We all have a set of ethics—things we will do and things we won’t do.
If you’re not aware or conscious about the fact that you do have a set of ethics, a supreme value, a central belief that currently guides our lives and do not claim to be free of all influences, it is important we discover what it is and are able to articulate it.
Dennis Gioia, an executive who once worked for Ford Motor Company during a corporate scandal (selling unsafe cars), later, due to his experience, became a business ethics professor, and said from experience:
Develop your ethical base now! … If you don’t decide your values now, you are easy prey for others who will gladly decide them for you or influence you implicitly to accept theirs.
Michael Sandel, an American political philosopher and a professor at Harvard University, explains:
… we hesitate to bring our moral and spiritual convictions [read ‘belief system’] into the public square. But shrinking from these questions does not leave them undecided. It simply means that markets will decide for us.
I didn’t write this series to push the idea that anyone has to accept a particular central belief system. Instead, I’d be happy if everyone who reads this series earnestly deliberates and investigates with an open and just mind, to try and find a central belief system that could best guide them in their lives and the life of society as a whole. If you undertake this process of investigation, don’t let the influence of your current central belief system steer you wrong. Instead, whatever center you may currently hold, try to judge each new system you explore on its own merits, and not through the lense of another:
Discover for yourselves the reality of things, and strive to assimilate the methods by which noble-mindedness and glory are attained among the nations and people of the world.
No man should follow blindly his ancestors and forefathers. Nay, each must see with his own eyes, hear with his own ears and investigate independently in order that he may find the truth. The religion of forefathers and ancestors is based upon blind imitation. Man should investigate reality. – Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 24.
From my personal investigation and experience, I’ve found in the Baha’i teachings the best guiding light to build a new, spiritually and materially prosperous society. The Baha’i teachings have guidance for both individuals and for society. The following are a few excerpts from those teachings, which are for me the reason why I am a Baha’i and in a way represent the fruits of my own investigation of my central belief system:
I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth. There is none other God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. – Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 314.
Let your vision be world-embracing, rather than confined to your own self. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 94.
It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens. – Ibid., p. 250.
The Revelation proclaimed by Baha’u’llah, His followers believe, is divine in origin, all-embracing in scope, broad in its outlook, scientific in its method, humanitarian in its principles and dynamic in the influence it exerts on the hearts and minds of men. The mission of the Founder of their Faith, they conceive it to be to proclaim that religious truth is not absolute but relative, that Divine Revelation is continuous and progressive, that the Founders of all past religions, though different in the non-essential aspects of their teachings, “abide in the same Tabernacle, soar in the same heaven, are seated upon the same throne, utter the same speech and proclaim the same Faith.” His Cause, they have already demonstrated, stands identified with, and revolves around, the principle of the organic unity of mankind as representing the consummation of the whole process of human evolution. – Shoghi Effendi, Appreciations of the Baha’i Faith, p. 5.
Be thou a summoner to love, and be thou kind to all the human race. Love thou the children of men and share in their sorrows. Be thou of those who foster peace. Offer thy friendship, be worthy of trust. Be thou a balm to every sore, be thou a medicine for every ill. Bind thou the souls together. Recite thou the verses of guidance. Be engaged in the worship of thy Lord, and rise up to lead the people aright. Loose thy tongue and teach, and let thy face be bright with the fire of God’s love. Rest thou not for a moment, seek thou to draw no easeful breath. Thus mayest thou become a sign and symbol of God’s love, and a banner of His grace. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 26.
Service to the friends is service to the Kingdom of God, and consideration shown to the poor is one of the greatest teachings of God. – Ibid.
Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer to the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. – Baha’u’llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 93.
Now it’s up to me to put these beautiful teachings into practice.