Thursday, September 27, 2007

Election campaign

Leader Hunting

By John Taylor; 2007 September 27, 01 Mashiyyat, 164 BE

It is election time in Ontario, and as a result I have been thinking more than usual about how we run things. Each voter has their own criteria when they vote, but myself, I seek someone who has already demonstrated problem solving ability in a position of leadership. But more than that, somebody like Abraham Lincoln, a sparkplug who can get things done without being seen to get them done, the kind of leader who can bring opposing personalities together to work in a common cause. But these thoughts get crowded out by the flack and tinsel floating in the air of this silly electronic election campaign.

What we need most -- now that the climate crisis is crowding over the shoulders of everything we do -- is to have a clear vision of the good. To see that, we must understand soul. When I vote I want to see, and my vote is part of what all souls see as they release divine energy into the body politic. Here is a passage from Book VI of Plato's Republic that illustrates how the soul is like the eye,

The sun is not sight, but the author of sight.
Why, you know, I said, that the eyes, when a person directs them towards objects on which the light of day is no longer shining, but the moon and stars only, see dimly, and are nearly blind; they seem to have no clearness of vision in them?
Very true.
But when they are directed towards objects on which the sun shines, they see clearly and there is sight in them?
And the soul is like the eye: when resting upon that on which truth and being shine, the soul perceives and understands and is radiant with intelligence; but when turned towards the twilight of becoming and perishing, then she has opinion only, and goes blinking about, and is first of one opinion and then of another, and seems to have no intelligence?
Just so.
Now, that which imparts truth to the known and the power of knowing to the knower is what I would have you term the idea of good, and this you will deem to be the cause of science, and of truth in so far as the latter becomes the subject of knowledge; beautiful too, as are both truth and knowledge, you will be right in esteeming this other nature as more beautiful than either; and, as in the previous instance, light and sight may be truly said to be like the sun, and yet not to be the sun, so in this other sphere, science and truth may be deemed to be like the good, but not the good; the good has a place of honour yet higher.
What a wonder of beauty that must be, he said, which is the author of science and truth, and yet surpasses them in beauty...

So, when you cast your vote, say the Greatest Name, for this is the Blessed Beauty, the Good that stands above all other worldly goods. This informs truth itself.

Some columnist in the Hamilton Spectator lately came up with a brainstorm for improving democracy. This one you see popping up once in a while, causing loud groans on my part. In sum his argument went like this:

"We can solve all our political problems simply by making lying illegal. If a politician makes us a promise, we should hold him to it. Any leader who breaks a campaign promise, well, we should throw him in jail or fine him. If he does not do what he says he will do, there should be consequences."

This is so obtuse that I cannot even begin to say why it is wrong. Not that I think lying is inevitable, quite the reverse. The folly of outlawing lies lies in the fact that lying is not a disease in itself, it is a symptom. A doctor does not treat symptoms but disease. Once a disease is cured, the symptoms disappear. As voters we must be wise doctors and diagnose the real cause of lies. Once we understand the problem and address it the mendacity goes away of itself.

In this case, the problem exists in our own minds. We have fallacious and unreasonable expectations from those we choose as leaders.

Here is the fundamental political syllogism in a democracy: If potential leaders are telling us lies, that only means that they want something from us. If potential leaders tell us the truth, they still want something from us, but, worse, they are willing to tie their own hands in order to get it. Given a choice between a liar and a robot, give me the liar any day. At least a liar is human and can adapt to changing circumstances. In a false situation liars are always better adapted for survival. Surrounded by lies, a liar is in his element. Same way, no matter how well a human trains for swimming, a fish will always swim better because it has millions of years of adaptation on its side. Only in the clear atmosphere of truth seeking is a truth teller better off than a liar. In that case, it is the truth teller who has evolution on her side.

The fact is, a truly honest person would never allow himself to get into a situation where he has to say what he is going to do. In any given situation anybody who says, "I will do this" is by that very fact ruining their own integrity. I cannot say I am a seeker of truth if I claim to already know the truth, and that humility is the essence of my integrity before God. In this world every situation is different, and conditions and preconditions constantly change, so how can I say what I will do? Nobody can predict the future, we have enough trouble understanding the past and the present. To say what I will do before a deliberation would be surrendering my own integrity, selling my soul to the devil. It would be lying.

If I vote for someone who wants something from leading me, be she liar or truth teller, I am publicly committing suicide. I am putting a gun to my head and announcing, "Who wants to pay the most to hold this gun? Who promises most sincerely not to pull the trigger?" Therefore, if as a voter I choose someone who has sold his soul to the demands of a false situation, I am only picking out which of Satan's delegates I like the most. In a false situation like this, even if you win, you lose.

Our political situation is false by nature because of a basic misunderstanding of what a leader is. The lie is written into the DNA of democracy. Applying the lie has led to a false situation where we are asking for what is bad for everybody, including our leaders. We force them to bribe us. Worse, we force them to bribe others in order to be able to afford to bribe us. That way, even as Aristotle predicted, democracy always slowly slides into oligarchy, rule of the rich. What do the rich want? Do I have to say it? They want more money. And they want it now. In a situation like the present, where we must sacrifice present profit for future protection from climate change, the suicidal nature of the desires of the players in this situation becomes obvious.

All this was clear to Plato and other ancients, who held that we should only choose a reluctant leader, one who sees the job for what it really is on a personal level, an intolerable burden. If they want the job, they are by that very fact disqualified. Baha'u'llah in the Aqdas gave it out as the mark of the maturity of the human race that one day when we offer the crown of kingship, nobody will be found willing to take it. The marketplace will be empty of buyers. In such a mature situation, an election will not be the auction it presently is, it will be more like hunting. Our quarry for leadership will be running away, trying to hide, anything but have to take on the terrible responsibility of leadership. An elector will not sit back and listen to confidence men give their pitches, she will have to go out and nab potential leaders doing their best to escape notice.

So, in an open election where I can vote for anybody, not mere devil's delegates crowding to flatter me, who do I choose? We have already established the kind of personality not to choose, anybody with lust for leadership. But you still want as good a leader as possible. That is why prayer rather than, say, waving placards and partying, is essential to choosing a leader. Prayer helps the immediate technical problem, picking the right person. But mostly prayer clarifies vision, and solidifies the mental foundations on which the whole body politic stands. The story of Moses in the wilderness illustrates this. His people, newly liberated slaves, ate manna, but craved the variety of a normal human diet. As the Qu'ran tells it, God declared:

"And when you said: O Musa! we cannot bear with one food, therefore pray (the) Lord on our behalf to bring forth for us out of what the earth grows, of its herbs and its cucumbers and its garlic and its lentils and its onions. He said: Will you exchange that which is better for that which is worse?" (Q2:61, Shakir)

We see that an election is important, and we want to fill it with the best things, but the best thing is what the Qu'ran says, prayer, or manna. You cannot exchange the best for the worse. That is gun-to-my-head democracy.

