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About RonPrice

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  • Birthday 07/23/1944

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  • Location
    George Town Tasmania Australia
  • Interests
    Reading, writing, the social sciences and humanities, walking, sleeping, eating and drinking. The Baha’i Faith, my family, my health, cats, my wife’s garden and lots of other gardens.
  1. More on conservatism and the collapse of modern isms. ________________________________________________ ISMS AND WASMS To let each impression and each germ of a feeling come to completion wholly in itself, in the dark, beyond the reach of one’s own intelligence, and await with deep humility and patience the birth-hour of a new clarity: that alone is living the artist’s life: in understanding as in creating. -R.M. Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, WW Norton & Co, NY, Revised Edition. How does one explain the world? The old terms, orientations, have collapsed: socialism, liberalism, conservatism, radicalism, communism, individualism, all isms that are wasms. The inexpressible, the complex, is even more beyond us now, taking place in a realm where words enter with difficulty. This mysterious existence, the poem, will endure long after this trust has been returned to Him. In this endurance there is more than mystery; so, look within, find your ample past, enjoy your dusky dwelling and guide from your deeps, by an infinitely tender hand, this everlasting sound. Ron Price 4 January 1997 AN_INCONSPICUOUS_AFFLATUS.rtf
  2. I found the following remarks so pertinent to the subject of World Politics that I include them here: ________________________ Early in the twentieth century, a materialistic interpretation of reality had consolidated itself so completely as to become the dominant world faith insofar as the direction of society was concerned. In the process, the civilizing of human nature had been violently wrenched out of the orbit it had followed for millennia. For many in the West, the Divine authority that had functioned as the focal centre of guidance—however diverse the interpretations of its nature—seemed simply to have dissolved and vanished. In large measure, the individual was left free to maintain whatever relationship he believed connected his life to a world transcending material existence, but society as a whole proceeded with growing confidence to sever dependence on a conception of the universe that was judged to be at best a fiction and at worst an opiate, in either case inhibiting progress. Humanity had taken its destiny into its own hands. It had solved through rational experimentation and discourse—so people were given to believe—all of the fundamental issues related to human governance and development. This posture was reinforced by the assumption that the values, ideals and disciplines cultivated over the centuries were now reliably fixed and enduring features of human nature. They needed merely to be refined by education and reinforced by legislative action. The moral legacy of the past was just that: humanity’s indefeasible inheritance, requiring no further religious interventions. Admittedly, undisciplined individuals, groups or even nations would continue to threaten the stability of the social order and call for correction. The universal civilization towards the realization of which all the forces of history had been bearing the human race, however, was irresistibly emerging, inspired by secular conceptions of reality. People’s happiness would be the natural result of better health, better food, better education, better living conditions—and the attainment of these unquestionably desirable goals now seemed to be within the reach of a society single-mindedly focused on their pursuit. Throughout that part of the world where the vast majority of the earth’s population live, facile announcements that “God is Dead” had passed largely unnoticed. The experience of the peoples of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific had long confirmed them in the view not only that human nature is deeply influenced by spiritual forces, but that its very identity is spiritual. Consequently, religion continued, as had always been the case, to function as the ultimate authority in life. These convictions, while not directly confronted by the ideological revolution taking place in the West, were effectively marginalized by it, insofar as interaction among peoples and nations was concerned. Having penetrated and captured all significant centres of power and information at the global level, dogmatic materialism ensured that no competing voices would retain the ability to challenge projects of world wide economic exploitation. To the cultural damage already inflicted by two centuries of colonial rule was added an agonizing disjunction between the inner and outer experience of the masses affected, a condition invading virtually all aspects of life. Helpless to exercise any real influence over the shaping of their futures or even to preserve the moral well-being of their children, these populations were plunged into a crisis different from but in many ways even more devastating than the one gathering momentum in Europe and North America. Although retaining its central role in consciousness, faith appeared impotent to influence the course of events. As the twentieth century approached its close, therefore, nothing seemed less likely than a sudden resurgence of religion as a