Sunday, February 28, 2010

World-Around Planning

The Planning Decade, Introductory

By John Taylor; 2010 Feb 28, Ayyam-i-Ha Day Three, 166 BE

After a world government forms humanity, will enter into its first constitutionally ordained, permanent peace. This means no further need for standing armies. Millions of soldiers and other military personnel, along with volunteers from the ranks of the poor, unemployed and underemployed, will be recruited to work on the World Belt Project (WBP) to connect the continents. This will be a state building project for a new level of government, the continental union, of which there will be one for each continent. In exchange for their service, the project workers and their families will gain world citizenship and a founding share in their own homestead.

The WBP that they will build is a specially designed corridor that combines power lines, high-speed rail transport and specially organized building projects called hillside housing. Its high-speed trains will take passengers and freight through it at speeds approaching ten thousand kilometres an hour, thus relieving the burden of long-range travel from air transport. This will spare atmosphere from one of its most potent polluters and causes of climate change. The underground power lines running under or alongside the trains will distribute electricity from renewable generation facilities to where power is needed most, the poor regions of the earth.

As the World Belt finally spans and interconnects every continent, the project will enter a second stage. Now it will surround, cross and re-cross the world's desert regions, colonizing a land area equivalent to that of the Americas. By this time, the builders of the world belt will have considerable experience not only in building trains and power lines but also inhabiting hillside housing facilities and farming the immediate surroundings. Skilled agriculturalists will make these corridors into a true green belt as they integrate gardens, farms and trees into the buildings and the whole area. They will know which kinds of trees can best hold water in the ground and change the climate. They will treat the soil with biochar and other natural supplements to help turn wastelands into lush, fertile, bucolic landscapes. As unused regions are populated, at the same time delicate natural areas with endangered species or unique ecosystems will be slowly, permanently depopulated.

In order for such major structural change to be implemented, each and all will need to become better planners, both individually and apart. This means we all need to understand planning better so as to keep ideology from blocking and disrupting it.

In their heyday, communist countries were not afraid to design and evolve their entire economies around a single, central plan. Although brutal and arbitrary, the young Soviet Union instituted several five year plans which turned an agricultural, serf-based economy into an industrialized one in a remarkably brief time. The secret of China's success today is its ability to retain some aspects of central planning while taking on some of the liberal, de-centralized virtues of capitalism. In the last decade the United States, the world's largest capitalist economy, has gone severely into hock to the Chinese. Thus a recipe of limited freedom along with a dash of planned initiatives turned a very poor nation into the manufacturing base of the entire planet.

Capitalist countries are in a deep dogmatic slumber. In his latest book, Raj Patel sums up the self-defeating thinking of anti-planning, neo-liberal in a brief joke:


How many Chicago economists does it take to change a light bulb?

None. If the light bulb needed changing, the market would have already done it.


This is not to say that markets do not have a powerful, albeit often unplanned effect. Like any other virtue, planning works only in moderation, and takes in surprises, good and bad, from every direction. However, that is no reason to throw out regulation and planning completely, for as Shakespeare said,

"Of your philosophy you make no use, if you give place to accidental evils." (Cassius, in Julius Caesar, Act IV, Sc. III)

Plans work well if and only if they are stochastic, if they somehow transcend the random factor. They must have just enough structure, not too much or too little. They only connect when the individual has enough freedom to work out her own place in the social framework, and the center takes care of essentials only. Just as the republican form of government is a combination of several earlier, simpler types of government, so a cosmopolitan plan combines central directives with a diversity of initiatives coming in from the periphery.

So far, People without Borders has concentrated on the spatial ramifications of the cosmopolitan condition. In future essays, we will discuss the temporal dimension. The World Belt Project will surely be only the most noticeable facet of the first world plan for a universal civic society.


Friday, February 26, 2010


More On Pyramids

The pyramid is a fascinating shape embedded in the very nature of things. As Darwin and earlier naturalists noticed, natural structures like soap bubbles and honeycombs resolve on their own into six-sided figures like the base of a pyramid. The ancients went to great pains to erect pyramids as symbolic monuments to that most basic presupposition about life and fate, the belief in an afterlife. In his famous history, Edward Gibbon wrote,

"The doctrine of the resurrection was first entertained by the Egyptians; and their mummies were embalmed, their pyramids were constructed, to preserve the ancient mansion of the soul, during a period of three thousand years." (Gibbon, Decline and Fall, Book 5)

We now know that this belief in an existence beyond the tomb went much further back into prehistory -- by many tens of thousands of years -- and that pyramids were also constructed in East Asia and the Americas, for similar reasons. For many, though, the pyramids are a symbol not of the afterlife but of the arrogance of a few, who wish to see their name live on in this world rather than the next. This, Frances Bacon wrote, is better done with ideas than stone monuments.

"We neither dedicate nor raise a capitol or pyramid to the pride of man, but rear a holy temple in his mind, on the model of the universe, which model therefore we imitate." (Instauration, Aphorisms)

The form of the pyramid, with its tiny point at the top and large surface on the bottom perfectly reflects the nature of knowledge and power, both natural and human. In almost every sphere of knowledge there are many wrong answers and only one, or at least very few, wrong ones. And, as Bacon points out, this applies to time as well; we tend to know a great deal about past things, and little about the most important time, right now.

"... it is the duty and virtue of all knowledge to abridge the infinity of individual experience, as much as the conception of truth will permit, and to remedy the complaint of VITA BREVIS, ARS LONGA; which is performed by uniting the notions and conceptions of sciences: for knowledges are as pyramids, whereof history is the basis." (Bacon, Advancement of Learning, paragraph 6)

Additionally, the more history is written the more society seems to resemble a pyramid. Whereas hunter-gathering groups live an egalitarian existence without heavy labour or hierarchy, civilized, industrialized societies resemble pyramids, with few on top and many below. A small elite hogs all the fame and power, while the vast majority live out their lives in miserable obscurity. Of course, there are advantages to being on the bottom. Not only attention and wealth but blame as well tends to fall on the elite, as Gibbon noticed.