Hmm. Coincidentally, (or not) this list of ingredients listed in the Qu'ran is all in my gazpacho soup, which I ingest twice daily. Except the lentils, that is in my bean salad, once daily. So presumably, these are all healthful ingredients that still offer enough pleasure and variety in a physical diet. Yet manna is just one thing, and it nourishes the soul first, then the body. Manna, God told the Israelites, could not be stored; they had to eat it all that day. Same with prayer, it is a bounty that, like a liquid, fills every cup, but it lasts only for that moment. Every morning and evening we must fill our cup again, and in our actions the liquid fills out and floats the grounding of our thought. And the physical part of us balks at the manna and ever complains that it is tedious, it lacks variety. Would it not be so much more fun to have our great leaders coming to us, begging us for favors? Not if we seek an honor higher than science and truth.


Monday, September 24, 2007


Three Steps to Pangaea

By John Taylor; 2007 September 22, 15 Izzat, 164 BE

The Badi Blog is going to be in a state of upheaval for the next three weeks. First of all, I have to rip my office apart. My hand was forced by a creeping mold problem, and the fact that one of my desks is bowed down with the burden of supporting reference books, and is about to collapse. With the help of Peter Gardner, I purchased a replacement desk at a garage sale this weekend. It is a foldout "writer's desk," with a built in place for a typewriter. I plan to put a laptop there and do my writing on a less power hungry appliance. I hope to have a newly designed study in working condition in about a week. But then right afterwards we will be traveling to upper New York State and Quebec for a week. Time was you could boast about traveling. It was a good thing that broadened the mind. But now that I have been reading Monbiot, I hang my head in shame to admit that our vacation will irresponsibly expand our carbon footprint. In any case, within about a month I should be back to the old essay-every-day habit.

I have been going through every recorded speech at the TED conference website, and this was among the most interesting:

Here filmmaker Jehane Noujaim suggests her plan for world peace. She has initiated what she calls Pangea Day. This will take place next year, "an event in which people all over the world can watch the same films at the same time." A sort of planet wide film festival. The name Pangaea, or as they spell it, "Pangea," was the super-continent that existed before plate tectonics kicked in and drifted the continents into their present positions. This event is intended, metaphorically speaking, to reunite the continents of humanity back together into one super-continent by means of sitting together in the dark and sharing a uniting experience. The films will be of the local, do-it-yourself variety and will be judged by experts of Noujaim's choosing. Contributions can be submitted to a special location on Youtube.

Myself, I would like to make a film on Socrates for this event. Or maybe my latest hero, Mo Tzu. But not being Chinese it would probably take too much make-up to for me to impersonate him.

In any case, one of the most important lessons of Mo Tzu was how to examine a doctrine, how to set about applying the first principle, search for truth. He suggested a methodical process of development similar to that laid out, much later, by the Master in Secret of Divine Civilization. To run things this way would be both religious and scientific. Leaders would use faith to motivate the people, and science to direct them in a methodical manner, according to this definition of science: "... science is a process, a series of occurrences which lead from some initial point to some identifiable conclusion." (Richard W. Miller) Except that governance as xxx was understood and taught by Mo Tzu millennia ago,

Now, how is a doctrine to be examined?

Mo Tzu said: Some standard of judgment must be established. To expound a doctrine without regard to the standard is similar to determining the directions of sunrise and sunset on a revolving potter's wheel. By such a means, the distinction of right and wrong, benefit and harm, cannot be known. Therefore there must be three tests.

What are the three tests?

Mo Tzu said: Its basis, its verifiability, and its applicability. How is it to be based? It should be based on the deeds of the wise rulers of the past. How is it to be verified? It is to be verified by the senses of hearing and sight of the common people. How is it to be applied? It is to be applied by adopting it in government and observing its benefits to the country and the people. This is what is meant by the three tests of every doctrine." (The Ethical and Political Works of Mo Tzu, tr: Yi-Pao Mei, Arthur Probsthain, London, 1929, at:

In other words, do not take intellectual shortcuts. Do not pollute the mind with ideology; face reality. Take an exemplar, model your thought and action on what worked for that exemplar, then consult as broadly as possible with popular opinion. Finally, act and pay attention to the effects of your actions. Feed back the results for on-going reevaluation.

You may object that this question that Mo Tzu addresses, how to run a country, is of interest to a tiny proportion of the population, that is, politicians, managers and policy makers. Our present system of representative democracy encourages that dangerous illusion. But the fact is, we all come from a family, and we all can participate in a family. In fact, in order to be moral, we must do that, just as a responsible Baha'i must participate regularly in the Feast. Family, the Feast, these are universals; these are basic building blocks of man as political animal.

This points to what I see as the main advantage of Earth Charter Architecture. It forces (okay, it offers very strong inducements for) everybody to participate in family and feast occasions. For those who do not have a family, or who for whatever reason are separated from blood relatives, it offers substitutes which amount to the same thing. Earth Charterhouses would give to each citizen a fair chance on the neighborhood level actively to apply the methods of investigation and governance that Mo Tzu suggests above.

It may well be possible, as Monbiot points out in "Heat," to re-jig ordinary houses to live up to high standards of energy efficiency. But never will the present system of disparate, freehold dwellings live up to the invisible but real social standards required by being a human being. In fact, wrong-headed design of housing has separated family and isolated individuals from community; this constitutes the most immediate cause of our present environmental crisis in the first place.

Another one of the presentations at the TED website has an architect and neighborhood designer showing snapshots of typical streets and intersections -- if you live in North America you could probably step out your door and see similar monstrosities of overhead wires, roads crowded with cars everywhere, buildings distanced from pedestrians, signage dominating every exposed surface, and token clumps of what he calls "redemptive nature." As he displays these grotesque cityscapes, he asks:

"If you were an American soldier in Iraq would you be willing to fight and die for this? Is this what we are paying such a high price to defend?” (William McDonough, <> and,

I do not know about defense or how to design anything much, but what I am trying to do on this Blog is to imagine a neighborhood designed for carrying out Mo Tzu's way of investigation. A neighborhood built to initiate a social renaissance.

