Change breeds anxiety and anxiety breeds fear – a fear of the unknown. To make matters worse, the only constant in the world today seems to be change. The world seems to be in a downward, out-of-control spiral: change breeding anxiety; anxiety breeding fear; and then more change breeding more anxiety, breeding more fear.
Far from fearing the changing world in which we live, members of the Baha’i Faith are pressing forward with a dedication to creating a new and peaceful world civilization based on principles of justice, trust, genuine concern for others, and service that advances civilization. This vision reflects not only an appreciation for humanity’s historic longing for peace and collective well-being, but also our understanding that humanity as a whole, has now reached a new level of maturity. Baha’is believe humanity is on the verge of an evolutionary leap that will carry humankind to a future where world peace is not only possible, but inevitable.
There are a number of principles that provide the framework for translating the teachings of the Baha’i Faith into actions that contribute to an advancing civilization. The first of these is unity. Baha’is are working to establish a future where disunity is increasingly recognized as the ultimate source of danger and suffering. As national, religious, and ethnic conflicts divide peoples around the globe, the imperative of building bonds of reconciliation and understanding takes on greater urgency. Baha’u’llah, Prophet-Founder of the Baha’i Faith asserted, “So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.”
The concept of unity in the Baha’i Faith is not just an ideal. In Baha’i communities throughout the world, no one is left out; no one takes second place. Embracing more than 2,100 ethnic, racial, and tribal groups, the Baha’i community is quite likely the most diverse organized body of people on the planet. Its very existence challenges prevailing theories about human nature and the prospects for creating peaceful patterns of life.
A second concept that Baha’is translate from text into action is a system of values necessary for the development of a global civilization. An ethos – where each member of the human race is regarded as a trust of the whole – is an orientation that does not come only from legislation and education, but comes from a divine source. Evidence that a transformation of this orientation is possible can be observed in the conduct of individual Baha’is exemplifying the highest standards of moral behavior in their daily lives.
Third, the administrative order of the Baha’i Faith, while democratic in spirit, avoids adversarial posturing and partisanship while providing a mode of decision-making that is both inclusive and cooperative. This administrative order functions at the village, regional, national, and global level.
Most importantly, in translating teachings into action, members of the Baha’i Faith exert the will to address the problems confronting humanity. More than 1,500 grassroots projects in the areas of health, agriculture, education, and environmental preservation are now being undertaken by Baha’is throughout the world. These activities focus not on the delivery of services but rather on the development of capacities within people themselves. Underpinning such efforts is the recognition that every culture and segment of humanity represents a distinct heritage that must be permitted to bear fruit in a global society.
While the pattern of a future global civilization already exists in embryonic form within the Baha’i community, it is not exclusive only to members of the Baha’i Faith. Indeed, Baha’is see all of these attributes as endowments available to everybody and not the sole property of Baha’is. This conviction is the source of inspiration for a hopeful vision of the future.
Kerry and Jacque Hart