Happy birthday
Added: Thursday, 20 March 2008

watch original V-Blog in Persian

A few decades or so ago a little baby was born in the then booming city of Tehran, Iran. It was spring equinox, known as Naw Ruz, and my young, stylish grandma and grandpa were the lucky parents. Yes, it was my mommy who was born that night at midnight. Sure, in those days there were many challenges. Life was not perfect, as it rarely is. But little did my family know that those were to be, despite everything, the most carefree years of their life; a life that was to become increasingly harder and more traumatic.

When I look at my family's black and white and then Kodak-brown photos of Iran, I see youth, energy, beauty. In all their photos, my family seemed to look toward their future with a sparkle and yet a wisdom or slight foreboding they could not have consciously anticipated then.

Things didn't come as they had perhaps expected. When the revolution took its course, my family ended up with my great-parents, who had settled in Austria in the 1950s. Their wisdom crystallized in time, but as a result of much hardship and pain. Yet no matter what turn the rollercoaster of life has taken them, they rode along in it, as strong and dignified as they humanly could – always holding on to their Faith in God. Knowing some of the things my family has been through, and yet thinking of their strong, broad and heart-melting smiles as they defy some of life's ugliest facets infuses me with great strength.

"Were it not for the cold, how would the heat of thy words prevail?..." it says in the Fire Tablet. This sentence has accompanied me for as long as I have known this Prayer. In this cold world, my mother has been a beacon of light and warmth, a gentle, kind and above all compassionate human being. Her compassion is so great, that it has the power to lift a person's suffering as she completely absorbs it into herself. When I think of my mom I think of sunshine and flowers. And the irony is, that she thinks so little of herself.

One of her many gifts was to pass onto me the sweet and passionate Persian language and a love and 'sense' of Iran. My grandma, who was my other mother really, would often sit at night and read with me stories of rabbits and hedge-hogs, of snow-men and children, of everything that Persian children would read about in the books they had somehow salvaged. It was a tedious process for them to teach me Persian in Austria, back then, a very xenophobic country. But they did it anyway. And their stories of the Tajreesh bridge, of the fruit seller who would come around on his donkey, the stories of the various different neighborhoods, the romantic villages and villagers, the bazaars, the stories of the crazy Terooni drivers, of the mosques of Isfahan, of Chatanooga Café and the impressive Radiocity Cinema...all these things colored my childhood fantasy. I soaked it up and went there with them, to a place that they wanted to pass onto me, if only in spirit.

They've done a great job. It's my mom's birthday and I thank God for the blessing of her. It is because of her labor that I can even open my mouth and say anything coherent. Happy Naw Ruz mother – it's a new day. And as cold and dark as the world may feel, it is the light of your likes that shows us the way.

And a few extra ones
Added: Monday, 25 February 2008

watch original V-Blog in Persian

Every year at this time, Baha'is and Persians all over the world prepare for the celebration of Naw Ruz, which literally means "new day" and marks the beginning of the new-year. The new-year begins at equinox, when spring is celebrated in the northern hemisphere and autumn starts in the southern hemisphere. While Persians have a strong cultural emphasis, Baha'is celebrate the new-year as a global festivity with multi-cultural flavors and a spiritual emphasis.

I must admit, that I still have my challenges with the fact that my birth month, July, is considered "winter" in South Africa, my home of over 5 years. There was always something extremely exciting to look forward to when t-shirt weather arrived and the ice-cream parlors all over Vienna filled up in anticipation of the long-awaited summer. Vanilla and chocolate were my flavors.

Much has changed since my childhood days. Global warming might be a point of discussion for scientists, but for me, it's apparent as the noon-day sun! Winter has been cutting well into the spring above the Tropic of Cancer and extreme heat has been dominating autumn below the Tropic of Capricorn.