subject of consuming global importance. Yet that is precisely what has now occurred in the form of a groundswell of anxiety and discontent, much of it still only dimly conscious of the sense of spiritual emptiness that is producing it. Ancient sectarian conflicts, apparently unresponsive to the patient arts of diplomacy, have re-emerged with a virulence as great as anything known before. Scriptural themes, miraculous phenomena and theological dogmas that, until recently, had been dismissed as relics of an age of ignorance find themselves solemnly, if indiscriminately, explored in influential media. In many lands, religious credentials take on new and compelling significance in the candidature of aspirants to political office. A world, which had assumed that with the collapse of the Berlin Wall an age of international peace had dawned, is warned that it is in the grip of a war of civilizations whose defining character is irreconcilable religious antipathies. Bookstores, magazine stands, Web sites and libraries struggle to satisfy an apparently inexhaustible public appetite for information on religious and spiritual subjects. Perhaps the most insistent factor in producing the change is reluctant recognition that there is no credible replacement for religious belief as a force capable of generating self-discipline and restoring commitment to moral behaviour. Beyond the attention that religion, as formally conceived, has begun to command is a widespread revival of spiritual search. Expressed most commonly as an urge to discover a personal identity that transcends the merely physical, the development encourages a multitude of pursuits, both positive and negative in character. On the one hand, the search for justice and the promotion of the cause of international peace tend to have the effect of also arousing new perceptions of the individual’s role in society. Similarly, although focused on the mobilization of support for changes in social decision-making, movements like environmentalism and feminism induce a re-examination of people’s sense of themselves and of their purpose in life. A reorientation occurring in all the major religious communities is the accelerating migration of believers from traditional branches of the parent faiths to sects that attach primary importance to the spiritual search and personal experiences of their members. At the opposite pole, extraterrestrial sightings, “self-discovery” regimens, wilderness retreats, charismatic exaltation, various New Age enthusiasms, and the consciousness-raising efficacy attributed to narcotics and hallucinogens attract followings far larger and more diverse than anything enjoyed by spiritualism or theosophy at a similar historical turning point a century ago. For a Bahá’í, the proliferation even of cults and practices that may arouse aversion in the minds of many serves primarily as a reminder of the insight embodied in the ancient tale of Majnún, who sifted the dust in his search for the beloved Laylí, although aware that she was pure spirit: “I seek her everywhere; haply somewhere I shall find her.” The reawakened interest in religion is clearly far from having reached its peak, in either its explicitly religious or its less definable spiritual manifestations. On the contrary. The phenomenon is the product of historical forces that steadily gather momentum. Their common effect is to erode the certainty, bequeathed to the world by the twentieth century, that material existence represents ultimate reality. The most obvious cause of these re-evaluations has been the bankruptcy of the materialist enterprise itself. For well over a hundred years, the idea of progress was identified with economic development and with its capacity to motivate and shape social improvement. Those differences of opinion that existed did not challenge this world view, but only conceptions as to how its goals might best be attained. Its most extreme form, the iron dogma of “scientific materialism”, sought to reinterpret every aspect of history and human behaviour in its own narrow terms. Whatever humanitarian ideals may have inspired some of its early proponents, the universal consequence was to produce regimes of totalitarian control prepared to use any means of coercion in regulating the lives of hapless populations subjected to them. The goal held up as justification of such abuses was the creation of a new kind of society that would ensure not only freedom from want but fulfilment for the human spirit. At the end, after eight decades of mounting folly and brutality, the movement collapsed as a credible guide to the world’s future. Other systems of social experimentation, while repudiating recourse to inhumane methods, nevertheless derived their moral and intellectual thrust from the same limited conception of reality. The view took root that, since people were essentially self-interested actors in matters pertaining to their economic well-being, the building of just and prosperous societies could be ensured by one or another scheme of what was described as modernization. The closing decades of the twentieth century, however, sagged under a mounting burden of evidence to the contrary: the breakdown of family life, soaring crime, dysfunctional educational systems, and a catalogue of other social pathologies that bring to mind the sombre words of Bahá’u’lláh’s warning about the impending condition of human society: “Such shall be its plight, that to disclose it now would not be meet and seemly.” The fate of what the world