Q.Bahá’í originated in Iran, didn’t it?
R.G. Yes. The Bahá’í Faith was founded by Baha'u'llah (Arabic for the Glory of God) in 1863 in what was then Persia. Baha'u'llah's teachings on the oneness of religion, the oneness of humanity, the equality of women and men, and the need to eliminate all forms of prejudice were embraced passionately by many, and this led to brutal attacks by the ruling clergy. Bahá’ís, which make up the largest religious minority in Iran, have been subject to widespread persecution there ever since.
Q. From what you say, it seems there are three important principles in the teachings that have quite a message for the world today: the oneness of religion, the equality of the races, and the equality of men and women. Are these values we need to teach to our children? How can we do this?
R.G. The act of determining that these three issues, and others like them, deserve our daily attention is an important start. This is one of the great functions of religion: to help us prioritize the relative importance of the many challenges before us.
The Bahá’í Writings describe racism as the most challenging issue facing America. So that’s pretty clear. Mutual tolerance is not enough. This generation of children has an inherent aptitude for the oneness of humanity. They were born with it. What we need to do to nurture this in them is to make sure that our families are open to others who are not just like us. If we take the lead our children will pick up the ball and run far beyond what we ourselves are capable of.
Children have a great need for hope. They need to be constantly reassured that world peace is not only possible but inevitable. They have a tremendous role to play in its achievement and their natural optimism and idealism must not be blighted by hopelessness and despair.
As for the equality of women and men, we adults must model the willingness to show up over and over for this issue. It is a simple principle: that God views women and men as spiritually equal and is asking us in this day to bring about full equality in our society as well. But the notions we carry around with us run so deep and get in the way so often it requires commitment and prayer and assistance from God for us to clear the path to real equality. Again, this is truly what religion is intended to do, get us to make the hard changes.
Q. Yes, there seems to be something in us that makes it hard for us to change, even when it is evident the changes are necessary. That reminds me of something you said earlier, describing what you realized after you put out your album, Teaching Peace. You said you and your wife realized that writing music for children was for you a “major life assignment.” What do you mean by that?
R.G. When we are going about the business of life it seems there are moments when something shows up (sometimes contrary to our own expectations) that rings so clear and is so deeply compelling that we seem to have little choice about pursuing it. That was the case with Teaching Peace and our journey into children’s music. I was fully engaged at the time in getting a deal for my adult music and becoming the next Dan Fogelberg or Kenny Loggins. But after finishing Teaching Peace it was obvious that we were blessed with a special ability to create fun, playful music that speaks to some of the important needs of our time, and that there wasn’t anything more important for us to do in the world than this musical work for kids and families. When you have that feeling, you know it’s a “major life assignment.”
Q. Your message to children is clear in your music. What is your message to the adults of the world?
R.G. We are first and foremost spiritual beings, that the spiritual journey is the most exciting and fulfilling available to us, and that these times we live in give us more opportunities to display courage, heroism, and inventiveness than perhaps ever before in history.
For more information on the Bahá’í Faith, contact the official Bahá’í websites (U.S. National Center: www.us.bahai.org, or The Bahá’í World Center: www.bahai.org
Recordings for children and families:
Teaching Peace(Parents Choice Classic Award)
Down the Do Re Mi (Parents Choice Gold Award)
Hello World (Parent’s Choice Gold Award and USA Today Kid Pick)
Red Grammer’s Favorite Sing Along Songs(Early Childhood News Director’s Choice Award)
Can You Sound Just Like Me?
Videos for families:Hooray for the World
Recordings for adults:Soulman In A Techno World and Freefalling
All available from www.redgrammer.com, Red Note Records at (800) 824-2980, and from www.amazon.com as well as Borders Books and many local educational and children’s book and toy stores.