And that's a shame, because this time of the year is supposed to be the "mild" season. In preparation for Baha'i New Year on March 21st, Baha'is have some special days in which they fast – ideally during the mildest time of the year. And in preparation for the Fast they have some extra special days: The Baha'i Calendar is comprised of 19 months with each 19 days, leaving a few "extra" ones, which Baha'u'llah named Ayyam-i-Ha (the Days of Ha), or the intercalary Days. Those days, February 26 to March 1, inclusive, should be days of preparation for the Fast, days of hospitality, charity and the giving of presents. All of this is our festive season!

With my mind in a million other places than this season, I took my dog, Rocky, for a quick walk yesterday. As our feet moved through the streets, I worried about upcoming projects, bills, and the tangible misery of so many South Africans. The gentleman who comes and works on my garden once a week had told me that his tin-shack had been raided and he'd lost all his processions. I thought of his gentle and weathered face, a man of barely 40 who looks 60 and whose teeth have fallen out because dentists are an unthinkable luxury for him. Just a few months ago he sat crying on my steps, because his sister had been killed in the townships for having a successful fruit stand that some were obviously jealous of. Anger welled up inside me as I picked up my pace with Rocky and thought of how overwhelmed you can feel in South Africa with the problems around you.

Then I bumped into 3 children. I recognized them, because they're the ones who always play outside this one house down the street. Their nearby school finishes at 3pm and they hang around outside the home, where their mothers work as domestic servants. As they were petting and drooling over my doggy I zapped back into where I was and the world around me. Suddenly they wanted to hug me. As they hugged me, I wondered where South Africans can find so much love among such hardship. I kissed their foreheads and looked at their moms, smiling nearby. And then it came to me. I busted out with something of a lie: "Hey! I do children's classes in my home on Thursdays after school. The kids should come!" The moms were enchanted and happy. I dashed home, printed an impromptu invitation and dashed back to hand it to them. They were surprised I wasn't going to charge. I pitched it as a safe place to be after school, with fun activities, arts, moral education and a service-to-the-community component. I know the Baha'is have a lot of materials along these lines and the kids were happy.

I walked back, relieved and uplifted, thinking of the Intercalary Days, which are a time of giving and sharing. This was one drop in an ocean of work to be done to help young South African children, but it was something. I remembered my friend who had told me of her woes of pre-teen pregnancies, AIDS and alcohol. Maybe I could help even one kid to find a more meaningful path. When I got home, Ryan had packed an industrial bag of clothes for our gardener, so that he and his family would have something to wear and a few extras to make the current suffering a little easier.

Thus began the preparation for the preparation (Intercalary Days) for the preparation (the Fast) of the New Year in our house! The Intercalary Days of focused giving and sharing are followed by The Fast from March 2 to Naw Ruz, March 21. It's going to be challenging to provide my new kids with snacks and food while I'm fasting, but I actually think they'll put me in the right mind-set to get me through the last hours before sunset every Thursday before the New Year. In the Baha'i Fast we're told it's not about the body so much as it is about the soul. It's a time of focusing on the important things in life and preparing for the new year. Should someone not be able to fast for medical or age-related reasons, that's absolutely fine and such a person might actually champion the spirit better than someone who rigorously fasts but misses the point!

So happy upcoming new years every one!

A love story
Added: Monday, 18 February 2008

watch original V-Blog in Persian

Picture a piano. Imagine a Steinway, dark, shiny, noble, sitting in a beautiful room. Behold the keys, black and white, ebony and ivory, interwoven, playful, dancing, loving. Feel the symphony rising in you, through you, and above you. Listen to the multitude of notes in perfect harmony. If I say the keys are in love, you'll agree.

But what if they weren't? What if, instead of loving each other they "co-existed" or "tolerated" each other? What would this piano sound like?

When we talk about peace in the Middle-East or the harmony of women and men, the equality of races or religions, our highest aspiration thus far seams to be "tolerance" and "co-existence". With such an aim, what tones do we expect to produce? Sure, it sounds better than if the keys were, in fact, at war with other, but perhaps silence is better than a piano whose keys endure each other. Especially since they're intricately connected. When one key strums, they all vibrate.