has learned to call social and economic development has left no doubt that not even the most idealistic motives can correct materialism’s fundamental flaws. Born in the wake of the chaos of the Second World War, “development” became by far the largest and most ambitious collective undertaking on which the human race has ever embarked. Its humanitarian motivation matched its enormous material and technological investment. Fifty years later, while acknowledging the impressive benefits development has brought, the enterprise must be adjudged, by its own standards, a disheartening failure. Far from narrowing the gap between the well-being of the small segment of the human family who enjoy the benefits of modernity and the condition of the vast populations mired in hopeless want, the collective effort that began with such high hopes has seen the gap widen into an abyss. --From the book 'One Common Faith', Commissioned by the Universal House of Justice, Baha'i World Centre, Baha'i Publications Australia, 2005, pp.3-8. ENGENDERING_A_PERSPECTIVE.rtf
  3. AN INNER CONTINUUM In order to understand people better some human beings take a great interest in themselves. In order to portray others convincingly, some writers constantly examine themselves. It is this penetrating intrapersonal interest that is the source of many great novels, essays and autobiographical pieces. A good example is the Confessions of St. Augustine, written in 426 AD, just after the generation that saw the most significant rise of Christianity after four centuries of slow growth.-Andre Deutsche, Thomas Mann: Diaries 1918-1939, London, 1983, p.vi. That rapid and gentle fall of paganism back then when you wrote those Confessions1, amidst smiles of contempt for the last struggles of superstition and despair, you witnessed as you told of your yearning, your wandering, your groaning, your inner life, the note of urgency, of poignancy, of tension, of unexpected emotions, of intense personal involvement with ideas, with an inner continuum, of light and shadow, of one long battle with the self, with an inner depth of infinite complexity, an inner self-portrait and its myriad involvements where light crept back over rain-soaked landscapes and darkness often spread over the limitless room of your heart. Ron Price 30 September 1996 1 St. Augustine wrote his book Confessions in 397, in the midst of the great conversion process to Christianity during the late Roman Empire. One of the first writers in history to make an attempt to discuss his inner life.
  4. FOLLOWING THAT STAR The philosopher Goethe wrote that Hamlet is a play that depicts the story of a soul on whom a great deed is laid. The tragedy, he went on, is that this soul is unequal to the task.1 It seems to me that Shakespeare’s Hamlet is the story of you and I. Baha’u’llah says that no task is given to us which is beyond our capacity. Nevertheless, life’s task often seems beyond us especially if that task is in the context of what to many of us who work within the Baha’i system often seems like an “impossible dream.” We seem to be unequal to life’s burden, its apprecenticeship. -Ron Price with thanks to 1Goethe in John Barrymore, Shakespearean Actor, Michael Morrison, Cambridge UP, Cambridge, 1997, p.126. John Barrymore played Hamlet in New York in 1922-1924. “Barrymore heralded,” said Morrison, “the dawn of a new age of theatre.”2 Barrymore’s view of Hamlet was the same as Goethe’s; namely, that the task laid on man was more than he could handle. The play opened on November 16th 1922, just four weeks before Shoghi Effendi returned to Haifa to take up the burden of the Guardianship, a task, a role, which his wife said called him by the 1950s, thirty years later, to “sorrow and a strange desolation of hopes into quietness.”3 Being equal to a task does not mean one does not get discouraged, does not feel defeated. Being equal to a task is, among other things, a philosophical position which, for the Baha’i at least, is rooted in theological doctrine and means that one keeps on going, keeps on following that star “no matter how hopeless, no matter how far.”4–Ron Price with thanks to 2 Morrison, op.cit., p.304; 3Ruhiyyih Rabbani, The Priceless Pearl, p. 451 and 4 “The Impossible Dream,” Man of La Mancha, Musical 1965. You both rose to be artists(1) of winged imaginations and reinvented both your cause and yourselves, product of resolve, labour spiritual metamorphosis. So little was the little that we knew, then, and little even now for the task so few: heaven’s humble handful. The crucible of transformation you took us through, grinding, joyful, natural, organic, forged something new, oriented to action, exegisis evolving with community, expounding knowledge, arousing response, satisfying, transcending the need of the moment, serving the future’s meaning as well as the past’s, heightening the horizon, intensifying the vision of the faithful for the impossible dream, its idealistic, its improbable, its quixotic elements and thousands of practical bits for the manual that would quide us through the tenth and final stage of history which opened just after you led us to the beginning of that Kingdom of God.(2) (1) John Barrymore and Shoghi Effendi (2) This Kingdom of God on Earth began, such is a Baha’i view, in 1953. Ron Price July 20th 2005
