Service as a First Responder

I’m just back from my monthly training session of the Allen Valleys First Responders group. It’s just a bunch of local volunteers willing to serve their community. I know, a lot of people serve their communities in many different ways. And yes on the surface it is ‘just’ being of  service to our local community.

Ah yes, in case you don’t know. First Responders are trained and equipped to deal with life-threatening situations before the arrival of an ambulance. Basically if you’d call for an ambulance in this part of Northumberland, we’d get sent as well since we’re more likely to arrive within the government guideline (6 minutes, now if you’ve ever been in beautiful remote parts of this county, you know 6 minutes is almost impossible). Anyway, we got trained extremely well by Northeast Ambulance Service, but our group had to buy our own equipment. We are insured when we go out on call, but pay our own petrol. Nothing very new then, I’m sure many other organisations and volunteers are in similar situations.

And still, I think it is special, being of service as a First Responder. I mean, how many people do you know that offer their service knowing that every time it will be an emergency situation, probably affecting people they know personally. Well, that is what being a First Responder in a rural area is all about. And in a way, I’m ‘lucky’. I haven’t lived here that long, so I don’t know everybody, every family, but some of my fellow volunteers do….

If you’d ask my fellow First Responders why they volunteer, you’re most likely to hear something along the lines of: “Well, it takes the ambulance a long time to get here and it’s good to be able to do something ourselves.” Or “If you’ve managed to keep someone alive after a heart attack and get them to hospital, at least you’ve been able to give the family time to say goodbye”.

We’re just a bunch of locals, different ages, backgrounds and lives, and most would probably not consider themselves religious or spiritual. But to me every single one of them is special because I’m reminded of the following section from Paris Talks by Abdu’l-Baha:

“Briefly, all effort and exertion put forth by man from the fullness of his heart is worship, if it is prompted by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity. This is worship: to serve mankind and to minister to the needs of the people. Service is prayer.”

(Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 176)

I wonder what my fellow Responders would think if I told them about Service as Prayer…..


Promise of World Peace – Belofte van Wereldvrede

I’m still on this steep learning course called blogging, but so far it’s been good fun. I thoroughly enjoyed the training weekend and am pleased with myself after having just written my first page in Dutch (see ‘wie ben ik?’) plus I’ve updated the About page.

I hope you all had a Peaceful day yesterday…..

You know, I’ve always wondered why the white dove was chosen as a symbol of peace. Have you ever seen a flock of white doves being fed? I see it every morning (my neighbour has doves) and they are definitely not peaceful!! I’d even say they are the complete opposite, it’s complete mayhem and fighting on that bird table.

Had I been more organised yesterday, I could have provided you with a link to the Promise of World Peace (or in Dutch).

I just love the opening paragraph of that statement by the Universal House of Justice:

To the Peoples of the World:

The Great Peace towards which people of good will throughout the centuries have inclined their hearts, of which seers and poets for countless generations have expressed their vision, and for which from age to age the sacred scriptures of mankind have constantly held the promise, is now at long last within the reach of the nations. For the first time in history it is possible for everyone to view the entire planet, with all its myriad diversified peoples, in one perspective. World peace is not only possible but inevitable. It is the next stage in the evolution of this planet—in the words of one great thinker, “the planetization of mankind”.

And in Dutch:

De Grote Vrede waarnaar het hart van mensen van goede wil door de eeuwen heen is uitgegaan, waarvan zieners en dichters ontelbare generaties lang in visioenen hebben getuigd en die door de heilige geschriften van de mensheid keer op keer werd beloofd, is nu ten langen leste binnen het bereik der naties gekomen. Voor het eerst in de geschiedenis is het voor iedereen mogelijk de gehele planeet, met al haar volkeren in hun eindeloze verscheidenheid, in één perspectief te overzien. Wereldvrede is niet alleen mogelijk, maar zelfs onvermijdelijk. Ze is het volgende stadium in de evolutie van onze planeet, in de woorden van een groot denker “de planetisering van de mensheid”.

International Day of Peace – Internationale Dag van de Vrede

Today is the United Nations International Day of Peace. In 2002 the UN’s General Assembly officially declared September 21 as the permanent date for the International Day of Peace.

By creating the International Day of Peace, the UN devoted itself to worldwide peace and encouraged all of mankind to work in cooperation for this goal. During the discussion of the U.N. Resolution that established the International Day of Peace, it was suggested that:

“Peace Day should be devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples…This day will serve as a reminder to all peoples that our organization, with all its limitations, is a living instrument in the service of peace and should serve all of us here within the organization as a constantly pealing bell reminding us that our permanent commitment, above all interests or differences of any kind, is to peace.”

For me the Baha’i Writings are so full of lovely quotations. These are some of my favourites:

“The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.

(Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 286)

“Today there is no greater glory for man than that of service in the cause of the “Most Great Peace.” Peace is light whereas war is darkness. Peace is life; war is death. Peace is guidance; war is error. Peace is the foundation of God; war is satanic institution. Peace is the illumination of the world of humanity; war is the destroyer of human foundations. When we consider outcomes in the world of existence we find that peace and fellowship are factors of upbuilding and betterment whereas war and strife are the causes of destruction and disintegration.”

(Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 231)

“The progress of the world, the development of nations, the tranquillity of peoples, and the peace of all who dwell on earth are among the principles and ordinances of God.”

(Compilations, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 156)

And to see how all these beautiful quotations work in practice, I suggest you go to Fleur’s website Valleys Girl and check out her e-book Just One Day: practical peace diaries from around the world.

Have a Peaceful Day!

Start of an adventure – Begin van een avontuur


Strange name for a blog, isn’t it? A blog is all about words, don’t you think?

But “The essence of faith is fewness of words and abundance of deeds” is my favourite bit from the Baha’i Writings and since this is my attempt to reflect on what being a Baha’i means……..

So, today is the beginning of a new adventure in my life and I’m excited about it! I live in the north of England and English is very much my working language. However, some of these posts will be in Dutch.

It’s great to be able to ask many questions about blogging at this training weekend (thanks Barney and Rob), but I’m sure most of my questions will come when I get home! So, please bear with me. I do hope to reflect on Baha’i activities, social & economic development projects, Citizen Advice Bureau work, SACRE activities, UN Days and whatever else life throws at me.