"When he declaimed against the peculiar vices of the rich, poverty might obtain a transient consolation from his invectives; but the guilty were still sheltered by their numbers; and the reproach itself was dignified by some ideas of superiority and enjoyment. But as the pyramid rose towards the summit, it insensibly diminished to a point; and the magistrates, the ministers, the favorite eunuchs, the ladies of the court, the empress Eudoxia herself, had a much larger share of guilt to divide among a smaller proportion of criminals." (Gibbon, Decline and Fall, Book 3)

As we noted in the first essay in this series, once a pyramid structure is formed, it is very difficult to shake it up. Rarely do "palaces and pyramids ... slope their heads to their foundations," as Macbeth put it. But pyramids do tend to slope their heads when those on top depend upon those below, for their votes or for their taxes, or both. This was one contribution of Athens, as Lord Acton pointed out in a lecture on the history of freedom.

"From this universal degradation the world was rescued by the most gifted of the nations. Athens, which like other cities was distracted and oppressed by a privileged class, avoided violence and appointed Solon to revise its laws. It was the happiest choice that history records. Solon was not only the wisest man to be found in Athens, but the most profound political genius of antiquity; and the easy, bloodless, and pacific revolution by which he accomplished the deliverance of his country was the first step in a career which our age glories in pursuing, and instituted a power which has done more than anything, except revealed religion, for the regeneration of society.

"The upper class had possessed the right of making and administering the laws, and he left them in possession, only transferring to wealth what had been the privilege of birth. To the rich, who alone had the means of sustaining the burden of public service in taxation and war, Solon gave a share of power proportioned to the demands made on their resources. The poorest classes were exempt from direct taxes, but were excluded from office. Solon gave them a voice in electing magistrates from the classes above them, and the right of calling them to account. This concession, apparently so slender, was the beginning of a mighty change. It introduced the idea that a man ought to have a voice in selecting those to whose rectitude and wisdom he is compelled to trust his fortune, his family, and his life.

"And this idea completely inverted the notion of human authority, for it inaugurated the reign of moral influence where all political power had depended on physical force. Government by consent superseded government by compulsion, and the pyramid which had stood on a point was made to stand upon its base. By making every citizen the guardian of his own interest, Solon admitted the element of Democracy into the State. The greatest glory of a ruler, he said, is to create a popular government. Believing that no man can be entirely trusted, he subjected all who exercised power to the vigilant control of those for whom they acted."


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why Not Swear?

No Swearing Please, We Are Humans

By John Taylor; 2010 Feb 25, Ayyam-i-Ha Day One, 166 BE

My wife and daughter went on a school trip to a drama festival in Port Dover yesterday. They enjoyed the theatre but complained vociferously this morning about the constant swearing of the high school students on the school bus ride there and back. It seems that for whatever reason profane speech has become ubiquitous in this "millennial generation."

Authority figures fight a losing battle just to keep oaths to a minimum in public fora. A few years ago Ron Speer and I gave a presentation in a high school religion class, and I witnessed myself how much time and energy the teacher had to use just to keep street talk out of the classroom. Profanity is no longer the province of outcasts standing around on their own time, it is bursting into public fora. There is no avoiding it.

It seems, therefore, that it would be useful for me to get back to basics and go over what profanity essentially is, its ill effects and what we might do to get rid of it. Surely we all have a duty to do our best to extirpate this evil habit forever, be it in the gutter or anywhere else.

So I will start an essay series today called, "No Swearing Please, We Are Humans," or, "Please Do Not Curse." There is an Arabic Proverb that says, "Joking is to speaking as salt to eating," so I will start off our anti-swear word discussion with a fairly savory dish.

Some Technical Reasons for Not Swearing

I am many things, but as a writer who makes a career of words, I cringe for purely technical reasons when I hear, for example, gross overuse of the "f" word, the universal expletive. Speech is an extremely powerful tool and over reliance on any one word cheapens language itself. If you use a word meant to give emphasis all the time, how will anybody know when you are especially upset? Consider this joke, which demonstrates the point:

"There was a golf match between an eminent Supreme Court Justice and an equally distinguished Virginia bishop. The bishop missed four straight short putts without saying a single word. The Justice watched him with growing amusement and remarked, `Bishop, that is the most profane silence I ever heard.'"

This is the paradox of restraint. The religious leader was refraining from expressing his anger at all, profanely or not, and this made his anger all the more apparent. It is the same thing with hunger. Hunger is the best condiment, they say, so a true gourmet does not go around stuffing his face, he eats little and appreciates a fine meal all the more. So often the most effective and powerful thing to say is nothing at all.

Again, I am making a technical point here, not a moral one.

I myself struggle not to swear, ever, for reasons that go far beyond the technical. But if we must swear, let us at least do it well. Consider the greatest master of the English language, William Shakespeare. Some of his characters swear, but as in all his speeches, they speak with a golden tongue beyond that of mere mortals. They swear with with the vim and force of a great imaginative poet. Entire computer programs have been written to generate Shakespearean oaths, of which there are hundreds.

And, if you go through these dense thickets of oaths and curses, not one is what we now would consider swearing. The "f" word is nowhere to be found (I just checked, just to be sure). Not that there are no euphemisms, along the lines of "wtf," now ubiquitous even in polite internet conversations. For example, there is "bodikin," or "Od's Bodikin," for "God's little Body." And "Cox my passion" for "God's Passion," And "By'rlakin," for "by our little Lady." But it is well to remember that some of this scurrilous speech is directed at those who depend upon swearing for rhetorical effect.

"A mad-cup ruffian and a swearing Jack, that thinks with oaths to face the matter out."

And clearly, Shakespeare understood what the judge saw in the silence of the bishop in the above anecdote, that few words, spoken well or spoken by the right person, often work far greater works than many,

"Few words, but, to effect, more than all yet..."

We will continue on this theme in future.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Baha'i Commentary on Pyramids and Power

By John Taylor; 2010 Feb 24, Mulk 18, 166 BE

The last Badi' Blog essay on "political science as oxymoron," a.k.a.: "Of Pyramids and Polishers," got three reader responses, all of which were Baha'i-oriented, even though I did not mention the faith in the original essay. Two readers pointed out a fragmented sentence, which I have corrected. I made other changes, added a Baha'i reference, and re-posted the essay, at:

One reader pointed out a passage in the Aqdas where Baha'u'llah provided for the election by lot of a group who would in turn consult on a hard decision. (Kitab-i-Aqdas, 136) In the event of a split decision, He advised that you add more people to the original group, then choose by lot the smaller committee again, have them consult, and so, on, as in a recipe, add in more ingredients, mix, select and repeat. The UHJ in another note to this says that although the present system of electing assemblies supplanted this system, we can draw from it a lesson about how much Baha'u'llah valued unanimity. As for pyramids, the reader commented:

"I think that a pyramid design is inherent to authority structures. However authority is only one of many social functions. The characteristic failing of the modern age was the fixation on authority, and therefore elevating the state and politics to an umbrella that controls all social functions. In my view the way forward is not to replace the pyramid with something else, but to put the pyramid in its place as the proper structure for one function in society, recognising that wealth-creation, knowledge, and religion (and others) are separate organs that have their own internal requirements. ... Authority, in short, can only do so much."

