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Climate Change: A Fulcrum for a Unified Future

David Langness | Jun 3, 2016

PART 5 IN SERIES Sea Level Rising

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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David Langness | Jun 3, 2016

PART 5 IN SERIES Sea Level Rising

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

It is daybreak, and from the rising-point of the invisible realms of God, the light of unity is dawning; and streaming and beating down from the hidden world of the Kingdom of oneness there cometh a flood of abounding grace. Glad tidings of the Kingdom are sounding from every side, and wafting in from every direction are the first morning signs of the exalting of God's Word and the upraising of His Cause. The word of unity is spreading, the verses of oneness are being sung, the sea of God's bestowals is tossing high its waves, and in plunging cataracts His blessings are pouring down. - Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, pp. 228-229.

Therefore, we must strive in order that the power of the Holy Spirit may become effective throughout the world of mankind, that it may confer a new quickening life upon the body politic of the nations and peoples and that all may be guided to the protection and shelter of the Word of God. Then this human world will become angelic, earthly darkness pass away and celestial illumination flood the horizons, human defects be effaced and divine virtues become resplendent. This is possible and real, but only through the power of the Holy Spirit. - Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 322.

As you can probably tell by reading these two lyrical quotes from the Baha'i teachings, the only flood Baha’is want to witness is the flood of celestial illumination and God’s abounding grace.

Rather than flooding our oceans with melted ice and creating havoc for humanity, Baha’is want to see the world recognize its common environmental plight and come together in unity to address it.

Baha’is believe that “The light of unity is dawning,” as Abdu’l-Baha wrote, and that we have just begun to see its effects playing out in the world. This emerging global unity, still historically new and in its earliest stages of development, requires not just the “sea of God’s bestowals” but also our own striving to bring it about. Baha’is believe in the power of the Holy Spirit; but also know that only human agency can bring that power fully into reality:

Given their tremendous capacity to mobilize public opinion and their extensive reach in the most remote communities around the world, religious communities and their leaders bear an inescapable and weighty role in the climate change arena. By many measures, increasing numbers of religious communities are consistently lending their voice and resources to efforts to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change - they are educating their constituencies, providing a scriptural basis for ethical action and leading or participating in efforts at the national and international levels. This role, however, must now unfold in the context of an emerging conversation - a rapprochement - between the discourses of science and religion. The time has come for the entrenched dichotomy between these two systems of knowledge to be earnestly re-examined. Both are needed to mobilize and direct human energies to the resolution of the problem at hand: methods of science facilitate a more objective and systematic approach to problem solving while religion concerns itself with those moral inclinations that motivate action for the common good. In an age yearning for justice and equality, religious doctrines will need to be carefully examined. Those that encourage social exclusion, passivity or inequality between the sexes will fail to engage the peoples of the world while qualities of justice, compassion, trustworthiness, humility and generosity—common to all religious traditions—will be even more urgently needed to forge the patterns of progressive community life. - The Baha'i International Community, Statement to the U.N. Conference on Climate Change in Lima, Peru, 2008.

The newest research findings on climate change and sea level rise actually provide us with an unprecedented opportunity to re-think the connection between science and religion. In that sense, this environmental crisis we all face, on every part of our planet, has a unique role to play in human history. It can tear us apart and destroy us, if we fail to unify and deal with its power to wreak havoc on our lives. Or, if we rise to its worldwide challenge and come together in unity to address it, climate change can serve as a fulcrum that advances us scientifically and spiritually into a unified future:

Once the domain of scientists and negotiators, the discourse on climate change has become a core part of informed debates about the future direction of the affairs of humankind. Authoritative assessments that global warming is "unequivocal" and directly linked to human activity; that it constitutes the “widest-ranging market failure ever seen;” and that it represents the "defining human development challenge of the 21st century"—have seized the attention of governments and peoples alike. Yet the search for solutions to climate change has revealed the limits of traditional technological and policy approaches and has raised difficult questions about justice, equity, responsibility and obligation. As communities and policy-makers worldwide have wrestled with these questions, they have brought us all to the threshold of a tremendous opportunity. It is the opportunity to take the next step in the transition from a state-centered mode of interacting on the world stage to one rooted in the unity which connects us as the inhabitants of one biosphere, the citizens of one world and the members of one human civilization...

…the principle of the oneness of humankind must become the ruling principle of international life. This principle does not seek to undermine national autonomy or suppress cultural or intellectual diversity. Rather, it makes it possible to view the climate change challenge through a new lens—one that perceives humanity as a unified whole, not unlike the cells of the human body, infinitely differentiated in form and function yet united in a common purpose which exceeds that of its component parts. This principle constitutes more than a call for cooperation; it seeks to remold anachronistic and unjust patterns of human interaction in a manner that reflects the relationships that bind us as members of one human race. - The Baha'i International Community, Statement to the U.N. Conference on Climate Change in Lima, Peru, 2008.

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Comments

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  • Gary Colliver
    Jun 4, 2016
    -
    Thank you for preparing this fantastic series of posts on climate change, sea level rise, and the pertinent spiritual perspectives from the Bahá’í Writings. Along with climate change, mention is made of the related but more encompassing issue of sustainable development. For readers of this blog interested in furthering the knowledge of both subjects, I’d like to call their attention to two courses offered by the Wilmette Institute (an online learning organization working under the auspices of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States). The course “Sustainable Development and the Prosperity of Humankind” will be offered ...this Fall from September 10 to October 28, 2016). The other course, “Climate Change”, will be offered next Spring. You can find out more and register for these classes at the Wilmette Institute website: http://wilmetteinstitute.org/; click on the “Courses” tab. Scholarships are available for these courses.
    Read more...
  • Jun 3, 2016
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    While commendable, the focus is not on the most severe issue (by far) facing mankind.
    WW III, a global nuclear war, is clearly predicted by Jewish scripture.
    I have said this before, and I say it again: the world's major religions must stop pandering to public opinion. They must initiate protocols that prohibit their respective members from building or deploying a nuclear weapon, and they must call for unilateral nuclear disarmament in their respective countries.
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