As this architect giving the talk pointed out, a hundred years ago it was well known how to design a neighborhood for people, and his profession is trying to relearn the basics that were forgotten. He shows an amazing pair of before and after pictures of a new city he helped design in China; the before picture is of a gentle, grassy hillside; the after picture looks exactly the same. What they did was build the town and raise the turf onto the roofs of the buildings. Almost no environmental impact. He put walkways over the streets; you can walk across the grassy field almost as well as before there was a city built underneath.

Spectacular and showy as this plan for a new city is, it still suffers from the big flaw of modern architecture; it is the product of one mind. It is a fact of the universe, two heads are better than one, and, under the right consultative conditions, many heads are best of all.

As most Baha'is know, the Guardian considered history to be too important for one person to write. He foresaw what we now call group writing for this profession. I think the same thing is true of architecture. That is why I have not gone into the specifics of Earth Charter architecture -- okay, laziness and ignorance are factors too, but not the only reasons. Earth Charter building would be the first design intended consciously to follow the three steps of Mo Tzu,

Step one: a firm basis or foundation, i.e., the deeds of wise rulers of the past. You want to use the best model for past success, Ancient Athens, Alexandria, Florence, Baghdad. You study the most vital neighborhoods in the world (there is a disproportionate number, I hear, in Latin America) and put the best of that into new neighborhoods. You take away disincentives to progress and let competition and obsolescence gradually erase poorly designed places.

Step two: verifiability by the senses of hearing and sight of the common people. You feed back the hands-on experience, the praise and complaints of those who live in the neighborhood, and use that to improve and renovate it. Take these lessons and make each new neighborhood more flexible in what matters for such adaptability.

Step three: applicability. Apply it "by adopting it in government and observing its benefits to the country and the people." In other words, the feedback process of step two _is_ the structure of local government. Consultation rules! This transcends representative democracy and capitalism, but it does not leave aside their advantages.

So if Earth Charter techniques were applied in making that new city in China, it would not look at all like the natural fields that were there originally. But because humans thrive socially in properly built high density housing, the city would not take up as much space. What is more, the new city might well increase the total biomass of that land surface from what was supported before by integrating agriculture into every roof and wall exposed to the sun. Like the gardens and terraces on Mount Carmel, formal garden and park land would gradually melt into natural forests and fields.


Friday, September 21, 2007


Baha'i Rants

By John Taylor; 2007 September 21, 14 Izzat, 164 BE

You read all the time about viral Internet videos but I had not seen much "virality" until yesterday when a Globe and Mail columnist pointed to the latest sensation. This is a rant by a young fellow using the handle Chris; he is "flagrantly gay," to use the columnist's choice of words. The Youtube video consists of a five minute defense of a popular singer, called "Leave Britney alone!" His written introduction to the video on Youtube assures viewers that he was not acting in the rant, and that if you look closely enough you will see real tears in those mascara stained eyes. He holds that this singer has met with tragedy in her personal life, and that the media are pouncing on her for that reason. The video is massively popular, for no good reason. So much so that other e-media public figures crowded in to offer their own parodies, including one I liked called "Leave Chris Alone!" The satire consists mostly in using more mascara than Chris, but it works.

I watch Chris's viral phenomenon and think, the guy has a point. The media are essentially gossip obsessed, mocking and cruel, and a lot more people should be upset about that. In the ten years after I cut back on television, by all reports it has gotten worse. Now reporters are as rating-obsessed as advertisers. In my own media watching, a couple of years ago I noticed that my main window to the news media, Macleans Magazine, (my father subscribes) suddenly became more readable. Ever since I was a child it could not have been more boring if they had tried. But suddenly it got much more interesting writing, often so fascinating that I was compelled to read the whole issue, which does not happen often for me. I have featured and discussed the best of Macleans' writing here on this blog. But at the same time its reporters and columnists often went over the deep end into the sticky swamp of gossip.

Sometimes I amuse myself by flipping through the pages of Macleans and picking out articles that should never have been written, and trying to decide upon the reason why. This summer one memorable issue came into my hands that I branded the worst ever; virtually everything in it was either frivolous, effete, a form of backbiting, gossipy, cruel, propagandistic, deceptive, misinformed, biased, or just plain wrong. I flagged a good nine of ten articles as "never should have been written." I spare myself television news, but I imagine their technique of spinning ridiculously brief stories by so fast one after the other that the viewers cannot reflect deflects most criticism. Only the quickest wit would have time to think, "Hey, they should never have filmed that story for this or that reason."

Watching Chris perform his tirade, I could not help but wonder what I could rant about so passionately. At our latest improv meeting, that was one of our exercises, to give a one minute rant about anything, preferably something silly. My choice for my turn at improvisation was off the cuff and now I forget what it was. I later thought that if I really had to rant about something silly, I would choose people who cannot pronounce "ing" properly. They bug me, viscerally, for no good reason.

Rant Against Non-Ingers

Here they are, native English speakers but in childhood they somehow failed to learn how to reproduce the nasal "ng" sound. So, instead of saying "ing" they pretend to be able to say it, they duplicitously say "in" instead. They fool nobody. It is not "in," it is "ing," and why don't they just say it? Nothing they say is ever going to change the English language. It is not going to change because of what their tongues could not do when they were three years old, or whatever. For some reason, cruel and thoughtless as you may think it I am, this handicap really bugs me. Okay, not really bugs me, but sort of bugs me. And worse, we do not even have a name for these people. How can you separate them out and hate them if there is not even a name for them? What kind of a crazy world are we living in when the English language is being mangled and people do not stand up and name the vandals scrawling graffiti across Shakespeare's tongue? Yeah, I know, Richard Smalley would just go up to them and call it a "speech improvement." "I love your speech improvement," he would tell them, and then he would go away thinking that they must feel better about themselves. But for Gosh sakes, it is not an improvement. Sure, it is easier to say "in" instead of "ing," it may even use up less tongue energy and reduce our carbon footprint by a few millimeters, but no, it is wrong. Sometimes doing the right thing takes more energy, so just, just, just stop it! Please, please stop saying in, please... Did you see my tears? I really meant what I just wrote.

So, if I read that into a webcam and put it onto Youtube, would it become viral? Not likely. But even if it did, would it do anybody any good? Probably it would do harm. It would single out people with a minor speech defect and make something out of it. So, what kind of rant could conceivably do some good in the world? Having thought a while about that, I wondered, what if somebody ranted about the treatment of Baha'i school kids in Iran? Or the Baha'is and other religionists in Egypt who are made non-persons by not being allowed ID cards? Or how about one of the bodies in the newly bulldozed Baha’i graveyards standing up and giving its zombie viewpoint on a government that does its best to expunge its eternal place of rest? Nothing else we Baha’is are doing seems to be having much effect, why not try Youtube rants? Surely such spite and clear injustices is worth getting mad at and turning into a declamation of righteous indignation.

