Baha'i

When the mic does not switch off
Added: Wednesday, 2 June 2010

watch original V-Blog in Persian

How does the whole privacy debate around social networking sites and the web affect you? Personally, there are days when I’m tempted to remove myself off Facebook and times when I leave my cell phone at home or just fall off the radar. Because it’s not just the web. A cell phone can be a constant indicator of where you are too. These days instant messaging programs, Twitter and other cell phone applications like The Grid enable you to share exactly where you are on the map at any given time – sometimes without your knowledge. I find that a little discomforting. As do many of you, I’m sure.

But then again I can’t remember a time in my life when comfort led to anything good. In my experience discomfort is a much better path to take. So here I am, looking for the benefit in all this “invasion of privacy”.

I once read that privacy is a relative term. If you believe in the inherent oneness of the human family, then even the most private decisions of others are no longer entirely a matter of each to his own, but rather a matter of collective implication. On a societal level this is not so hard to accept: if a nation decides on an energy policy, for example, this naturally affects all other nations - especially if they have to pay the price for it. In this age of political, social and environmental interdependence, the consequences of our decisions don’t stay within our national borders.

But when the theory extends to an individual level, it gets more complicated. If you stay with the theory that we’re all one, then if someone decides to, say, kill themselves, it’s not just his or her own business but everyone’s. Now that’s a little harder to digest. But the thinking is that even those whose lives don’t seem to be directly connected to the person's are ultimately affected by his or her decision. This is because life is like a delicate ecosystem. Every individual is a cell, and each cell is necessary and vital for the functioning of the whole. What you do affects the human organism as a whole. This is a bold ideological position to take. It means that we don’t only have rights, such as the right to live the way we want or the right to do with our lives what we want, but also a responsibility – a responsibility towards others and towards the whole.

I think that many of us believe this and don’t believe it at the same time. On the one hand we’re more or less happy to exercise some responsibilities by paying taxes, by not littering, by obeying traffic laws or other laws. But we resist being answerable to anything "bigger" than ourselves, when we feel that our own personal comfort or sense of self-determination is compromised.

But while we don’t want anyone else reading our personal messages on Facebook, we get upset when Gordon Brown slips up as he’s getting into his car with the mic still on. But how many of us talk about our own family members in worse ways than he did about that voter? We don’t always mean it that way. We allow ourselves to let off steam in private. And so beyond the danger of credit-card fraud or identity theft, the “invasion of privacy” - the availability of our info to third parties; the microphone that is left on at all times – has a tendency to shed a light onto the discrepancy between who we are and who we profess to be. It exposes our hypocrisy and amplifies our mistakes or shortcomings - sometimes in cruel and disproportionate ways.

I know that there are many dangers and fears involved with the abuse of privacy. But with the mic being on at all times, one advantage is that we are pushed to live lives that are more conscious and in line with what we believe is right. It can help us narrow the gap between our theoretic values and our actual application of them. It may help us exercise more caution and wisdom in what we say and how we act. And this means that we as a human family can move towards more refinement and unity.

Things I'm thankful for this Naw Ruz
Added: Friday, 19 March 2010

watch original V-Blog in Persian

I’m thankful to be discovering the fast in a whole new way. I have not been able to fast this year. It’s been bittersweet, because I miss the sense of strength and freedom that fasting gives me. But I suppose having to eat has made me realize that we are sometimes still “attached” to food, even by not eating. The trick is to be in the same “fasting” state of mind whether you are eating or not. It’s a journey for me and the best part of the day is sunrise. I’ve never been one for sunsets – they pierce my heart and bring me sadness. Sunrise fills me with joy and reminds me of the light that is filling this world in this age of transition.

Here's some food for thought on the fast:

"Some people lay stress on fasting. They affirm that in augmenting the weakness of the body they develop a spiritual sensibility and thus they think to approach God.

"Weakening one's self physically does not necessarily contribute to spiritual progress. Humility, kindness, resignation, and all these spiritual attributes emanating from great physical strength are acceptable to God. That an enfeebled man cannot fight is not accounted a virtue. Were physical weakness a virtue the dead would be perfect, for they can do nothing.

