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When I accepted Baha’u’llah as the Manifestation of God for today, every aspect of my life just changed, and soared, from my personal life to my career, everything, just everything… As a Samoan, growing up we were always being disciplined by being smacked, but now as a father and after having become a Baha’i, when I read what Abdu’l-Baha said, we discipline our children with love…

The broad vision that the Faith gives us, that we’re somehow contributing to the advancement of society, that really gives something to think about in terms of every decision that I make. I’m at a lot of turning points in my life and I’m trying to learn about the work in my field and service to the community and I feel that that perspective is kind of unique for a lot of Baha’is because we understand this broader picture-or we’re trying to understand-that there are forces of disintegration and integration and we have that conviction so we try to align ourselves with it.

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As I’ve recently finished university and now in the teaching profession my biggest reflection is the value of each individual person. As teachers we generalise each class but rather I’ve been thinking about the needs of each student to enhance their educational journey. No student is perfect but believing in their ability to complete a task and having full faith in their capacity, talents and faculties [...] has been the biggest reflection lately. This conviction is strongly influenced by the Faith and particularly by this message from the House of Justice: ‘He may distil pure souls endowed with clear sight: youth whose integrity and uprightness are not undermined by dwelling on the faults of others and who are not immobilized by any shortcomings of their own; youth who will look to the Master and “bring those who have been excluded into the circle of intimate friends”; youth whose consciousness of the failings of society impels them to work for its transformation, not to distance themselves from it; youth who, whatever the cost, will refuse to pass by inequity in its many incarnations and will labour, instead, that “the light of justice may shed its radiance upon the whole world.”’

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We live in a very polarizing time. As globalization gains more and more traction, so do our cultures, ideas and principles become increasingly homogenous. The world understands the need for social change but does not know how to go about it. This is what brings extremism on both sides of most of today’s social discourses. A lot of us are feeling the pressure of choosing a side, which sometimes makes us stay out of a conversation completely. On subjects such as gender equality and racism, we’re noticing the increasing disparity between two sizes of somewhat fanatical arguments. These are the times where I’ve felt really privileged to grow up in a Baha’i environment. As Baha’is, most of today’s controversial topics are subjects we’ve been understanding, discussing and working towards for our whole lives.

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The Baha’i principle that has changed my life is detachment, not only detachment from your self, but also from your ego, from ideas. Like in consultation you have a group of people and you may have a strong opinion but getting to the truth about something, you have to use the principle of detachment from your own idea and your own ego.

The pattern of study, action, reflection and consultation that the Institute Process is centred on transformed my life in unexplainable ways. Lifting the veil of self and engaging in a process which seeks to re-conceptualise and bring new meaning and purpose to the various elements of society has had a significant impact on the way I view the world, and the potential for growth and development I see in every sector of society. Moving through the Institute Process and accompanying others to also do so helped me identify and question age-old traditions and dogmatic notions which are so quickly accepted in society and helped me understand the essential and indispensable role each of us has to play in the creation of a new society. In a nutshell, being a Baha’i for me means having faith that, through our efforts, society can be remoulded, and that ‘a new race of men, incomparable in character, shall be raised up which, with the feet of detachment, will tread under all who are in heaven and on earth, and will cast the sleeve of holiness over all that hath been created from water and clay.’

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The unification and no backbiting affected me so much... I just began to see all of the things that I did, very cleverly I thought, and it just wasn’t right. It wasn’t what I should be doing. Baha’u’llah wanted us to see the good in people and point that out, and let them know about that, not let them know what you don’t like in them. I think that I’ve grown a great deal on that. I always try to be aware of that.

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So many aspects of this incredible Faith have affected me in ways I haven’t even realised yet. I love that it truly and utterly embraces all individuals, it has shown me the true meaning of love and friendship where there is no room for judgment or fault picking, it emphasizes deeds and not words, it instills a sense of purpose and vision where you hear ‘we’ rather than ‘I’ and after all the struggles and pain one goes through you are gently reminded of the grace and love this world embracing Faith has shown you at every moment.

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The Teachings have in many ways changed how I see and how I act in my life. It has changed how I view different concepts and how I prioritize my life. Instead of having different priorities, I have one set which is service and then others revolve around it...