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How to Embrace Hope Despite the Decline of the Old World Order

Susan Gammage | May 14, 2024

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

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Susan Gammage | May 14, 2024

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

It’s no secret that the world today suffers from divisions, inequalities, and systemic social, political, and environmental problems that have persisted for centuries. What a mess!

Conflict, poverty, environmental degradation, inequality, and social injustice plague humanity. Today, our species finds itself at a crossroads, undergoing challenges at every level. It’s easy to despair and become despondent as we admit our seeming absolute powerlessness to intervene. 

RELATED: How Can I Actually Feel Hopeful in the Face of Adversity?

So how do Baha’is find hope and purpose during this transformative period in history?

More than 170 years ago, Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, warned humankind about the decline of the old world order, writing: “Soon will the present-day order be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its stead. Verily, thy Lord speaketh the truth, and is the Knower of things unseen.

I take a lot of comfort in that. When one order fails, another must rise to take its place. We know things have to hit bottom before they get any better.  

From a Baha’i perspective, the decline of the old world order is not just a cause for despair, but an opportunity for growth and renewal. Baha’is believe that the world is now undergoing a process of transformation that will ultimately lead to the emergence of a more just, unified, and harmonious global civilization.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to get caught up in the fear-mongering we see in the media. Sadly, bad news sells better than good news. Although a positive perspective may be hard to find, a lot of great people and organizations are working behind the scenes for transformational change at all levels of society. Before long, a tipping point will be reached, and we’ll see new growth outpace and replace the decline.

Someone once described this integrative and disintegrative process by looking at examples from nature — in this case, a Chinese bamboo tree. For five long years after planting it and then providing it with the ideal conditions, nothing appears to happen, but in the fifth year something amazing occurs — the bamboo grows up to 80 feet within just six weeks. I take hope in this as well.

The Baha’i Faith envisions a new world order characterized by principles such as the oneness of humanity, the elimination of prejudice, the equality of men and women, the eradication of the extremes of wealth and poverty, and the harmony of science and religion. Baha’is believe that these principles hold the key to addressing the world’s challenges and bringing about lasting change for all people.

One of the central teachings of the Baha’i Faith — the oneness of humanity — means that Baha’is are encouraged to transcend divisions of race, nationality, and religion and work together for the betterment of the entire world. This unity can create a powerful force for transformation.

Equality of men and women holds one of the primary keys to that societal transformation, as Abdul-Baha, son of the founder of the Faith, pointed out:

… let it be known once more that until woman and man recognize and realize equality, social and political progress here or anywhere will not be possible. For the world of humanity consists of two parts or members: one is woman; the other is man. Until these two members are equal in strength, the oneness of humanity cannot be established, and the happiness and felicity of mankind will not be a reality.

Because there is no clergy in their Faith, Baha’is believe that each individual has a role to play in building a better world. Through acts of service, education, and social action, Baha’is seek to contribute to the betterment of society and the advancement of human civilization.

RELATED: Dear Allies, Your Solidarity Gives Me Hope

Baha’is in every part of the globe, under the ongoing direction of the democratically-elected Universal House of Justice, have made a long-term commitment to implement the Baha’i teachings. Baha’is in all countries are now discovering what it takes to help a society advance, both materially and spiritually. We invite like-minded people to join us.

Baha’is draw hope from the Faith’s teachings and the belief that, despite the challenges of the present, a brighter future has dawned. This hope sustains us in times of difficulty and inspires Baha’is to persevere in their efforts for positive change — and I am grateful!

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Comments

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  • Zachary L. Zavid
    May 15, 2024
    -
    The Bamboo tree analogy is so powerful; shows nothing for 5 years then spurts up!
  • Jennifer
    May 15, 2024
    -
    Thank you Susan! This is a great reminder of so many reasons for gratitude and hope.
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