It's just like the fingers of a hand or the parts of a body. If your heart tolerated your kidneys, tolerated your lungs, tolerated your liver would you be healthy? Or if your fingers co-existed with each other or with your hands, would you be functional?

You get the picture. Love is the force of attraction. Cohesion is the physical manifestation of this spiritual force. Cohesion holds together the very molecules of our physical realities as well as the macro-structures, the planets, our solar system, our universe. Love is integration and functionality. Lack of love and cohesion is tantamount to fragmentation and disintegration.

Baha'u'llah says "O SON OF MAN! I loved thy creation, hence I created thee..." Love is the foundation of everything, the reason religions appear. And yet we take religion and pervert it so badly that it causes Baha'u'llah (in The Hidden Words) to bewail the state of those criminals who call themselves pious:

O YE THAT ARE FOOLISH, YET HAVE A NAME TO BE WISE! Wherefore do ye wear the guise of shepherds, when inwardly ye have become wolves, intent upon My flock? Ye are even as the star, which riseth ere the dawn, and which, though it seem radiant and luminous, leadeth the wayfarers of My city astray into the paths of perdition."

It's hard not to think of Iran – one of many places in this world where crime has been and is committed in the name of love. And yet Iran, this place of confusion, hurt, paradoxes and fragmentation is the cradle of the biggest love story of recent time. In 1844 in the city of Shiraz this story began. A message of love was born that was to be the most all-embracing love humanity had ever seen thus far. This was the love of no single person, people, no single religion, race, culture, tribe, political conviction, gender or nation. This was the love of humanity. This was the love of the notes of a symphony, of the members of one organism. This limitless love was born on the holy land of Iran and its people have yet to own it and be its ambassadors.

Until Iranians discover this love they will not rise to the grandeur that is theirs as the safe keepers of this love story. If you look at Iran's history, a nation that brought forth the first declaration of human rights, a nation with so much passion, pain and love that its art and culture bleed with longing, you realize that it has been groomed as the setting for such a love since time immemorial. The Iranian who embraces this love of humanity is the greatest patriot. The Iranian who resorts to the small-mindedness of his narrowly defined and limited forms of love is, I believe, its greatest enemy.

In the words of Abdul-Baha, one of Iran's greatest lovers:

O people of Persia! The heart is a divine trust; cleanse it from the stain of self-love, adorn it with the coronal of pure intent, until the sacred honor, the abiding greatness of this illustrious nation may shine out like the true morning in an auspicious heaven. This handful of days on earth will slip away like shadows and be over. Strive then that God may shed His grace upon you, that you may leave a favorable remembrance in the hearts and on the lips of those to come. "And grant that I be spoken of with honor by posterity."

Happy the soul that shall forget his own good, and like the chosen ones of God, vie with his fellows in service to the good of all; until, strengthened by the blessings and perpetual confirmations of God, he shall be empowered to raise this mighty nation up to its ancient pinnacles of glory, and restore this withered land to sweet new life, and as a spiritual springtime, array those trees which are the lives of men with the fresh leaves, the blossoms and fruits of consecrated joy.

And how I'm inviting my guarded neighbor
Added: Monday, 21 January 2008

watch original V-Blog in Persian

When I started out blogging it was one way for me to inspire people to think about living purposefully and independently of prevalent trends. So I hope that in each blog I've included some new perspectives on life and its facets. The other day my sister-in-law called me and said: 'I like it when it's more about you. And give me some cliffhangers!' I get what she means. She's talking about the application of my insights.

Truth is, I find myself uninteresting in so far as I have nothing to offer of my own except my independent and gradual discovery of awe and wonderment about the revelation of Baha'u'llah. Which, I guess, is my story. And of that I can never stop telling.

