The Daily News
Every person in this country and across the globe has been affected directly or indirectly by the COVID-19 virus. It has brought life to a halt as we know it in our country and many others. So what do we do while we wait it out?
First, we need to be informed. It is important to keep up to date on where the virus is spreading and how to implement effective measures to limit its spread. Second, we need perspective, not only on the impact of the virus but also in what we can learn from this crisis that will benefit us now and in the future.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York touched on both of these aspects. Since New York is the state hardest hit by the coronavirus, he has been given a lot of coverage in the media. I have been impressed with his ability to impart both information and perspective. Regarding perspective, I was especially struck by a comment he made in his March 23 press conference when he said the goal for him was to see people “socially distanced, but spiritually connected.”
I applauded that statement and couldn’t help thinking about another statement made over 150 years ago by Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í Faith, who said in chilling but poetic terms, “The world is in travail, and its agitation waxeth day by day. Its face is turned towards waywardness and unbelief. Such shall be its plight, that to disclose it now would not be meet and seemly. Its perversity will long continue. And when the appointed hour is come, there shall suddenly appear that which shall cause the limbs of mankind to quake. Then, and only then, will the Divine Standard be unfurled, and the Nightingale of Paradise warble its melody.”
The COVID-19 outbreak is certainly a sudden development that is causing worldwide fear and consternation. Although it is not directly due to waywardness and unbelief, the widespread inequity, political divisiveness and pervasive greed that result from these traits have contributed to making the situation worse. However, as disturbing as this prophecy is, it also holds out a message of hope, namely that we have the ability to turn things around and become spiritually connected by implementing what Bahá’u’lláh called the Divine Standard.
Bahá’u’lláh was imprisoned by political and religious leaders for over 40 years of his life, during which he outlined the particulars of that Divine Standard in the most voluminous Writings in religious history. These included such concepts as understanding the world’s religions as part of a unified progressive revelation from one God, a unique non-partisan political system at local, national and international levels, gender equality, the elimination of prejudice of all kinds, the central role of trustworthiness in human relations, universal education, environmental stewardship and a spiritual solution that would eliminate the extremes of wealth and poverty. Their vastness embraces issues from the individual to the societal level and serve as a blueprint for global peace and the unity of humanity. More specifics are available under the Universal Peace tab on the website www.bahai.org.
Regardless of our spiritual backgrounds, I believe we all can agree that a central aspect of the Divine Standard is the Golden Rule, which is found in all religions and in the personal philosophy of people who do not embrace any particular faith. One such person in the latter category was a woman who took the name of Peace Pilgrim. She walked 25,000 miles across the country from 1952 to the end of her life in 1981 to encourage people to find ways to be of service in creating a peaceful future. Her mantra was “Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love,” and she literally walked her talk. Details about her life and work are truly inspiring and can be found at www.peacepilgrim.org
Although we have no idea how long the COVID-19 crisis will last or the nature of its full impact, my hope is that while we wait for it to pass we devote time to be of service in whatever ways we can and commit ourselves to becoming more spiritually connected now and in the future. This will not only help us weather this challenging situation, it will help us move forward to a better life beyond it.