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Life

How to Deal With People

Rodney Richards | Jun 25, 2018

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Rodney Richards | Jun 25, 2018

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

Ah, “deal” is not the best choice of words here, is it? Maybe “to interact” would be better.

To “deal” supposes that we are the be all and end all, and that it’s up to others to accommodate us. But interacting is a two-way street in a world where being with and around people is the nature of life. Gone are the days (except in rare instances) when one could remove oneself from all people.

Even ascetics are around people, although they may give up normal pleasures of living, for even monks throughout the ages lived in monasteries together.

The Baha’i Faith teaches that we must not remove ourselves from this world, but rather be an active part of it. We humans need human companionship and assistance. We are always interacting with people on some level; even if it’s just buying groceries through an app on our phone, people are putting our order together, packing it and delivering it to our doorstep.

And we run into people. Most of them, we don’t “know” by name or trade, but we recognize many because we’ve perhaps seen them before in the neighborhood, at the stores we shop in, or in the schools our children attend. Others we do know by name, perhaps having worked on a project with them, or are a neighbor to or a relative. Some of us have big families, some small – like my wife Janet, who only has one living sister and a cousin. My family is extensive, with new relatives cropping up frequently.

You know what I’ll say next: that we are all one family, the family of humanity. Abdu’l-Baha gave a very specific talk on this subject in 1911:

When a man turns his face to God he finds sunshine everywhere. All men are his brothers. Let not conventionality cause you to seem cold and unsympathetic when you meet strange people from other countries. Do not look at them as though you suspected them of being evildoers, thieves and boors. You think it necessary to be very careful, not to expose yourselves to the risk of making acquaintance with such, possibly, undesirable people.

I ask you not to think only of yourselves. Be kind to the strangers, whether come they from Turkey, Japan, Persia, Russia, China or any other country in the world. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 15

But though humanity is all one family, we’ll never come in close contact with more than a few hundred or a few thousand people in our lifetimes. Think about all the opportunities you have to meet and be with people, to share a little sunlight with them, and to gain from their experience.

Abdu’l-Baha continues:

Help to make them feel at home; find out where they are staying, ask if you may render them any service; try to make their lives a little happier. In this way, even if, sometimes, what you at first suspected should be true, still go out of your way to be kind to them – this kindness will help them to become better. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 15

If we reach out to others, there will be sure rewards. And if we put our actions where our mouths are, there will be great improvements in our relationships with those around us. The wrong in the world continues to exist because people only talk of their ideals, and do not strive to put them into practice. Abdu’l-Baha also says:

What profit is there in agreeing that universal friendship is good, and talking of the solidarity of the human race as a grand ideal? Unless these thoughts are translated into the world of action, they are useless. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 16

You and I can indeed change the world. Practice in friendship and cooperation will go a long way. For in the end, we all rely upon God and each other.

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