239 Days in America, Day 7: April 17, 1912 | New York, NY

“Deceiving the American People” 1

Aboard the Cedric six days earlier in New York Harbor, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had spoken to the reporters about the responsibilities of the modern mass media before he had said anything else. He had emphasized to the reporters who surrounded him that their papers did more than simply report news: they had the power to construct the public’s perception of what was true. “Newspapers are a mirror 2 which is endowed with hearing, sight and speech,” he said. “Those who play for their own little selfish ends give no true light to the world and perish of their own futility.” He later told his American friends to be careful about trusting anything they read about him, and only to invest their certainty in written words bearing his own signature.

First Days in America: New York City 3

Mahmúd, in recording ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s concern for racism, the most challenging issue in American society, wrote:

“As there existed enmity between the white and the colored races in America to such a degree that the white did not allow the colored to attend their meetings and other public functions, the Beloved strongly urged the friends to associate with each other in utmost joy and happiness. A successful meeting was convened in the home of Mr. Kinney where the audience consisted of friends and outsiders of both races—white and colored.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Exemplar, served these friends a meal which He prepared Himself, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Edward B. Kinney. “It was,” Mahmúd wrote, “a magnificent supper.”

Talk at Home of Mr. and Mrs. Edward B. Kinney , 780 West End Avenue, New York

As difference in degree of capacity exists among human souls, as difference in capability is found, therefore, individualities will differ one from another. But in reality this is a reason for unity and not for discord and enmity. If the flowers of a garden were all of one color, the effect would be monotonous to the eye; but if the colors are variegated, it is most pleasing and wonderful. The difference in adornment of color and capacity of reflection among the flowers gives the garden its beauty and charm. Therefore, although we are of different individualities, different in ideas and of various fragrances, let us strive like flowers of the same divine garden to live together in harmony. Even though each soul has its own individual perfume and color, all are reflecting the same light, all contributing fragrance to the same breeze which blows through the garden, all continuing to grow in complete harmony and accord. Become as waves of one sea, trees of one forest, growing in the utmost love, agreement and unity. 4

Wednesday, April 17, 1912

Among the dignitaries visiting the Master were several New York clergymen who invited Him to speak to their congregations. The Master told them, ‘I am going to Chicago in two days and therefore am unable to accept your invitation.’

Owing to the prejudice and hatred that has existed between blacks and whites, it has been impossible for white people to invite black people to their homes. Therefore ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has repeatedly encouraged the believers to promote fellowship and unity among these two races. ’An important meeting was held today at the home of Mr Kinney. It was attended by many Bahá’ís and non-Bahá’ís and demonstrated a strong bond of unity between whites and blacks. The Master said that the East has always been the dawning place of light, that this gathering of blacks and whites is like the gathering of many colored flowers and that the variety of colors enhances the beauty of the garden and brings about the loveliness of each.

In the evening the Master invited everyone to dinner, which He Himself prepared. He spoke about unity and love and demonstrated to everyone how to serve at the threshold of the Blessed Beauty. Indeed, it was a blessed evening and a wonderful example of generosity and bestowal in the highest degree. 5

  1. Menon, Jonathan. “‘Deceiving the American People.’” 239 Days in America, April 17, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/04/17/deceiving-the-american-people/.
  2. “In this Day the secrets of the earth are laid bare before the eyes of men. The pages of swiftly-appearing newspapers are indeed the mirror of the world. They reflect the deeds and the pursuits of diverse peoples and kindreds. They both reflect them and make them known. They are a mirror endowed with hearing, sight and speech. This is an amazing and potent phenomenon. However, it behooveth the writers thereof to be purged from the promptings of evil passions and desires and to be attired with the raiment of justice and equity. They should inquire into situations as much as possible and ascertain the facts, then set them down in writing.”
    Baháʾuʾlláh. Tablets of Baháʾuʾlláh, Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Translated by Habib Taherzadeh. 1st ed. Haifa: Bahá’í World Centre, 1978, 39-40. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/bahaullah/tablets-bahaullah/2#382290640.
  3. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 26.
  4. ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 24. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/2#862373562
  5. Mahmud-i-Zarqani, Mirza. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=2#section24

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s