The Trials of Corinne Knight True 1
TODAY CORINNE TRUE BURIED her last surviving son. Just yesterday she had helped ‘Abdu’l-Bahá lay the cornerstone for a new temple in Wilmette. If ever a life reflected the human quandary about the nature and meaning of suffering, that life belonged to Corinne True.
The ballroom at the LaSalle was filled with more than a thousand women of the federated clubs whom He addressed on the equality of women. A second meeting closely followed the first, for the Bahá’í women had invited all of the women’s clubs’ representatives to a reception in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s honor in the same ballroom. Ten speakers praised Him, and then He spoke again. 2
Talk to Federation of Women’s Clubs, Hotel La Salle, Chicago, Illinois
To accept and observe a distinction which God has not intended in creation is ignorance and superstition. The fact which is to be considered, however, is that woman, having formerly been deprived, must now be allowed equal opportunities with man for education and training. There must be no difference in their education. Until the reality of equality between man and woman is fully established and attained, the highest social development of mankind is not possible. Even granted that woman is inferior to man in some degree of capacity or accomplishment, this or any other distinction would continue to be productive of discord and trouble. The only remedy is education, opportunity; for equality means equal qualification. In brief, the assumption of superiority by man will continue to be depressing to the ambition of woman, as if her attainment to equality was creationally impossible; woman’s aspiration toward advancement will be checked by it, and she will gradually become hopeless. On the contrary, we must declare that her capacity is equal, even greater than man’s. This will inspire her with hope and ambition, and her susceptibilities for advancement will continually increase. She must not be told and taught that she is weaker and inferior in capacity and qualification. If a pupil is told that his intelligence is less than his fellow pupils, it is a very great drawback and handicap to his progress. He must be encouraged to advance by the statement, “You are most capable, and if you endeavor, you will attain the highest degree.”
It is my hope that the banner of equality may be raised throughout the five continents where as yet it is not fully recognized and established. In this enlightened world of the West woman has advanced an immeasurable degree beyond the women of the Orient. And let it be known once more that until woman and man recognize and realize equality, social and political progress here or anywhere will not be possible. For the world of humanity consists of two parts or members: one is woman; the other is man. Until these two members are equal in strength, the oneness of humanity cannot be established, and the happiness and felicity of mankind will not be a reality. God willing, this is to be so. 3
Thursday, May 2, 1912
From morning until noon ‘Abdu’l-Bahá received successive waves of visitors, both friends and inquirers, in His private room. When the numbers grew too large, He went into the outer room and spoke to the visitors about unity, fellowship and the importance of overcoming hatred and enmity. He began by saying:
“The object of my undertaking such a long journey with all its inconveniences has been to bring about spiritual illumination in the Occident, for the Occident has great capacity and its people are less fettered by vain imaginings and imitations. Lofty ideals find a quick acceptance among them and today the loftiest ideal of all is devotion to the unity of mankind and universal peace.
In the afternoon there were two public meetings at the LaSalle Hotel. One was for the Federation of Women’s Clubs and the other for the Unitarian congregation. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s first talk was on education and the rights of women and in the latter He spoke about human powers and gave proofs of the existence of God. Both talks were so impressive, charming and attractive that all the friends from the East and West offered thanks and glorification to the Abhá Kingdom, with smiles on their faces that were like roses in bloom.
Back at the Plaza Hotel, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá responded to questions about the differences in capacities and talents among people, saying:
“Souls possess two types of capacity: one is derived from innate powers and the other is acquired through the education imparted by the Teacher of the world of humanity. The development of innate capacity is completely dependent on education and on man’s own exertions. In other words, innate capacity is not realized without education and exertion on the part of man and its perfection demands effort and training.”
Question: ‘How should one associate with people of bad character?’ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied:
“This, too, has two aspects. There are certain evils whose consequences affect the doer only and do not extend to others. Of course, with discretion and tact, we must try to warn and educate wrongdoers. They are sick; we must bring healing to them. But there are actions which are injurious to others. Association with persons who commit such deeds leads to a deterioration of morals and therefore to mingle with them is not advisable, except for persons of perfect integrity, who can also impart education. They should be exhorted to exert themselves to modify their morals and refine their behavior. The public should be protected from such harmful conduct by the institutions which administer justice. Thus, in the Tablets of the Blessed Beauty, although He commends association with people of all religions and races, He also forbids fellowship with the wicked, admonishing us to shun the people of negation and denial.”
Several learned men, scientists, engineers and government officials visited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá today. 4
- Sockett, Robert. “The Trials of Corinne Knight True.” 239 Days in America, May 2, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/05/02/trials-corinne-knight-true/. ↩
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 53. ↩
- 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, 76-77. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/4#607844310. ↩
- ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. 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=3#section39. ↩