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July 13, 2006 - Thursday, 9:11 p.m.

Summer School...

I’m at Bahá’í Summer School this weekend. My parents became Bahá’ís when I was 4 years old. I attended my first summer school the summer after I turned 6. So, basically I’ve been coming to camp for the last 40 years. It is an opportunity, perhaps twice a year to exist for a short time in a completely Bahá’í community. It is a time for studying and socializing with Bahá’ís from various communities mostly within the state. This facility is relatively rustic, and I really like this location. This year all of my children will have made it up to the camp for at least a few days, and it has been a long time since they all had the opportunity to attend the same school. Tomorrow they’ll all be here at the same time.

It’s been nice to be away from work. They last few weeks have been beyond stressful. It’s been slow to pass. My plate is too full and I feel things slip between my fingers and away far too often. I spoke with Andy, the manager over my department on Monday afternoon. He is looking to try to create a position for me, in hopes that I’ll stay around. He is going to try for a Technical Program Manager, and will incorporate much of what I am already doing. He’ll hire a new tech that I am to train to do a lot of the things that I’ve continued to do as new projects and skill have been developed for me. Seeing as I really do enjoy my job, and the thought of leaving all my family, my sisters, nieces and nephews was a little overwhelming, I am happy to have the possibility of staying where I am but progressing onward in my career.

We are only two weeks away from “The Lake” now. I am very much looking forward to that vacation. It looks like Maureen will travel with Philip and I to the lake, as my parents are going to visit friends for a week before the lake and it’ll be easier for them to visit. Philip and I probably have the best temperament for the trip and it should go smoothly.

The classes have been very interesting at the school this week. There has been a great focus on the changes in the Bahá’í Community introduced this year with the new Five Year plan. There is a tremendous emphasis on developing the Ruhi Training Institutes. I have enjoyed Ruhi far more then I expected and it is fun to look towards the future and see that the scope of skills needed is finally starting to grow beyond public speaking, which is NOT a strength of mine.

As usual Summer School reminds me off all the things I’m not doing and should be doing; and the things that I am doing, that I probably shouldn’t spend so much time on. It also allows me to see the things that I am accomplishing and shows me a direction I might head into.

I realize that as we come out of obscurity we will begin to face challenges that we haven’t seen in America. Our numbers have been so small here that we’ve had little impact on the ‘power and influence’ that other religions feel that they maintain. When the balance shifts some people will actively push back against the Faith. There is a woman here with her three daughters from Dallas. Tonight she told us the story of her life. She is Persian and grew up in Tehran. She was about two years into college with the revolution happened in Iran. Khomeni came into power and all of the Baha’I were kicked out of college, removed from pension plans and fired from their jobs. There lives were taken away for the most part. She was in her early 20’s and she tried to escape from Iran, but was caught at the border and thrown into prison. Individually she was taken into interrogation and asked why she was trying to escape her country. She told them that she was a Bahá’í and that they taken her ability to pursue a life away, that they’d kicked her out of college and her parents retirement money taken from them. They told her that all she needed to do was say that she wasn’t a Bahá’í, that she was Muslim and they would release her. But if she continued to claim she was a Bahá’í they would kill her. She refused and the guards were told to take her where no one would ever find her. They put her into solitary confinement in a small, dark cell for three days. They brought her back and asked her to recant her faith. She refused and was then taken back to the main population. She said sometimes they’d all be lead out and lined up against a wall with blind folds and told that they would all be shot if they didn’t recant. They didn’t recant, and then weren’t ever shot. The penalty for trying to escape the country was three months in prison, but after three months they were told that as Bahá’í that rule didn’t apply and that they’d be left there indefinitely. She was there for six months before they were finally released. All of her siblings had made it out of the country, but she was left behind with her parents. It was seven years later before the climate in Iran changed and they were allowed to get passports and leave. Eventually her entire family was united in the United States almost 12 years after they’d been separated.

This is a common story for Bahá’ís in Iran. There numbers are high and their belief considered a threat to the power of the clergy in that country (which is also political power there). I know that as our numbers increase in this country. This type of blatant prejudice will probably not happen, but in subtle ways similar things will likely happen, like loss of jobs and being socially ostracized. I can not imagine what the future will hold, but active movement against the faith, will only make the Faith stronger. It will announce to us as a community that progress is being made, painful though it may be.

I’m tired tonight. I’ve gone to bed late every night this week. I think perhaps I’ll go back to the dorm and crawl into bed for the night.

Sweet Dreams… M.

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