Do you feel desensitized by images of destroyed homes, starving babies, dead children, grieving parents and immense suffering, injustices and war around the world?

Perhaps many of you would answer “I try not to, but I feel so helpless and hopeless that I have given up on caring. After all, what can I do? What can any one person do?”

Personally, I have my ups and downs too. Some days I am so heartbroken, shocked, and outraged that I decide to share all the horrific images and stories about the killings, wars and oppression on social media in order to raise awareness. But then I get even more frustrated, because the picture of a kitten I posted earlier got way more attention and “likes” than these really serious stories. I wonder if we’ve all become desensitized to the horror around us.

A few days later I go into chill phase, telling myself that being occupied with all the negative in the world will only bring me sadness, which ultimately is not helpful either.

So what to do? Again I turn to the Baha’i teachings for answers:

True peace and tranquility will only be realized when every soul will have become the well-wisher of all mankind. – Baha’u’llah, The Tabernacle of Unity, p. 7.

How far are we from this ideal? Very far, it appears, and yet if we look hard enough we can observe a growing spiritual force, an awakening of consciousness emerging. The internet and social media connect the world more and more with their instant sharing of information. Ordinary people like me can share thoughts with thousands around the world. Slowly, this increased level of communication suggests, we will find common ground as part of a grassroots movement that raises awareness, mindfulness, consciousness, empathy, and knowledge. As a result of that greater communication, we can illuminate the essence of oneness in our world with all the beauty of different cultures.

That’s what the Baha’i teachings call for—a new global community of like-minded spiritual activists committed to justice and peace. Only then do we move closer to a time when “every soul will have become the well-wisher of all mankind.”

Yet, the closer we come to this the more the world’s suffering may intensify. Comparable to a pregnant mother that goes into labor, the pain is greatest closest to the time of delivery, but the baby is worth it in the end. Baha’is believe that a global peace is not only possible, but actually inevitable:

The Great Peace towards which people of good will throughout the centuries have inclined their hearts, of which seers and poets for countless generations have expressed their vision, and for which from age to age the sacred scriptures of mankind have constantly held the promise, is now at long last within the reach of the nations. For the first time in history it is possible for everyone to view the entire planet, with all its myriad diversified peoples, in one perspective. World peace is not only possible but inevitable. It is the next stage in the evolution of this planet. – The Universal House of Justice, The Promise of World Peace, p. 1.

I hold on to this beautiful vision in order not to fall into despair or indifference—my faith gives me hope. Of course, sitting idly in wait will not bring about peace—we all need to do our part, no matter how small the contribution, to promote unity, empathy, justice, peace and action:

Whatever suffering and turmoil the years immediately ahead may hold, however dark the immediate circumstances, the Baha’i community believes that humanity can confront this supreme trial with confidence in its ultimate outcome. Far from signalizing the end of civilization, the convulsive changes towards which humanity is being ever more rapidly impelled will serve to release the “potentialities inherent in the station of man” and reveal “the full measure of his destiny on earth, the innate excellence of his reality.” – Ibid., p. 2.

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.

2 Comments

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  • David Forestier
    Jul 02, 2017
    Beautiful words &practical lesson Dr. Eshraghi. Similar to teachings of A Course in Miracles which teaches too that Peace is inevitable through recognition, the remembered memory of our eternal truth as One People, One Race, One Spirit. A teacher of God or what Bahai's call a manifestation of God is one who has awakened to see herself as no different than their fellow human being. Such enlightened awareness dissolves ego like sunlight dissolves a hard cold block of ice. Once thawed our formerly frozen hearts flow like water to nourish, sustain & love all life, rejecting as ilussory ...duality of peace / war, me v. you, kill or be killed, or a world of do onto others before they do onto you world, as null & void. God's world has no duality.
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  • Melanie Black
    Apr 26, 2017
    Rebecca, I loved this essay. I'm sure people have all kinds of reactions to what is going on in the world. I find network news too theatrical, so I watch the news on public television where it is more considered, thorough, and world-wide. I'm not desensitized at all to the suffering I see going on all over the world. If I truly feel that all people are part of my family, then if any one of them is wounded, tortured, or otherwise mistreated in anyway, it may as well be my mom, sister, or brother. The only cure I have ...found for my personal sadness is action, in all the ways you named in your wonderful essay. If I can do something, even in my small way, I feel that this drop is added to all the many drops and cupfuls of action around me.
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