Another reader, Ed, also sees a lot of good in pyramidal power structures,

"I don't think there being a pyramid is the problem; rather, it's the qualities or materials of the pyramid. The pyramid isn't an ugly or bad form. Even the best civilizations of the past had their pyramid form. The pyramid in which power is the top point is material, whereas the one with service as its apex is the spiritual one. Armies have to be pyramidal, and Abdu'l-Baha used the image of an army in the spiritual conquest of the planet."

"I am also reminded of the analogy that Abdu'l-Baha uses in His explanation of sacrifice, that of the metal losing its coldness to become malleable--I think. In the Baha'i Faith there's also a pyramid. Spiritualizing the pyramid, if you will, would make its components fluid on a regular basis, as in Baha'i elections-- but not only then, because every act of obedience to the Revelation spiritualizes the pyramid. The lower elements, to follow this analogy, would be happy to play their role in being at the base, knowing that inward change only can raise them, and would desire to rise to be able to spiritualize every part of the pyramid."

Jimbo had a different perspective on the legal ramifications of the pyramid:

"It is the written language of law that is and has always been the problem in order for change to occur. Looking at the Kitab'i'Aqdas, Baha'u'llah makes his simple and strong laws very clear for everyone. A Judge, who is a friend of the Baha'is, read the Kitab'i'Aqdas and commented that there were loop-holes in it that you could drive a truck through. In rebuttal, I would also say that there is loop-holes in the morality of lawyers that you could drive an ocean liner through. I guess there's little hope for unity between us on that subject."

"I listened to a good interview tha other day on PBS Bill Moyers Journal, about how change is impossible with the big US financial institutions because the "cleverest" have made it far too complex for anyone (including the government) except them to change the system.

"The ancient Romans had a proverb: "Money is like sea water. The more you drink, the thirstier you become." That adage finds particular meaning today on Wall Street, which began this New Year riding a tidal wave of bonuses in a surging ocean of greed."

Their only ray of hope was suggesting to make new rules that are SIMPLE and STRONG.

Keep up the good writing."

I plan to continue writing about pyramids and power, but I am easily distracted. Before I close, I note that the UHJ, or its agencies, think of the Ruhi process as a pyramid building process, not to say a pyramid scheme.

"For the development of human resources in India may be likened to the building of an ever-expanding pyramid, whose base must be constantly broadened." (Commissioned by The Universal House of Justice, 1998 Apr, Training Institutes)

"In this way, the development of human resources is characterized by the image of an ever-expanding pyramid. The size of the "pyramid" is an indication of a national community's success in creating human resources to meet its needs for the tasks of expansion and consolidation." (International Teaching Centre, 2000 Feb, Training Institutes and Systematic Growth, p. 7)


Monday, February 22, 2010

Political Science as Oxymoron

revised February 23, 2010
Of Pyramids and Polishers 
For thousands of years the sole model of political power has been the pyramid. If you count thoughts and words and ideas, there may be alternatives, but if you consider only the way we act, the pyramid is it. It is alone. A pyramid is a shape with a large bottom and a point at the top. According to this paradigm, a leader or leaders sit at the summit with a small elite below, while the rest, the vast majority of the human race, hold their rulers up from the bottom. Whatever the theory or ideology, and no matter how egalitarian or democratic a society sets out to be, in practice it always ends up as a pyramid.
The Communist regime in the former Soviet Union, for example, started out aiming at a worker's paradise but very soon froze into centralized power in the shape of a pyramid. Everything was run from above by a general secretary, a tiny elite called the politburo, a larger elite of apparatchiks, and the proletariat below. Similarly, the present capitalist regime led by the world superpower professes to offer at least a chance at wealth for anybody, but in practice the pyramid of power is, considering the much larger population of the earth right now, far pointier than any pyramid at any age throughout history.
Why is the pyramid hierarchy so persistent?
Surely, the answer is that no matter where leaders may end up on the pyramid, be it on the very summit, or somewhere along the edges running down the sides, they have little to gain from a shake-up. Statistically speaking, the chances that one stone will end up on the edge, or even on the surface of the pyramid, are minuscule. Whether the leader rises through democratic or any other means, the nature of the pyramid assures that change, or even experimentation, is not in the interest of the leadership. This is why democracy, federalism and republicanism are as hidebound as any other form of government. 
Only token efforts at change are made, in spite of the glaring fact that the status quo is more sluggish, corrupt and dysfunctional with every passing day. Basic leadership is lacking; power structures are weighed down by incumbency.
The last thing elected leaders want to do is fiddle with the electoral process that got them where they are. That is why the term "political science" is and always will remain an oxymoron, unless a truly radical change takes place.
Some starry-eyed optimists still hold up hope, saying that the invention of computers, the Internet, virtual worlds and social media will be agents for the kind of radical change that could save us from ourselves. The Internet will allow egalitarian networking to take over from hierarchy. It will relieve us of the power pyramid pressing down on us all. In spite of some hopeful signs, I have seen little evidence that this sunny scenario will play out. There is and always will be too much to gain for the few to do everything to stay on top. For every network of concerned activists a thousand diversions and distractions crop up every day. If anything, the edges of the pyramid are getting sharper and pointier all the time.
This is not to say that the incumbency pyramid is utterly immovable. Revolutions do turn the pyramid on its top, albeit with great trauma and bloodshed. It takes decades and centuries to recover from a revolution. Iran has not recovered from its revolution, which started with a relatively peaceful change of leaders but this was followed by over a decade of bloodshed, persecution and war. The present recrudescence of persecution of the Baha'is in Iran is a sign of just how precarious its leaders feel themselves to be. No matter what happens, experience proves that no matter how radical the shift, sooner or later another pyramid will always emerge. The faces are different, the goals, principles and methods may vary, but a pyramid always emerges.
This problem of incumbency and revolutionary change has been staring me in the face for months. I have not been able to move forward on my book, People without Borders, until I feel that it is solved. I would feel embarrassed to share my ideas for change if I cannot honestly answer this question: What is to distinguish Comenian world governance from any other pie-in-the-sky utopia?
Then I woke this morning with an image in my mind, an alternative to the pyramid. It was a picture of a rock polisher.
I rushed off to my trusty search engine and found out that there are two main kinds of stone polisher, the tumbler or rotation polisher, and the vibration polisher. The rotation type turns a cylinder around for about a month, after which the formerly rough stones emerge smooth and beautiful. The vibration polisher, as the name indicates, uses only vibrations; rough stones are placed in a wash of water mixed with abrasive materials and emerge after only two weeks in their optimum state of smoothness. The vibration method is not only quicker, it uses less energy and emits less noise. Instead of turning over completely, the parts rub against one another and turn in place.
What is the equivalent of the tumbler and the vibration polisher in democracy and human governance? The rotation polisher seems like a revolution. What about the vibration polisher? Can we introduce something that gets the same result as the literally revolutionary method of the tumble polisher, only quicker and more efficient? What is political vibration?
It seems to me that vibration is a kind of enforced randomization without the dislocation of tumbling. Randomness is the political alternative to revolution.
Game theory tells us that randomness is essential to all games of chance, and has a place even in many games of skill. A coin toss evens out the home field advantage in soccer or football, for example.
Yet we make almost no use of randomness in government today, except in choosing jury duty. The Ancient Athenians, in their brief experiment with democracy, did choose citizens to fill certain important offices by lot.
Would judicious application of randomness offer an alternative to the unavoidable pyramid? Could this rid us of the reluctance of those on top to change the system of promotion that got them there? Would this bring about a true political science? I will discuss my answer to this question next time.
February 22-23, 2010

