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Living is risky. Life is full of risks. Every minute of every day something could go wrong, something unplanned, unforeseen.
I thought of that early this morning returning home from my bank’s ATM when a deer crossed in front of my car not 50 feet ahead. I should have been almost expecting it, as it was near our community park and I had just passed a deer warning sign on the side of the road. Where I live in the suburbs, with fields, woods and farms still intact, there are many deer, and often I’ve heard tales of vehicles being struck by them or hitting them.
But I still drive.
We all have built-in mechanisms of risk aversion and try to ameliorate risks whenever we can—or, I should say, when we are aware of them. Driving in the early morning around dawn, and at dusk, deer are more prevalent on or near the roads. So knowledge is the key ingredient in avoiding unwanted risks, or of getting past them. As it’s been said, “Forewarned is forearmed.”
Planning is another way to mitigate risks. We wouldn’t be prudent if we planned a hundred-mile trip without first checking road maps or rush hour times, or not checking the train schedule first before traveling to a big city. Before undertaking most tasks we marshal our thoughts and resources, pack our mental “bags,” and organize them well.
So what about planning our lives? Do we have goals? Objectives? Tasks we’d like to complete along the way? Some call these life-planning tools a Bucket List, others a Personal Growth Chart. Do we think ahead and plan, or live day by day? No one way is right for everyone, and diversity is what makes the world go ‘round, but what can we do to make our lives fuller and more complete?
Many feel and believe the best way to enhance our living involves trusting and relying on a Supreme Being. Whether you call the Creator God or Allah or YHWH or any other name, we generally refer to God as “He”—but “Unknown Essence” would be accurate, too.
So here’s the question: Can God help us to overcome risks and setbacks? The Baha’i teachings say that prayer, meditation and a spiritual approach to life that leads us to seek unity with all other human beings can definitely provide us protection:
God has created and provided for all. He is the Preserver of all, and all are submerged in the ocean of His mercy. Not a single soul is deprived. Inasmuch as we have such a loving God and Creator, why should we be at war with each other? Now that His light is shining universally, why should we cast ourselves into darkness? As His table is spread for all His children, why should we deprive each other of its sustenance? As His effulgence is shining upon all, why should we seek to live among the shadows? There is no doubt that the only cause is ignorance and that the result is perdition. Discord deprives humanity of the eternal favors of God; therefore, we must forget all imaginary causes of difference and seek the very fundamentals of the divine religions in order that we may associate in perfect love and accord and consider humankind as one family, the surface of the earth as one nationality and all races as one humanity. Let us live under the protection of God, attaining eternal happiness in this world and everlasting life in the world to come. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 99-100.
Life is full of risks, yet we persevere and move forward. We rely on our own knowledge and the help and knowledge of others. We plan as best we can, and try to avoid the deer that suddenly leap in front of our moving cars. We prepare for our journeys, and utilize our given resources, so much more so for the ups and downs of life. Ideally, we rely upon God to see us through.
When I investigated the Baha’i Faith many decades ago, it did not represent a risk. Instead, I looked at it as gathering information. That turned into love for Baha’u’llah and his teachings. Taking the next step, that single step to declare myself an avowed Baha’i, was not a risk either, since it turned out to be an affirmation and confirmation of what I had learned. Taking some risks turns out beneficially.