Spirit Matters by Shirley Barr – Two Wings & Guiding the Development of Society

CFN – In my previous column I made reference to spiritual principles we could use to reorganize our society. The principle of the equality of men and women is one of the most overlooked in terms of guiding the development of society. ‘Abdu’l Bahá described the process in this way: “…the world of humanity possesses two wings: man and woman. If one wing remains incapable and defective, it will restrict the power of the other, and full flight will be impossible. Therefore, the completeness and perfection of the human world are dependent upon the equal development of these two wings.”

The development of the capacity of women in our community is measurable. Statistics can be collected from City databases so that we can understand what is going on with the female population. How many have completed high school? What is their socio-economic status? How many children do they have? What kind of work do they do, or how many are on social assistance? From these findings our community can develop programs that assist women to further advance themselves and take on leadership in their lives, family and community.


What kind of difference would this make? I can think of many examples. Women who have education have more knowledge and can make better decisions. Educated women work and support themselves financially. They seek better partners in their personal lives. They have fewer, or no children. Often, educated women create structures to mentor and support younger women. What kind of structures do we have of this nature in Cornwall?

In the analogy of the bird with two wings it is obvious that the wings are of the same size and weight, even they would look the same. It seems that as we advance collectively and develop a world culture we are starting to blur the line of division between the feminine and masculine. I think this is a good thing. Some people refer to this blurring as becoming more gender neutral, making it so it does not matter what sex you are the activities you do are the same for everyone who participates.

Let me offer you a personal example of how this can work.

When I was a young mother I had just a high school education but I read a lot and listened to CBC radio. I was inspired by my intuition and made a decision to follow my son Jeremy’s lead in the things he was interested in as he grew and developed. It was interesting to see how he wanted to have a kitchen set and had a little front pack carrier to hold his baby teddy bear. He used to sit beside me and nurse his bear while I nursed his brother. Those tender moments are unforgettable. Now, Jeremy is the proud father of Aria and I have proof that he learned the skills of fathering as a child. He proudly carries his baby in a front pack carrier and gives her loving attention.


He also spent endless hours with Lego and has since earned degrees in education and mathematics. Giving children the choice between all kinds of different play toys is very important to developing equality in our thinking.   This is just one example of how we can influence the process of changing our little corner of the world. I want to hear your thoughts on the subject of equality and how we can nurture this principle in our lovely City. I really believe that nurturing equality will help us make things better for everyone.

Shirley Barr lives and works in the city of Cornwall and is a member of the Bahá’í international community.


  1. In regards to your newest article. Firstly, great writing!

    Next, in my experience and that of many of my friends, Cornwall has been a very negative place for a young woman. Many just do not have the ambition to accept responsibility because the system takes care of them if they cry help enough. Many are capable of working and getting a better education, but it seems like the focus would rather be on shopping for the newest trends, drugs, sex, partying etc. Of course, this is not true for all women of Cornwall but it is for a vast majority.

    Young women have somehow forgotten what it means to be a lady. They seem too caught up in esthetics and boys. It is negative attention, constantly. I am not sure where the break down began, but they seem to have lost their sense of self worth. I have had many encounters with these types of girls in the area. I always wondered how the attitudes could be reversed into something more positive. How do you inspire a woman to want more for herself when she doesn’t need to, because someone is always there for her when she fails. I think, sometimes you need to hit rock bottom before you can really come in tune with your true capabilities. I think, that I had to learn the difference really quickly of how I would allow men to treat me. Even if that meant that I looked like a diva or a snob for denying them myself. I am not sure if this breakdown of young women in the community can be reversed . Perhaps you are correct in saying that women need a mentor.

  2. Shirley,

    We must keep in mind that not all women were created equal. Some were incapable of learning due to their upbringing, lack of interest or were intellectually incapable. That being said I know some who excelled and did very well without the higher education. By the same token I know many with a high education, who were book smart but didn’t have alot of common sense. Regardless of one’s status in life, I feel we can learn from each other and grow.

    Absolutely, we should be equal to man, but I think we still have a long way to go before we become equals. But this is changing because woman are getting stronger and more independent. They are making choices for themselves that will make them stronger and self sufficient.

    We were created the same and should have the same opportunities in life.

