Letters to the Editor: Sovaida Ma’ani Ewing’s Web Talk “Finding Hope in Turbulent Times”

Sovaida Ma’ani Ewing’s recent Web Talk called “Finding Hope in Turbulent Times” hit a nerve. With almost every evening news show sounding like The Promised Day Is Come redux and all of Shoghi Effendi’s other analyses of world events, many are looking for hope in our increasingly troubled times.

In writing about her Web Talk, Sovaida noted the “increasing instability and turbulence of our times” and the fact that it is “shaking many of us to the core.” Her aim in her talk was to help her listeners “understand the forces of our times in light of the teachings of the Faith and thereby avoid the fear, despondency and paralysis of will that might otherwise result.” She said that she would “focus in particular on the twin processes of integration and disintegration,” “examine the collective journey of humanity toward maturity and unity,” and “contemplate the exigencies and implications of its current developmental stage.” The she promised to discuss what we need to learn: “that much of what is happening is not random but part of a greater divine plan that is designed to lead us to a glorious collective destiny” and reading the “signs of labor that the world is experiencing” and reminding “ourselves of the ultimate outcome of this messy and difficult process”—“namely, the birth of a New World Order.” The end result, Sovaida says, will “bolster our confidence and ignite hope in our collective future.”

Sovaida’s Web Talk was, indeed, a carefuly reasoned exposition on our turbulent times based on writings of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá with a preponderance of her quotations coming from the writings of Shogh Effendi and his delineation of the elements that the current crises offer, as well as those of the Universal House of Justice. Among many other things, she discussed opportunities, the Greater Plan, the place of the United States in the upheavals, integration and disintegration, the Lesser Plan, the future of the Lesser Peace, what we can do, the role of suffering, changes in the concept of society.

Robert Stockman, who was moderating the presentation and the question-and-answer session summed up Sovaida’s talk by observing that it

was a fascinating review of the Bahá’í writings. I am not sure I have ever seen the writings assembled in one place on the topic like this, and I think that is an enormous service to the Bahá’í community—to be able to look what Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi, and the Universal House of Justice have said about the processes the world is going through—and the Bahá’í community is going through—so that we can get that perspective. But, then, in addition to that, you have provided us with all of these tips, analogies, and other ideas for how the world can, indeed, get to its goal.

What was the audience’s response to “Finding Hope in Turbulent Times”? Some offered grateful thanks about the timeliness of the topic. Others requested some of her references. Still others wanted links to Persian translations of her books to share with friends. Read on:

This was wonderful and such an important topic, I needed this!—PETE JAMS

I just really appreciate your talk, just what everyone is looking for!—MARCO

The webinar with Sovaida was great. After the brief interruption because of her internet setting, the little window to ask questions or make comments disappeared. Otherwise, I would have thanked her for her excellent presentation.—CHRISTINE MULLER, Rhode Island, USA

Wonderful presentation. Please forward my request for the Shoghi Effendi quote about mentioning global governance right from the start of our teaching a new person.—DR. NANCY LEE HARPER, PORTUGAL

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sovaida provided two references. (1) In November 1935 Shoghi Effendi, in a letter written on his behalf to two Bahá’ís, says that, when Bahá’ís give talks about the Faith, “[s]pecial stress . . . should be laid on the impending necessity of establishing a supranational and sovereign world state, as the one described by Baha’u’llah.” (Compilation of Compilations, Vol. II 1622: 193). (2) In October 1936, Shoghi Effendi in a letter to an individual, advises the Bahá’í to “stress in your talks the idea of a world superstate, and the concept of the Oneness of Mankind underlying it” (Compilation of Compilations, Vol. II 1624: 194). The editors add that, in connection with Sovaida’s Web Talk, reading and internalizing the entire text of the first passage (Compilation of Compilations Vol. II 1622: 193) would be useful:

In connection with your teaching work: what the Guardian wishes you to particularly emphasize in all your talks is the supreme necessity for all individuals and nations in this day to adopt in its entirety the social programme given by Bahá’u’lláh for the reconstruction of the religious, economic and political life of mankind. He wishes you to explain and analyze the elements that help in raising this Divine World Order in the light of the present-day events and conditions in the world. Special stress, he feels, should be laid on the impending necessity of establishing a supranational and sovereign world state, as the one described by Bahá’u’lláh. With the world becoming increasingly subject to tumults and convulsions never experienced before, the realization of such a necessity is entering into the consciousness of not only the wise and learned, but of the common people as well. The believers should, therefore, seize this opportunity and make a supreme effort to present, in a convincing and eloquent language, those social and humanitarian teachings of the Faith which we believe to constitute the sole panacea for the innumerable ills afflicting our present-day world.

Book Cover: Collective Security Within ReachWho was the author of the quote about the boat with no crew?—MARCO

EDITOR’S NOTE: In her talk, at about 23:16, Sovaida, uses an analogy borrowed from Kishore Mahbubani, former diplomat and Professor of Public Policy at Singapore’s National University. The analogy goes something like this: Humanity used to be like 193 small boats bobbing on the ocean of life. Now we have become like 193 cabins in a ship. Unfortunately, each cabin is being administered beautifully, but the ship as a whole lacks a captain and crew members. If a storm were to hit the ship, it would likely sink. And so it is time to create a system of global governance to ensure that this ship of humanity can be brought safely to port.

Thanks for excellent talk. As Rob said so elegantly that it was such a nice and meaningful collection of Guardian’s writings. However, I am trying to find the Persian downloads, and I can’t find them after a long search. Will appreciate your help.—FIROOZ OSKOOI

Sovaida’s webinar was wonderful.  Sorely needed, completely on point, and eminently useful!  I am going to go through it to make list of all the references Sovaida used, which will be useful for the gathering we plan to have to view it. Especially interesting is the fact that Sovaida mentioned that she has the materials in Farsi, and that would be appreciated in my community. Thanks again for everything you do to bring the Wilmette Institute to us.—MARY K. MAKOSKI

EDITOR’S NOTE: To the request for links to her books in Persian, Sovaida sent this information: “My two books, Collective Security Within Reach and Building a World Federation: The Key to Resolving Our Global Crises are available for download on the “publications” page of my website cpgg.org. You can get there by clicking directly on this link: http://www.cpgg.org/new-page-1/.”

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