Of course the problem for a Baha'i would be to rant in such a way that you could say, "Is this what Abdu'l-Baha would say?" Not that Abdu'l-Baha Himself was totally void of rants in His lifetime. He was prone to ranting about the cruel attacks of the Nakazin against the heart of the Cause. But even then, we should remember that He suffered their plotting and machinations for decades in patient silence. Read about the first decade of His ministry and you want to crawl up the back of your chair, so patient and long suffering is He in the face of the attacks of His brother and his coven. Only later, when the issue had been pushed into the public sphere and there were many new, vulnerable Baha'is, and the fire of their lies threatened to burn the entire community, did He write those long, angry warnings. Even the Qu'ran, while it condemns words spoken in anger, makes a clear exception for harsh complaints directed at genuine injustice.

"God loveth not that evil should be noised abroad in public speech, except where injustice hath been done; for God is He who heareth and knoweth all things." (Q4:148, Yusuf Ali)

So, fair to say, ranting about the corruption of the earth and its main effect, climate change, is a valid topic for the most passionate ranting. But then again, can a Baha'i rant? Baha'u'llah actually seems to intensify this directive of the Qu'ran against ranting in the Hidden Words,

"O Emigrants! The tongue I have designed for the mention of Me, defile it not with detraction. If the fire of self overcome you, remember your own faults and not the faults of My creatures, inasmuch as every one of you knoweth his own self better than he knoweth others." (PHW 66)

Ironic, really, that this is addressed to "emigrants," since now the Baha'is most likely to come up with a convincing, detailed rant about Iranian Baha'i schoolchildren or Egyptian citizens made into non-persons would be emigrants from those very lands. It is easy to rant when the victims of injustice are your own flesh and blood. But broadly speaking, though, all Baha'is are emigrants from the Kingdom of God, and as God says here, our minds and language were devised for mentioning Truth, not complaining about falsity.

So, what could a Baha'i possibly rant about? I see only one thing indicated: a rant about ourselves. So, here is my rant against myself.

Why Can't I just Leave Them All Alone?

Why does it enter your head to rant about anything other than your slavery to self? You are a typical slave, underhanded, lazy, servile, constantly complaining about others when the only one in the world whose faults you are a real expert on is you. As soon as you opened your mouth to give this rant you should have realized what hypocrisy it is that you do not know the slightest thing about what you talking about, yet apply that ignorant standard to others! Why not just leave those poor others to their own problems and concentrate on God, His beauty, on Baha'u'llah, and the bounty of His Cause?

How can I portray the folly of it all? I know, how's about this:

You are standing in a dark room, you have a candle in your hand. Just light it! Do not worry about what others are doing with their candles. As soon as light enters the room, everything will change. Just believe it. But no. You know, your fault is the greatest fault of all, the Meta-fault, the Most Great Failing: faultfinding. It is the error of errors because you are the only one who can make your faults into virtues but your only virtue you make into a weapon to cut away at the roots of your own tree. You are in a position to light your own candle, to change your relation to truth directly, yet you dilly dally, you put it off, you gossip, you take your ignorance out on the innocent and the irrelevant. Just leave them all alone, puleese!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

EC Houses

Heat and the Earth Charter-house

By John Taylor; 2007 September 20, 13 Izzat, 164 BE

Library due dates are the bane of my life. In August I was in the middle of George Monbiot's revolutionary discussion of possible solutions to the climate crisis, called "Heat, How to Stop the Planet from Burning," when I had to take it back. Only yesterday did I remember to pick up another copy of the book from the Dunnville branch of the Haldimand Public Library and continue where I had left off, at Chapter Four, "Leaky Homes." This is a very important chapter for me, since so much of my thought over the past several years has concentrated on how to improve our housing mess.

Like me, Monbiot's search for a better dwelling began in his attempts to redeem his own home. Like me, he soon threw up his hands in despair at the futility of even trying. It costs thousands to undo what could have cost the original builder pennies to do, if they had done it right in the first place. Unlike me, however, Monbiot points to a quick and easy solution: better regulation and enforcement. His chapter makes a convincing case that all it would take to assure efficient housing would be to make up rules and follow them.

As it is, governments are in an ideological quagmire; according to the New York Times this week, the toy and other industries in the States are coming to the government, hat in hand, begging for rules and regulations, and they are being turned away. The housing industry is among the worst victims of our leaders' internalized renunciation of what God put them there to do. As Monbiot points out, it is often cheaper to build a house right in the beginning than to mess up the job. But it is the same old story, rank corruption. What is most amazing and unbelievable is that if proper building standards were adopted we would no longer have to pay heating bills! People are paying hundreds of dollars a month, summer and winter, unnecessarily, just because our leaders ignore an established solution to heating bills, the German Passivhaus standard. This is his explanation of how this works, as set out on his blog:

"In Germany there are now some 4000 homes built to the Passivhaus standard. A Passivhaus is a house without radiators, fan heaters, stoves, air conditioners or any other kind of heating or cooling device. The only heat it requires is produced by sunlight coming through the windows and by the bodies of the people who live there. A study of over 100 passive homes showed they had a mean indoor temperature of 21.4 degrees during the bitter German winter. That’s 2.4 degrees warmer than the average British home. All that distinguishes them from other houses is that they are built properly. They are airtight (the air which enters the house comes through a heat exchange system) and have no thermal bridges -material which can conduct heat from the inside of the house to the outside. The windows are matched carefully to the volume of the house. Because they have no active heating systems, they are not much more expensive to build than ordinary houses. A development of 20 homes in Freiburg, with a measured energy saving of 79%, cost just 7% more than a typical building of the same kind." (

Monbiot is becoming so well known in England that airline industry bigwigs (the main objects of his tirades) are actively talking about "isolating the Monbiots of the world." What right does he have to interrupt the corruption process, anyway? It is unfortunate that this fellow is not known over here. As it is, every month when I get my extra-exorbitant hydro bill (because we heat with electric as well) I will think about George Monbiot with bitterness in my heart. Here is his specific housing goal proposal for England, as set out on his blog,