  3. Cindy, you bring up very good points.

    I feel it has become a world of entitlement. Many are out for themselves and what they can get. I also feel technology has played a big role in taking away the human aspect in communication and interaction among our fellowmen. The younger generation lacks the depth our generation has. It seems our morals were deeply rooted compared to what is being taught to the children today.

    Would mentors help? They certainly can’t harm, however, the way the world is today, I ask myself whether a mentor can get through to the younger generation without being told we are from the old school and need to get with the program.

  4. Might be a little off topic, but I have big concerns about the influence of television and “popular media” on our kids. I have a beautiful six year old grand daughter who has spent way too much time being exposed to “fairy princess” Disney type garbage that’s directed at young girls. We have this multi-billion dollar a year television industry thats soul purpose is to make kids (and adults) stupid. I deal with it at home by not having a TV. But how do you protect kids from the endless onslaught of advertising and brainwashing?

  5. edit “sole”

  6. A Cindy- really appreciate your kind comments.

    With respect to the way you are describing that many Cornwall girls are socialized to act helpless and to be victims I agree it is a very serious problem. If that is the case it really needs to be looked at with attentive eyes and hearts by community members who really care to make a difference in the lives of these girls.When you think about it and ask the question “Who does it serve to have girls who cannot stand up for themselves and support themselves in every way-emotionally, financially, intellectually, morally or physically?” There are those who take advantage of such vulnerable people. It is an unfortunate reality. I think we can make a huge difference by empowering young girls to learn to think for themselves, make their own decisions, respect their choices and give them full permission to assert themselves. Good parenting, mentors, role models, concerned family, there are many many places where influencing the direction of a young girl’s life can make a big difference. It is obviously a great need, please continue to share your ideas. Thanks!

  7. @Stellabystarlight-the point you make about having deeply rooted morals in comparison to the present generation is a very important one. As the influence of religion in social and community life is withdrawn it seems we are experiencing more social disconnection and a sense of not knowing what the rules are anymore. We are creating a whole new way of showing up in a virtual world with no compass or map, nor even a sense of mission or meaning as to what we came here to become or to accomplish. These points of reference come from within and are embedded in what we are taught as children when we had no conscious knowledge. For example, if we were brought up Jewish, even if we do not practice now, we still have a code of conduct in our internal frame of reference. A child growing up today may never be exposed to any logical frame of reference so is left to make up their own with little direction. It’s no wonder that young girls throw their lives away when they have no guidance and little protection.

  8. @Ed- re: your point about how we protect children from advertising and media propaganda- I think the best we can do is to limit their contact with such and if they do watch television then teach them to think for themselves. For example, there are many little girls now who have been taught critical thinking skills at a young age who ask questions like: Why do my toys have to be in pastel colours? They can see for themselves how absolutely ridiculous colour coding clothing and toys is. The Lego company has done this and it’s a fail.

    It’s ridiculous to have girl and boy toys, my opinion, what is that about other than to separate children into camps and isolate their thinking. I am all for setting up play structures that are inclusive of all children and help them learn the skills of communication, cooperation and shared concepts of how diverse we are, and how we all are part of the whole. We need to learn to work in a more unified way, rather than emphasize separation, and pure individuality. As for the “princess” fantasy, what is that all about? It was not around when my girls were small, my youngest read “The Paper Bag Princess”- an excellent antidote to fairy tales. In fact, I never read them any fairy tales, I just told them there was no such thing as prince Charming, they were going to have to learn to slay their own dragon!

  9. I completely agree Shirley. Sadly, the kids I’m referring to are my grand daughter and great nieces/nephews. I try to influence, but ultimately I have no control over their day to day TV watching or upbringing.

  10. Maggie writes -“As the influence of religion in social and community life is withdrawn it seems we are experiencing more social disconnection and a sense of not knowing what the rules are anymore”.

    Is that not what the secular humanists want? Is that not the cry of the atheist of our day? No God more government! Big business wants people that are moral, honest, and hard working, but government can not produce morals in a person, unless they include a personal relationship with God. And it can’t be like some social self help groups of our day that say “any higher power will do”.

    Our society does not want “rules”. This is true of grown ups, as well as all types of young people. Doesn’t Canada model itself after such countries as Sweden, Denmark, etc. -” yes, they have true freedom”. If you call legalized abortion, euthanasia, assistant suicide, prostitution, drugs, and much more freedom then we have come to call evil good and good evil.

