Updated: May 20, 2022
The important Me# Too movement against sexual harassment and assault began a viral global spread in October 2017 using a powerful social media hashtag.
Before it loses the momentum gained, we have an imporrtant opportunity to review progress so far, and identify areas offering further potential.
But let us begin by celebrating that, within these few years, countless silent people were given a voice, victims felt exonerated, whilst perpetrators continue to cringe in fear of exposure. Many friends, clients and associates whose lives were damaged within the web of behaviours targeted by #MeToo now feel vindicated.
The pervasive demeaning attitudes that enabled their silent oppression to persist now has a name, a form, and we have a platform from which future voices will be heard and respected.
Justice holds a high position amongst Bahai principles. "O Son of Spirit! The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee." ---Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 36.
The justice that we seek must engage both victim and perpetrator. Unless a violator is assisted to truly recognise the error of his/her ways and grow in self-knowledge and inner values, the effect of shaming is limited.
Criticism without education has no positive outcomes.
Today we call for a consciousness of global values. We call for recognition of the mutual values and principles historically upheld by diverse religions and cultures, which honour the essence of the Golden Rule; to treat others as we wish for ourselves. #Me Too must continue as a movement for social and spiritual change.
This will necessitate Knowledge, Volition and Action least our good intentions be lost in mere words.
It will require us, both perpetrators and victims, to progressively create safe positive environments in which to practice consultation and education. Ultimately, and over time, our lives must become active personal examples of change and recovery, extending from home to community, with a goal to treat one another with respect and acceptance.
Change is a slow processes. In the meantime, The Universal House of Justice cautions about; "...the tendency of the friends to criticize each other at the slightest provocation, whereas the Teachings call upon them to encourage each other. ...the friends must be helped through your example and through loving counsel to refrain from such a pattern of criticism, which stunts the growth and development of the community".
Healing the errors of the past is necessary to create an atmosphere of unity and mutual respect in both the home and community.
Because the mother is the first educator, change must focus on her education and empowerment. It was mainly women who demonstrated their capacity to be change agents in winning the vote; they now have a similar goal to work with fathers, school and community to initiate activities that promote the development of ideal values and skills within the children.
"...although the mother is the first educator of the child, and the most important formative influence in his development, the father also has the responsibility of educating his children, and this responsibility is so weighty that Bahá’u’lláh has stated that a father who fails to exercise it forfeits his rights of fatherhood." ---28 December 1980 – UHJ to The NSA of the Bahá’ís of New Zealand.
Over time all humanity must accept and develop a range of universal moral attitudes that recognise and embody concepts such as justice, respect, human dignity, integrity and accountability. We must collectively relinquish previous limitations.
This requires an ongoing process of self knowledge, through prayer, study, reflection and consultation with others such as Spiritual Assemblies, qualified professionals, counsellors and educators. One powerful example of a relevant social development project can be see in the work of the Ruhi Institute [https://www.ruhi.org/materials/junioryouth.php.]
This is an educational institution, operating under the guidance of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Colombia, which dedicates its efforts to the development of human resources for the spiritual, social, and cultural development and philosophy of social change, development and education.
Another powerful project is the Virtues project [https://virtuesproject.com/] that identifies Love, Kindness, Justice and Service as Virtues which are the very meaning and purpose of our lives, the content of our character and the truest expression of our souls.
For people of all cultures, ethnicities and beliefs, these are the essence of authentic success.
Moral Leadership is a very different kind of leadership. Rather than aspiring to being followed, Moral Leaders aim to serve. Instead of showcasing their own skills, Moral Leaders tend to develop the capacities of others. ---https://www.globalethicsnetwork.org/