Nine Reasons to Work for Race Unity

This is the other half of a pamphlet I wrote 18 years ago. It still applies today.

1) Because racism hurts everyone. It is not just the occasional race riot or hate crime that hurts us. Rather, it is the daily dose of tension, suspicion and distrust that crosses racial lines in both directions and eats away at human potential from every side.

2) Because these tensions raise the over-all level of violence and aggression in our country, which, in turn, increase stress, depression, domestic violence, drug abuse, and a host of other social and spiritual ills.

3) Because our children deserve the chance to live in a world free of prejudice.

4) Because, “All humanity are the children of God; they belong to the same family, to the same original race.”

5) Because the belief that some people are better or more valuable than others is a spiritual cancer that can consume our souls and destroy our relationships.

6) Because love between black and white Americans will set such a powerful example that it will encourage peace and cooperation around the world.

7) Because treating everyone with dignity and respect is the spiritual essence of the Golden Rule.

8) Because making friends and feeling comfortable with people from diverse backgrounds is so much fun and feels so good.

9) Because it is God’s Will – and it is always smarter to be with God than against Him.

Nine Ways to Work for Race Unity

This is one half of a pamphlet I wrote 18 years ago.
1) Promote education – both your own and other’s, because ignorance and blind imitation are the root causes of prejudice.
2) Recognize the essential nobility of the Human Soul – Many of the symptoms of racism are the result of either projecting or internalizing feelings of unworthiness. When we like ourselves, we feel less need to hate or fear others
3) Practice the qualities of “genuine love, extreme patience, true humility, consummate tact, sound initiative, mature wisdom, and deliberate, persistent and prayerful effort.”
4) Become sensitive to forms of prejudice and oppression that you might experience from a different perspective, (like sexism or ageism) and apply what you learn to your own racial attitudes.
5) Develop a personal awareness of the Oneness of Humanity as a spiritual and scientific reality.
6) Read the Holy Writings of the world’s religions – including the Bible, Koran and the Bahá’í Writings – and pray for guidance every day.
7) Contemplate the mortality of your body and the immortality of your soul.
8) Develop a thirst for justice because “The best beloved of all things in My sight is justice….” and “The purpose of justice is the appearance of unity amongst men.”
9) Make lots and lots of diverse friends so that you have many opportunities to study unity and practice virtues.
“We work and pray for the unity of mankind, that all the races of the earth may become one race, all the countries one country, and that all hearts may beat as one heart, working together for perfect unity and brotherhood.
“Only have faith, patience and courage – this is but the beginning, but surely you will succeed, for God is with you!”

It is the 35th Anniversary of the Creation of Special Ideas

Thirty-five years ago this month, I returned from my first Pilgrimage to the Baha’i Holy Land with an idea for a new company – a company that would not only create unique materials for teaching the Baha’i Faith, but would explain how to use them, when, where and with whom. Here’s the story of how it all began:
How I Created Special Ideas 35 Years Ago

I became a Bahá’í forty-two years ago, on June 27th, in the summer between high school and college. From the moment I signed my card, my heart was devoted to serving the Cause and teaching the Faith. In college, I majored in art, and spent most of my creative energy designing posters and fliers for the many Bahá’í Club meetings we held every week. I also created portable fair booths out of fabric, and travel-taught every summer, giving musical slide shows and talking about love, unity, and the non-existence of evil.

It was at one of those firesides that I heard about a job opening at the Bahá’í Publishing Trust. It was a dream come true to be offered a job there just a few months after I graduated. I was “Assistant Production Coordinator for Special Materials.” As exciting as that may sound, I discovered that they weren’t really interested in having me help develop any special materials. My job was to make whatever the people in charge wanted made. They were wonderful, dedicated people, but they simply weren’t as interested in teaching as I was. In the year I was there, we made greeting cards, records and jewelry, but not a single teaching card, radio spot or button. Our catalog included only one pamphlet, and no T-shirts. Needless to say, I was frustrated.

My heart wanted to teach, but working in Wilmette, I was surrounded by Bahá’ís, not seekers.  I was not helping anyone else teach either. I decided to quit and spend my meager savings travel-teaching again while I figured out what I wanted to do with my life.

This is where it gets interesting.

I had no intention of starting a company, but I did have one good design that everyone told me I should do something with. Maybe you remember it. It was the “United Doves” logo, with a white dove and a black dove coming together to form a heart. Well, I had offered the design to the Publishing Trust, the Race Unity Committee, the Teaching Committee and the Office of Public Affairs. None of them liked it. So I decided I would print up a few posters to sell to fund my travel-teaching. I had a printer make film and plates to print up some posters.

That is when it got REALLY interesting.