Sunday, February 21, 2010

On Elites

Comments on "The Power Elites"

By John Taylor; 2010 Feb 21, Mulk 15, 166 BE

Lately my attention was drawn to a commentary in the New York Times called "The Power Elite," by David Brooks ( He points out that the elites of today are more diverse in many ways than the male, Ivy League, clubbish elites of a century ago, yet they are not trusted, as their predecessors were. The new elites are also more far talented and qualified, yet "it is not even clear that we are better led." This is something that I have noticed. The higher levels of government, the press and business are all stuffed with PhD's doing just what their training prepared them to do.

Yet, clearly, Brooks is being diplomatic.

It is fair to say, considering ongoing tragedies like allowing billions of poor and sick to languish without hope, and potential disasters like nuclear proliferation and runaway climate change, that we have never been led more poorly in history. Yet, nobody can accuse those at the helm of this train-wreck-in-slow-motion of crass ignorance. Instead, we are all victims of what Jane Jacobs called credentialism, a blind acceptance that high credentials (that is, years of official schooling) suffice to solve a problem or guarantee that a job will get done, or make leaders of men, or confer flexibility or creativity on an elite. As Brooks says, again very diplomatically,

"First, the meritocracy is based on an overly narrow definition of talent. Our system rewards those who can amass technical knowledge. But this skill is only marginally related to the skill of being sensitive to context. It is not related at all to skills like empathy. Over the past years, we have seen very smart people make mistakes because they did not understand the context in which they were operating."

Although parts of Brook's analysis are brilliant, he is obviously himself a member of the elite. He makes the same slips they do, including assuming that leadership is a matter of avoiding mistakes. Leadership demands far more than that, it calls for wisdom. We need to keep the best of the old while making big, structural changes; we need to establish peace, heal divisions and reverse climate chaos. We must get a world perspective, a longer perspective. But, as Brooks points out, not only space but time is a problem for these elites,

"... time horizons have shrunk. If you were an old blue blood, you traced your lineage back centuries, and there was a decent chance that you would hand your company down to members of your clan. That subtly encouraged long-term thinking."

In other words, the old elites did not just have personal qualifications, they had familial credentials too. The family is the basis of society because it links past with present and future generations. We have ejected the family from power in favour of schooling and naked personal talent. And now we are finding out that we may not have got the best of the bargain. In choosing leaders it might be a good idea to consider family as well as grades and personal achievement. What would be wrong with making it democratic by voting for entire families? This is an idea I have been exploring in my book-in-progress, "People Without Borders."

But then Brooks makes a jaw-dropping point about transparency, the part of justice that fights corruption.

"... society is too transparent. Since Watergate, we have tried to make government as open as possible. ... government should sometimes be shrouded for the same reason that middle-aged people should be clothed. ... the more government has become transparent, the less people are inclined to trust it."

This is the sort of whopper that makes me immediately run to a news search engine to find out Noam Chomsky's latest insights into the situation. What slathering hypocrisy on hypocrisy infuses the power elites in the world's most corrupt nation! Suffice to say, I do not think that too much transparency is the problem, though lack of trust, fractiousness and contention certainly are.

Yet, even if we concede that the processes of power are more transparent now -- and in certain ways they no doubt are -- surely this point about clothes on older bodies is a sign that we need more familial governance. A united family is very good at covering over the flaws and foibles of its members while assuring that they all pull on the oars in the same direction. But this is not just true on the high levels of the power elites, it needs to be the case most of all in the home, the locality, the neighbourhood and that of city hall.

To use just one example from technology, clearly we need solar panels on every house. As it is now, PV panels are too expensive for families to put on their roof. Yet some neighbourhoods have got together to pool their funds, purchasing power and credit in order to assure that everybody in the area who wants one on their roof can have one. This is the sort of thing that would be very easy to accomplish if we elected entire families instead of individuals, and if we gave back some of the power that families traditionally had in both economics and politics.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Baker Autobio

Baker Autobio, Part III

In an age when we live under the constant threat of out-of-control climate change, it is important to recall that the problem has been obvious for a long time to those in the know. Richard St. Barbe Baker proposed half a century ago that we take active measures not only to halt climate change but to reverse it. As an expert in forestry, he knew that trees are capable of changing the climate for the better wherever they are systematically planted. Just after the Second World War he wrote,

"We advocate that all standing armies everywhere be used for the work of essential reafforestation ... in the countries to which they belong, and that each country ... shall provide expeditionary forces to cooperate in the greater tasks of land reclamation in the Sahara and other deserts." (Richard St. Barbe Baker. Green Glory (The Forests of the World); 1947, A.A. Wyn; p. 242)

Today let us continue with Part III of the first chapter of Richard St. Barbe Baker's autobiography, "My Life, My Trees," where he tells of his early education in Canada.