    When does freedom become in reality lawlessness? And by the way, there is no clause in the Charter of Rights that calls for a separation of church and state. Morals without God can only happen if we become a police state. First comes anarchy, then total collapse of society, then martial law – “1984” has arrived! Hello the New Word Order, and yes, the Antichrist.

    So I am not saying we should not teach our children by word and example, but don’t expect to civilize our young people when we are living like barbarians!

    Titus 2:3-5 “The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed”.

  11. Yup. Women should be taught to be obedient to their husbands, and to stay in the house, and to be chaste and discreet. The Taliban comes to mind. Different religion, but the same sick and oppressive rules.

  12. “the same sick and oppressive rules” – give me freedom, no rules, just lawlessness writes Ed.

  13. There’s something about the rules that are enforced by the Taliban that most reasonably enlightened people abhor. I won’t try to express my absolute disgust for Mr. Newton because my post will be blocked.

  14. Let’s get back on topic. Althought Religion or Spirituality for that matter, may have something to do with forming an individual morally, the topic is more towards how women more specifically young women can contribute to the community. Or, to even become more self aware of their real abilities by use of education, etiquette, etc. Also, this is from an Omnist perspective if we must question each other’s Spiritual or Religious preference. In my humble opinion, we are all created equally. No one person is superior to another. As for women, especially ones in this community, a sense of “self” seems to be lost. Many of these women seem to be more caught up in what they are supposed to represent instead of who they really are. The breakdown of a woman happens for many reasons; lack of education, no guidance or parental support/upbringing, pressure to fulfill an image of a young, attractive female in a society focused on beauty and youth, lack of Religious/Spiritual grounding, no desire or motivation to be a more useful individual. Women have lost their voices a long time ago. We live in a male dominated world. Women have the unique ability to bring balance to chaos. We need to access our inner selves and voices to make change.

    First, we need to bring attention to the problem which Shirley has done through this article.

    Next, we need to stimulate minds in the community. Get people thinking and talking about the changes that need to happen. That women need to have their voices heard.

    Then, we find our leaders, teachers, and motivational speakers to inspire these women. To remind them of their capabilities. How we can balance being mothers, wives, and career driven women. How we can inspire other women to be the best person they can be and not to settle for anything less.

    Lastly, we need to enforce the change that was talked about. Walk the walk. Leaders need to lead by example. Show women that these things can be done.

    Change is something that takes time and a tremendous amount of dedication.

    Shirley has started the ball rolling, she has planted the seed or idea and now it’s time to take action.

    Love and peace to all.

  15. Cindy writes -“how women more specifically young women can contribute to the community”.

    The greatest and most God honoring contribution that women can make is first of all, to have a personal relationship with God by submitting to the Lord Jesus Christ by faith. When He becomes their Lord and Saviour, then things begin to happen. How so?

    1.1Timithy 5:14 -15 “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some are already turned aside after Satan”. God has given women, and mothers special gifts in managing the home and family. Strong families are the bed rock of a healthy society.

    2.Titus 2:3-5 “The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed”. It is the responsibility for the older women to teach the younger women their God given design as a women, as a wife, and as a mother.

    Seeking to be what God intended for all of us to be as men and as women is not regressive but is a high place of honour and blessing from God. Cindy goes on to write -“Women have the unique ability to bring balance to chaos. We need to access our inner selves and voices to make change”. The first part can only be true with God’s help. Her last statement is furthest from the truth. Help can never come from within. This is nothing but the first lie Satan told Eve in the garden – Eve being the mother of all feminist thinking. It is not the saviour from within, but the Saviour that God has given that can save, first of all, and then as Lord He redirect our lives to be productive and God honouring.

    1John 4:14 “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world”.

  16. Sorry Cindy lu who, but I don’t think anyone got off topic. You state that, among other things, “lack of Religious/Spiritual grounding” contributes to the “breakdown of a woman”. Are you suggesting that believing, and adhering to Mr. Newton’s religion would positively affect the life of any woman, young or old?

  17. Not in the least Ed 🙂 I am suggesting that for some, Spirituality or Religion, of any preference is a good way to be grounded. Not all of us need this in our life. Some who choose not to believe in anything at all, can still be very grounded. I am only suggesting it is an idea.

