Turtle Talk Editorial: Only that which is worthy of praise

“One must see in every human being only that which is worthy of praise.”  This quotation from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, Prophet Founder of the Baha’i Faith, is among those listed for memorization by one age group of Baha’i children’s classes held weekly in Salem.

My daughter’s 7-year-old triplets happen to fall in this particular 6-10-year-old group which is blessed to include children from Africa and Iran as well as Black, White, and mixed races of American children.  None of the Iranian children spoke a word of English when they arrived here, the latest only a very a few months ago.  Yet today they all speak and read English amazingly well.  

The instructor’s assistant who preceded me had commented on one occasion that she thought the material was a bit advanced for this age group and to being with, and I’ll have to admit, I too felt the same.  But as I observed the rapid advancement of all of these beautiful children I realized that we too often grossly underestimate their inestimable ability to comprehend at the earliest stages.  

Without remembering it exactly, I was attempting to paraphrase the beginning quotation on one occasion when the triplets chimed in, in chorus correcting me with every word verbatim.  Whether or not they fully understand the meaning of such virtuous memorization, sooner or later it must surely wield some influence over those who recite it, especially at such a formative age.  We, adults, may have to wrestle a little harder with its accomplishment.  Having been the supreme critic and cynic most of my adult life, I have now adopted just the last seven words of this quotation to repeat as a constant reminder: “…only that which is worthy of praise.”  But I must confess, in all honesty, that for some human beings, I’m still looking.

To add credence to this philosophy, however, I’m reminded of a distant relative who saw me in young adulthood for the first time since infancy (of which I only remember jokes about how homely I was).  “She still has those beautiful eyes,”  she remarked.  I don’t remember her name, nor ever seeing her before or since.  Only the one thing she found worthy of praise, which I had never heard before.

With this in mind, I have already convinced myself that reversing the process should make it easier to do, thus lightening the heart of both, the beholder and the beheld.

As we enter this special holiday season of peace and love may we exhort every effort to tune out whatever runs counter to its true meaning and hold fast to “that which is worthy of praise.”  May we reward unpraiseworthy words and conduct with verbal expressions on “only that which is worthy of praise,” leaving the scene with such kind words should they seemingly have no effect for they will most assuredly be remembered and at some point appreciated as rare things are.  May this special season mark the beginning of a new spiritual perception resulting in a new attitude throughout the year as the world celebrates the birth of the Christ Child–Who is most worthy of praise.