While I was still at Dean Close, a man came to talk about Canada. It was not what he said but what he did that impressed itself on my mind. He wore a tail coat with stiff shirt and collar and ready-made white tie, and at one stage in his lecture he caught hold of his collar and shook it savagely and said, "Out in Canada we don't have to wear these durned things; we wear soft collars or no collars at all!"

My mind was now made up. I must go to Canada. After four years I discovered that my father was selling land to pay school fees for my education. He listened gravely when I told him that I knew of his sacrifices and that I wanted to leave school to go to Canada.

Then an old-time pioneer, Bishop Lloyd, returned from the Western Prairies. I was introduced to him by an old friend of my father, Dr. Eugene Stock, Secretary of the Church Missionary Society. Lloyd said he wanted men who would go out ahead of the railway and 'blaze the trail'. He spoke of the scattered settlers far from the towns who had no means of grace, and appealed to me to throw in my lot with a group of undergraduates at Emmanuel College, Saskatchewan University, Saskatoon.

I responded to the call and for the next few months worked hard to equip myself for my mission to Canada. I rose at five and got myself some breakfast before leaving for Southampton, where I was learning how to make horse shoes from short lengths of wrought iron.

One of my father's customers was a young fruit-grower from Burridge where my great-grandfather had owned much land which he had planted with trees. Young Roberts, the fruit-grower had bought some of this land where the timber had been felled and was having it grubbed ready for orchards and fruit gardens. I begged this young man to allow me to go and camp with him and help him lay out his property. I wanted to sleep under the stars and get fit for the work in Canada that lay ahead of me. After the day's work was done we would put on boxing gloves. In those days I rather fancied that I could punch hard -- young Roberts was a fine specimen of muscular Christianity and although I had a longer reach he made me hop around. I was always grateful to him for putting me through my paces in preparation for the North-West and have treasured his friendship through the years. After sixty years we still correspond. I had a letter from him at Frith Farm, Wickham, Hampshire, dated January 10, 1969:

"Not only did you cook for me, but you did the washing and you carted the fruit by horse and van, besides rushing about in the middle of the night and scaring that Mr. Miles who came down and slept in the tent with us, making out we were being attacked by robbers. And do you remember grinding the corn and making bread in that coal stove in the shed? Not only that, do you remember taking your little harmonium out in the Burridge Road and conducting a service each Sunday? You have always been a wonderful chap, full of good deeds and personality, and one could never keep you down."

"You come from a line of saints. I shall never forget your dear mother singing and playing on a little organ -- "There is no love like the love of Jesus" -- she played so beautifully and she meant every word of it. Both your parents were saints when the time came for them to go, and I think if you had pursued this Evangelistic work, you would have done very great work. I know what great satisfaction you have obtained from your parents."

But to return to the story.

For three and a half years I was in the hard school of the open spaces. I homesteaded south of Saskatoon and pitched my tent on Beaver Creek, where in the small hours of the morning I took delight in watching the beavers. They constructed a dam along which I could walk. It was more than one hundred and forty feet in width across a stream which had been less than a dozen feet wide when they had started building. In the winter I returned and was thrilled to find a large beaver house, the top of which protruded three to four feet above the ice. It looked like the crater of a miniature volcano with hot air and steam rising from the summit, upon the fringes of which the snow had melted to become icicles. The beavers' dam had flooded about twelve acres of meadow. From then on, the beavers became my lasting friends and I came to regard them as fellow foresters.

As one of the first hundred students at Saskatchewan University (there are 12,000 students at the University at the time of writing!) I was elected to a committee for drawing up a college yell. After much thought we decided we must combine our colours with the name of the University. This was the result:


Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan, Varsitee!

Hi bickety ki yi! Hi bickety kee!

Deo et patri! Deo et patri!

The green the white! Ki yam i yam i kee! Sas-s -s -s -s-s -skatchewan!


As sophomores we had the privilege of initiating the freshmen, and in my sophomore year one of the freshmen was Diefenbaker, afterwards Prime Minister of Canada.

My knowledge of horses was my best introduction to the Redskins, among whom social status was governed by the quality of their horsemanship. They were proud of their horses and always insisted that I rode their best. There was a happy rivalry between these friendly Indians who each claimed that they had the best horse.

Those were my bronco-busting days. In England they talk of `breaking' a horse while in France they use the verb 'dresser' or to finish a horse. It is a pity that the old English term to 'gentle' a horse is so rarely used, and I prefer the word `make' to 'break'. In the Haute Ecole much attention is given to finding the centre of gravity of a horse or adjusting one's own weight so that the horse can enjoy perfect balance. This is the opposite of rodeo when horses are tortured with a strap or rope drawn tight under the belly so that they play up and buck to get rid of it or the rider.

Like many another 'tenderfoot' I had a go at riding untamed broncos, and once when in Pleasant Valley, Alberta, had a beautiful black Montana bronco promised to me if I could ride him. He was one of a bunch of about eighty wild mustangs and had twice jumped the corral close on seven feet high. The boss had turned to me with a curse and exclaimed:

"Say boy, if you can ride that damned black devil, it's yours."

That afternoon I rode him twenty-five miles and returned the next day to claim him and thank his owner for a wonderful gift. He was the best journey horse I have ridden and was game for seventy miles a day. His most comfortable gait was a fast canter... I traded beautiful green Hudson Bay blankets with the Indians for horses and arrived in college with six of them plus a load of hay. I built a barn on the university campus and a shack near by. My ponies were my best friends and they helped me pay my way through college. I shared my shack with two other university students and contributed a page each week to The Saturday Press to buy a meal ticket at a Chinese restaurant.

In the autumn of 1910, while crossing the prairies of Canada, I recognized for the first time a desert in the making. Wide areas had been ploughed up where for centuries dwarf willows had stabilized the deep, rich, black soil. The country had been divided into townships with sections of 640 acres. In those days anybody could file on to a quarter section of 160 acres for nothing, and if he needed more, that could be acquired.

The first thing they did was to plough as much of it as they could, then sow wheat, and oats to feed the horses. One could travel miles without seeing a tree. When a farmer took up a section of land, he would mark the boundary, put up a couple of poles with strips of an old white shirt tied on the tops, so that they could be seen a mile way; sit on the plough with his six horse outfit and drive straight, keeping the markers between the heads of the leading horses -- backwards and forwards on dead level ground, breaking five acres a day. Two crops of wheat would be grown and then a crop of oats. His neighbour would be doing the same. With no sheltering trees the soil began to drift and blow away-, up to an inch of soil would be lost in a year.