"Introduce a new set of building regulations, with three objectives. A. Imposing strict energy efficiency requirements on all major refurbishments (costing #3000 or more). Timescale: comes into force by June 2007. B. Obliging landlords to bring their houses up to high energy efficiency standards before they can rent them out. Timescale: to cover all new rentals from January 2008. C. Ensuring that all new homes in the UK are built to the German passivhaus standard (which requires no heating system). Timescale: comes into force by 2012." (Monbiot, "Here's the Plan," October 31, 2006

Could it be that the solution to our garbage can-like houses could be as simple as setting a new standard? Why have I been proposing all these years my idea of a much more radical design, which I called mound housing? (my latest name is Earth Charterhouses) As he points out, it would be possible, even easy, for government, if it followed the example of industry at the start of World War II in converting American auto to munitions factories in a matter of months, to fast track this and other obvious and necessary environmental measures, and have cheap, efficient housing in a short time. And the houses would look the same as they do now, as the detailed Wiki article on Passivhaus construction points out. ( Somewhat discombobulated, I jumped to a link in the Wiki article to a yet more radical housing standard, "zero-energy building." The Wiki report on this starts off saying,

"A zero energy building (ZEB) or net zero energy building is a general term applied to a building with a net energy consumption of zero over a typical year. This can be measured in different ways (relating to cost, energy, or carbon emissions) and, irrespective of the definition used, different views are taken on the relative importance of energy generation and energy conservation to achieve energy balance." (

This sounds closer to my earth charter-house idea. But wait, it turns out that there is a yet more radical standard, the Energy-plus-house. This goal is so untried that I can reproduce the entire Wiki article on it in the following short paragraph.

"An energy-plus-house produces more energy from renewable energy sources, on average over the course of a year, than it imports from external sources. This is achieved using some combination micro-generation technology and low-energy building techniques such as passive solar building design, insulation and careful site selection and placement. It may involve a sort of post-modern minimalism that uses a minimum of modern conveniences, all of which have low-energy requirements. However many energy-plus houses are near indistinguishable from a traditional home, since they simply use the most energy-efficient solutions (i.e. appliances, fixtures, etc) throughout the house."

Clearly, an earth charter-house would have to be up to the energy-plus standard, and go beyond such bare minimums. The earth charter-house would be designed to transcend mere energy accounting to bring social and creative power to a plus standard as well.

It would also integrate transportation into its design.

But even here, Monbiot has a simpler, easier, less revolutionary solution. In a December 2006 blog entry called "Life Coaching" ( he discusses a very simple idea to level the playing field between intercity buses and their competitors, cars. Simply relocate bus terminals outside city limits, onto the main highways. That way, travelers would bypass traffic snarls in every town they pass, and suddenly the underdog of transport would become a viable contender. It would, in many cases, be quicker, easier, more pleasant and cheaper to take a bus than a car. Now, buses have only one advantage, reduced guilt for destroying the planet. This idea is so simple that I am kicking myself that I did not think of it myself.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Decay of the Unregulated Common Cause

By John Taylor; 2007 September 19, 12 Izzat, 164 BE

Last year one idea kept coming up again and again in our monthly Philosopher's Cafe discussion, the idea of a "Tragedy of the Commons". We decided to devote our entire September meeting to that topic and since we did not get the chance to begin to cover it we have reserved October as well. Since I probably will not be able to attend this meeting, let me discuss the concept in detail here.

If you Google "tragedy & commons" you get two items leading up the list, the Wiki article and a seminal 1968 essay by scientist Garret Hardin. In the September meeting one participant had read Hardin's treatise; he asked me to print it out for the others, so I have it at hand. Hardin explains that he got the strange expression "tragedy" from a definition of that dramatic form by A.N. Whitehead,

"The essence of dramatic tragedy is not unhappiness. It resides in the solemnity of the remorseless working of things. This inevitableness of destiny can only be illustrated in terms of human life by incidents which in fact involve unhappiness. For it is only by them that the futility of escape can be made evident in the drama."

Tragedy then is tragic because it is inexorable, inevitable, not because it is sad. If I jump off a cliff it is sad if I am hurt or killed, but the tragic element comes from the fact that the law of gravity offers no favoritism, no exceptions for anything or anybody. The Wiki article points to the Ancient Greek historian Thucydides as being the first to talk about this tragic downward cycle, though of course he did not use the specific word "tragedy." Instead he talks about a "decay" of the "common cause."

"[T]hey devote a very small fraction of time to the consideration of any public object, most of it to the prosecution of their own objects. Meanwhile each fancies that no harm will come to his neglect, that it is the business of somebody else to look after this or that for him; and so, by the same notion being entertained by all separately, the common cause imperceptibly decays."

Aristotle, uncharacteristically, put this idea very succinctly: "That which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it." This sounds like the reverse of the utilitarian maxim, "The greatest good for the greatest number." Indeed, when everyone is concerned only for their own good exclusive of the common good, then it is as inevitable as gravity that the common cause will decay. Indeed we can see this happening in religion, a sort of tragedy of the divine. Jim Wallis points out in his 1981 book, "The Call to Conversion," that Christians' concept of conversion has suffered a similar degradation from a public event to something totally isolated and private. To cite a review of the book,

"What is needed all around, Wallis argues, is a proper understanding of the biblical meaning of conversion. Evangelicals must give up the idea that conversion is about getting `saved,' a private transaction between God and the individual sinner. Conversion occurs as we open our eyes to the injustices around us: poverty, war, and racism; the destruction of the environment; and the deterioration of families and communities. The goal of conversion is not simply to save souls, Wallis writes, "but to bring the kingdom of God into the world with explosive force; it begins with individuals but is for the sake of the world." (review "WWJD-Redux," by John D. Spalding,

Conversion, then, is turning on to what really matters, what will make a difference in our lives as well as my life. As Baha'u'llah put it, "The essence of all that we have revealed for thee is justice, is for man to free himself from idle fancy and imitation, discern with the eye of oneness His glorious handiwork, and to look into all things with a searching eye." This sort of outward conversion must in turn, just as inevitably as tragedy, reverse the vicious cycle of decay and turn it around to a utilitarian ideal where everybody thinks of the greatest good for the greatest number, instead of "I am saved and to hell with anybody else."

I think the reason we have set into a decay of the common good is rooted in faith. Traditionally, for thousands of years, when people used words like "God" or "holy" or "divine," or "religion," what they meant was the common good, the greatest good for the greatest number. What they meant was the wise rule of a Solomon, where all are for one, and one for all. The decline of religion poked the eyes out of the sense of these words. Now they are polluted and obscured, and all that remains is an ugly, selfish, superman god, an abusive spouse who isolates "me" from "us" and cares only for The Relationship. Thus when the Bible talked about Yahweh being a "jealous God," the meaning then was wholly different from what we now take it to be.

