Choices for our children
Holding a baby just four or five hours after he has been born, as I did this week when I met my grandson for the first time, is a breathtaking experience. He was sleeping serenely unaware of what lies ahead for him.
I was reminded of a song, Speaking with the Angel, by Ron Sexsmith. It’s about a small child’s innocence and how adults can deprive him of that.
He don’t know how to lie
Or undermine you.
He don’t know how to steal,
How to deal or deceive.
So leave him alone, set him free
Cause he’s speaking with the angel
That only he can see.
Then I thought of a recent message from our elected world governing body, the Universal House of Justice, who spoke of the spiritual prerequisites for the success of all Baha’i undertakings as defined by the then head the Faith, Shoghi Effendi, in 1938. He identified three which “stand out as pre-eminent and vital”: rectitude of conduct, a chaste and holy life, and freedom from prejudice.
In talking about the second prerequisite, the Universal House of Justice said this:
“What needs to be appreciated . . . is the extent to which young minds are affected by the choices parents make for their own lives, when, no matter how unintentionally, no matter how innocently, such choices condone the passions of the world — its admiration for power, its adoration of status, its love of luxuries, its attachment to frivolous pursuits, its glorification of violence and its obsession with self-gratification.”
When we studied the House of Justice’s message our local community talked about this in connection with our classes for children (under the age of 11) and our activities for junior youth (for ages 11-14). So we will be making a special effort to keep in mind the warning contained in the message as well as the three prerequisites mentioned earlier.
The Bahá’í writings emphasise that education must be spiritual as well as material. Spiritual education embodies those virtues or attributes which, when kindled in the hearts and minds of children, guide their morals and also enhance their material education
This year it has been great to see our youth take responsibility for running the children’s classes. They have grown up attending classes like these and now they are taking over the reins. They also lead the junior youth “spiritual empowerment program” which includes taking part in the Cancer Council’s Relay for Life fundraiser.
Parents from a variety of faith backgrounds are happy for their children to receive the spiritual nourishment provided in these classes and activities.
Some of these parents join with Bahá’ís in our devotional meetings and also in our study circles in which participants reflect on ways of contributing to the betterment of society -- that includes thinking about the kinds of issues raised in the Universal House of Justice’s message.
Looking into my newborn, sleeping grandson’s face this week, I couldn’t help but wonder how all the babies of today will fare with the challenges of life tomorrow.