Monday, January 17, 2011

Civil Disobedience

Just about every year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day - I find myself having an internal argument as to whether Martin Luther King Jr. much beloved by many of my fellow Baha'i's could have been a Baha'i, and whether we should hold him out as a role model to our children.

No Baha'i would argue that Martin Luther King Jr.'s message on how to we should relate to each other as human beings is spot on with the Faith's Teachings.

Should Baha'i's have been marching arm in arm with Dr. King? Guidance from the NSA would seem to indicate that we could not associate with his organization - here are the criteria:

The following questions must be asked: Are the aims of the organization compatible with Bahá'í laws and principles? Is membership open to persons of all racial and religious backgrounds? Is it free from partisan politics and political controversies? Does it refrain from civil disobedience and violence? To answer these questions it would be necessary to review carefully an organization's activities and charter.

(Compilations, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Baha'i Communities)

Civil disobedience seems to be misguided. We are to willingly submit to government and rule of law no matter how misguided. Indeed the Key Figures in our Faith submitted themselves to the authorities of Their time and endured it patiently.

Additionally, we are to avoid organizations that bring with it the baggage of things that do not accord with the Teachings - example working for the equality of men and women - but advocating abortion and homosexual rights - which on face are against the Teachings of the Faith (see the 12/28/10 UHJ message to the Counselors).

Basically, change is made in the hearts of men by the movement of the Holy Spirit. I do not think that Dr. King would disagree. But the example of the utmost civility, harmony and affinity as opposed to disobedience, disunity, and separation is the powerful remedy prescribed for this day and age.

So I think I will wait some years to try to explain this to my grandchildren. I for one will reflect today, I will not march.

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