One week before my last day at the Trust, I got a call from the Pilgrimage Office. Did I have a passport? They wanted to know. It turned out that someone had cancelled at the last minute and there was an opening for pilgrimage three weeks later, the second week of June. I jumped at the chance to go, but… I would have to spend the money I had saved to pay for my travel-teaching AND for the printing of the posters.

I went on Pilgrimage to the Baha’i Holy Land in Haifa Israel – a wonderful experience – and spent much of the time praying for guidance. What should I do now?

The answer, given to me while my forehead was on the Sacred Threshold, was that I should use the posters I was printing as the seed of a new business producing the Bahá’í teaching materials that I loved.

On my way home from Haifa, I had arranged to spend two weeks travel-teaching in Norway. I was in Kristiansand, at the home of the secretary of the Norwegian National Teaching Committee for my 7th Bahá’í birthday, dreaming dreams and making plans.  By the time I got home, I had the name of my new company and a dozen product ideas. Keep in mind that I was an art major and had no idea of how to run a business (and I had no money). But I was passionate about teaching. My secret marketing scheme was that I would not just tell people what I was selling, but I would give them detailed explanations as to how to use them so their teaching work would be more effective. I would teach people how to teach – and in so doing, I would help create my next customers! I would also have enough faith in the Community to risk printing things in huge quantities so that I could sell them really cheaply.

Which brings us back to those posters. If I printed 100, they would cost $5 each, but if I printed 20,000 I could sell them for 19¢ each. The problem was that I didn’t have the money to pay for any of them, but the plates were already made. So I talked the printer into giving me 90 days to pay. I then gathered the names of all the people I had met while travel teaching, and sent samples out to them. People bought them by the hundreds, then by the thousand, with one community giving out 1,500 at an Educator’s Conference a few years later. The posters got paid for, and the rest is history… sort of.

The first 15 years were a bit rough. Everyone thought I was crazy. First of all, most people didn’t think independent Bahá’í companies were allowed. Second, if they WERE allowed, they certainly couldn’t make any money. Third, if they were going to make money, it would not be by selling teaching materials! Fourth, you know, you really need to know something about business… Plus, I think I moved the company 15 times in 15 years. I’m amazed anyone could find me, but you did – and I thank you. Friends and strangers would buy more than they really needed just to help keep Special Ideas afloat. I bless you all. Then I met Karen and things fell into place. She was the stable ground that my creativity needed in order to flourish.

It has now been 35 years since I returned from Pilgrimage. I recently browsed through the fifty or more catalogs I’ve mailed out in that time. They contain literally thousands of different products – most of which we published ourselves – that represent millions of individual teaching items, from pamphlets to billboards, stickers, posters and prayer books. We have distributed over a quarter of a million copies of The Hidden Words and close to half a million prayer books. Several million assorted stickers have been given away. Countless pamphlets have been read. The name “Bahá’í” has been placed on the walls of thousands of homes and classrooms because of our posters. Who can tell how many conversations have been started because of a T-shirt, window decal, button, or piece of Bahá’í jewelry? Through all of these millions of items – each of which were sold for only pennies in profit – we have managed to fulfill our mission and our passion, while eking out enough income to keep our small family alive. It is a blessing for which I thank God every day.

Teaching is still the central mission of Special Ideas, but we’ve also expanded our vision to include interfaith fellowship, teaching virtues and emotional healing. I hope you’ve enjoyed following our evolution. Some of you, I know, were on my very first mailing list, while many others have been faithful customers for decades. I know your names. I recognize many of your voices. Sometimes I even know your parent’s names. It’s been that long.

I’ve loved serving the Bahá’í Community all these years, and I will continue to serve you as long as you let me – and as long as you all continue to need materials that make the world a better place.

Justice Saint Rain

How to Rescue the Publishing Industry

My Current Thoughts:
In the digital age, a book is no longer a “thing.” Reading is a “process.” Our current system for both books and music is still tied up with the idea of objects rather than a time-based process.
As technology improves, I believe that instead of tracking purchases of books and music (that we might never actually process) our gadgets will track the time we spend listening to each track of music and the number of words we read in a book, then charge a unified account accordingly (think nickels, not dollars), with royalties being disbursed to the appropriate artists or writers.
Amazon is experimenting with something along these lines with their loaning library system in which readers “join” in order to “borrow” Kindle books, and the authors are only paid if the reader reads more than 10% of the book. But you pay to join, and you may never get your money’s worth out of it. (And authors are encouraged to write really short books.)
I suspect that there will soon be competition in which you don’t join, but are charged by the item, and by the percentage of the item you “process.” I, for one, would rather pay 10-cents every time I hear a song I like than pay $15 for a CD or even $1 for a song on my ipod. I would rather pay 10-cents for every 5,000 words I read of a book, than risk $1 on a self-published e-book that I might stop reading after two pages. This would be especially true if I knew that the author or artist was actually receiving the bulk of the fee.
Right now, with Amazon controlling so much of the market, they can take a hefty portion of everyone’s royalties (though not as big as traditional publishers). They are trying to consolidate their lead by forcing authors to choose Kindle-only services or get left behind. That can’t last long. There are too many pre-Amazon books out there, and they can’t control the technological advances on their way.