But I digress. Let us follow the Wiki way and look at the context in which Aristotle wrote the above definition of tragedy of the commons,

"That all persons call the same thing mine in the sense in which each does so may be a fine thing, but it is impracticable; or if the words are taken in the other sense, such a unity in no way conduces to harmony. And there is another objection to the proposal. For that which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it. Every one thinks chiefly of his own, hardly at all of the common interest; and only when he is himself concerned as an individual. For besides other considerations, everybody is more inclined to neglect the duty which he expects another to fulfill; as in families, many attendants are often less useful than a few." (Politics, Book II, Chapter III, 1261b; translated by Benjamin Jowett)

I think Aristotle is on to something with the last example, for the tragedy of the commons is very much about the consequences of not paying attention to the little things that add up to getting a job done. Often it is better to have one person do a job, rather than a clumsy, fickle, disputatious committee. Abdu'l-Baha recognizes this when He says that unless an Assembly is spiritually on fire, and each is ready to take responsibility, it is better to have one individual, a priest for example, running the community. This reminds me of one among an entire book-full of rants Al Gore makes against the Bush administration in "The Assault on Reason." Gore complains that if you ask Bush’s cabinet who is responsible for security, either all will put up their hands or none will. So if all are responsible, nobody is and the tragedy of the commons kicks in. This happened in spite of the flood of rhetoric about defending the American public from outside threats.

I think the story of David in the Bible is a perfect demonstration of how the personal and social regularly conflict, like two male moose butting antlers during rutting season. The moral of the transition from Saul to David to Solomon is: there is no way to have order unless there is wisdom, that is, when the center cares about the whole, and the whole for the center.

I just saw a wonderful adaptation of this story in a film, originally a television mini-series, called "David," starring Nathaniel Parker and Leonard Nimoy (as the prophet Samuel). You tend to picture a story the way the last film you saw showed it, and, having little kids, the image in my head was of the Veggie-tales version of David and Goliath. Here, David is a tiny pea with a thin baby voice, and Goliath is a huge stalk of broccoli, and you do not see the sling whirl around David's head because peas do not have arms. An entire produce section of great opposing armies are arrayed to watch the battle. Eight-year-old Thomas was very interested to see an adult version, so I let him stay up with me, way past bedtime, to hide under the cover and watch part of it. If he was after blood, he was not disappointed.

This video, "David," shows the battle completely differently from Veggie-tales, either because recent scholarship says that that is not how it happened, or because two arrayed armies would have blown the budget, I do not know. Anyway, they succeed in portraying a sanguinary guerrilla war taking place without massed confrontations of armies, lost in a desolate, rocky landscape. There are long periods of calm interspersed by vicious hand-to-hand combat between small numbers of fighters. War back then may not have killed millions at a time, as in modern battles, but it was as cruel and brutal as you can imagine. (In fact there is an argument that it was worse back then; Steven Pinker makes this point at: <>) Goliath guards a rocky outcropping, killing every Israelite fighter who dares come near. When David challenges him, only one soldier on David's side sneaks behind to get a peek at what happens when David uses his sling on the enemy champion.

Later, David flees the murderous aims of a mentally deranged Saul, who suspects him for no reason. Saul could put on a suit and walk into certain corridors of power today and fit right in, no questions asked. His attitude is the very model of a modern Machiavellian statesman. His madness is called by his contemporaries "sin," which sums it all up using only three letters. No modern shrink or think tank could offer a better analysis.

Anyway, when David later becomes king, he favors his family and friends. He is more compassionate than just; he does not apply the rule of law, to say the least. He gets entangled in an affair, having his lover's inconvenient soldier husband killed in battle. An early example of bullying in the workplace. On the positive side, formerly a soldier, now he composes glorious songs to God, and the film does a lovely job of showing the power and beauty of the Psalms. As a leader he is a sort of Uber-Jimmy Carter, a Republican’s worst nightmare, one perfectly willing to sacrifice his own interests and that of the country for his sons. One of whom, Absalom, betrays him heartlessly. When the coup fails, even then David wants to forgive Absalom but his generals take the matter into their own hands and kill the upstart. Suffice to say, if David entered politics now he would not be welcome in right wing circles.

Like most leaders, David applied rule of law to everybody except himself, and his nearest and dearest. I would very much like to see a similar film production made about the life of Solomon, the greatest of the Jewish kings. Solomon got it right where his predecessors had stumbled; he started off with humility, a recognition that he was humanly incapable of ruling over a "great people." Then, with the help of God he reconciled the irreconcilable, the personal and the social, the just and the compassionate. In other words, he reversed the tragedy of the commons and brought order and balance to the political equation.

As the Wiki article points out, Garrett Hardin later regretted his original title for the essay, saying that he should instead have called it "The Tragedy of the Unregulated Commons." Wise Solomonic rule, applies regulation through consultation, and offers us all hope for order on a world scale.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007


The Master and Lidja Z.

By John Taylor; 2007 September 16, 09 Izzat, 164 BE

We are now committed to going to the annual Esperanto meeting at Silver Bay YMCA resort. I am preparing an illustrated talk based on an address the Master gave in Scotland to a group of Esperantists, the only talk of the Master to Esperantists that I know of which includes both the English and the Esperanto translations. While I am at it, here are some selections from more or less contemporary material on Esperanto in English, first from the Master, then from Lidja Zamenhof, the daughter of the inventor of Esperanto who became a Baha'i and was eventually killed by the Nazis during WWII.

In Star of the West, Vol. 11, p. 287, is a small compilation on the Universal Language. Here is part of that.

In Sept. 1901: Abdu'l-Baha said to some pilgrims,

"The differences between this Revelation and that of Jesus Christ are, that in this cycle all the inhabitants of the world will be gathered into one nation; universal peace will prevail, bloodshed and war will cease; there will be a universal language; union and harmony will reach its highest state."

In December, 1912, Abdu'l-Baha said: "through America I have encouraged the Baha’is to study Esperanto and to the extent of my ability I will strive in its spread and promotion." (SW, Vol. 11, p. 286)

While on a visit at Clifton, England, January 16th, 1913, Abdu'l-Baha addressed a meeting there, during which he said:

"The tenth principle is the establishment of a universal language so that we will not have to acquire so many languages in the future. In schools they will study two, the mother tongue and the international auxiliary language. The use of an international auxiliary language will become a great means of dispelling the differences between nations."

