Flashlights need batteries, cars need gas, and we need food. Countless items, and all living things, depend on external energy sources.
Many of us take energy for granted when we have it. We may be concerned about its source, to what degree it pollutes, and how world politics affects its price. Despite all of that, we rely on it and assume its availability.
Physicists can explain what energy is. Through science we know how heat and light are used by plants, how animals consume plants, and how we use both for our purposes.
For a long time, we’ve known ways to capture energy without burning carbon-based materials; these include mechanical means such as windmills, chemical interactions such as in batteries, and the power of the sun’s rays in producing solar energy.
I am fascinated with more recent methods to take better advantage of this knowledge—both in creating and in conserving. I’m not likely to have a “living wall” of growing plants in my home, but I do have a living roof on my backyard shed. I wish I could generate electricity through my own steps as I walk around my house. The technology exists, though it is not yet feasible for home use.
With energy being so important, I also want to avoid wasting it. In my home I have energy-saving appliances, turn off lights, and follow other such daily practices. But moving beyond such physical actions, I am also thinking about how we humans waste our internal energy on a larger scale.
We lose energy through needless controversy and confusion. Partisan interests that seek disunity rather than cooperation waste human energy, and any distraction from purposeful action wastes it, too.
Surely the greatest energy waste of all is war. One way to grasp the energy cost of war is to compare it with peace. Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, looking to a future beyond war, predicted:
The enormous energy dissipated and wasted on war, whether economic or political, will be consecrated to such ends as will extend the range of human inventions and technical development, to the increase of the productivity of mankind, to the extermination of disease, to the extension of scientific research, to the raising of the standard of physical health, to the sharpening and refinement of the human brain, to the exploitation of the unused and unsuspected resources of the planet, to the prolongation of human life, and to the furtherance of any other agency that can stimulate the intellectual, the moral, and spiritual life of the entire human race. – The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 204.
As long as I live, my body will need energy. I consume food to power my body, and I rest to conserve it—and since the physical world mirrors the nonphysical world, my spirit needs energy, too. One way to do this is offered by Norman Vincent Peale: “The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have.”
Sometimes I wish my body were more like my watch, which has a battery that recharges through light. Although my body cannot regenerate through light, my spirit can. I can plug into divine bounty, as explained by Abdu’l-Baha in the following passage:
… all phenomena are realized through the divine bounty … the phenomena of the universe find realization through the one power animating and dominating all things; and all things are but manifestations of its energy and bounty. – The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 286.
Energy powers the technology in my life, as well as my body and spirit. What else can energy do?
Surely people of all Faiths can cooperate to focus our energy, accomplish great deeds, and advance our global society. In fact, the more focused energy is, the more heat it generates. If working together we concentrated on worthy outcomes, we could accomplish more than we would dare to undertake on our own. No external, physical energy source would be needed. We would fuel ourselves and each other, allowing us all to:
… find a new life, acquire a new power and attain to a wonderful and supreme source of energy so that the Most Great Peace of divine intention shall be established upon the foundations of the unity of the world of men with God. – Ibid., p. 19.