I checked out several Iranian blogs (Iran is the number one blogging country in the world) and what I found was really intriguing. It seems that for the most part though, people love to be cynical. When you're cynical, dark and tortured your blog becomes popular. Persians especially, love to complain and point fingers at everyone: all the governments of the world, the 'ignorant Iranians' who fled the revolution and spent the last 30 abroad and have 'no idea of the actual realities and issues in the country', the ignorant Iranians within Iran - even the mountain people of Nicaragua get blamed...And there is certainly a huge emphasis on personal struggles and sometimes an over indulgence in one's own life. But nobody takes a long hard look at themselves and the role they are playing in perpetuating the fragmentation that is going right now. And more importantly nobody is asking: how do we get out of this mess?

While I find all of these blogs amazingly interesting and testimonies of the time we're living in, I'm trying to inspire us to lift our heads and look around. Unless you stand on higher ground, you're not going to get the bigger picture. But I agree that this should start with me.

So I'm ending my blog with an introspective and proactive note in honor of my big sis. What can Leyla do today to make the world a little better? I'm going to try and invite my neighbor over for cake and coffee. She's an old widow who lives on her own. We've only ever talked over the fence. Our conversations have revolved around dogs, real estate prices and her sentiments of not fitting into the new South Africa as a white person. She also complains about the foreigners who come here and take over (except for me of course) and she feels left out of her own country. She says that there is reverse-apartheid now. Although I might not agree with her views and although they may bug me - those are sentiments I cannot ignore or write off. In fact, on some level I can identify with them. I'm considered an outsider in Iran, because of my Faith, I'm considered an outsider in Austria, because I'm half Iranian, I'm considered an outsider in South Africa because people think I'm American and Americans are not popular right now. So let one 'homeless' soul invite another in a quest for love and I'll tell you about it all next time!

My heaven and hell
Added: Wednesday, 16 January 2008

watch original V-Blog in Persian

Cover image In her book, "Persepolis", which has now been made into an animated film, Marjane Satrapi tells the simple tale of her experiences going through the revolution in Iran and fleeing the country into Austria. It was a very interesting book for me, because it presented an experience and details of political happenings from a perspective I had not encountered in much detail yet.

Whatever my views on the happenings had been previously, I realized that there is no one perspective. Truth is multi-faceted. Every single Iranian, no matter what social class, tribal background and religious or political persuasion they came from had their own view and experience of this revolution. To deny the legitimacy of the emotions of any one side is to deny one's own humanity. After all the blood-shed and torture that Iranians have put themselves and others through, it's hard for most of them to find a vision and hope for the country. As I mentioned in my recent blog, many are fleeing into the underground drug scene, others are forced to compromise their principles and carry out actions they don't necessarily agree with, and women are selling themselves and their children in order to stay alive. Where is the hope?

Persepolis was undoubtedly an interesting book with many valuable moments and details. However, one 'scene' vividly stayed in my mind – and this without me having watched the movie version. It was the scene where Marjan Satrapi's parents decide to send her to Austria for safety. For reasons that escape me now, they could not travel with her. They rush their young daughter to the airport and ask her to go, go, go, board the plane and not look back. Whatever she does, she should not look back. The young girl, Marjan, kisses her parents in the frantic moments of goodbye and makes her way though the terminal. But she can't help it, she must look back. And when she does, she sees her mother has fainted in her father's arms.

The incredible pain, love and selflessness involved in this scene transcends all political, religious and racial boundaries. It reminds us of our deep, deep humanity. Love is what binds us all. And love is something that Persians are extremely good at. They excel at it. They can die for it as any mother would die for her child, or on the flipside: kill for it. That's how passionate their love is. As Persians, we must focus on the love we have in our hearts. The love we express with our unique language, unparalleled poetry, family bonds and our passion for life. If that love is directed towards all of humanity, like a mirror directed to the sun, it can illuminate the whole world. If, however, that same love is directed to selfish desires and prejudiced and fanatic pursuits, it can consume humanity in a fire of destruction.

