BY KAREN WEBB
In 1962, famed folk artist Bob Dylan wrote “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall.” Of a body of work whose lyrics were often densely packed and full of imagery, this one beat the rest by a mile.
In its 60-odd lines, it covers everything the “narrator’s” son has seen, heard, and met in his travels
Expressing himself metaphorically, the son describes racism, poverty, war, the destruction of the environment, sexual promiscuity at its most devastating, alienationСreally, every single social ill of the era
When he was asked why he wrote a song so packed with imagery, he answered that 1962 saw the Cuban Missile Crisis and the world closer to the brink of nuclear war than it had yet come. So he wrote one last song to make up for all the songs he might never get to write.
How does our world today compare with the world Dylan described in 1962?
The cause of justice has seen some great victories. Malala Yousefzai, addressing a special session of the United Nations last summer, affirmed that she would not seek revenge on the Talib who shot her even if she had gun in hand and he appeared before her right then. Instead, she spoke out strongly in favor of universal education.
Mukhtaran Bibi’s instance of brutal assault resulted in the government granting her a financial award, with which she funded a school in her village specifically for young women.
The actions of both women model a world at peace with itself.
But the world continues to endure some of its worst tragedies: war, famine, attempted genocide, children living without hope, inner city youths professing they joined gangs because they believed they would not live to see their 21st birthdays
One of the worst ongoing tragedies is institutionalized persecution based on religious belief.
As a member of the Baha’i Faith living in the west, I have the freedom to practice my faith.
In Iran, where the Baha’i Faith was born, the situation for the Baha’i community grows daily more grim. Governments, genocide watch groups, and independent human rights organizations consistently label the situation as one of the most severe cases of religious persecution in the world.
In addition to jailing Baha’is without due process, the Iranian government chips slowly but relentlessly at the Iranian Baha’is’ civil rights: the right to work, the right to receive an education, the right to bury their dead without fear of having gravesites desecrated, the right to practice nearly every aspect of their faith.
And yet, as Baha’is, we raise our children to have hope for the future of humanity, to believe the best of people, and to know that one day soon “these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away and the Most Great Peace shall come.” We are dedicating our lives, and the lives of those who follow, to the spiritualization of society
We are not alone. Legislators and religious leaders of all faiths are helping to shine the spotlight on the atrocities against all prisoners of conscience in Iran.
Last month, the United States Senate passed the most recent in a series of resolutions condemning the treatment of the Baha’is in Iran. Senate Resolution 75 calls on the Iranian government to release immediately all religious prisoners and urges the president and secretary of state to impose sanctions on those responsible for human rights violations.
While I was preparing to write this, my 16-year-old came up with an astute comment regarding the card game Munchkin, the rules of which are “Kill the monsters. Steal the treasure. Stab your buddies in the back.” His observation: “You know, a lot of life is like this.”
It doesn’t have to be. We are better than this. We owe it to the future to be better than this.
Baha’u’llah, the prophet-founder of the Baha’i Faith, said, “In the garden of thy heart plant naught but the rose of love.”
How easily we can put this simple and lovely dictum into practice in our own lives. All we need to do is expend a little effort to expand our own circles, to widen them to include those who practice a different religion, come from a different culture, or simply express views that differ from our own. We hold it in our hands to change our world from a mire into a rose garden vibrant with color.
Webb is a member of the Baha’i comunity in south Davis County.