Address by Abdu'l-Baha at the Esperanto Banquet, given at Hotel Moderns in Paris, France, February 12th, 1913:

In the human world there are two kinds of undertakings, universal and particular. The result of every universal undertaking is infinite, and the outcome of every particular undertaking is finite. In this age all the human problems which create a general interest are universal and their results are likewise universal, for humanity has become interdependent."

Today international laws have great influence, international policies are bringing nations nearer to one another. Therefore it is a general axiom that in the human world every universal affair commands attention, and its results and benefits are limitless; therefore let us say that every universal cause is divine and every special matter is human."

For instance, the universal light is from the sun, therefore it is divine. Special light which is electric and which has illumined this banquet hall is through the invention of man. By this I mean that all the affairs in the world of humanity which are trying to establish solidarity between nations and infuse the spirit of universalism in the hearts are divine. Consequently we can say that the international auxiliary language is one of the greatest virtues of the world of humanity, for such an instrument will remove misunderstandings from amongst the people, and will cement their hearts together. The universal auxiliary language will be the means for each individual in the world of humanity to become enabled to be informed of the scientific accomplishments of all his fellow men.

The basis of knowledge and the excellencies of the world are to teach and be taught. To acquire sciences, and to teach them in turn, depends on language; therefore, when the international auxiliary language becomes universal, it is easily conceivable that the acquirement of knowledge and instruction will likewise become universal.

No doubt you are aware that in the past ages a common language shared by various nations created a spirit of interdependence and solidarity among them. For instance, one thousand three hundred years ago there were very many divergent nationalities in the Orient. There were Copts in Egypt, Syrians in Syria, Assyrians in Musel, Babylonians in Baghdad along the river Mesopotamia. There existed between these nations divergence of opinion and hatred, but as they were slowly brought near to one another, finding common interests, they made the Arabic language a common vehicle of speech among them.

The study of this common language by all made them as one nation. We know very well today that the Assyrians are not Arabs, that the Copts, Syrians, Chaldeans and Egyptians are not Arabs. Each one of these nations belongs to its own sphere of nationality, but, as they all began to study the Arabic language, making it a vehicle of intercommunication, today, they are all considered as one. They are so united that it is impossible to break this indissoluble bond.

Today in Syria there are many religious sects, such as Orthodox, Mussulman, the Dorzi, Nestorians and so on. As they all speak Arabic they are considered as one; if you ask any one of them, he will say I am an Arab, though in reality he is not. Some of them are Greeks, others are Jews, etc. In short, there are many different nations and religions in the Orient that are united through the benefit of a common language. In the world of existence an international auxiliary language is the greatest bond to unite the people.

Today the causes of differences in Europe are the diversities of language. We say, this man is a German, the other is an Italian, then we meet an Englishman and then again a Frenchman. Although they belong to the same race, yet, language is the greatest barrier between them. Were a universal auxiliary language now in operation they would all be considered as one. Just as in the Orient a common language created common interests between the various nations, likewise, in this age a universal auxiliary language would unite all the people of the world.

The purpose of my remarks is, that, in the world of humanity, the greatest influence which will work for unity and harmony among the nations is the teaching of a universal language. Every intelligent man will bear testimony to this, and there is no further need of argument or evidence.

Therefore His Holiness Baha'u'llah wrote about this international language more than forty years ago. He says that as long as an international language is not invented complete union between the various sections of the world will be unrealized, for we observe that misunderstandings keep people from mutual association, and these misunderstandings will not be dispelled except through an international auxiliary language. Generally speaking the whole people of the Orient are not fully informed of the events in the West, neither can the Westerners put themselves in sympathetic touch with the Easterners -- their thoughts are enclosed in a casket -- the international language will be the master key to open it. Were we in possession of this universal language, the Western books could easily be translated into this language, and the Easterners be informed of their contents.

In the same way the books of the East could be translated into that language for the benefit of the Westerners. Thus will the misunderstandings that exist between different religions be dispersed. They bring about warfare and strife, and it is impossible to remove them without this universal language being spread everywhere. I am an Easterner and on this account I know nothing of your thoughts because an international language is not yet in vogue. Likewise you of the West are shut out of my thoughts.

If we had a common language both of us would be informed of the other's thoughts. Consequently the strongest means of universal progress towards the union of East and West is this language.

It will make the whole world one home and will become the greatest impulse for human advancement. It will praise the standard of the oneness of the world of humanity, it will make the earth one universal commonwealth. It will be the cause of love between the children of men. It will cause good fellowship between the various races. Now, praise be to God, that Dr. Zamenhof has invented the Esperanto language. It has all the potential qualities of becoming the international means of communication.

All of us must be grateful and thankful to him for this noble effort, for in this way he has served his fellow men well. He has invented a language which will bestow the greatest benefits on all people. With untiring effort and self sacrifice on the part of its devotees it will become universal. Therefore every one of us must study this language and spread it as far as possible so that day by day it may receive a broader recognition, be accepted by all nations and governments of the world and become a part of the curriculum in all the public schools. I hope that the language of all the future international conferences and congresses will become Esperanto, so that all people may acquire only two languages one their own tongue and the other the international auxiliary language.

Then perfect union will be established between all the people of the world. Consider how difficult it is today to communicate with various nations. If one studies fifty languages one may yet travel through a country and not know the language. I know several languages of the Orient, but do not know the Western tongues. If this international language were in force, having studied it, I should be able to speak it and you would have been directly informed of my thoughts, and a special friendship established between every one of us.

The lack of such a language is now a great barrier.

Therefore I hope that you will make the utmost effort, so that this language of Esperanto may be widely spread.

Send some teachers to Persia if you can, so that they may teach it to the young people, and I have written to Persia to tell some of the Persians to come here to study it.

I hope that this language will be promulgated very quickly and the world of humanity finds eternal peace; that all the nations may associate with one another and become as brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers; then each individual member of the body politic will be fully informed of the thoughts of all.

I am extremely grateful to you, and thank you for these lofty aims, for you have gathered at this banquet to further this language.

Your hope is to render a mighty service to the world of humanity, and for this great aim I congratulate you from the bottom of my heart."

Extract from Address of Abdul-Baha to the Theosophical Society of Paris, France, Thursday evening, February 13th, 1913

We observe that today the means of unity are brought about. This in itself is an evidence that the divine confirmations are with us. One of the principles of the oneness of the world of humanity is the invention of the universal auxiliary language, Esperanto. We observe that this language is spreading daily, and its advocates are increasing. It is indubitable that the universal auxiliary language will become instrumental in wiping away the present misunderstandings, and each individual will be able to be informed of the thought of all humanity.