    I think that Mr. Newton has the wrong idea here. I do not intend on having a religious dispute. As I clearly stated above, I am an Omnist. I believe in a little bit of everything as well as a bit of nothing. In other words, I am open to Atheist or scientific views as well. I take knowledge from many Religions and Spiritual practices as well observe things from a scientific perspective. I do not need to be quoted scripture as I was baptised Catholic (although I do not practice) and I am very familiar with the bible.

    We can find grounding in many others ways. That can be, through each other as support, through family, through nature or whatever. For me, Spirituality is highly important. Naturally I am going to suggest as a means to be grounded but would never force the idea on anyone.

    Last but not least, I believe in Egalitarianism. Love and tolerance but especially equality for all.

    I will say in closing, I take high offence to being quoted religious text. I am perfectly capable of picking up and reading a bible on my own time. I don’t put down a persons choice to follow in a Religious path, I would certainly expect the respect to be returned. Once again, an Omnist believes in a bit of everything. I am an enemy to no ones beliefs.

  18. Don’t you mean – Omnist believes in a bit of everything, and a whole lot of nothing!

  19. As a matter of fact, being the inquisitive and highly interested individual that I am, I am currently studying Paganism and Wiccan and how they have similarities with Native American culture (as I am Native American) and other Religions. I am proud of who I am and what I believe in. I am proud that I can use my voice to stand up for what I believe is right. I, like Shirley, wish to inspire other women to find their voices as well. We do not need to agree with another. We do not need to have the same ideas. We do not need to put anyone down who does not agree with our ideas. I am a woman. I am good, and I will help women to find themselves. I support Shirley 100% in her quest.


    Siggy Casselman (as I am proud enough to show my true identity). I have no reason to hide my voice or my thoughts).

  20. Pastor Newton. I have stumbled upon this article and i figure ill throw in maybe not on topic but make a few points to you. If we are to follow the bible as you say let me ask you some question?

    Exodus 35:2 “On six days work may be done, but the seventh day shall be sacred to you as the sabbath of complete rest to the LORD. Anyone who does work on that day shall be put to death.”

    Should I go kill myself? Or should I call the police?

    Leviticus 11 7and the pig, which does indeed have hoofs and is cloven-footed, but does not chew the cud and is therefore unclean for you. 8Their flesh you shall not eat, and their dead bodies you shall not touch; they are unclean for you.”

    I just had a Baconater at Wendy’s. Should I proceed to church and ask for my sin to be forgiven?

    While the bible has some good meaning and teaching in it. It is just as flawed as your arguements in this post

  21. Nadir “I have stumbled upon this article…” – differently in the dark!

    But there is hope – Joh 8:12 “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life”.

  22. Correction on the last post – differently should be definitely 😉

    Carefully take notice of how many times Cindy mentions – “I, I am,..”. She is definitely full of her self – the spirit of the New Age!

    Note the similarities – Isa 14:13-14 “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High”.

    Who is Isaiah referring to? Lucifer – Satan: the spirit of the New Age!

  23. As you can see from Pastor Newton’s various comments he goes from the Old and New Testament at will to serve his purpose of supporting his various arguments. But should anyone else try to use various sources to provide fodder to the discussion they are shut down by slamming them. Is this behaviour helpful? Is this helping us to raise the level of discussion? Does this help to create bonds of trust, unity, love, connection and relationship with one another? I think not. Instead, fear tactics are used, and manipulation of various texts, the one about Eve being the original feminist is priceless! I am going to write my next column about that subject. Wait for it 😉

    Thanks for your interest, all of you are concerned citizens who are passionately interested in us moving forward, how to do it together is such an important part of the community discussion. I deeply appreciate all your efforts and thank you sincerely for your contributions.

  24. It is simple Shirley, there is no other inspired, inerrant source whereby we can base our faith upon and live by. All other sources do not have God’s stamp and approval on it, thus all other sources have not the “authority” as does the Holy Bible to instruct, to command obedience, to set forth righteousness, etc. because it is saying “thus saitheth the Lord” to all that read it. We do not need a religious institution, nor a “prophet” to interpret the Word of God for us because God Holy Spirit is here to do that, as we humbly seek His wisdom and understanding. Look forward to you “Eve – the mother of all feminist” article.

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