239 Days in America, Day 156: September 13, 1912 | Chicago
“Sometimes I Made Him Laugh” 1
‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ STEPPED DOWN onto the platform at LaSalle Street Station in Chicago just after 8 p.m. on Friday, September 12, 1912. He knew this part of the city well. Seven blocks north of here he had addressed the Federation of Women’s Clubs at the Hotel LaSalle on May 2. Eleven blocks up he had spoken to a standing-room-only crowd at the Fourth Annual Conference of the NAACP in Handel Hall.
The crowd of well-wishers on the platform parted into two lines to make way for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. “Come down Zacchaeus,” he called out, “for this day I would sup with thee.” Those who were close enough to hear him turned their attention to a skinny Japanese man dangling above their heads. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus had singled out Zacchaeus, who had climbed the branches of a tree in order to catch a glimpse of him. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá addressed Saichiro Fujita in the same words; Fujita was hanging from a lamp post. …
Buffalo, Chicago, Kenosha 2
On September 13, when some of the Persian friends remarked to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that “there was tea better” than that served by Mrs. True, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied, “‘This is the best tea of all, because it has been prepared with love.’” Talking about expenditures, He said, “’Sometimes I give away as much as $1000, if I have it, but at another time I do not spend even a single dollar. This is a matter of managing the affairs.’”
Many people came to entreat Him to speak to various organizations, but He refused most of them because of lack of time. Referring to previous meetings, He told one gathering, “‘Some took exception with me and asked why I sought to cultivate love between the whites and the colored. … When the people fondle an animal day and night, why do they not associate with a sensible man?’”
If a man has spiritual characteristics, be he white or black, he is near to God. 3
Visitors began to arrive. The friends from surrounding communities pleaded with Him to come to their cities. But because of the limited time and His plan to journey to the West, He did not accept their invitations. Reporters also came. He spoke on various subjects relating to the Cause and they took notes for publication in their newspapers.
At the meeting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke about the establishment of the divine civilization through the power of Bahá’u’lláh and about the world’s need for the divine teachings:
Without divine civilization the mysteries of the Kingdom are not revealed and the bounties of heaven are not ascertained; supernatural wisdom and power do not manifest themselves; the intelligence of humanity does not reach maturity; the world of humanity does not become the mirror of the world above; spiritual powers fail to overcome animal influences of nature. These perfections are attained through divine civilization of which the world of man is in need.
After the meeting one of the friends who came to see Him was Mr Jackson of Kenosha, Wisconsin. He told ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that the believers and seekers were anxiously awaiting His visit and that a minister had asked Him to promise to speak in his church.
Since the friends were allowed to visit en masse, each morning there was such a crowd that there was no way up or down the stairs. When the Master got tired, He would take a walk outside and then return to the house.
Today another group, including some of the black believers, visited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Here are some of His words to them:
If a man has spiritual characteristics, be he white or black, he is near to God. Some have protested to me, asking why I seek to cultivate love between the whites and the blacks. Yet what a great error they make. You see people who love their dogs because of their faithfulness and the protection they provide. If but one good trait endears a dog to a human, why shouldn’t praiseworthy qualities cause a man to be loved and respected? Why should fellowship with an upright person be avoided? When people are prepared to fondle an animal day and night, why should they shun association with an intelligent human being?
My hope is that you will rid and purify yourselves of imitations so that your thoughts and minds will be broadened and elevated, that you will be seekers of the truth, the lovers of the servants of God and the cause of the oneness of humanity.
Today an important philosopher together with the president of the Worker’s Union, a socialist, visited the Master. They were so moved by the Master’s explanations and proofs of the existence of God and His divine laws that the friends’ hearts were overjoyed to see their sincerity and humility before Him.
5 September 1912, Talk at St. James Methodist Church, Montreal, Canada 4
… In order that human souls, minds and spirits may attain advancement, tranquillity and vision in broader horizons of unity and knowledge, Bahá’u’lláh proclaimed certain principles or teachings, some of which I will mention.
First, man must independently investigate reality …
Second, the oneness of the world of humanity shall be realized, accepted and established. …
Third, religion must be the mainspring and source of love in the world …
Fourth, religion must reconcile and be in harmony with science and reason. …
Fifth, prejudice … is the destroyer of human foundations and opposed to the commands of God. …
Sixth, the world of humanity is in need of the confirmations of the Holy Spirit. …
Seventh, the necessity of education for all mankind is evident. …
Eighth, universal peace will be established among the nations of the world by international agreement. …
Ninth, there must be an equality of rights between men and women. Women shall receive an equal privilege of education. This will enable them to qualify and progress in all degrees of occupation and accomplishment. For the world of humanity possesses two wings: man and woman. If one wing remains incapable and defective, it will restrict the power of the other, and full flight will be impossible. Therefore, the completeness and perfection of the human world are dependent upon the equal development of these two wings.
- Sockett, Robert. “‘Sometimes I Made Him Laugh.’” 239 Days in America, 13 Sept. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/09/13/sometimes-i-made-him-laugh-saichiro-fujita/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 145. [return]
- ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=7#section173 [return]
- ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 318. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/22#405364030 [return]