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As we all know from growing up, change is hard. But that difficulty decreases somewhat when you know that the change is part of a clear process of growth and development.
When we grow and mature, as larger groups like communities or nations, it means letting go of the mistakes, corruptions and prejudices that have been with us since the beginning. Just like the rapid and unpredictable growth we all go through during our adolescence, this change can involve lots of missteps and sometimes chaos, conflict and forgiveness. It works the same way for entire civilizations. We create new ways of dealing with our problems, and try to get past the wrongs humanity has already committed, along with the new ones we’re sure to make as we stumble along.
So what do you do when you’re part of a society that’s trying to grow up, but you’re lost and confused about the changes going on, whether right or wrong, in the world today? Baha’is believe that the best thing anyone who feels afraid can do is arise to promote the cause of universal peace and reconciliation. As Baha’u’llah wrote:
This is the day when the gems of constancy that lie hid in the mine of men’s inner selves should be made manifest. O people of Justice! Be as brilliant as the light, and as splendid as the fire that blazed in the Burning Bush. The brightness of the fire of your love will no doubt fuse and unify the contending peoples and kindreds of the earth, whilst the fierceness of the flame of enmity and hatred cannot but result in strife and ruin. We beseech God that He may shield His creatures from the evil designs of His enemies. He verily hath power over all things. – Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 88.
So what should we do when we perceive our government as increasingly corrupt, the way each political party currently views the other? What do you do when it seems all is lost and your country has turned against you? The Baha’i teachings suggest putting your faith in the Creator, not in politicians:
Beware lest the powers of the earth alarm you, or the might of the nations weaken you, or the tumult of the people of discord deter you, or the exponents of earthly glory sadden you. Be ye as a mountain in the Cause of your Lord, the Almighty, the All-Glorious, the Unconstrained… Beware… lest the strong ones of the earth rob you of your strength, or they who rule the world fill you with fear. Put your trust in God, and commit your affairs to His keeping. He, verily, will, through the power of truth, render you victorious, and He, verily, is powerful to do what He willeth, and in His grasp are the reins of omnipotent might. – Baha’u’llah, quoted by Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 81.
Your job, the Baha’i teachings say, is to first find the truth—to constantly search for more of it—and then eagerly apply that truth to the problems of the world. This is a day to stand up and speak out for peace, for freedom from prejudice, and to let our actions prove the sincerity of our words. Let us transcend the barriers that now exist, to form real, cooperative, loving relationships with others of varying beliefs, ethnicities, and political persuasions. Now is the time, while all eyes are looking on in confusion, “learn how best to work for the good of humanity, to seek how prejudices may be abolished, and the seed of love and universal brotherhood sown in the heart of man.” – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 24.
Finally, to all who may be worried about the future of the United States of America, let these words from the Baha’i teachings assure you that this glorious nation’s brightest days still lie ahead:
May this American Democracy be the first nation to establish the foundation of international agreement. May it be the first nation to proclaim the unity of mankind. May it be the first to unfurl the Standard of the Most Great Peace.
The American people are indeed worthy of being the first to build the Tabernacle of the Great Peace, and proclaim the oneness of mankind…. For America hath developed powers and capacities greater and more wonderful than other nations…. The American nation is equipped and empowered to accomplish that which will adorn the pages of history, to become the envy of the world, and be blest in both the East and the West for the triumph of its people. …The American continent gives signs and evidences of very great advancement. Its future is even more promising, for its influence and illumination are far-reaching. It will lead all nations spiritually. – quoted by Shoghi Effendi in The Advent of Divine Justice, pp. 85-86.
Whatever the Hand of a beneficent and inscrutable Destiny has reserved for this youthful, this virile, this idealistic, this spiritually blessed and enviable nation, however severe the storms which may buffet it in the days to come in either hemisphere, however sweeping the changes which the impact of cataclysmic forces from without, and the stirrings of a Divine embryonic Order from within, will effect in its structure and life, we may, confident in the words uttered by Abdu’l-Baha, feel assured that that great republic… will continue to evolve, undivided and undefeatable, until the sum total of its contributions to the birth, the rise and the fruition of that world civilization, the child of the Most Great Peace and hallmark of the Golden Age of the Dispensation of Baha’u’llah, will have been made, and its last task discharged. – Shoghi Effendi,
Citadel of Faith, p. 38.