Letter to the Editor: Standing Up for Equality of Women and Men

“Just a line to let you know that when the local newspaper printed my article “Egalitarianism,” I was awakened, early in the morning, by a very eager woman who wanted to know how I knew that word.  She stated that she read the article several times and was very excited to share it with her ladies’ group that was meeting that afternoon. I explained about being a Bahá’í and having taken this course [The Equality of Women and Men 2017]. She said she would look up the Faith and share that information also with her friends. Hopefully she will take me up on the invitation to attend a fireside.”—JERRY JOHNSON, Grand Junction, Mesa County, Colorado, USA

Here is the text of the article that elicited such interest:

EGALITARIANISM. Interesting word isn’t it? Do you know what it means?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary gives us: 1: a belief in human equality especially with respect to social, political, and economic affairs. 2: a social philosophy advocating the removal of inequalities among people.

As I take a hard and critical look around our beautiful Grand Valley, I find that egalitarianism does not seem to be evident across the board. How about the disparity still being borne by our women? You would think that in this 21st Century, equal pay for equal work would be a given, right?

Hmm . . . doesn’t seem to be the case. Investigate it for yourself. You may be surprised. Also, something else that bothers me about inequalities is the fact that we seem to be punishing our women for becoming mothers. Some companies do offer “paid maternity leave” for women. Many do not. I’m bothered because out of 200 “countries” that were researched regarding paid maternity leave, 160 of them “mandated” this option as law. The United States does not! Why? I used the word “punish” because, as we all are assuredly aware, the current economy does not make it affordable for a family to lose one parent’s income for any length of time. But do we not care enough about a newborn baby that we would force a nurturing mother to immediately return to work and then carry the burden of paying someone else to be the surrogate mother? Ponder those facts in your heart for a while. I’m a combat Marine Corps veteran and was a deputy sheriff for eleven years. I know how to compartmentalize pain. I do not know how to look at a mother; my own mother; my wife who has passed on but gave me two wonderful children; or my daughter who has given me three precious grandchildren, without finding a soft and tender spot in my heart. A spot that strives to make sure that they are supported and protected from pain.

Other inequalities that I see being manifested are: prejudices—against races, political lines or ideals, religions, economic status, homelessness, and the list could go on.

I post these thoughts, not to cause embarrassment or judge others, but hopefully to perhaps spark a dialogue between ourselves that will lead to concrete action which will, in turn, make the word egalitarianism, a true part of our everyday lives.

Jerry Johnson, a veteran of nineteen Wilmette Institute courses, set an important goal for himself as he enrolled in the Equality of Women and Men 2017 course: “As a man, it is my deepest desire to be able to communicate to the wider community the foundation and goals of the Bahá’í community in establishing an ever-advancing process of equality among women and men.” Jerry is currently serving on the Spiritual Assembly of Mesa County, Colorado, USA. He has also served on the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Fiji and for many years served the Continental Board of Counselors for Australasia as a Resource Person working to establish Ruhi Institute programs in Western and American Samoa, Kiribati, Tonga, Guam, Saipan, and the Hawaiian Islands. He also was a National Institute Coordinator, primarily for Western and American Samoa, Tongo, and Fiji.

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