Archive for March 6th, 2015

Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh

The Prophets of God should be regarded as physicians whose task is to foster the well-being of the world and its peoples, that, through the spirit of oneness, they may heal the sickness of a divided humanity. . . .  No man, however acute his perception, can ever hope to reach the heights which the wisdom and understanding of the Divine Physician have attained. Little wonder, then, if the treatment prescribed by the physician in this day should not be found to be identical with that which he prescribed before. How could it be otherwise when the ills affecting the sufferer necessitate at every stage of his sickness a special remedy? In like manner, every time the Prophets of God have illumined the world with the resplendent radiance of the Day Star of Divine knowledge, they have invariably summoned its peoples to embrace the light of God through such means as best befitted the exigencies of the age in which they appeared.

(Bahá’u’lláhGleanings XXXIV)

I have embarked on a sequence of new posts which examine a number of ideas from books I have recently read. These ideas relate to where our society is heading and what we as individuals might be able to do about that. I decided that I also needed to republish other posts from the past that related in some way to that basic theme. This post was first published in 2011, but the sense that youth are pivotal to our society’s shifting to point in a more constructive direction remains relevant, though it is not riots but radicalisation that highlights that most at present. 

There are many explanations being put forward for the recent riots:  inequality & deprivation, parenting, alienation, greed and so on. Many groups are working hard to correct one or other of these evils. However, it seems to me that without a coherent sense of core values and how to apply them all these efforts will fall far short of an enduring solution.

A useful way of looking at this is to compare the social world to a landscape that shifts and changes over time. The poles of this landscape do not shift (unlike those of planet earth) and north is always north and in the same place. But the topography alters, either by volcanic activity or some other massive cause, as well as the system of roads, railways, towns, farms and cities.

The magnetic poles are like the unchanging core values of all the great religions – the Golden Rule, the reality of a spiritual realm above and beyond the material dimension, the spiritual aspect of human nature and so on – and for these we have a compass common to them all that tells us where true north lies. The topography of the social world, because it alters over time, requires us to have up to date maps if we are to know how to apply and enact the unchanging values in these different landscapes.

It seems to me that, from a Baha’i perspective, too many of us have dropped the compass of core values, have no up to date maps or both. This blog has attempted to look at both what the core values are in more depth as well as looking at the new cartography offered by the Baha’i Faith, as things that can help us all – Buddhist, Baha’i, Christian, Jain, Muslim, follower of Moses, Zoroastrian and Humanist alike – to navigate our way through this maze of bewildering events and influence the situation for the better both as individuals and communities. The links I’ve highlighted explore these aspects so I won’t rehash them here. All I know is that the longer we fail to combine our efforts in this way, the longer these tragic episodes will continue.

In April 2011 our international governing body wrote that we can see the constructive processes that are associated with the Faith of Baha’u’llah:

. . .  in the outpouring of feeling, especially from the young, that springs from a longing to contribute to societal development.

This is in stark contrast to the negative picture of young people that riots and radicalisation horror stories have helped to consolidate. Their darkness is thankfully not the whole picture by any means. There is hope for the future and chaos and destruction are not inevitable. The choice is ours.

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