24 February 2022
Istijlál, 19 Mulk (Dominion), 178 B.E.
Pair of Canadian geese (Branta canadensis)
An exchange on Signal with Nirrosion Perera about the impact of the Russia - Ukraine conflict on the rollout of the “How’s The Weather?” letter initiative gave me the opportunity to speak to our collective purpose and the use of technology to help us achieve it …
Whether by armed conflict, forced displacement, global pandemic, or climate change, the result is the unavailability of basic needs for those affected. Due to our technological interconnectedness, wherever such disruptions take place by whichever cause nearly everyone, everywhere knows the consequences.
In the foreword to HERE: Poems for the Planet 1 that Michael Greenman shared with us recently, the Dalai Lama refers to “humanity as one family,” and that “we are interdependent as never before and yet we still tend to think in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’.” This suggests that once we “get it” that we—all 8 billion of us—are in the same human family; that there are no individuals or groups that are ‘in’ and others that are ‘out’; and that our interdependence is the source of our greatest strength, then we as humanity can “develop a much clearer awareness of our actions and their consequences” and take collective responsibility to assure that anyone anywhere has their basic needs met for the duration of their lives in this world.
The underlying premise behind the “How’s The Weather?” campaign is that we can exercise our interconnectedness through dissemination of the letter and encouragement of those who receive it “to see that there is a way forward—learning to share the earth and its resources, while taking care of it together.” The lessons we learn from this can be applied wherever the flows of basic needs are disrupted and members of our human family are in trouble.
No doubt the conflict between Russia and Ukraine will result in many more of these disruptions. Yet, elsewhere in the world severe weather patterns and natural phenomena are proving disastrous. Many are still dealing with the aftermath of the pandemic as it devolves into an endemic state. And people continue to be displaced from their homes due to climate, conflict, and disease. The “How’s The Weather?” Initiative is simply one approach to learning how we take collective responsibility as members of an interdependent, global human family to assist those among us who are suffering. And we are not the only ones—there are millions of our family members who are doing similarly by their efforts throughout the world. Eventually, we will ALL get there.
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Of course, the work undertaken in receptive neighbourhoods and villages has been a special focus of attention in recent years. As the inhabitants of such locations begin to participate in Bahá’í activities in large numbers, more consideration needs to be given to coordination in order to cope with the inherent complexity involved. Within each centre of intense activity, collaborative arrangements emerge among groups of families, who organize community-building activities among themselves with a view to widening the embrace of such activities to many nearby households; an informal network of friends provides encouragement and support to the endeavours under way. The character of daily life in such places is adapting to the rise of a culture in which worship and service are cherished activities involving many people at once. Uplifting, well-prepared community gatherings—extending in some cases to camps and festivals— occur with increasing frequency, and music and song feature prominently on such occasions. Indeed the arts as a whole, so integral a part of the development of a community from the start, stand out in such settings as an important means of generating joy, strengthening bonds of unity, disseminating knowledge, and consolidating understanding, as well as of acquainting those in the wider society with the principles of the Cause. And naturally, there remains a strong focus on being outward looking: finding ways to continually share the fruits of a thriving pattern of action with souls who are as yet unfamiliar with the Faith. 2
- Coleman, Elizabeth J., editor. HERE: Poems for the Planet. Illustrated Paperback Edition, Copper Canyon Press, 2019, Foreword, xiii. [return]
- Universal House of Justice. “To the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors.” Bahá’í Reference Library, 30 Dec. 2021, https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/the-universal-house-of-justice/messages/20211230_001/1#758524487 [return]