger
Every second year our local community of about 40 Baha’is (adults, youth and children) hosts an informal dinner for members of the local town council at one of our homes.
We put it on again the other week and four councillors plus a former councillor accepted the invitation.
The town council covers a population of well under 10,000, which makes it one of the country’s smallest metropolitan local authorities, and has only eight councillors and a mayor.
These bi-annual dinners are one of the things we do to develop a stronger sense of neighbourhood. After all, the local council is at the centre of any community and it is important for us to know the council and for the council to know us. So often these days people have no idea who is living next-door or across the road, that alone knowing any of their local councillors.
At the dinner we asked some of our youth to put on a presentation, talking about what it had been like for them growing up in a Baha’i community, the impact of the Baha’i Faith on their lives and the work they were now doing in running Baha’i-inspired junior youth groups and children’s classes for the wider local community.
In running these classes and groups they are effectively becoming mentors to the next generation. The junior youth groups, for example, focus on ethical and moral issues and help these young people to uncover their true potential
Individual councillors made comment afterwards about how impressive these young people were, and so they are. It does make a huge difference for children to be raised in a community and to learn from early on the importance of service and moral behaviour and to develop a strong sense of community.
In Australia today children are increasingly learning about rights rather than responsibilities, excess rather than moderation, individualism rather than community, and they don’t have moral or spiritual compasses. Such a society alarms many people, especially parents with children of their own.
We talked with the councillors about these sorts of things. True, we put on a great spread of food but I suspect it wasn’t the food that kept them chatting away for a marathon four hours. How to do a better job of raising children is a huge concern for many people and seeing Baha’i youth in their early 20s taking on leadership roles shows what can be done.