To be the best Persian I can be, I must love humanity and understand what my unique contribution to it is. "The advantage of the part in a world society is best served by promoting the advantage of the whole" (from a Baha'i statement on Peace ). So to be the best Iranian (South African, Austrian) I can be, I must promote the wellbeing of the world as a whole. This makes me more of a patriot than any narrow-minded nationalist whose philosophy limits his love and his nation's true freedom and expression. Of this, I am a thousand percent convinced.

I'm cracking on the inside
Added: Sunday, 13 January 2008

watch original V-Blog in Persian

I was at a Persian 'mehmooni' (dinner-party) the other night and one young man, who had just stepped off the boat from Iran said, "How refreshing: a dinner party with food and conversation. I'm so excited!" I asked him what he meant, as I've never known any other kind of dinner-party. He laughed and said, "honey, in Tehran, a 'mehmooni' is a crack fest – you can chose between crack, cocaine or heroine."

He described the grim underground social scene and a generation of young people paralyzed by drugs. But then I thought of my own world here in South Africa, Europe or America and I thought – things are not really that different here either. You've got a lot of people hiding from the pressures and demands of the world by getting wasted regularly on Friday nights, taking drugs or obsessing over other, insignificant things in life: You get the compulsive shoe shoppers, the fame and fashion obsessed divas, the body obsessed gym goers, the medication gobblers and all other forms of indulgence and pain avoidance. I'm no exception. My favorite form of escapism is watching the Style Channel! Finola Hughs and Neicy Nash soothe my frustrations. We do anything to forget the insurmountable challenges presented to us by an ailing world and our responsibilities vis-a-vis these challenges, as unique human beings with a unique set of talents, skills and insights.

That's why often, when I invite people to my home to discuss some of the world's challenges, I feel that many people shy away. Because they realize that life and faith are not about sitting in church on Sundays or improving your personal 'om' whenever you feel its convenient, but about seriously reconsidering your choices and doing the work required to create more understanding and love in the world. It's hard work! Much easier to sit back and get numb or focus on fun stuff. But the consequences are sooner or later to be felt. If you put your love in ephemeral things, such as recognition, success, money, 'fun' or boos, then your love will reflect those things and be ephemeral. If you put your love in eternal and truly beautiful things, it will be just that.

Here's an amazing passage you just have to read from HB Danesh's work, UNITY, the Creative Foundation of PEACE. Danesh is an MD, a psychiatrist and behaviorist whose insights are poignant and disturbingly sobering:

"Pleasure-orientation, an important characteristic of the indulgent person and society, usually develops in circumstances where material prosperity precedes emotional maturity, allowing for a lifestyle of self-centeredness and self-indulgence. Examples of this type of societal orientation are to be found in the Roman Empire before its fall and in the twentieth century Western civilization. One of the main reasons for the development of a pleasure-oriented lifestyle is the absence of a well-formulated purpose and the hedonistic approach to life, it discards its reason for being. As a result, the individuals and institutions in that society soon give up hope for growth and development. In his book, The Culture of Narcissism, Christopher Lasch describes this process:

Having no hope of improving their lives in any of the ways that matter, people have convinced themselves that what matters is psychic self-improvement: getting in touch with their feelings, eating health foods, taking lessons in ballet or belly-dancing, immersing themselves in the wisdom of the East, jogging, learning to 'relate', overcoming the 'fear of pleasure'

Such an approach to life is, in essence, chaotic. All endeavors are aimed at the avoidance of pain, and more importantly, at achieving gratification and pleasure. Any other objective would require discipline, hard work, postponement of gratification, willingness to suffer and experience pain, the ability to work in harmony and cooperation with others and to be of service to one's fellow man. Such qualities are needed for the creation of a healthy relationship but are almost nonexistent in the life of an indulgent person.

