Preferences And Principles

It seems to me that we live in a materialist society that encourages us to exercise subjective choice as consumers but discourages us from having objective ideals and values as human beings. Advertisers use consumer preference to promote the illusion of liberty whereas in reality the choice is merely between buying the same model in different colours.

The New Zealand educationalist John  Heenan wrote that

Preferences and principles are opposites. Preferences are subjective while principles are objective. Values, that are preferences, are something “to have,” but values that are principles, are something “to be.”

We may not always live up to our ideals but I believe it is by trying to apply our guiding principles in everyday life that we are ennobled and our lives are given meaning.  It is one of the reasons that I am grateful to have been touched by the teachings of Baha’u’llah at an early age.

Baha’u’llah teaches that there is one God who has revealed His will through progressive revelation by his Divine Messengers. The common objective of these Divine Messengers is to promote the spiritual and social development of the human race. Humanity has reached such a stage of development that it’s unification in one peaceful world community is now possible. In order to promote this peaceful world community Baha’u’llah enunciated principles that include

  • That humankind is one family
  • That the religions have one common divine source
  • That true religion is consistent with reason and the quest for scientific understanding
  • That extremes of poverty and wealth should be avoided
  • That universal education should be made available to all-an education both spiritual and material in character
  • That all forms of prejudice should be left behind
  • That the sexes are equal, ‘the wings of a single bird’
  • That a world commonwealth of nations should be created, founded on principles of peace and justice

Denied Right To Burial As A Baha’i In Iran

In an outrageous new incident of religious discrimination, authorities in the city of Tabriz, Iran, have refused to allow Baha’is to bury a relative in accordance with Baha’i law – and instead have promised to entomb the deceased woman without a coffin under Muslim rites.  “To anyone who understands the culture of the Middle East, the idea that the government would force a family to bury their loved one according to the rites of another religion is beyond the pale,” said Diane Ala’i, the representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations in Geneva. She noted that according to Baha’i rites of burial, the deceased must be interred in a coffin, whereas under Muslim law, no coffin is used.  “This incident demonstrates the almost unbelievable length to which Iranian authorities are willing to go to express their prejudice and animosity against Baha’is,” she said. The incident began on Monday when authorities in Tabriz told the family of Mrs. Fatemeh-Soltan Zaeri that they would be unable to bury her in the local cemetery according to Baha’i law. Instead, they said, she would have to be interred according to Muslim customs. The family objected, noting that the cemetery has always been accessible to members of all religions in the area to bury their dead as they wished. In response to this protest, authorities demanded that Mrs. Zaeri be buried without a coffin – and they withheld her body for 48 hours, preventing them from taking her body somewhere else. Yesterday, when the family member contacted cemetery authorities again, pleading that her body be released so they could bury her elsewhere, they were advised that she would be buried on Thursday anyway, without a coffin, in a Muslim ceremony – and that only her husband would be allowed to be present.

Source: BWNS

Iran- Where Education Is ‘Conspiracy’

The paranoid attitude of the Iranian authorities towards members of the Baha’i Faith in Iran is evident in the latest news reported by BWNS

Some nine weeks after they were arrested, 11 Iranian Baha’is – associated with an initiative offering higher education to young community members barred from university – are now reportedly facing charges. The Baha’i International Community has learned that, by establishing the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education, the 11 are accused of “conspiracy against national security” and “conspiracy against the Islamic Republic of Iran.””What could possibly motivate the Islamic Republic to make such a charge?” asks Diane Ala’i, representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations in Geneva.A widespread international outcry has followed the latest attack on the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE), in which some 39 homes were raided at the end of May. Of the 19 BIHE staff or faculty members who were originally detained in connection with the raids, 11 remain in prison.