"If a man be just, kind, humble and merciful and his qualities are acquired through the will-power -- this is Godlike. A child cannot kill a man; but a Bonaparte can abstain from war, from shedding blood, from devastating countries. A dumb person will not speak ill of any one, a paralyzed hand cannot strike; but a strong arm can refrain from striking. Justice, love and kindness must be the instruments of strength, not of weakness.

"Exaggerated fasting destroys the divine forces. God has created man in a way that cannot be surpassed; we must not try to change his creation. Strive to attain nearness to reality through the acquisition of strength of character, through morality, through good works and helping the poor, through being consumed with the fire of the love of God and in discovering each day new spiritual mysteries. This is the path of intimate approach."

Abdu'l-Baha, "Divine Philosophy," p. 98

The birth of something new
Added: Wednesday, 17 June 2009

watch original V-Blog in Persian

In 1979 my mother had to cross the border from Austria to Germany or Switzerland to place a long-distance call to her parents in Iran. A revolution had broken out and she wanted to know how and where they were. Things were going crazy. There was mayhem. And in my mother's stomach I lay, feeling the anxiety of an unsure future.

30 years later and my son is born. He is barely 6 months old and yet he has to share my attention with Twitter, Facebook and CNN because once again, a revolution is breaking out in Iran. In the short term, who knows what will come out of the commotion that was born on Saturday? In the long term, however, we all know that Iran will never be the same again.

The world is hearing a nation wailing for change. Whatever happened on Saturday, it opened a pandora's box of emotions and energy. But above and beyond the noise and the violence, I hope that Iranians will find the love and peace they seek. And my prayer is that they find it with as little bloodshed as possible. Sustainable change takes hard work, and a lot of love and patience.

Maybe my son, Jonah Caspian, can be a participant in that great nation's future.

I lost my prejudices
Added: Wednesday, 29 April 2009

watch original V-Blog in Persian

watch original V-Blog in German

The following is a translation of a letter from a German-speaking viewer of my v-blogs. I thought it was so candid and refreshingly inspiring, I'd share it with you all:

"Not long ago I was on a flight to go and see my family. I don't generally consider myself racist or prejudiced, since I am myself of Indian descent and know what it's like to be discriminated against, but I guess if we're really honest, we all are a little prejudiced at times. As I was waiting at the gate, I saw five Arab men who were praying in preparation for their flight. They were all dressed in traditional attire. I'm a woman and I suddenly felt uncomfortable around those men. Perhaps because I felt that they were looking at me or judging me for not being dressed like a Moslem woman should. I hoped that I would not be sitting next to them.

Of course I ended up right in the middle of them. The plane was pretty full and it was difficult to find another seat. One of them started praying again and I wondered why he had to do that next to me. I guess my body language betrayed the fact that I was feeling uncomfortable, because when I looked around for another seat, a white, German lady caught my eye and sympathetically said, "I know how you're feeling. I wouldn't want to sit next to these kinds of people either."

I found myself going red in the face. I was really ashamed that someone, whom I would consider racist, was 'bonding' with me. Had my discomfort been so obvious? Were my prejudices written all over my face? I kept thinking, that's not what I stand for.

When it was time to eat, they brought the food for the Moslem gentlemen first, as it was halaal. And then something happened that shook me up thoroughly. For some reason, the five men, who had been sitting next to and behind me, didn't open their dinner packs, but instead sat there and waited. At first I thought they might be fasting or praying. But then, 15 minutes later, when my food came, they all began eating with me. And it hit me – they had had the decency to wait for me to eat.

In that moment, as we sat together and ate dinner, I felt so connected to these gentlemen and so alienated from myself and the lady that had spoken to me earlier on. No word was every exchanged between me and the men next me, nothing was ever said, but that elegant and mannered gesture had spoken more than words and had impressed me beyond imagination.

I don't know. You told us to look for the good in people and this was an example of how I had looked for the negative, but in the end I realized how wrong I'd been. For the remainder of the flight I realized that none of these men had looked at me strangely or judgmentally. That the only one with judgmental eyes had been me. This experience has certainly changed me for the better."