In addition to the promotion of pleasure-orientation and a chaotic lifestyle, the indulgent mode of human communication creates anarchy and disorder both in the individual and in society. The only source of authority and power that the indulgent person acknowledges is gratification. He seeks freedom similar to that which animals possess: the freedom to gratify biological and instinctual needs and desires, without according due consideration to the other realities of complex human relationships. These individuals rationalize all of their self-centered activities in the name of individual freedom, the freedom to do whatever one pleases as long as it does not interfere with the rights of others. In reality, however, at one level, all people are interrelated. There is a universal ecology of life, which, at the level of human relationships, creates a universal interdependence similar to the organs and parts of a body. Thus, for example, the health or illness of one individual ultimately affects others as well. Consequently the actions of the indulgent individual do interfere with the rights and lives of others. The indulgent individual ignores this fact and, subsequently, introduces anarchy into interpersonal relationships.

Finally, the intellectual and emotional characteristics of an indulgent individual have serious consequences for both the individual and society at large. The continuous pursuit of pleasure often results in a lifestyle characterized by the quest for instant gratification, which, in turn, requires a willingness to sacrifice fundamental principles of quality, integrity, and beauty. In the indulgent lifestyle, emotions are an end in themselves. The individual seeks joy and happiness but refuses to submit to the self-discipline and control required for creativity and growth, prerequisites for true joy and happiness. The indulgent person avoids the pain and discomfort of growth and thus hampers the progress of this maturity and development. "

A journey from black and white to technicolor
Added: Monday, 26 November 2007

watch original V-Blog in Persian

Yesterday I had coffee with a journalist. He asked me about the Persian language. I told him what a delicate, fine and refined language it was, expressing such nuances that I couldn't imagine communicating in any other tongue. I told him, for example, the meaning of "ghorbunet beram" – which translates into "may my life be a sacrifice to yours", a phrase that sounds much more natural in Persian and which we use as casually as "see you soon!" He was fascinated by my accounts of how compassionate and poetic our culture and heritage is. He then paused to ask me something that I was not prepared for. He asked, "with such compassion and love in their veins, why then, do Iranians treat Baha'is so badly?"

I looked at him and admitted that I had no sufficient answer for this. But his question reverberated in my head the whole day. Of course there were many answers: any nation and people is capable of great good and great bad. Pick any nation, including South Africa, and you see in it a microcosm of both man's capacity to destroy and his capacity to nurture. Another answer might lie in theology, another in politics. Yet another answer might lie in the incredible power of ignorance that is born of backbiting and lies and is spread by a few and accepted by many. But none of these were really sufficient in my heart. Because deep down I am touched by the warmth and selfless attitude of my Persian friends, regardless of their religious background, and it is hard for me to understand why such a great people can be so petty.

And often this pettiness is all that people see. I thought of myself growing up in Austria. I was always Austrian on the one hand, but darker, more ethnic on the other. And when people asked me what my background was, I couldn't say "Persian" and much less "Iranian" with the same kind of pride that my other friends would say "Spanish!" or "Japanese"! It was so much easier to be from those countries. On top of that I was a Baha'i, "a what?" a Baha'i. It was so much easier to say "Roman Catholic". After all, every second building in Austria was a breath-taking cathedral.

And yet I knew, in my heart, how amazing, unparalleled, great and cool Iran really was. I knew how grand its history was, how delicate its art and literature were, I knew how beautiful and divine its mosques were, how blessed its soil was. And the inability to relay that to my friends hurt me a lot growing up. All they ever saw of Iran was people with beards, dressed in black, looking very angry and protesting in the streets - chaos and dust all around them. This was not Iran.

I was born in 1979 and grew up in Europe in the 80s at a time when most people did not see any bright sides to Iran. But I am almost 30 now and in my relative and limited wisdom I believe that any pettiness or ugliness coming out of my home country comes as a result of not knowing its worth. Iran had not yet recognized the glory and grandeur, which is hers. She is resorting to fundamentalism and materialism out of a sheer lack of vision.

