March 31 of this year will be 7 years that I have been blogging.Â Actually, a little longer, because for a while I had the rudimentary beginnings of a blog on my personal web site in 2000.
I’ve seen some crazy things…people pretending to be someone they’re not, online drama translated into real life drama, breakups, marriages, deaths, birth announcements, and relationships beginning entirely through an online interaction.Â There was a time when saying that you “met on the internet” was kind of…weird.Â Several people I know have been introduced to the Baha’i Faith through the internet…whether it be through blogs, forums, etc.Â Â Some of the biggest events in the world that have happened in the last few years I have learned first through blogs.
I love the path that I have been able to tread.Â It is a privilege and a blessing to be able to write, express my views, and connect with other human beings in this way.Â Friends have scattered across the globe, and yet I feel like they still live next door.
With all of that said, it is important to endeavor to use wisdom in one’s speech, to keep an open mind, and most of all rein in that mouse button…I’ve seen some really damaging things happen when people (including myself) have not thought before pushing the “post” button.Â I say this in particular to Baha’is who have blogs, but it is applicable to everyone.Â Also, I refer to blogs because that is my main focus, but it applies to all social networking interaction, really.
“Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech.”
(Baha’u’llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 93)
This also pertains to our reactions when someone does something that we don’t like.Â Whether we know them or not, it is so easy to react negatively when we perceive that we have been wronged, or that someone is attacking us.
“One word is like unto springtime causing the tender saplings of the rose-garden of knowledge to become verdant and flourishing, while another word is even as a deadly poison. It behoveth a prudent man of wisdom to speak with utmost leniency and forbearance so that the sweetness of his words may induce everyone to attain that which befitteth man’s station.”
(Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 173)
That being said, it is also important to speak up when there is an injustice occurring, to defend those who are helpless, and to stand up for justice.
“We exhort mankind in these days when the countenance of Justice is soiled with dust, when the flames of unbelief are burning high and the robe of wisdom rent asunder, when tranquillity and faithfulness have ebbed away and trials and tribulations have waxed severe, when covenants are broken and ties are severed, when no man knoweth how to discern light and darkness or to distinguish guidance from error.
O peoples of the world! Forsake all evil, hold fast that which is good. Strive to be shining examples unto all mankind, and true reminders of the virtues of God amidst men. He that riseth to serve My Cause should manifest My wisdom, and bend every effort to banish ignorance from the earth. Be united in counsel, be one in thought. Let each morn be better than its eve and each morrow richer than its yesterday. Man’s merit lieth in service and virtue and not in the pageantry of wealth and riches. Take heed that your words be purged from idle fancies and worldly desires and your deeds be cleansed from craftiness and suspicion. Dissipate not the wealth of your precious lives in the pursuit of evil and corrupt affection, nor let your endeavours be spent in promoting your personal interest. Be generous in your days of plenty, and be patient in the hour of loss. Adversity is followed by success and rejoicings follow woe. Guard against idleness and sloth, and cling unto that which profiteth mankind, whether young or old, whether high or low. Beware lest ye sow tares of dissension among men or plant thorns of doubt in pure and radiant hearts.”
(Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 137)
It isn’t always easy to do these things, and as human beings we are still learning to conquer the world of the written word.Â Keep trying, keep writing, keep learning. Â I’m cheering you on, and I’m right here beside you.
A nice set of quotations worth reading over and over again. Thanks for posting them!
In my co-op house, I’ve discovered that even well-intentioned notes get misinterpreted. I’ve also discovered that I communicate differently when I have to look at the person in the eye. If I need to write something critical, maybe I need to get in the habit of visualizing the person reacting to my words. Hmmm…
I don’t write in my blog much, but I often intend to more. Before I write, I want to be in a good space and hopefully communicate something worth reading while also being respectful. So yesterday I was thinking about Baha’u’llah’s words, “The essence of faith is fewness of words and abundance of deeds.” Then I thought about all these blogs I enjoy so much, and my own poor neglected little journal. What first came to mind is that some blogs are so beneficial to read, to connect with other people all over the world, to share our insights, strength and frailties, hope and happiness, that the act of writing in them can be a good deed. And I thank you for sharing these thoughts and Writings that will help me meditate on this further, especially thinking about the question of justice in terms of blogs. Very cool. Actually, thank you in general for all the beautiful poems and thoughts you write and share that I’ve been quietly appreciating for a few years.
I have come, I have read, I have responded. I don’t write in my blog often (I can’t even remember the address, but it took me five years to learn my website address). As my kids say while shaking their heads in disbelief: “Dad, you are so OLD!” Well, there’s nothing I can do about that.
A blog can be a service, if its content is positive. I’ll try to do more, but I’ve also been writing some books, and that takes a bit of time, as well as my paying job, childre, grand children, etc.
Keep up the good work.
Thanks Sholeh. Wow. 7 years and more! Great great quotes.. Themselves like the Water of Life for my day today. your brother, barmak
Yup Sholeh. Good call, and good quotes, for sure.
Steve: exactly! It is so much easier to say something when you don’t have to face that person.
Heidi: wow, thank you! You know, some days I’m really not in a good space, but I write anyway. I do it because it helps me get out of that space, or because I know that my audience deserves a new post, or whatever. I just read your archives…you have a gift for writing…keep it up.
Duane: another lurker! Thank you for your comment. I love that different age groups are blogging/writing now…especially my parent’s generation. Y’all have a heck of a lot more stories than I do!
Barmak & Elliot: Thanks guys. 🙂 Glad you liked it
sometimes if i feel ambivalent about whether i SHOULD post about something, even if i really WANT to post about it, i ask someone else. someone who’s way more conservative about these things than i am. it’s mainly shaun.
living at home with my parents for the next few months, i have been given an unequivocal DON’T MENTION US mandate. they said they don’t want to “open my morning’s newspaper and read about what silly thing i did the day before.”
this is totally fair enough, and a reminder of limits and wisdom when publishing anything at all on the internet. it’s often a reason to be creative if one is restraining oneself, because i could totally vent and swear and opine as much as the next blogger, if i didn’t consider EVERY SINGLE TIME i write.
this is an important thing to write about, sholeh. thanks for mentioning it. also, the quotes. they are lovely and, as always, a comforting reminder of what high standards we have to aim for.
love from leila
Great advice, Leila, I forgot to mention how important it is to think about how your actions may affect others, and to have some sort of review process before posting.
Sholers, this post absolutely warmed my heart. I am so thankful that you allow us a window into your journey with your words. Looking back along the path of the last seven years (and further!) I smile at the footsteps we shared. I have always tried to be temperate with my words, and the words of Baha’u’llah you shared serve to galvanize my resolve. I feel privileged to call you a friend, and I look forward to three weeks from now when I cross paths with someone very special to both of us, with whom you’ve already shared time along this golden road.