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6 July 2008

The Fudus

"Birds of a feather should flock together" is what many people think - even when they profess to be open-minded and progressive. This too, is what many people thought of Hailey and Malibongwe, when they were getting married. Can this work? Different colors, different races, different cultures?

The Fudus and their gorgeous babies with their Persio-Arabic names, Tajalli & Dayyan, managed to melt the hearts of even the toughest of skeptics, proving that theirs is a bond deeper and truer than those of most other marriages. The Fudus share a culture that all humans have in common: the spiritual one.

Also available with Persian subtitles

CREDITS:
A Film by - Leyla & Ryan Haidarian

MUSIC:
"Exegesis" & "Time Machine" by DR ATOMIC
from the cd HALLUCIGNOSIS

"Folk Rift"
by RYAN HAIDARIAN

"Happy People"
by AMAL MA'ANI from the cd SHAMAL



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6 July 2008

The Fudus

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"Birds of a feather should flock together" is what many people think - even when they profess to be open-minded and progressive. This too, is what many people thought of Hailey and Malibongwe, when they were getting married. Can this work? Different colors, different races, different cultures?

The Fudus and their gorgeous babies with their Persio-Arabic names, Tajalli & Dayyan, managed to melt the hearts of even the toughest of skeptics, proving that theirs is a bond deeper and truer than those of most other marriages. The Fudus share a culture that all humans have in common: the spiritual one.

CREDITS:
A Film by - Leyla & Ryan Haidarian

MUSIC:
"Exegesis" & "Time Machine" by DR ATOMIC
from the cd HALLUCIGNOSIS

"Folk Rift"
by RYAN HAIDARIAN

"Happy People"
by AMAL MA'ANI from the cd SHAMAL



More Videos

Most Watched

BAWF-pic-320x240.jpg
KarynPic320z240.jpg
Gems-320x240.jpg
Rate The Video
Average: 5 (2 votes)


8 May 2008

How Long Will This Go On?

Dedicated to anybody who believes in equality of men and women: A short clip on discriminations against women all around the world.

Hilda Hashempour is an Iranian/Canadian actor, producer and director recently residing in United States. She left Iran on 2003 due to religious oppression as a Baha'i.



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Growing by the grace of others
Added: Tuesday, 8 January 2008

watch original V-Blog in Persian

When you grow up as an Iranian Baha'i outside of Iran, you often sub-consciously shy away from Moslem Iranians. Considering the history of persecutions of Baha'is in Iran, this might be understandable, but not excusable.

Our Faith teaches us the uncompromising love and acceptance of all faiths and peoples of the earth. We believe that the world's collective salvation depends on the very unity of all the world's people. But as a kid, vulnerable, incomplete and striving (as I am now) to be a Baha'i, I had fear of being rejected by Moslems if they knew I was a Baha'i. This has been greatly remedied by an amazing Moslem family that I've gotten to know over the last 2 years. They have been the catalyst for us coming together, they have initiated social get-togethers, nourished our friendship and accepted and loved us despite our shortcomings - and we have many. My husband and I, being quite "westernized" in our upbringing, have many habits that come across as insensitive towards Persians, and yet they have dealt with us, always, with a sin-covering eye. Now if that is not a sign that there is great hope for the people of Iran, then I don't know. Here is a perfect example of people who sacrifice so much to show us love. They have tried to create an atmosphere in their home where we feel comfortable. I'm am deeply touched and this makes me feel super hopeful for Iran's future.

On a side note: I want to acknowledge a few other people who are of different Faiths, but have been agents of unity and love, reaching across cultural and religious boundaries and deep into my heart: I have a welter of Born-Again Christian friends at the African Children's Choir who have worked with me and have also been amazingly loving. They never make me feel like I'm not going to heaven ☺ - they make me feel like I'm already there. My friend Rebby, who is a devout Catholic, and has loved and shared with me our mutual love of Christ and of God since childhood, my friends in Tel Aviv who are Jewish Iranians and who's generosity and love for peace and unity has been indescribably inspiring to me, my Hindu friends Yashika and Sadhna, my Buddhist friend Alyna, my Sikh friend Kuldeep and his generous family and my Zoroastrian friends that I've met in Austria and who's wisdom and patience has tenderized many a heart.

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