Years afterwards my secretary, Finlayson, told me of a Dorset farmer who decided to go to Saskatchewan. He took up land, dug a cellar and built a frame house on top of it; ploughed up the prairie and grew wheat and oats. After twenty years he decided the country was no good for farming, for eight feet of his soil had gone and he had to climb up into his house. He could not sell so left it derelict and returned to Dorset, where he became a tenant farmer once again with tree-surrounded fields.

During my three and a half years in the North-West of Canada I encouraged the planting of trees, not only around the homesteads but as shelter belts around the farms and fields. On the Saskatchewan University farm at Sutherland and at Medicine Hat, we had nurseries and experimented with various species to get the best shelter. The Government gave trees freely to farmers.

It was while working in a lumber camp near Prince Albert, swinging the axe as a lumberjack, that my heart was torn to see the unnecessary waste of trees, and I decided that one day I would myself qualify for forestry work.


Friday, February 19, 2010

from Ed de Jong

Science fiction writer Tom Ligon wrote: 

"Devil" and "The Gardener"
But Mazra'ih is a special world. Although Earth-like, it orbits a star that is part of a deadly trinary system. About every 12,000 years, it passes thru the polar plume of a neutron-star binary, its sun flares, and all the interesting pre-biotic chemistry gets cooked. The planet is otherwise habitable, a fixer-upper for sure, but worth it for about 8000 good years, a long time by human standards. We've found hundreds of worlds capable of supporting Earth-like life. Mazra'ih is the first we've found on which we could establish a colony! 
I needed good victims. Recent news had offered an excellent group, the Baha'is, who had been horribly persecuted in Iran. The more I researched them, the more convinced I became that they would make excellent space colonists. My primary reference was an aged primer on the Baha'i Faith by J. E. Esselmont. I did receive some comments from several Baha'is suggesting that I'd portrayed them as too pacifistic, however, I'll stick by my guns on this.

My characters, while they believe in public defense, even armies, to preserve peace, are stubborn in living by a passage I found in Esselmont's book in which Baha'u'llah forbids the Baha'is from taking up arms in the defense of the faith. The story is carefully crafted to back them into this corner. Our hero is faced with a loss of his faith, which enables him to take action to save his people, but leaves him in a spiritual dilemma.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

from joseph woods

Joseph Woods, writing in the Baha'i Newsletter of Hamilton, comments:

Learning to Move Beyond Slogans and Cliches

Dear Friends,

In his wonderful and thought provoking book "Creating a New Mind:
Reflections on the Individual, the Institutions and the Community, Paul
Lample, a current member of the House of Justice, addresses many of the
challenges that face a community as it learns to develop a culture of

"A second obstacle is created when, in the course of our conversation about
how to progress, our words degenerate into slogans or cliches.
Bahá’u’lláh has endowed words with new meaning. Yet, our diverse
interpretations of reality can usurp the meaning of these words, depriving
them of their power to uplift. For example, teaching the Faith, the Bahá’í
writings explain, is “exalting the Word of God.” It is the manifestation of
the “quickening power of the spirit” and the cause of “rebirth and
regeneration.” Circular debate, countless calls to action and exhaustive
analysis can dull our understanding of the subject until, finally, teaching
is addressed merely in terms of sales techniques."

Important talk by Bill Gates


Bill Gates on energy: Innovating to zero!


from: Jim Styan

An excellent video interview with the Washington Post.

Date: 17 February 2010 22:17
Subject: Faith Complex...Baha'i Faith


Faith Complex: Sovaida Ma'ani Ewing and Jacques Berlinerblau

Sovaida Ma'ani Ewing speaks of the persecution of the Baha'i in Iran,
and the ongoing trial of 7 community members accused of spying for Israel and the United States.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Corruption and Panorthosia

Comenius on Corruption, Part II of Several

By John Taylor; 2010 Feb 14, Mulk 08, 166 BE

Like his peers, John Amos Comenius was enthralled by Frances Bacon, whose enthusiasm for casting off old preconceptions and investigating the natural world inspired what later became known as science. We often forget today that Bacon's thought was infused in the Bible. He spoke in religious language, constantly cited scripture and directed his message as much at religious believers as "pure" scientists. Among religious leaders, Comenius was alone in taking up Bacon's torch. Indeed, so negative were his fellow spiritual leaders that there was no response, either in his age when the first ten chapters were published around the time of his death, and later, when Panorthosia was rediscovered and translated into English in the 1990's. The urgent entreaties of Comenius for a reconciliation between science and religion, and for both of them to support a world government fell on deaf ears. Even today, Comenius is remembered as an educational rather than a religious or political reformer.

The first several chapters of Panorthosia are an extended argument for reform addressed specifically at Comenius's fellow Christians, and to theists generally. In the second chapter, for example, he cites the second verse of Joel, verse twenty-eight, "I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh." Such scriptural evidence bolsters his belief that God is no anthropomorphic superstition but an invisible, unknowable essence imposing order on inherently chaotic matter throughout the universe. Corruption is a fundamental characteristic of nature, a natural leaning for every created thing. When God glances away, as it were, things immediately fall apart and become corrupt.

The second chapter also cites evidence from the Bible that the teaching of religion must one day consummate not in a priestly theocracy but what we would now call a liberal democratic order, where individuals partake of formative truths on their own initiative,

"They shall teach no more every man his neighbour, saying 'Know the Lord', for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them." (Jer 31:34)

He cites less familiar words of Esdras predicting that,

"When the world that shall begin to vanish away shall be finished, then will show thee these tokens: THE BOOKS SHALL BE OPENED BEFORE THE FIRMAMENT, AND THEY SHALL SEE ALL TOGETHER. And the children of a year old shall speak with their voices ... And the hearts of the inhabitants of the earth shall be changed and turned into another meaning. For evil shall be put out and deceit quenched. As for faith it shall flourish, corruption shall be overcome, and THE TRUTH WHICH HATH BEEN SO LONG WITHOUT FRUIT SHALL BE DECLARED.' (II Esdras VI, 20, 21, 26, emphasis in the original).