  5. DREAMS AND ICONS Pele was the name of soccer’s first superstar and its finest player in the twentieth century. Pele is also the name of the Hawaiian goddess of the volcano. The home of this goddess is a place called ‘the fire pit’ on the island of Hawaii. This name ‘Pele’ will be associated--by those who were interested in soccer and the Baha’i Faith--with Brazil and the opening years of the tenth and final stage of a Baha’i paradigm of history. Pele’s soccer career is also associated with my adolescence and the first years of my early adulthood in the 1960s and 1970s.-Ron Price with thanks to “Pele: World Cup Hero,” ABC TV, 11:10-12:00, July 18th 2005. You changed from poor slum boy to soccer’s story of ultimate dream making your start the year he died— he who with the genius of divine interpretation defined our dream, our grand design in his 36 years.1 Back in those interregnum years(1957-1963)2 you were becoming a superstar while I was becoming a Baha’i, finishing high school and starting my pioneering life back in ’62. When the tenth and final stage of history made its world stage entrance in 1964 you had become “The King of Soccer” on your way to more than a thousand goals in your lifelong scoring career. Pele, I heard tonight you were still around, still making a name for yourself, still extending the meaning of that icon you had become long ago when I was attaching myself to my first icons. And me, Pele, I found other icons of meaning, never watched any soccer games in my adult life, never got involved in business, never made much money, but, Pele, I watched the first forty years4 of that 10th stage of history unfold in that great climacteric, turbulence, and its catalogue of global horrors. 1 1921-1957 2 Years between the death of the Guardian and the election of the Universal House of Justice. 3 1957-1977 4 1964-2004 Ron Price July 19th 2005
  6. THE EPI-CENTRE OF CHICAGO The story of jazz in Chicago goes back to the year 1911-2, to men like Jelly Roll Morton, Tony Jackson and a number of early bluesmen. Many of the early blues singers and guitar strummers came by the dozens in the period 1912 to 1924 from some part of the south. They came to Chicago to better their living.1 This jazz was largely derived from the music of New Orleans and it had one special characteristic, at least the part of jazz identified with the blues, and that was its personal, autobiographical, nature.1 -Ron Price with thanks to 1John Steiner, “Chicago,” in Jazz, Albert J. McCarthy, et al., Cassell, London, 1959, pp. 140-143. I wonder if ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s laying the foundations of that world-embracing Administrative system in Chicago in 1912, a system designed to evolve into a World Order which posterity would acclaim as the promise and crowning glory of all the Dispensations of the past, played some serendipitous role in the early history of jazz in Chicago.- Ron Price with appreciation to Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, Wilmette, 1957(1944), p.329. All those career and itinerant bluesmen who composed and sang songs on street corners and all those Baha’is who by their acts enlarged the limits and swelled the ranks of the avowed supporters of this new Faith; all those boogie-woogie players who brought that form of jazz to fruition in Chicago not far from the north shore of Lake Michigan where He had dug the first hole and brought to fruition the strongest building in the world, the most beautiful structure on the planet, made of Chicago one of jazz’s epi-centres and for the newest of the world’s religions. Ron Price August 21st 2005
  7. PUNK By 1973 I had had twenty years of listening to products of the rock ‘n’ roll industry. By 1973 rock ‘n’ roll had fractured, splintered into many sub-genres and hardly meant anything coherent. Still, it was big business and had come to mean many things. I, too, had come to mean many things by the late 1960s. I had had my period of total incoherence before rock ‘n’ roll came to enjoy its incoherence in the years ahead. The first manifestations of a bi-polar disorder kept me busy in the sixties. I had splintered and fractured and was trying to put myself, like humpty-dumpty, together again. It was about this time, in 1973/4, that punk and disco music had their embryogenesis. By that time I, too, was experiencing an embryogenesis. This rebirth, this getting it together, as we used to call it, was taking its primary forms in an impressive job as a senior tutor in human relations at a College in Tasmania Australia. I was also getting something else together as a husband and step-father, roles insensibly acquired as a result of an incalculable blend of id and super-ego. I don’t think I ever had any idea of what was happening in the overall picture of the music world in rock, in jazz, in classical, indeed, music in any form. Life had kept me busy with sport, studies, relationships, jobs, Baha’i life and its attendant communities, health and with moving from the land of the Inuit to the land of the Aboriginal. It was impossible for me to keep up on who was singing what in: soft-rock, hard-rock, country-rock, folk-rock, punk-rock, shock-rock, disco; who the artists were and what record was coming onto the charts. My emotions and intellect were chocker-block full of other stuff and music remained something it had always been, sweet and stimulating, but something on the periphery of my life.