Letters to the Editor: Bahá’í Perspectives on Materialism and Discontent by Abdu’l-Missagh Ghadirian

Dr. Abdu’l-Missagh Ghadirian drew a large virtual audience when he talked about “Materialism and Discontent: Bahá’í Perspectives” in June. Below are some comments about the Web Talk, which is now available on the Wilmette Institute’s YouTube channel.—THE EDITORS

Thank you for the webinar. I shared some of the points made by Dr. Ghadirian at our devotional meeting yesterday.—PAULINE GROLIN

Thank you for taking the time to share this thought-provoking lecture with us. One thing I thought about was the definition of materialism and the idea that I might not be affluent, but I could be materialistic. Maybe if a person is severely resource restricted, survival requires more vigilance. I’ve read that extremely wealthy people are often afraid they don’t have enough, even though, like anyone else, they can only be in one place, one room, at a time. It is something of a mania, each with its own torments.
____Then the relationship of the deadpool of things [that can lead] to a hopelessness or pain that triggers suicide. How can someone like Kate Spade [a popular designer who committed suicide in June 2018], with all her resources and family and privilege be so soul worn she cannot be here any longer?
____Another thought was the irony of people who proudly claim to be non-materialistic—that things do not matter at all. Acutely aware of what they don’t have, it is sort of a paradox that they detach from the effort and art of the “things.” But those that give without fanfare but with intention to help—might be more selfless.
____Just a few things your talk made me think about a bit. Obsession is too out of balance and looking to things for the soulful connections people need is sort of like watching water running through your hands before you can quench your thirst.
____Very thought provoking. I will read your book.—BOBBIE LEE S. KOLEHOUSE

Thank you very much, indeed, for offering such important talks, specially this one, during the course on “One Common Faith” and related to this subject!—SIMIN. J. RABBANI, Brazil

"Materialism: Moral and Social Consequences" book coverI very much enjoyed Dr. Ghadirian’s webinar on Materialism and Discontent. His coverage was thorough and insightful. Dr. Ghadirian is prolific, and he was able to get across all relevant issues. Dr. Ghadirian was hard to follow at times, a combination of his accent and his voice occasionally dropping. This could easily be overcome if he put his notes on slides [on the web] or shared a document with his notes. I look forward to attending more webinars!—NABIL ELIAS

The Wilmette Institute staff is working with Dr. Ghadirian to secure his slides or text. On the Wilmette Institute’s YouTube page the talk includes an auto-generated transcript. You can access this by clicking on the gear icon at the bottom right side of the video and turning on the subtitles.

It was an interesting webinar. However, I am still curious how to address this issue in a convincing manner with a secular audience. I recently made a presentation to a group called One Planet Conversations, which is looking for ways to make our region use less resources. . . . I must say it had no impact on the audience at all. This was due in part, I believe, because it was coming from a religion, and there is a strong stigma against religion.
____Secondly I am wondering if the course on economics would be advantageous in relation to the research and work I have already done in this field.—DON BROWN, Sooke, BC, Canada

Yes, any of several Wilmette Institute courses on economics would probably be helpful in your research.

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