“To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven,” begins the third chapter of Ecclesiastes. Two distinctive seasons in the cycles of time are marked by the vernal and autumnal equinox which signalize equal lengths of day and night as the sun crosses the equator, at which point the cycles shift.
The vernal equinox, that begins each March 21, signalizes Spring, the warming of the earth following a long, cold winter–from which we have ironically been recently spared in our particular area–and the rejuvenation of plant life with all of its beauty!
The autumnal equinox is the symbol of the end of the long, hot summer and the beginning of Fall with all of its radiant beauty, tinged with the wisdom of having survived summer and the sadness of its brief life span before the onset of “Old Man Winter.” These two cycles can also be equated with the second verse of Ecclesiastes: A time to be born and a time to die,” symbolized by the vernal and autumnal equinox, respectively; “A time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted–harvest time; time to reap the fruits of what has been planted–whether in the earth or in the hearts and souls of mankind.
“From its very inception the United States was unlike other nations,” states an article in one Baha’i World Order magazine. “The country had been settled by pilgrims who sought to build in the wilderness of a virtually unknown continent, a New Jerusalem. Yet their pursuit of the Kingdom quickly revealed paradoxes that would plague their descendants ever after!
Professing Christianity, they nevertheless dispossessed and massacred the original inhabitants of a land to which they themselves had come in quest of refuge. Victims of religious intolerance, they established a puritan tyranny in their new home. Vociferous champions of human dignity and freedom, they imported hundreds of thousands of slaves whose toil helped clear the woods, drain the swamps and raise the crops. Fearful of a stern God and wishing to do His Will, they produced a government of laws–and much lawlessness.
Yet America’s pursuit of wealth and power had an odd quality about it. Above all they were dominated by a sense of destiny and mission. Below the survace of the struggle for existence, of selfishness and of greed, often elevated into principle, there survived the conviction that the country had an historical task to perform, that America was an experiment which would demonstrate that the brotherhood of man was not an illusion, that justice for all was not an idle dream and that man was not a beast condemned forever to live at war with his own kind. Perhaps it was this inner conviction that impelled the educated to create in this country the world’s first and largest system of mass education, the Whites to struggle for the Blacks, and the rich to engage in philanthropy on a scale unparalleled elsewhere!
Today the earth is becoming an armed camp, we are reminded in a small pamphlet entitled “Beyond National Sovereignty.” released in 1985! Expenses for weapons strain national budgets. Regional wars threaten to erupt into wider conflicts while the ominous shadow of global nuclear war raises doubts about humanity’s survival! Even if the super powers are able to maintain their delicate stalemate, the proliferation of nuclear weapons to other nations enhances the potential for disaster!
The spread of terrorism redefines war, disrupting social stability. How does a nation strike back when the enemy is not another nation but a formless group that blends into the population? These and other crises require solutions the present order cannot provide!
The winds of despair are again blowing from every direction and the strife that divides and afflicts the human race is daily increasing. “The signs of convulsion and chaos can once again be discerned inasmuch as the prevailing order appears to be lamentably defective.” Yet we press on with all deliberate speed, once again sowing seeds and threats of war, hate and destruction.
America, America! If this is Harvest Time, what will our “harvest” be? Seriously Investigate!