This Friday (March 21st), if you follow the logic of Ahmad Salek, chairman of Iran's parliamentary cultural commission, some 5 million 'spies' from Anchorage to Zagreb and everywhere in between are going to do something suspicious: celebrate the first day of spring.
In a statement that was published in the semi-official Fars news agency a few weeks ago, Salek is quoted as saying: "I declare very explicitly that Baha'ism is an espionage organization which gathers intelligence for the CIA and Mossad, and there are abundant documents to prove this."
Members of this spy network have included the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Queen Marie of Romania and King Malietoa Tanumafili II of Samoa. Arranging for so many 'secret agents', including Arctic Inuit and Kalahari tribes people, to celebrate "Naw Ruz", a holiday special to Iranians and other countries with historical ties to Persia, seems to be a bizarre way to commit sedition against a country. Even for an ace spy network, this one amazing feat of global coordination.
While to us, the headline of this article reads like something from The Onion, in Iran, as you are likely aware, the human rights situation is abysmal. In the case of the Baha'i community, hundreds are imprisoned, denied access to higher education, employment, and even the right to finally rest in peace in a cemetery. This wild accusation of 'espionage' by officials such as Salek is used as a legal charge for imprisoning Baha'is who are currently serving terms of twenty years.
If, as Salek insists, the Baha'is are a global spy network, then I would argue that they operate on behalf of the entire human race. Their mission is to uncover the secrets of unity and harmony -- among countries, religions, races, genders, and between science and religion. The intelligence they gather on these subjects could be quite valuable to a world that is rapidly shrinking into a neighborhood with the acceleration of technology and globalization.
As to the significance of the first day of spring, "Naw Ruz", an ancient Persian holiday, is symbolic of the possibilities of what can happen when a new energy enters the world and transformation occurs. Just as a new life stirs in the plants and animals with the "tipping point" of the coming of spring, a corresponding phenomenon can take place in the hearts and minds of the human race at critical points in its evolution.
In a letter evoking the imagery of the coming of spring, Abdul Baha said:
"... now is the beginning of a cycle of the Sun of Reality... may... the old ideas depart and new thoughts come on; former politics, whose foundation is war, be discarded; and new politics, founded upon peace, raise the standard of victory... so that new flowers may bloom, the new spring become known."
So now you know, if you meet someone on Friday with a suspicious smile on their face, it might be because a) it is the first day of spring, b) they are eating lunch again c) they discovered some new and interesting "intel" that could be helpful to the human race or d) all of the above. Whether or not you are a 'secret agent', happy Naw Ruz to everyone celebrating!