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May 23, 2013

Question:  What takes more courage to believe or not to believe?

 It takes no courage to live out one’s brief days without ever having examined human existence in its depth-dimensions, without ever having entertained a thought of God, the soul or the afterlife, without ever having wondered at the root causes of the desperate pass that humanity has come to today in its ongoing crisis of civilization.

Conversely, it does takes a lot of courage, or a lot of love, to become a seeker and to follow a personal path to investigate divine/religious teaching independently for oneself, and to arrive at one’s own conclusions. It takes courage to question religious beliefs that have been handed down for generations to a particular religious community, especially if these beliefs have been taught in an authoritative or dogmatic manner.

I do not mean to suggest by this statement that we should begin to systematically doubt everything that we have been taught by our religious forbears. But when a teaching or set of teachings, strike us as being wanting; when a teaching promotes religious nationalism, sectarianism, elitism, or fanaticism; when a teaching is prejudicial, divisive, and separates us from our fellow humans, of whatever race, religion or colour; when a teaching flies in the face of reason, justice and common sense, or well-established scientific truth, then it is time to take a closer, harder look at that teaching and reject it.

The Baha’is in Iran showed tremendous courage when in 1844, and later in 1863, they accepted the prophetic claims of the Bab (1819-1850), the forerunner, and Baha’u’llah (1817-1892), the founder of the Baha’i Faith, as Divine Messengers for our era of global unity. They did this knowing full well that they would be subjecting themselves to fanatical, religious persecution and would face possible martyrdom for having accepted these divine claims. No less than an estimated 20,000 Babi-Baha’is paid the price of their beliefs with their life blood. The Baha’is in Iran today show great courage, a courage that does not respond in kind with hatred, by enduring a fanatical regime that is systematically attempting to strangle the life out of them in every possible way. It takes courage to dare to be different.  
-  Jack McLean

Printed in the The Ottawa Citizen May 23, 2013
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