Monday, May 12, 2008

The Fate of the World Lies In Their Hands

I've been enjoying the new hip-hop album "The Departure" from my man Badi who I've known since way back in the day. If you haven't heard it, watcha waitin' for fool? It has one of these rockin' righteous anthems with a chorus that goes "The Fate of the World Lies in My Hands". That kind of thing gets me going as you can imagine. As I watch sun setting on my most recent stage of life as a Baha'i youth I look with expectant eyes at the next generation of young folks like Badi who will be called on to lead humanity towards a just, unified, global civilization. A couple of recent pieces in the news gave me renewed confidence in the capacity of youth. Here's part of the first one, an editorial by Nicholas Kristof:

"Teenagers are supposed to be sullen and self-absorbed, but Rachel S. Rosenfeld never got the memo.

Rachel is a high school junior in Harrison, N.Y., who came down with a painful intestinal ailment that forced her to miss the entire 2006-7 school year. So she resolved that if she couldn’t go to school herself, she could at least help other kids who wanted to.

From her sickbed, Rachel sold T-shirts and solicited contributions to build a 316-student elementary school in rural Cambodia. Borrowing an idea from university fund-raising, she offered naming opportunities: for $25, donors could buy chairs to be named for them. All told, she raised $57,000, which was channeled through an aid group, American Assistance for Cambodia.

Now Rachel is mostly healthy again and back in school, but over the December vacation she traveled to Cambodia to cut the ribbon at the R. S. Rosenfeld School.

“The children were all so grateful and well-behaved,” Rachel said. “It truly was a life-changing experience.”" Read the whole thing here.

Of course not all of us can help elementary schools get built in Cambodia. Don't fret, you can always shave your heads like these young folks did:

"Several students at Lawrence Academy in Groton, including a 15-year-old female, will be going to their prom bald in a few weeks after shedding their locks for charity yesterday.

The dozen or so students, at least two members of the academy staff, and 12 members of a local Little League team shaved their heads for the charity St. Baldrick's, raising almost $15,000 for children's cancer research.

"It's a wonderful thing to see the kids getting behind each other," said Tony Hawgood, director of admissions at the college preparatory school.

Hawgood, who is also a firefighter in town, organized the fund-raiser after seeing it done at another Fire Department.

Kathryn Isabelle Lawrence, a 15-year-old student, said it was on a whim that she let a friend take off her hair, but she said it was well worth it. She raised almost $1,000.

"I'm a little chilly," she said. "I just decided it would be a really good thing to do." Read more about Kathryn and friends here.

The Universal House of Justice made a beautiful comment on the mission of Baha'i youth during the opening ceremonies for the Terraces surrounding the Shrine of the Bab on Mount Carmel in 2001 that is worth repeating:

"The world that Bahá'í youth are inheriting is one in which the distribution of educational, economic and other basic opportunities is grossly unjust. Bahá'í youth must not be daunted by such barriers. Their challenge is to understand the real condition of humanity and to forge among themselves enduring spiritual bonds that free them not only from racial and national divisions but also from those created by social and material conditions, and that will fit them to carry forward the great trust reposed in them. Bahá'u'lláh encourages us to anticipate from the youth of His community a much earlier advance to maturity than is characteristic of the rest of society. Clearly, that does not in any way diminish the importance of the pursuit of education, of economic realities, or of family obligations. It does mean that Bahá'í youth can accept-and should be encouraged to accept-a responsibility of their own for moral leadership in the transformation of society."
(The Universal House of Justice, 2001 May 24, To Believers Gathered for Terrace Events, p. 2)