"Therefore we must all strive to spread among our fellow men this language.

This international auxiliary language will be an introduction to the establishment of the oneness of the world of humanity. The greatest efforts must be displayed in this direction."

Excerpt from Tablet, Jan. 10, 1919:

"My hope is that the Esperantists may become attracted by these epistles and may consider the magnitude of confirmation bestowed upon the Esperanto Language and may endeavor to translate some of the important Tablets of Baha'u'llah and propagate them all around." (SW, Vol. 11, p. 291)

Esperanto, by Lidja Zamenhof

(SW, Vol. 25, p. 371)

"A universal language shall be adopted and be taught by all the schools and institutions of the world. A committee appointed by national bodies of learning shall select a suitable language to be used as a medium of international communication. All must acquire it. This is one of the great factors in the unification of man." -`Abdu'l-Baha.

When two ants meet they understand one another by the touch. When two spirits meet, they understand one another by means of the language of spirits, the language of heaven, which is as different from every earthly language as the bleating of a goat differs from a Beethoven sonata.

When two men meet, they understand one another by words.

It is often said that the gift of speech is one of the qualities by which man is distinguished from the animal. True, but on account of this very quality man is often also lower than the animal. For a mute fish in the ocean depths understands another fish; the birds of all lands sing in harmony when they meet in winter under the warm southern sun. But where is the harmony among men if their languages are different, if from mouth to ear there travel only the vain sounds of incomprehensible words

The Bible relates that at one time all men had a common language.

That sameness of language bound and united them and gave them strength. But that strength filled their hearts with pride, and they began to want to reach heaven itself and stand as equals, face to face with God. And the Lord was angry at this arrogance and confounded their tongues. Broken was the bond, gone was the strength of the proud. The grandsons of Adam were scattered throughout the whole earth. Heaven remained closed against them, but there opened instead the way of misunderstanding and strife for long, long ages.

But God, who confounded the proud, did not wish the punishment to last forever. So in the book of Zephaniah shines the promise that when the measure of the blows of fate shall be accomplished, when the whole earth shall be consumed with the flame of the indignation of the Lord, then God will give back one pure language to mankind, so that all may with one voice glorify His Name; so that they may glorify the Name of God, not rise up in pride against Him.

The promise was not vain, for already from time to time on the wings of piety harmonious voices have been raised in one language to heaven.

First, the language of the Ten Commandments, the Hebrew tongue, bound together the seed of Israel. When the great and solemn "Yom Kippur" comes round, the Day of Judgment, in every synagogue of the world prayers resound in one and the same language. The language of the Prophets, the Hebrew tongue, unites all the children of Israel, and fulfils to a certain degree the promise given by the mouth of Zephaniah.

In the same way, the language of the Christian martyrs, slaughtered in crowds in the arenas of Rome with the cry of "Pro Christo" "For Christ" on their lips, became, and was for a long time a bond between Christians speaking different languages.

So, too, when the sun sinks to rest from the tops of minarets throughout the whole Muhammadan world the voices ring in one language glorifying the one God and His Prophet.

Every religion has its chosen language, its sacred language, which builds a bridge between the believers and helps them to know one another as brothers. But each of the great Messengers, by whose mouth God spoke to man in times past, had only a limited audience. Modern methods of conquering space did not then exist. A thousand times greater than now were the distances between lands and continents. Each Prophet spoke in fact to one race alone or to limited groups of peoples.

Not so today, in the era of Baha'u'llah. The Baha'i Revelation is not for one race alone, nor for one people or nation. It is for the whole, great, wide world; it speaks to all men, whether black or white, whether dwellers of the desert sands or of the icy north. One common language is necessary so that understanding may reign amongst the many tongued children of men. The acceptance of one international language was proclaimed by Baha'u'llah.

And soon after this divine command was proclaimed by the mouth of Baha'u'llah, in response to the creative power of the Prophet's word appeared Esperanto. It was born, not through pride of the human mind wanting to outdo God, the cause of the confusion of the tower of Babel, but from an ardent, sincere desire to serve men, and by giving them the means of understanding one another to bind them once more into one harmonious family.

How strange, how foolish must have sounded to skeptical ears some seventy years ago the proclamation about the choice of one of the existing languages or the Creation of a New Language. A language is not made in a retort; it is the product of long evolution, the expression of the culture of the respective society.

But with the Divine Will nothing is impossible. Esperanto was born, it is growing and spreading throughout the world.

In many of His addresses encouraged the spread of Esperanto, and expressed the hope that it would bind together men who otherwise could not understand one another.

Baha'is watch the growth of the Esperanto Movement with sympathy and good wishes. Many of them are already Esperantists, but many are only lookers on. This is not enough. For as Christ says, "Not every one who says 'Lord, Lord' shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, only he who does the will of my Father which is in heaven" It is not enough to watch with sympathy.

We must accept and follow.

Once I met a Baha'i who told me he did not intend to learn Esperanto as he knew four languages and that was enough for him. Unfortunately Polish was not one of the four, and the language which he was speaking I could hardly understand. So that as far as I was concerned, his knowing four languages did not suffice. One day I asked him if he never meant to visit Poland. He answered that Poland was beyond him, as one cannot easily get about in a country whose language one does not understand. So, for him, four languages were not enough. And between us there remained a barrier. The friendship which might have sprung up was prevented from the beginning, for between persons who do not understand one another, hatred is possible, or a blind love, but friendship is not possible.

The International Language is part of the Divine Plan which is given effect in the era of Baha’u’llah. And the creation and spread of Esperanto are proofs of the power of Baha’u’llah’s words.

Esperantists are aware that it is not just a new vocabulary and grammar that they are presenting to the world. They realize their mission of international brotherhood. And when they, the sons of many peoples, gather at the great international congresses, when over their heads waves the green banner, there rises from their breasts the Esperantists hymn, the work of the author of Esperanto, Dr. L. L. Zamenhof.


La Espero Hope


En la mondo venis nova sento,   Into the world has come a new feeling,

Tra la mondo iras nova voko,   Through the world goes a mighty call,

Per flugiloj de facila vento,   On light wind-wings,

Nun de loko flugu gxi al loko,  Now may it fly from place to place,


Ne al glavo sangon soifanta,   Not to the sword thirsting for blood,

Gxi la homon tiras familion,   Does it draw the human family,

Al la mond eterne militanta,   To the world eternally at war,

Gxi promesas sanktan harmonion  It promises holy harmony,

(SW, Vol. 25, p. 372)