The ABCs of Virtues

If we want people to understand the relationship between virtues and emotions, we will probably need to start young.  Toward that aim, I’m working on a new project – a Virtues Alphabet Refrigerator Magnet set.  I’ve decided that along with the 60 magnets – each of which contains a letter and a virtue that starts with that letter – I should offer my own parent-friendly definition of each virtue.  I welcome your comments.  (Since comments are moderated, they will not appear immediately, but I’ll post them as fast as I can.)
You already know what these virtues mean, but here are some helpful hints as to how to apply them to your children:

Call them active when they initiate activities other than watching TV or playing video games.

Call them adorable when they do something that melts your heart.

Call them attentive when they listen to what you are saying, even if there are lots of distractions.

Call them brave when they try something new or challenging.

Call them beautiful when they are a pleasure to be with.

Call them creative when they put things or ideas together in a new way.

Call them courteous when they say please and thank-you, or are polite in social situations.

Call them dependable when they do what they say they will.

Call them delightful when they make you smile.

Call them eager when they are excited about doing something.

Call them eloquent when they use words well for their age.

Call them energetic when their youthful energy is being channeled wisely.

Call them excellent when they achieve something at the top edge of their ability.

Call them forgiving when they let go of anger or disappointment with a friend.

Call them friendly when they make an effort to get along with their peers.

Call them generous when they share something of theirs with a friend or family member

Call them gentle when they handle small animals, babies or delicate items with care.

Call them helpful whenever they help you do something – even if you have to make up an artificial need so that they can practice this important virtue.

Call them happy when they are enjoying the many virtues that surround them.

Call them independent when they try something new on their own.

Call them intuitive when they express a thought or feeling about their environment that might not be obvious at first glance, or that they figured out through an emotional insight rather than through their rational understanding.

Call them idealistic when they express hopes and dreams for a better world.

Call them just when they choose to be fair, whether it is in a game, or when dividing treats.

Call them joyful when they take pleasure in their own growth.

Call them kind when they show concern for other people and animals.

Call them knowing or knowledgeable when they share with you something new they have learned.

Call them loving when they perform acts of kindness or service for those they love.

Call them loyal when they show support or say positive things about one friend or family member to another.

Call them mature when they behave in a way that is advanced for their age, or do NOT behave in a way that might be considered typical for their age.

Call them modest when they 1) dress and behave appropriately for their age and gender or 2) avoid bragging or boasting about their accomplishments.

Call them noble when they strive to be their very best.

Call them nurturing when they care for those weaker than themselves.

Call them observant when they notice something interesting and point it out to you.

Call them optimistic when they show a positive outlook towards some future endeavor.

Call them organized when they clean their room, compete a puzzle or successfully take on a task with multiple parts.

Call them patient when they wait for you.

Call them playful when they are having fun being silly.

Call them questioning when they want to know more.

Call them quiet when they are willing to moderate their noise level to match the situation.

Call them radiant when they are so full of life and love and enthusiasm that you can hardly stand it.

Call them respectful when they control their impulses in respect for the rights and feelings other people, or when they do thing that show that they value people and things other than themselves.

Call them strong when they put forth extraordinary effort, either physically or emotionally.

Call them sincere when they express how they really feel.

Call them truthful when they tell the truth – even if it is difficult.

Call them thankful when they express gratitude.

Call them unique when they do something that demonstrates their unique personality or way of thinking.

Call them unselfish when they give up something they want for someone else.

Call them unified when they successfully negotiate with other children or family members to do things together.

Call them vibrant when they approach a task full of energy and enthusiasm.

Call them virtuous when they demonstrate a combination of any of these virtues, but especially the kind, loving, selfless and generous ones.

Call them wise when they recognize the difference between what their impulses demand and what their virtues require.

Call them wonderful when you are amazed at how well they are practicing these virtues.

Call them expressive when they use words, gestures and emotions to communicate their experience.

Call them exuberant when their enthusiasm is so contagious that you catch it yourself.

Say “you are being yourself” when they express a personal opinion or do something that makes you want to smile because it is just so “them.”

Say they are yearning when they want something good for them or the world with all of their heart.

Say they have zeal when they express commitment and enthusiasm for achieving a goal.

Call them zestful when their natural joy of life bubbles over.

 

Labor Day Weekend Workshop

I’m very pleased to announce that I will be giving an adult workshop at the Thunder Eagle Ridge youth retreat center in Missouri over the Labor Day Weekend on the subject of my book The Secret of Emotions.   It will be an intimate and powerful weekend.  The cost is low, the setting is beautiful, and the people are wonderful.  I would love to see you all there.

