Baha’u’llah’s teachings address many social and spiritual issues, providing a wide-ranging source of guidance for all aspects of daily life.
Those teachings all emerge from the basic principles of the Baha’i Faith – the oneness of God and His messengers; the oneness of humanity; and the oneness of the Earth itself.
Baha’is believe that there is only one God, and that all the messengers of the past and future have and will come from Him in a continuous historical process of progressive revelation. In addition, as Baha’u’llah pointed out, we are all members of one global family:
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. – Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah
Therefore, the Baha’i teachings assert, people should strive to eliminate all forms of prejudice. Equality should be extended to everyone regardless of gender, race, religion, culture, age, nationality, heritage, language, occupation, social status, or their group’s numerical strength:
Observe equity in your judgement, ye men of understanding heart! He that is unjust in his judgement is destitute of the characteristics that distinguish man’s station. He Who is the Eternal Truth knoweth well what the hearts of men conceal. – Ibid.
For Baha’is, an understanding of the importance of justice is fundamental to the progress of the individual’s soul, and paramount to the advancement of the society at large:
O Son of Spirit! The best beloved of all things in My sight is justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and thou shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbour. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes. – Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words
The injustices of starvation and deprivation arise from a lack of conscience in the hearts of men and women – so the Baha’i teachings say that poverty, hunger and the dire economic problems which face humanity must be solved on both a practical and spiritual level. To be effective, the solution must come from a sense of collective and personal responsibility. Baha’u’llah wrote:
O Children of Dust! Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor, lest heedlessness lead them into the path of destruction, and deprive them of the Tree of Wealth. To give and be generous are attributes of Mine; well is it with him that adorneth himself with My virtues. – Ibid.
O Ye Rich Ones on Earth! The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My trust, and be not intent only on your own ease. – Ibid.
To achieve this solution to the world’s great economic disparities, education must play a principal role. Baha’u’llah taught that education should be universal and appropriate, as the key which unlocks the doors to both individual and social progress. All parents and every one of their communities have a duty to enable children to actualize that potential through education:
Man is the supreme Talisman. Lack of a proper education hath, however, deprived him of that which he doth inherently possess. Through a word proceeding out of the mouth of God he was called into being; by one word more he was guided to recognize the Source of his education; by yet another word his station and destiny were safeguarded. The Great Being saith: Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah
Baha’is believe the time has come for educational institutions to present scientific and religious perspectives in such a way that they are not seen as conflicting. Science and religion should not be in opposition to each other, but rather recognized as different ways of describing the same phenomena. Teachers and parents should teach their children that there cannot logically be two conflicting explanations for the same thing. The Baha’i teachings say that humanity needs both the analytic reasoning of scientific thought and the ethical morality of religious insight in this age to promote an ever-advancing civilization.
Of course, the world has several basic needs to fulfil before it can move towards a unified global civilization. To secure the establishment and maintenance of world peace, the Baha’i teachings say, we need to create a commonwealth of nations with an effective international tribunal for settling disputes peacefully, a common world currency, and a common system of weights and measures. Together these constitute the beginnings of the New World Order envisioned by Baha’u’llah over a hundred years ago:
The time must come when the imperative necessity for the holding of a vast, an all-embracing assemblage of men will be universally realized. The rulers and kings of the earth must needs attend it, and, participating in its deliberations, must consider such ways and means as will lay the foundation of the world’s Great Peace amongst men. Such a peace demandeth that the great powers should resolve, for the sake of the tranquillity of the peoples of the earth, to be fully reconciled among themselves. Should any king take up arms against another, all should unitedly arise and prevent him. If this be done, the nations of the world will no longer require any armaments, except for the purpose of preserving the security of their realms and of maintaining internal order within their territories. This will ensure the peace and composure of every people, government and nation. We fain would hope that the kings and rulers of the earth, the mirrors of the gracious and almighty name of God, may attain unto this station, and shield mankind from the onslaught of tyranny. – Ibid., p. 249.
Lately, the phrase “New World Order” has been vilified, maligned and employed by various segments of society to characterize any changes to the social organization of the planet as negative, dangerous or threatening. Because of this, the phrase is sometimes understandably met with fear and suspicion. However, the original expression “New World Order” as proclaimed by Baha’u’llah describes a series of positive changes within an interconnected worldwide civilization. We now live in the age of planet-awareness and not just of the locality, region or nation. As a major feature of this emerging world-interdependence, there needs to be selected either an existing or an artificial language to serve as an international auxiliary language, which would be taught in every school throughout the world alongside the native language and literature of that country:
The day is approaching when all the peoples of the world will have adopted one universal language and one common script. When this time is achieved, to whatsoever city a man may journey, it shall be as if he were entering his own home. – Ibid.
All of these basic Baha’i principles have one common aspect and one common goal: unity. This unity, however, does not mean uniformity. The sharing of things in common on a worldwide basis, such as a general system of weights and measures, one international unit of currency, and a universal auxiliary language, constitute elements of the inevitable planetization of humankind. Within this emerging system, however, the cultural identity and diversity of individuals must be protected, respected and valued as integral to the whole. This vision of global unity forms the central hub of Baha’u’llah’s teachings.
These new principles, given to us by Baha’u’llah to facilitate the coming together of all humanity, have inaugurated a stage in our social evolution and development which will be recognized in the future as the beginning of the maturity of humankind.