Never Too Old to Learn or Act: Understanding More about the Lesser Peace

Building a World Federation: The Key to Resolving Our Global Crises 2018
Faculty: Sovaida Ma’ani Ewing

When Richard Simpson signed up for the Wilmette Institute course Building a World Federation: The Key to Resolving Our Global Crises, he introduced himself this way: “I am a seventy-seven-year-old widower with six children, ten grandchildren and three great- grandchildren.” He went on say explain how he became a Bahá’í:

I was a lifelong atheist until, while researching my family history a few years ago, discovered that my step-grandfather, Philip Marangella, was a well-known Baha’i in the period after the First World War [see his In Memoriam in The Bahá’í World 16: 525–27]. In investigating further I studied the Bahá’í Faith and decided to become a Bahá’í. I declared about a year ago. Since then I have been an active member of the Howard County, Maryland, Bahá’ís.

Richard went on to say that his undergraduate degree was in international relations. But life intervened, and when he joined the U.S. Air Force, he worked as an electronic warfare officer. As a result, the rest of his work life centered around computer technology. But his interest in international relations never waned. When he saw Building a World Federation advertised, he signed up immediately.

Objectives Mostly Realized. Richard had three objectives for what he wanted to get out of the course:

  • My first objective was to understand the path to the Lesser Peace. That I definitely accomplished, both through the course materials and several conversations with other Bahá’ís. My initial doubts were the result of too narrow a time frame for the objective.
  • My second objective was to take the class information back to my Bahá’í community. This I accomplished mostly just by mentioning the course subject I was studying and answering, as best I could, the questions that almost invariably arose. I am also scheduled to lead a fireside group in a few weeks on the course topics.
  • My third objective was to follow up with a deepening on the topic. Is there a set of visuals that could be used at such a level?

Richard has completed the second part of his second goal—giving “a local fireside gathering,” which was well received. He explained that, “since there were long-time Bahá’ís as well as seekers in the audience, I mostly delivered questions to the audience and let the Bahá’ís answer, which often provoked a lively discussion. I closed the session by asking each attendee how soon they expected the Lesser Peace to come into being. The answers ranged from ‘almost now’ to 1,000 years!”

For his third goal—giving a deepening on building a world federation—Richard could use some help. He is a fairly new Bahá’í who could use someone to accompany him as he prepares a deepening. Does anyone have some visuals that he could use as he plans his deepening? If you do, please email us at learn@wilmetteinstitute.org, with the tag “Simpson deepening.”

In his summation, Richard said that he “found the course challenging” and that “he greatly appreciated the availability of the basic readings in online form with direct links within the lesson plan.” He said that he enrolled in the course thinking that he “already possessed a basic grasp of the course subject materials, but found many concepts and content that greatly expanded” his understanding.

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