In view of his belief that matter is corrupt by nature, it is not surprising that Comenius pays close attention to it throughout Panorthosia, especially in chapters 5, 6, 10, 19, 20, 21 and 24. Every new reform is more subject to corruption, and the further away from the source of life it is, the more susceptible it must be to dissipation. History should be taken as a lesson here. A civilization that does not adhere to the purest monotheism is in danger of either dissipating or becoming an object lesson to later generations.

"I say that the mixture of evil with good is the first source, which has always brought disaster to human affairs and will continue to do so until it is eradicated once and for all." (Comenius, Panorthosia II, Ch. 10, para 21, p. 160)

The difficulty of avoiding corruption should not be taken as reason for despair, however. An instance of corruption should be seen as an opportunity to go back and correct earlier errors. Anticipating Nietzsche's later apothegm, "What does not kill me only makes me stronger," Comenius writes,

"If corruption befalls things which are weak or not fully established in the first place, there is a chance to strengthen and establish them more fully by reforming them. Thus a house which has collapsed gives an opportunity of building a better one. A fractured bone, when soundly healed, acquires such hardness that it does not fracture easily a second time. A disease, when properly cured, produces a feeling of rejuvenation and fuller vitality." (Comenius, Panorthosia II, Ch. 5, para 3, p. 88)

The best way to eliminate the main source of corruption, that is, confusion, is to uphold all aspects of truth together. This is only possible by positive measures, which is what Jesus taught when he said that "the truth shall set ye free." Therefore the representatives of the three ways of knowing, knowledge of self, knowledge of others and knowledge of God, that is, science, politics and religion, all should become reconciled with one another, respect one another's bounds, pay tribute to their virtues, and cooperate in uniting all human beings in the freedom of truth. Each of the three, all for one and one for all, are needed to make structural changes that will not soon degrade and dissipate.

"Politics is the receptacle of our schools and churches, for no state is properly constituted without a school or schools for the training of wisdom and a church for the training of religion. In either case the political magistracy stands in the role of nurse. Therefore after our attempt to reform these two, we must follow with the attempt to reform politics, which will meet with its own measure of success if we set about it in the same way as we sought to reform the first two, namely, 1. by putting a stop to corruptions. 2. by introducing improvements. 3. by establishing the good things which we have introduced." (Panorthosia, Ch. 24, para 1, p. 127)


Friday, February 12, 2010

Intro to P without B

More from the introduction to my book in progress, "People without Borders; Towards a Cosmopolitan Condition."

By John Taylor; 2010 Feb 12, Mulk 06, 166 BE

In 1843 Flora Tristan (1804-1844) wrote the Worker's Union, which suggested that in every department of France workers build for themselves a communal "Palace of the Worker's Union." Here, "children of the working class will be instructed, intellectually and professionally, and ... working men and women who have been injured at their jobs, and those who are infirm or aged, will be cared for." (Flora Tristan, "A Passage From Flora Tristan's l'Union Ouvriere," Translated by Doris and Paul Beik, These centrally located institutions would be paid for by the workers themselves through a "fund for the self-emancipation of labour." As one of the earliest feminists, Tristan hoped that such self-governing institutions, combining the functions of hospital, homes for the aged, schools and centers for advanced studies, women would finally create an atmosphere in which working men would be emancipated from their thraldom to the bottle and women would find equality in what she called "communities of human unity."

Flora Tristan's idea was later taken up by Marx and Engel in their Communist Manifesto. In all-too-typical male fashion, the Manifesto held that workers must take their fate in their own hands by engaging in violent struggle with exploitative owners of the means of production. Only forty years earlier the only successful slave revolt in history had taken place in Haiti. Exploited workers of the world should take this example. There is no choice but to follow the example of a violent slave rebellion.

If Flora Tristan's more pacific dream of progress through cooperation had caught the public imagination, and if everyone, rich and poor, were trained in a trade in early education, then there would be no need for rebellion or forced equalization. Everyone would be both a worker and an owner, wealth would be spread around and there would be no need for struggle or confrontation. Gradually and naturally, differences would vanish and equality and justice would come about on their own. Cooperative ownership of social institutions, being more efficient and equitable, would spread on its own merits -- as indeed it has in recent decades, especially in Europe. Wealth and ownership of the means of production would spread into more hands and old artificial divisions between workers and owners would cease to seem inherent to human nature.

This book proposes that Flora Tristan's Worker's Palaces be built into the entire built world, both cityscape and countryside, according to a universal formula and building code. This can be done by erecting cooperative hillside developments that combine public transport, high-density, modular housing, agriculture, studios and other workplaces in long rows of mounds. With hillside construction the entire built world would be designed from the ground up to improve the frequency and quality of human contact while eliminating pollution, emissions, waste and other negative human impact on the environment. Only bicycle and pedestrian traffic is allowed in the open street, while light rail and other rapid transit are built out of view, underground. This would permit social institutions of Tristan's Worker's Palaces to be located in prominent places, such as town squares and under domed-over street corners.

The cooperative nature of hillside architecture would be bolstered not only by the physical surroundings but also by the economy, especially the monetary system. The current "fractional reserve" banking system with its fiat currency makes every transaction independent of the parties involved; it discourages cooperation or wealth creation on the local and neighbourhood level. Our present financial system tends to concentrate power and centralize wealth.

As Bernard Lietaer points out in his important work, The Future of Money, the particular currency in circulation plays a surprisingly crucial role in conditioning relationships in a locality. By their very nature, fiat currency and interest bearing loans remove reciprocity and social obligation from financial transactions. He points out that the Latin root of the word "community" means "giving gifts together." The kind of money used either destroys or bolsters the gift giving that constitutes the bonds of a healthy, sustainable community. Lietaer's book details the complex varieties of alternative local currencies and barter schemes used around the world. It explains why the systematic use of a specially designed, local currencies can change a region from high unemployment to a vital, thriving economy.

In view of the fact that currency plays such an important role in building community, a good portion of People Without Borders is devoted to discussing questions like: How might currency reform by a world government bring cooperative hillside housing projects into existence? What kind of local currencies should hillside developments choose? How does the threefold Comenian structure not only of world government but of family and neighbourhood affect currency? Lietaer has already proposed a world currency which he calls the "terra." He holds that the terra would not be subject to inflation if it were tied to a standard determined by the ten most important commodities in use at the time. Nevertheless, People Without Borders speculates on the possibility of dividing up the terra into three parts, one for educators, one for politics and a third for religious and artistic purposes.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Streetview comes through Dunnville

The Google streetview camera missed our house, but here is the residence of a certain believer around here.