-Ron Price with thanks to “Songs That Changed The World,” 1:00-1:30 am, SBS TV, August 8th, 2005. I got it with my mother’s milk and my father’s ear—a man who could tune a piano by ear, self-taught, strong Welsh voice, choirs, singing around the piano, my little blue radio, 2nd generation, bringing sound into my bedroom night after night; TV, 1st generation watching sweet sounds generated for the eye and ear more than any generation in history, a kaleidoscope, a cornucopia of stuff to keep the senses as busy as little beavers, to keep our search exceeding our grasp more than ever before, hopefully dissatisfied more than ever before, but not necessarily a divine discontent and with no idea what heaven was for any more. All part of a universal servicing and supply system for the private realm and community just about obliterated by individualism’s place where no community can be constructed. Democracy may lead to a sterilisation of differences, as some argue, and here, in this new Order differences are a spice we have only begun to learn to deal with— community building has only stuck its head above the ground and music, man, it’s everywhere. As Neitzsche once said: we can drown in its rhythm. Ron Price August 11th 2005
  8. NOW WE’RE READY, MR POPE With public poetry which sets out to record, confront, and influence the external world, one must ask what is the structure of society the poet is dealing with; where does the poet stand in relation to the world of politics, religion and the broad base of values and beliefs; what channels of communication and social definition are available to the poet; in what ways is social change affecting his position and his poetic response to society and how does the personal and professional life of the poet affect his place in the poetic order and in the wider flux of life in society. -Ron Price with thanks to Isabel Rivers, The Poetry of Conservatism: 1600-1745, A Study of Poets and Public Affairs from Jonson to Pope, Rivers Press, Cambridge, 1973, p.ix. An understanding of disorder, images of the ideal, essential for the public poet who must state truths which are perennial but not archaic, whose poetry flows from some core of goodness and its relationship to a vast complex of processes within which he constantly tries to define and so create himself. Dedication and training can not be avoided, nor the workings of time and Providence which are only partly comprehensible as these “last days” spin their unpredictable way through the cosmos of our days and this new myth and metaphor is given the living tissue of vision in a synthesis that is poetry-my poetry- and a unity within the most ambitious ethical system on earth: Not chaos-like together crushed and bruised But as the world, harmoniously confused. Where order in variety we see, And where, though all things differ, all agree.1 Friend, parent, neighbour, first it will embrace This country next, and next all human race.2 Such were the fine sentiments then in this early modern age; now we’re ready, finally, to free the cage.1 1 While the old world system of politics goes on, a new one is born, develops and becomes ready when the old, the moribund old, is ready for the bone-yard. Ron Price 22 October 1996 1 Isabel Rivers quotes Alexander Pope, The Poetry of Conservatism, p.178. 2 ibid., p.186.
  9. COMPLEXITY OF SITUATION The daimonic is the urge in every human being to affirm itself, assert itself, perpetuate and increase itself....(the reverse side) of the same affirmation is what empowers our creativity, our inspiration. Ron Price with thanks to Rollo May, Power and Innocence, Sonnybrook Publishers, Dallas, 1986, p.13. ‘Tis an awe and wonder just to be alive; this is a certain power, being’s enough to thrive. Such an intense consciousness with ascetic trends: love here is meaning, ontological as it mends. And so we become ourselves with joy as we throw ourselves in deep with commitment, dedication where everywhere we meet. But there’s a complexity of situation that understanding needs to challenge serpent wisdom and spirituality: it draws out both the worst and best can flatten out the heart leaving one quite ready for the Call beyond to part. Bitterness and violence are also born in this place for it’s the matrix of our soul, the story on the face. Ron Price 4 July 1995
  10. SPIRALLING I could have been involved in the mainstream of the politics of the Left beginning at a crucial moment when, briefly, it appeared that a new social order might emerge from the student unrest in the mid 1960s. I was involved early, in 1964, with the Civil Rights movement in America, but my involvement was short. By 1966 I was at teachers college and by the student rebellion in 1968 in France I was recuperating in a mental hospital outside Toronto from a bad episode of manic-depression. Many intellectuals who were at the barricades in the 1960s spent the following years preoccupied with understanding why and how all that social and political energy and promise seemed to have turned to nothing. As a Baha’i, the energy and expectations I held in the 1960s proved in some respects quite unrealistic, seemed to go nowhere. Hoped for results “did not readily materialize” and “a measure of discouragement frequently set in.”1 -Ron Price with thanks to 1The Universal House of Justice, Century of Light, Haifa, 2001, p.101. Our experience, it seemed, looking back on those early years, offered few answers. Indeed, that was often the case given the immense complexity of our times, our years, our days, the urgent and interlocking challenges which:1 broke my health, destroyed my marriage, sent me spiralling around the world from Eskimos to Aboriginals, teaching in every conceivable setting and wearing me out. 1 Century of Light, p.102. Ron Price June 3 2004
