Tropical cyclones have driven hurricane-force winds in every state along the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Coast, and even into Pennsylvania.
After blasting the northern Caribbean, deadly Hurricane Irma battered Florida. More named hurricanes are forming now, ready to wreak havoc.
Juchitan, Mexico just experienced one of the largest recorded earthquakes in history. Families dragged their mattresses outside into the streets, too anxious to sleep inside their homes. Meanwhile the approaching Hurricane Katia is expected to surge in the Pacific off the Gulf of Mexico and bring life-threatening floods.
Global epidemics of famine and disease are making their way beyond all national borders. With each passing day, it seems there is another threat to our existence, whether natural or man-made, or a combination of both. These recent disasters only represent a taste of the devastation occurring around the planet. Why is it that these cataclysms seem to keep escalating?
We are all heartbroken for those affected by these calamities, and certainly don’t wish for a moment to put blame on any of the innocent victims—but humankind as a whole has abused, mistreated, and neglected the Earth for far too long.
We have injured our precious Mother Earth through the deleterious effects of greed and materialism. We have neglected our spiritual nature, abandoned our noble actualities, and forgotten our divine heritage. That’s why it’s possible to view the recent stronger-than-ever hurricanes as a veritable cry from the skies to get our attention. The mighty earthquakes seek to shake us out of our slumber. The morosely dehydrated Earth warns us with droughts so we’ll take notice. Drowning in the floods of our apathy, we can no longer afford to ignore our Mother.
The Baha’i teachings reassure us, however, that we can all learn from these disasters:
Although outwardly cataclysms are hard to understand and to endure, yet there lies a great wisdom behind them which appears later. All the visible material events are inter-related with invisible spiritual forces. – Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 115
So when devastation, fear and calamity strike, who should we turn to? In the face of overwhelming vicissitudes, who can deliver us from desolation? How should we handle this devastation as a worldwide community?
First, we can best respond to these catastrophes by turning to God and recognizing that we need a spiritual solution to prevent or mitigate the impacts of future disasters.
Secondly, we can extend ourselves to help the victims of these disasters in every way we possibly can.
Third, we have little hope for a healthy planet unless we learn to come together in unity.
Over 150 years ago, the Baha’i teachings predicted the calamities that the world would face in the future and offered humanity guidance:
The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 286.
Let them cling to the hem of Almighty God, and put their faith in the Beauty of the most High; let them lean on the unfailing help that cometh from the Ancient Kingdom, and depend on the care and protection of the generous Lord. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 9-10.
When calamity striketh, be ye patient and composed. However afflictive your sufferings may be, stay ye undisturbed, and with perfect confidence in the abounding grace of God, brave ye the tempest of tribulations and fiery ordeals. – Ibid., p. 73.
Today the Earth is sick, and desperately in need of a divine physician. Where do we find that physician? The writings of the Baha’i Faith recommend turning to the teachings and wisdom of God’s holy messengers:
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. To none is given the right to question their words or disparage their conduct, for they are the only ones who can claim to have understood the patient and to have correctly diagnosed its ailments. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 80.
Every divine Manifestation is the very life of the world, and the skilled physician of each ailing soul. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 59.
For even as Christ said of them in the Gospel, the people are blind, they are deaf, they are dumb and He said: ‘I will heal them.” – Ibid., p. 172.
The time is now to come together in unity to heal our wounds, both material and spiritual. People must begin to see themselves as world citizens. Countries must begin to view themselves internationally, as part of a global family of nations. Using the combined forces of science and religion, we can start to step on the path to recovery. With the power of science to restore an ailing planet and the celestial potency of the Word of God to heal our hearts, we can deliberately advance in the process of physical and spiritual enlightenment. In so doing we can end the world’s calamities and one day truly fulfill the ancient promise of heaven on Earth: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done. On earth, as it is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:10.