Second Book Give-Away at GoodReads.com

In my last book give-away over 600 people entered to win one of 200 copies of The Secret of Emotions.  Now I am giving away 19 print copies of 4 Tools of Emotional Healing.  Click here to go to Good Reads and enter.  You will need to join Good Reads, but it is free.  While there, don’t forget to rate and/or write a review of any of my other books you’ve read.

Thanks,

Justice

 

Faith, Addiction, and the Marshmallow Test Revisited

Adapted from 4 Tools of Emotional Healing.

How can faith help you control your impulses, delay gratification and make healthier decisions?  Let me describe some recent research that sheds some interesting light on the connection.

Researchers have known for decades that people who have trouble with controlling their impulses, or delaying gratification have a much harder time succeeding in life. They are more likely to do drugs, drop out of school, experience an unintended pregnancy, etc. Researchers know this because of a long-term follow-up study of children who participated in what is known as “The Marshmallow Test” at Stanford University in the 1960’s. In it, researchers leave a 4-year-old alone in a room with a single marshmallow or other treat and tell them that if they can wait until the researcher comes back in ten minutes to eat it, they can have TWO treats instead of one. Children who were good at this—who waited the longest without eating the treat—were found to be more successful in many areas of their life as they grew into adulthood.

The fact that this one test correlated with a long-term pattern of behavior seemed to indicate that it was exposing an innate character quality in these children. A child was either good at delaying gratification or he wasn’t, and if he wasn’t when the test was given, he probably wouldn’t ever be. This consistency suggested that an ability to wait for a greater good was somehow written into a child’s DNA.

The fact that poor kids tended to do less well on this test was explained, not by their poverty, but by an inherited predisposition for irresponsible behavior and short-term thinking.

So where does faith come in? Well, about 50 years later, as it turns out.

In a 2012 study of 56 three-to-five-year-olds, researchers at University of Rochester found that children who experienced reliable interactions with a researcher immediately before the marshmallow experiment waited on average four times longer to eat the marshmallow than children who had an unreliable interaction.

For this new version of the study, children were given two activities. In the first activity, they were promised a reward if they did an art project as requested. After doing the project, half of the children were given the promised reward, and half were not. Later, this same researcher told them that if they waited to eat their marshmallow, they would get a second one.

The children who had faith that the researcher would do as he promised waited a mean time of twelve minutes, while those who expected the researcher to let them down waited a mean time of three minutes—only one quarter as long.

The ones waiting three minutes were not poorer, less bright, or less able to control their impulses. They had less faith that waiting would gain them any advantage.

They had learned from experience that promises are broken, people are unreliable, and pleasure should be grabbed while it is sitting in front of you. As one of the researchers said, “If you are used to getting things taken away from you, not waiting is the rational choice.”

This new study provides strong evidence that the kids who lacked self-control in the ‘60s were probably living in unstable households before they even walked through the door to take the test. Is it any wonder, then, that the follow-up studies found them to be less successful?

Many of us also grew up in unstable homes. Even if we had religious faith, we did not necessarily have faith that God and the universe were looking out for our best interests. The idea that there was plenty to go around never occurred to us. We expected to run out; we expected to be disappointed; we expected to be lied to; we sometimes even expected to be hurt and abused. These expectations were developed as a result of our interaction with those whom we should have been able to trust. As a corollary to these expectations, we also expected to fail, to have the rug pulled out from under us, and to be caught in an endless Catch 22 of bureaucratic gotcha’s.

The expectation that life will kick you when you are down creates a self-sabotaging attitude. Why study if you will never graduate? Why wait to have sex if you will never have a career? Why not take drugs, if they make you feel good now?

When we combine this expectation of failure with feelings of guilt and shame, it is not surprising that many of us go through our days subconsciously looking for proof that the world is out to get us. When that is what we expect to see, that is exactly what we find.

New Book, New Editions and a Thank You!

In case you haven’t heard, the second book in my Love, Lust and the Longing for God series is now available.  4 Tools of Emotional Healing and The Secret of Emotions are both now available in paperback and as KINDLE editions at Amazon, at InterfaithResources and at BahaiResources for instant download.

Thank you, also to the 600+ people who entered to win a free copy of The Secret of Emotions.  The 200 winners should receive their copy in the next week or so, as they were mailed today.

Win a Free Copy of The Secret of Emotions

Click here to enter a drawing at Goodreads.com to win a printed copy of my book The Secret of Emotions.  With 200 copies available, you have a good chance of winning. The deadline is the day after Christmas, and the books will go out the first of January.  You will probably have to join GoodReads to enter, but it is a great place to hear about new books, get book recommendations and read reviews.