  11. EH FRANK? As a fellow manic-depressive, Frank Sinatra lived a life, he said, “of violent emotional contradictions” with “an over-acute capacity for sadness as well as elation.”1 I did not become aware of the sadness of life until I was nineteen, although in retrospect I can see its emergence as early as the age of twelve or even four; the elation I can also see in retrospect in aspects of my primary school life, my sport life and the brief but strongly present romantic episodes which I remember as early as the age of five.-Ron Price with thanks to a 1“Frank Sinatra Biography,” Internet, December 17th, 2004. You’ve been there all my life, Frank, becoming a sensation just as I was born,1 always there, Frank, at least until recently.2 like my grandfather long ago, on the periphery. We’ve both had our ups-and-downs, eh Frank? Why you were the first singer with fan hysteria back in the last years of the Seven Year Plan with the first bobby-soxers who loved you, Frank. When the Kingdom of God got going in ’53, you were into the film From Here to Eternity. With your crooning style in the next three epochs awards-and notoriety-just kept on coming your way. I’ve found your singing style useful, Frank: softly hit the high notes and a gentle drag over the lower ones--in life, Frank, in life, and hopefully without losing a syllable. No more syllables to worry about now, Frank, eh Frank? 1 Sinatra became a sensation in the mid-1940’s. I was born in 1944. 2 Frank Sinatra died on May 14th 1998 in my last year as a professional teacher. He was born On December 12th 1915, 15 weeks before ‘Abdu’l-Baha began writing His Tablets of the Divine Plan. Ron Price December 17th 2004
  12. THE POLITICAL Taking a keen interest in partisan politics, carrying placards for various causes and voting at elections for a political party is not the essence of the way to be political, not the only way to be ‘political.’ As a Baha’i who first took a broad interest in politics in the early sixties, studied politics at university, first took an interest in elections in 1962 and first voted in an election in 1968 in Canada when I was 24, I found the thoughts of V.S. Naipaul on politics relevant to my political perspective, the perspective of Baha’is in general. In December 2003 Naipaul was interviewed after receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature. Naipaul said in that interview that he saw being political as being serious, as noticing and remembering specifics, contradictions, ambiguities, as honouring the whole person not reducing him to some politically partisan position, some narrow party slot. Being political is seeing and telling the truth of the world as you see it, said Naipaul. Naipaul’s is just one of many writers and thinkers today who do not see partisan politics as the touchstone of the political process, the centrepiece in the quixotic tournament of demolishing the world’s evils or the core of a person’s moral worth. -Ron Price with thanks to Bruce Bawer, “Civilization and V.S. Naipaul,” The Hudson Review, Autumn 2004. This Cause possesses the political form, the nucleus and pattern, the fabric, the grand design, the ordered system, the divine programme, the scheme, the warp and weft, the message of a slowly crystallizing Faith for humankind’s unity and solidarity: involvement in the partisan process, the quixotic tournament of left and right, of republican and democratic, of labour and liberal, of conservative and progressive, of Marxist or democratic will not remove the root cause of the world’s rude disequilibrium, serve as antidote against the poison eating into the vitals of global despair.1 1 Political Non-Involvement and Obedience to Government: A Compilation, Peter J. Khan, 1992(1979), pp.1-8. Ron Price November 21 2004
  13. BACKGROUND MUSIC FOR THOSE HIATUS YEARS George Gershwin composed popular songs from 1919 to 1938, from the time the Tablets of the Divine Plan were made public to the beginning of the International Teaching Plan, the Seven Year Plan, of 1937 to 1944. His music was made for the multicultural world of the 1920s, the 1930s and our world today. His compositions combined: blues, Afro-American, jazz, broadway, classical, gospel, opera, among other musical forms. It manifested so beautifully the philosophy of one-world. -Ron Price with thanks to ABC TV, Gershwin: They Can't Take That Away From Me, 17 October, 10:30-11:25 pm. You gave us a background music for those hiatus years1 when an Order was being born and taking its first form. You gave us sounds we'd never heard while he2 gave us that leviathan with beautiful curves so that we could swim forever in the sea. Your song form was a serious craft as the Cause was for him a place to define those interpositions of Providence. You gave us songs, eternal, sweet as Summertime, telling us of our lives and their transcendental oneness amidst the trivial and the everyday; while he defined that global form in a language: composer, director, producer, inheritor of an Epic Script for all humankind. Ron Price 17 October 1998 1 these were the years of waiting before the Tablets of the Divine Plan could be promulgated in the first organized international missionary campaign in 1937. During this period the national Baha'i administrative system was defined and developed. See Studies in Babi and Baha'i History, Vol.1, "Development of Baha'i Administration", pp. 255-300.(Kalimat Press, 1982) 2 Shoghi Effendi gave the Baha'i community a wonderful exegisis of 'Abdul-Baha's, Baha'u'llah's and the Bab's writings.
