William Shakespeare is believed to have once pronounced that 'it is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.'
Part of me likes to believe that through the ages the stars and the universe have conspired to ensure Zoroastrians everywhere are the children of a greater destiny. How else do you describe a lot that has risen from the ideas of goodness and gentle living and held on to them with fervor in the face of religious persecution, stormy seas, exile and multiple attempts at resurrection?
Dramatic and unfortunate has been our lot at times and yet God in all his greatness chose us to be survivors. Up until now we have protected ourselves, nurtured our young and cared for our old under the guidance of Zoroastrian principles of Goodness. Truly a Destiny that deserves to credit more than just 'ourselves'.
For the past two years of its young and vibrant life, Parsi Times has celebrated Community members who excel in their respective fields. Often I get to ask them what Zoroastrianism means to them. Not everyone is a Zoroastrian Scholar or a Priest steeped in knowledge and the answers vary. Most subjects of my interviews almost always say 'good thoughts, good words and good deeds'.
Sometimes, to the ears of many veterans, these guiding principles sound naive and too simple. I have, in conversation been told, 'this is not enough.' That 'We have the wrong notion, Good Thoughts, Words and Deeds are only frilly words... we need to go beyond them and take religion more seriously’.
But I ask this, Destinies Children everywhere... what could be more serious than attempting the simple stuff? It's true. Look around you. In homes and in offices, we hear people raising their voices, booming threats to the laboring classes and even just turning up their noses when accidentally brushing past someone in a burkha... Are not all these harsh reactions 'simple' for us to do? Aren't they instinctive and prima facie reactions to what is not understood? Yet, completely NOT in keeping with the so-called 'simple' words 'Good thoughts, Good words and Good deeds?'
It is not so 'easy' to have GOOD THOUGHTS in a world filled with terrorism, rising cost of living, tough local trains. It is not always 'easy' to have only GOOD WORDS for loud neighbours or lazy co-workers. It is certainly not 'easy' to go beyond ourselves and our busy schedules in this dog eat dog world and have time to do GOOD DEEDS. But when these words are dictated to our Zoroastrian youth, when they are always looming over the essence of who we are as a Community and when they are defining everything for the motivated subjects of all our articles... is it, dearest veterans, not possible that just trying to live up to them indeed the greatest thing we can do for our tiny Community in this, its hour of need?
I believe, as a young Zoroastrian, as a Zoroastrian whose job it is to understand and narrate the lives of other Zoroastrians and most importantly as a human being, that the words 'Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds', may not be steeped in scriptural beauty, may not have a complex string of stories to support them, may not even be the right way to boil our religion down to a single philosophy... But whatever they are... I believe that Destiny could not have been kinder that It was when It gave us these simple words to think about, repeat and revel in...
I hope that each attendee at the World Zoroastrian Congress 2013 feels them and that the atmosphere reverberates with their spiritual significance of the hope, endurance and respect.
Freyan Bhathena is the Founding Editor of Parsi Times, the weekly that caters to the Parsi, Irani Zarathushtis of India. She also teaches Mass Media students journalism and is the proprietor of The Mango Tree, a Strategy and Brand building company. The Parsi Times is available online at www.parsi-times.com and also on Facebook. (Parsi Times) and Twitter (@TheParsiTimes). You can follow Parsi Times' young and vibrant Editor Freyan on Twitter. (freyan_bhathena).