Stories for Social Justice & Community Building & Workbook Material

As a parent, community builder, and psychotherapist, I have been enchanted with the story of the birth song for many years and I have shared it with my clients and trainees. The story has been especially appealing to me due to my own personal history as a Baha’i parent and grandparent and community member. In the following blog, I discovered that it is an imaginary story as many stories are. I found the rest of Aida’s blog very resourceful and useful. She has my many thanks. The REAL Origin of the African Birth Song: Surprise, It’s Racist

 

Baha’i parents are taught to say special prayers for the unborn. Baha’i mothers and fathers are encouraged to intone, chant, or sing these prayers with their own special tune that generates from their heart and soul. Baha’i Sacred Text talks about the impact of the mother’s state of mind and heart; thoughts, feelings, and actions, and what she is exposed to, on the unborn child. This guidance is especially important for the pregnant mother since she carries the child for 9 months prior to its birth. In His Hidden Words Baha’u’llah talks about the love that is planted in the mother’s heart before the child is born and the two fonts of milk God has destined for the child;

O SON OF BOUNTY! Out of the wastes of nothingness, with the clay of My command, I made thee appear, and have ordained for thy training every atom in existence and the essence of all created things. Thus, ere thou didst issue from thy mother’s womb, I destined for thee two founts of gleaming milk, eyes to watch over thee, and hearts to love thee. Out of My loving-kindness, ’neath the shade of My mercy, I nurtured thee and guarded thee by the essence of My grace and favor. And My purpose in all this was that thou mightest attain My everlasting dominion and become worthy of My invisible bestowals.

– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Baha’i parents are taught to see their children as tender plants and these prayers and chants like the rain, are necessary for their development and humanity. Families are instructed to have family prayers  together to nurture the spiritual and material reality of their children.

 

As we know, children are born imperfect but with many capacities and potentials for climbing towards physical, mental, and spiritual perfection. They need to learn to turn every stumbling block into a stepping stone and learn to transcend every trial and tribulation. The following prayer from Abdu’l-Baha guides the parents as well as the child to be mindful in their daily prayers about what to say and what to ask for to liberate the child from the onslaught of the lower self acknowledging that our luminous nature is a God-given favor that we nurture and protect.

O Peerless Lord! Be Thou a shelter for this poor child and a kind and forgiving Master unto this erring and unhappy soul. O, Lord! Though we are but worthless plants, we belong to Thy garden of roses. Though saplings without leaves and blossoms, we are a part of Thine orchard. Nurture this plant then through the outpourings of the clouds of Thy tender mercy and quicken and refresh this sapling through the reviving breath of Thy spiritual springtime. Suffer him to become heedful, discerning, and noble, and grant that he may attain eternal life and abide in Thy Kingdom for evermore

– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Following is the prayer from Abdul-Baha I used to chant daily during my pregnancies. I continue to chant special prayers for my children and grandchildren. All are quite familiar with my voice and at times they call and ask for my prayers.

O, my Lord. I dedicate that which is in my womb unto Thee. Then cause it to be a praiseworthy child in the Thy Kingdom, and a fortunate one by Thy favor and Thy generosity; to develop and to grow up under the charge of Thine education. Verily Thou art the Gracious! Verily Thou art the Lord of Great Favor!”

– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

As we know the job of guiding and protecting our children is a never-ending task. Also based on the principle of the oneness of all humanity, we not only care for our own biological children but for all children of humanity. This is when the news of oppression and violence towards children and amongst our youth becomes quite painful. We cannot just relegate it to others as there are no others. We are like cells of one body, waves of one sea, leaves of one tree. We must grieve over each other and each of us reaches out. The Palomares Empowerment Program (PEP) is born out of this pain in my heart. I appreciate the notion of the whole village circling around the troubled youth and singing and chanting the praises of his/her spiritual nature we all must nurture and guard so the crooked might change direction and move right.

In my search for an effective and complementary curriculum, I came across the following resources developed in response to violence among youth in America’s inner cities such as Chicago.

 

Implementing Restorative Justice

 

Transformative Justice and what it is

 

Transformative Justice school program and activities

 

I see the potential of this curriculum as a wonderful resource for PEP.

 

 
(Edited by Mariame Kaba, J. Cyriac Mathew, and Nathan Haines).
 
You can find additional resources regarding facilitation in this text online at:
*material on facilitation can be found on pages 9-15
 
The Chicago Freedom School, Project NIA, and Teachers for Social Justice have partnered along with other volunteers to develop a curriculum guide in order to contribute to the ongoing efforts by young people and their adult allies to analyze the root causes of youth violence and to create local solutions.
 
At a time when frustration is running high and many are expressing a sense of powerlessness in the face of pervasive violence, this curriculum guide is an offering intended to make a positive contribution to the dialogue about violence in the lives of young people. In the words of historian and community activist Barbara Ransby, our goal is to help “young people to channel their righteous rage” towards the actual sources of their oppression.
 
PEP is looking forward to exploring the application of the above curriculum in the empowerment of the students in our care.

Keyvan Geula is a licensed Marriage, Family, and Child Therapist; LMFT. She received her Master of Science in Marriage, family, and Child Therapy from the University of La Verne, in La Verne, California. She employs the latest research in behavioral sciences, neuroscience, and the Baha’i principle of the oneness of all humanity to serve the well-being of her clients.

She offers her services as a clinician, lecturer, trainer, and supervisor to a global set of clients in person and online. In her clinical work, she incorporates the wisdom of the Baha’i Writings, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy research, Mindfulness meditation, and consultation skills, as well as knowledge of the spiritual self.

She is an adjunct professor of Behavioral Sciences at Citrus Community College, faculty of continued education at Claremont Graduate University. She teaches psychology online to students at Baha’i Institute of Higher Education.

She is the Founder and Executive Director of Center for Global Integrated Education (CGIE), a non-profit Baha’i-inspired educational organization, which explores oneness of all humanity, and teaches the integrated mind-body-spirit approach in education.

She has served for two years as the producer and host of a two-hour weekly live radio show for the Persian community in Sothern, California focusing on the role of the psychology of spirituality in personal and social transformation, creativity, emotional and social intelligence, and a greater sense of harmony in a global society. She also has been the host and producer of TV series called Transforming Human Consciousness for eight years. She regularly writes and blogs on www.cgie.org/blog on topics related to integrated education, the oneness of humanity, the powers of the human spirit in the betterment of global society, elimination of all prejudice, equality of women and men, and education reform. Some of her shows are posted on her; Keyvan Geula YouTube Channel.

Mrs. Geula has served in several Baha’i institutions since her youth in Iran and USA.

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