  14. THE SIXTIES Maybe it’s been dizzying for centuries, but I think the pace quickened in the sixties. There was a deadening of language, a thousand new gadgets, an obsession with criminality and cancer in the body politic, a popularization of confessional poetry, drugs, protesting and rock music, even assassination.. Turning on, tuning in and dropping out was all the rage and I went as far away from it all as I could get, in the Canadian Arctic and the few scattered Baha’is in the Eastern Arctic at the time. -Ron Price with thanks to Godfrey A. Kearns, “United States of America”, Literature of Europe and America in the 1960s, editors: Spencer Pearce and Don Piper, Manchester UP, NY, pp.10-43. There was nightmare and wonder, then, in the tragedy, the trivia and the farce of those catch-221 days when we got better and better at consuming even if, like me, you ate a lot of chilli concarne el cheapo to help you get through university. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest2 warned you of things to come as everyone seemed to be worried about sanity and imprisonment. Easy Rider’s3 celebration of rock music and psychedelic drugs only told you what you saw on the streets when you went out to the movies or a restaurant: try a little of this man? And Betty Friedan told everyone about the conditioning of women in The Feminine Mystique4. Things seemed to settle in your life as the seventies opened and you headed to Australia and a second marriage and, what was it, your fourth job? Not really consolidating yet, still on the rise, going places, or so you thought, but you did, and you will, but where? And you watched Watergate5 from ten thousand miles away as it confirmed what you already knew: the political bankruptcy of western civilization. But you had your own bankruptcy to worry about as you flew to yet another state in the big, wide world not thinking about going home anymore, downunder now, to stay, for as long as the eye could see, maybe forever, getting ready for green, maybe greener, pastures on the edge of the Apple Isle at the end of the Antipodes. 1 Joseph Heller, Catch-22, NY, 1961. 2 Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 1962. 3 Easy Rider, a film, NY, 1967. 4 Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mistique, NY, 1963. 5 Nixon resigned in November 1974 setting in motion yet another period of disillusionment, perhaps permanent, with American politics. 26 July 1997
  15. IN TACT ...the only important thing that ever happened to me: the description I made of part of my life...it was the most important because I fixed it in words. And now what am I? Not he who lived but he who described. -Italo Svevo in The Complex Image: Faith and Method in American Autobiography, Joseph Fichtelberg, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989, Preface. The following poem is one simple way of describing, summarizing, my experience of the 1960s. I was 15 when the sixties started. I wrote this poem after seeing a 1990 movie Flashback. About the only external thing still left that stands out easily from this period of time is the fact I still say “Man”. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, 4 February 1996. I was too busy at high school and university and teaching kids to really become part of the sixties. Manic-depression, schizo-affective state kept me on heat, nose-down, although I had time for a beard, a demonstration, a little sex, but nowhere near as much as I would have liked and that some guys I knew got. My dad died; I grew up; taught Eskimos, country, small town kids; got married. It was a busy decade for me, back then and when it ended I got ready to go to Australia. Sex, drugs and rock-and-roll always stayed on the edge of my life, periferal to the core. And my religion remained intact, Surprisingly, protecting me. Ron Price 4 February 1996
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