The Roman God Janus
In the current cold weather I wonder about the spiritual appropriateness of starting a new year in the depths of winter rather than springtime. The first month of the year January has it’s origins in the Roman calendar and is named after two-headed Janus the god of beginnings and endings. Even in Roman times January was not always the first month of the year. The legendary King Numa Pompilius, is attributed with adding the months of January and February in order to create a standard lunar year. (Apparently in the previously used Roman calendar the first month of the year was March until it was changed in about 450 BC). In more recent times the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin on the 25th March was New Year’s Day until 1752. Personally I favour the Spring Equinox and the festival of Naw-Rúz as marking the true turning point of the year…
In December the United Nations once more condemned human right abuses in Iran.
By a vote of 78 to 45, with 59 abstentions, the UN General Assembly confirmed a resolution that expressed “deep concern at serious ongoing and recurring human rights violations.” In more than two decades of such resolutions about Iran, the vote passed with one of the highest percentages ever. The resolution specifically expressed concern over Iran’s “intensified crackdown on human rights defenders and reports of excessive use of force, arbitrary detentions, unfair trials and allegations of torture,” as well as its “pervasive gender inequality and violence against women,” and its discrimination against minorities, including members of the Baha’i Faith. “The world community has clearly spoken. It is outraged at Iran’s continued and intensifying violations of human rights,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations. Welcoming the result Ms. Dugal noted that the resolution documents a wide range of violations, from torture to the oppression of women to the persecution of minorities. “All of this has been going on for too long, and it is high time that Iran pays heed to the call of the international community and complies with the standards of international law,” she said. The resolution devoted an entire paragraph to Iran’s treatment of members of the Baha’i Faith, cataloging an extensive list of recent anti-Baha’i activities. These included: “increasing evidence of efforts by the State to identify, monitor and arbitrarily detain Baha’is, preventing members of the Baha’i faith from attending university and from sustaining themselves economically, the confiscation and destruction of their property, and the vandalizing of their cemeteries…” It also expressed concern over the recent trial and sentencing of seven Baha’i leaders, saying they were “repeatedly denied the due process of law.”