From Drop Box

Love and Money

Thoughts on Lietaer, Love and Money

By John Taylor; 2010 Feb 11, Mulk 05, 166 BE

Yesterday the Badi' Blog featured this brilliant quote from Universal Reform:

"... since everybody's business is nobody's business, it is imperative that we select men of eminence for this solemn tower and see duty to survey the world, as it were, from a high watchtower that everything that is introduced is consistent with the sound reform of our affairs (that is, that there should be no loophole for falsehood, impiety or warmongering)." (Comenius, Panorthosia, Ch. 15, para 3, p. 216)

Although Comenius was a Christian, taking as his cue the guidance of the parables of the watchtower, Baha'is will recognize the wisdom of Baha'u'llah, who took away the priest or pastor as a profession, at the same time saw to it that there always will be what Comenius calls "men of eminence" standing in high places, watching for "loopholes" through which corruption can flow. Some of these watchers He asked to concentrate upon protection and others on propagation, but both stand on the high ground of divine guidance, saying with the Psalm:

"Oh, my Strength, I watch for you, for God is my high tower." (Ps 59:9, WEB)

I have been reading Bernard Lietaer's The Future of Money, which discusses the role of money in conditioning human relationships. He gives details of how money works -- it is a function of trust, or, to use the religious word, faith; and he describes the difference between fiat currencies -- which have to be managed with great skill to avoid inflation -- and the many alternative, trade-based currencies, which create wealth out of thin air by encouraging barter and trading hours worked. Local monetary systems have long fascinated me. I just posted a couple of videos on the Blog of talks and interviews that Lietaer has given lately.

According to The Future of Money, the old holy books were right, charging interest on money -- that is, usury -- changes the whole character of society. It makes every transaction independent, void of social obligation. Loans are doled out as mechanical operations, void of love or sacrifice. Risk is calculated and monetized, removed from the social equation. Loans at interest concentrates wealth into the hands of a few, and change an economy from one based on reciprocity and cooperation to a competitive model.

The book gives fascinating details about alternative currencies long in use around the world, and explains why systematic use of specially designed, local currencies can change a region from a moribund, high unemployment social disaster area to a vital, thriving economy. All they do is change from bloodsucking fiat money to a currency encourages ethical deeds, that creates wealth in the community by having all work together.

His discussion of the cultural implications of gift giving answer one question which has bothered me for quite a while: why do Baha'is not follow the example of `Abdu'l-Baha when it comes to gift giving? The Master loaded everybody He met with presents. Why do you not come home from Baha'i meetings loaded up with gifts? Why is there a gift exchange only at Ayyam-i-Ha, if then? The answer lies in our economy, the fact that we use money instead of gifts. Primitive cultures -- which is another word for long lived and sustainable -- indulge in constant gift giving, which reinforces ties of reciprocity that die as soon as they switch over to a fiat monetary economy.

To me Lietaer is one of the cleverest people standing on the high watchtower, looking out for the benefit of society. He should be a major celebrity, instead of the sports "heroes", clowns and blaggards to whom we pay so much attention and on whom we lavish such tremendous paycheques.

I have to return this book to the library today, and before that read over a hundred pages. So, I do not have much time; I will close this essay with a quick discussion of the parable of the watchtower, Luke 14:25-32 (WEB).


Now great multitudes went with him. He turned and said to them,

"If any man comes to me, and doesn't hate his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple."


Mere outer relationships, such as family, and even self, are not enough to gain true prosperity, we need most of all to love the most Loveable Being in the universe. And love implies acting, for without sacrifice the word "love" is just that, a mere word.


Jesus: "Whoever does not bear his own cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doesn't first sit down and count the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? Or perhaps, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, everyone who sees begins to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build, and was not able to finish.'


Thus, although a high tower is needed for protection, and would universalize our trusteeship, we must first count our coins to see if we can afford to build it. Our present economy, based on nationalist fiat currency, is proving unstable, unsustainable and non-viable. Otherwise, when love is not at the center, we subject ourselves to danger of failure, scorn and mockery. As Baha'u'llah says in the Words of Wisdom, true wealth comes from the love of God, and only indirectly, secondarily from human love,

"The essence of wealth is love for Me; whoso loveth Me is the possessor of all things, and he that loveth Me not is indeed of the poor and needy. This is that which the Finger of Glory and Splendour hath revealed." (Tablets, 156)

What Jesus seems to be saying in this parable, at least in part, is that love is not just pie in the sky; it needs to be invested carefully, and protected from possible fiasco. Human love, without God, will fail. Progress will never be sustainable unless we go beyond mere cooperation -- a condition that, as Leitaer points out, is easily brought about by adjusting the currency we use -- and aim beyond, to positively sacrifice ourselves rather than passively, unthinkingly sitting back and accepting things as they are. This too is in a Word of Wisdom:

"The beginning of magnanimity is when man expendeth his wealth on himself, on his family and on the poor among his brethren in his Faith. (Baha'u'llah, Tablets, 156)

But, the parable goes on to say, love is not just defensive, it is also useful as an offensive weapon, a tool for social growth as well.


Jesus: "Or what king, as he goes to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an envoy, and asks for conditions of peace. So therefore whoever of you who does not renounce all that he has, he cannot be my disciple."


You are a general and your scouts tell you that your army is outnumbered two to one. What do you do? You save lives by suing for peace. Jesus is not saying that sacrifice means fighting a hopeless battle. Good generalship is hardly leading your troops into a battle that cannot be won. That wastes the lives of the men under your command. Think of the staid but popular General Bradley, in World War II, and compare him to the swaggering, aggressive leader, Patton, who was hated by those unfortunate enough to fight under him. No, sacrifice means scouting the situation out and making a calculated move in face of a sad reality.

We are all going to die, sooner or later.

All the prosperity and reciprocity that we can build up in this life will be dissipated at death, or soon after. Better to renounce it all, give it all up for the One True Lover, God, and let His invisible hand run things. This is wisest, for from His love comes all life, all prosperity. As Baha'u'llah said in a prayer,

"A dewdrop out of the ocean of Thy mercy is able to adorn all things with the ornament of sanctity, and a sprinkling of the waters of Thy bounty can cause the entire creation to attain unto true wealth." (Baha'u'llah, Prayers and Meditations, 246)