But my vision for Iran is bright. I was raised to learn about her past, but more importantly about her future! Iran's future will be glorious, colorful and I am happy to say that I have a Persian, Iranian heritage. In one my earlier blogs I mentioned that culture is an illusion in so far as it is not a static, absolute entity, but an ever-evolving process of relativity. In His book, The Secret of Divine Civilization, Abdu'l-Baha praises Iran's history and points to its glorious future, while illustrating the reasons nations rise and fall and highlighting how important the dynamic process of progress is for any people. I recommend this as an important read for anyone who has experienced ambiguity about their Iranian heritage and is keen to understand more about humanity and its evolution in general.

Waking from the matrix
Added: Wednesday, 28 February 2007

watch original V-Blog in Persian

Growing up in the cushy lap of comfort in Austria, I never thought I'd ever land in Africa - the continent of "problems!" My life eventually took me to Los Angeles, where my husband and I joined the ranks of budding young talent. Ever seen the TV series "Entourage"? That's the sort of life we were engrossed in. Stooped in hype, sweet-talk, and most of all ego. Life was one big conspiracy to uplift us and we were so "it". Sure, we were going to "give back" once we were there at the top. After all, there's so much you can do for the world with money and fame! Just look at all our role models in Hollywood.

I'm not sure what happened next, but it was a lot like Keanu Reeves's experience in The Matrix. We were in the middle of living it up, defining ourselves by the life we led, when someone intervened and woke us up. It was a dear friend, who bought us tickets to come and visit him and his family in South Africa. When we got there, intending to enjoy a holiday of fun and luxury, things started disintegrating. The program that had kept us enslaved began showing its cracks and we embarked on a spiritual detox.

In the three weeks that we spent in South Africa, going on tours of the townships, meeting real people with real concerns and spending time to meditate and pray, we realized that our life thus far had been one big illusion - a matrix. It was a scary recognition, because it meant we had a choice and choices are frightening. Red pill we'd go back to sleep and continue with our self-centered lives in LA or blue, we'd make a change and shift the focus onto serving mankind.

But even if we decided to change our lives, even if we decided to move to Africa - how would we go about it? Where would we get visas? Jobs? A home? We were already burdened with our American credit-card life-style which enables you live on more than you have. How could we take such an irrational step? And what would all the Ari Goldbergs of Tinseltown say?

Our friend spoke of "confirmation". In his compassionate wisdom he asked us to take steps of faith, much like Keanu did when he jumped from building to building. Believe it and you can achieve it. We did. And little by little, the path opened up and we walked along it, never seeing far ahead, but trusting that we would get there.

Life can be so scary and insecure at times. But this experience has taught us to trust in God. In the Baha'i writings Africa is referred to as "the pupil of the eye of humanity" - it is that focal point, through which we can form a perspective. And that is what it has done for us. The Ari Goldbergs of this world wrote us off as nut cases for a while, but that's alright. For in the little things we've been able to do here, lie all the treasures of joy we could have ever imagined. And we've been able to grow and do bigger and better things than we'd ever have imagined for ourselves.

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26 December 2006

Hillary Chapman

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Hillary Chapman is a singer and songwriter who lives in New York City. He's also a dedicated teacher, compassionate friend and lover of the human race. Join this New Yorker for a short jam session in the Big Apple and discover an ordinary man who's trying to live a good life.

Written, Produced & Directed by: Leyla Haidarian
Produced & Edited by: Ryan Haidarian
Executive Produced by: Naysan Naraqi
Camera: Gil Muro Sr. & Leyla Haidarian
"Work of Art", "Josephine", "Oh Baha'u'llah", "Without You" by Hillary Chapman
"Morning Beat" by Benny Cassette
"Montage Mix" by Ryan Haidarian

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