I TURNED 55 today, a milestone of sorts as I've just entered the middle of the quinquagenarian decade. But like anything else happening this year, this birthday has come and gone with bigger priorities in mind. There was no singing of birthday wishes, only receiving greetings with replies of "Are you safe?" or "Hope you're doing safely". There was no birthday cake, only the quickly-prepared lunch before the 1PM office meeting on Zoom.
The bigger priorities are part of what's happened in our communities during the pandemic. More than ever before, we appreciate what we have. We care more fervently for other people's well-being. We have lesser needs for material consumption amidst retail lockdowns and the erosion of personal financial security.
In its 1 March 2017 letter to the world's Bahá’ís, the Universal House of Justice, the Bahá’í Faith's democratically-elected leadership council, wrote:
The forces of materialism promote a … line of thinking: that happiness comes from constant acquisition, that the more one has the better, that worry for the environment is for another day. These seductive messages fuel an increasingly entrenched sense of personal entitlement, which uses the language of justice and rights to disguise self-interest. Indifference to the hardship experienced by others becomes commonplace while entertainment and distracting amusements are voraciously consumed.
The shifts this year are freeing us. We are now more conscious of who we are and what values define our day-to-day living. I am hopeful that the focus on spiritual values will become and remain the singular force that will influence how we plan our lives during and after the pandemic.