Wednesday, October 24, 2012

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Practical Days In San Francisco

On the evening of Thursday, October 24, 1912, as he said goodbye to friends at his rented house at 1815 California Street in Pacific Heights, he could look back to three of the most eventful weeks of his entire trip through America.
 At Stanford University on October 8, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had argued for a scientific basis for international peace. At Temple Emanu-El, San Francisco’s largest Reform Jewish congregation, he challenged his hearers to make interfaith unity a reality by accepting the founders of other religions. At a Japanese church in Oakland he stood up for the ingenuity and progress of the Japanese people, who would be tossed into internment camps less than thirty years later. “Any kind of prejudice is destructive to the body politic,” he told them.

As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s train departed the bay area, chugging east on the morning of October 25, 1912, architects in San Francisco were already setting in motion the city’s next great enterprise. The Panama Canal would be completed in 1914, and San Franciscans planned to celebrate. Just nine years after the earthquake had toppled and burned the City by the Bay, it would announce to the world that it had risen again from the ashes.