*** Press Release - August 2015 ***

New author passionate about virtues

Botany resident Eric Neal, having recently published his first book ‘A Beginner’s Guide to God’, says he is passionate about seeing ‘Virtues’ taught in all schools. He says that learning ‘right from wrong’ is far more important than learning English, maths or any other subject. Naturally, this should be taught in the home as soon as a child is born, and it is to varying degrees. But the very fact that bullying and disrespect of other even exists, is evidence that there are a lot of parents that are failing their children.

But it is no good just blaming the parents. That doesn’t solve the problem. Society needs to fill the void, and through the education system children need to be exposed to the virtues, so that they can learn one of the most basic aspects of life, ‘how to relate to our follow human beings’. Neal says ‘every individual is like a precious gem, each with its own qualities, each with its own flaws, and we need to respect and admire the good qualities, so that the flaws become less significant’. This can only happen by practising such virtues as love, respect, patience, tolerance, compassion and justice.

It is a fallacy to think that the only way to achieve this is to teach ‘religion’ in schools. Sure, these are the things that religion teaches us, but these are the qualities that all teachers should possess, so sharing the importance of these qualities with their students should come naturally to them.

Having written a book entitled ‘A Beginner’s Guide to God’ you would think that Eric would be in favour of having ‘religion’ taught in schools, but surprisingly he is not. ‘I would like to see religion taught in schools at some stage in the future, but the conditions are not right for it yet’ he says. Christians generally want Christianity taught, Muslims generally want Islam taught etc. and that creates a huge impasse.

As a Baha’i, Neal believes that eventually, people will accept that all religion comes from the same source, and that the teachings of all the prophets will be regarded as not only acceptable, but desirable, but at present each religion is too secular, and parents are not comfortable with their children being exposed to a range of religious teachings, sometimes even by a teacher of a different branch of the same religion. Neal says that this is quite understandable, because many religious teachers would have agendas, believing that the pathway that they teach is the only pathway.

However, he says, refraining from teaching religion in schools, should not prevent students being taught ‘virtues’, and he believes that failing to do so will result in the further decline of morality, whereas the teaching of virtues will have a huge positive impact. Not only will it result in a massive reduction in crime, but the whole fabric of society will change, bullying will be a thing of the past, and the golden rule of treating our fellow human beings in the way that we would want to be treated, will bring about changes that we can only dream of, yet it may only take one or two generations, with the adoption of a few simple virtues.

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