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Jesus Christ predicted “wars and rumors of wars” in the famous Biblical phrase from the Gospel of Mathew, alluding to the constant conflict the world has now witnessed for centuries:
And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
All these are the beginning of sorrows. – Mathew 24:6-8.
Much of this sorrow and turmoil has resulted from the conflicts between nations around the world. Nationalism represents the most recent and most prevalent form of governance; however, while the numbers of nations and their sovereign powers have increased over time, in today’s world, every nation’s sovereignty now seems under assault from powerful global forces.
From a Baha’i perspective, humanity’s history does not just appear from a collection of chance events; but instead, constitutes a long series of focused episodes, impelled, inspired and brought about by the teachings of the founders of the world’s great Faiths. That long arc of history saw societies advance from wandering hunter–gatherers back in the Stone Age, to farmers, to developers of cities, empires, and now nations.
This bold assertion—that human history has advanced according to a coherent divine plan, and will continue to do so—comes from the teachings of Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith. Its chief principle, the oneness of humanity, means that:
Its message is applicable not only to the individual, but concerns itself primarily with the nature of those essential relationships that must bind all the states and nations as members of one human family. It does not constitute merely the enunciation of an ideal, but stands inseparably associated with an institution adequate to embody its truth, demonstrate its validity, and perpetuate its influence. It implies an organic change in the structure of present-day society, a change such as the world has not yet experienced. It constitutes a challenge, at once bold and universal, to outworn shibboleths of national creeds—creeds that have had their day and which must, in the ordinary course of events as shaped and controlled by Providence, give way to a new gospel, fundamentally different from, and infinitely superior to, what the world has already conceived. It calls for no less than the reconstruction and the demilitarization of the whole civilized world—a world organically unified in all the essential aspects of its life, its political machinery, its spiritual aspiration, its trade and finance, its script and language, and yet infinite in the diversity of the national characteristics of its federated units.
It represents the consummation of human evolution—an evolution that has had its earliest beginnings in the birth of family life, its subsequent development in the achievement of tribal solidarity, leading in turn to the constitution of the city-state, and expanding later into the institution of independent and sovereign nations.
The principle of the Oneness of Mankind, as proclaimed by Baha’u’llah, carries with it no more and no less than a solemn assertion that attainment to this final stage in this stupendous evolution is not only necessary but inevitable, that its realization is fast approaching, and that nothing short of a power that is born of God can succeed in establishing it. – Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 43.
The Baha’i teachings say that our ever-advancing civilization will inevitably lead us beyond our current immature, turbulent and warlike world, climaxing with the development of a peaceful, unified world as the mature, ultimate, and highest organizational level of society. This series synopsizes that Baha’i worldview and its intriguing panorama of the collective life of humanity, linking the development of civilizations to the creative word of God progressively revealed by Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and now the Baha’i Faith.
In many ways, that creative power of the word of God has driven a resultant expansion of unity and the development of civilizations, extending from our hunter-gatherer ancestors who wandered about in Africa during the Stone Age, migrated to all the livable continents, invented farming and agriculture, progressed to small tribal groups and sedentary villages, then to larger kingdoms, gradually developing magnificent regional empires and then creating and developing nations.
Today, we have started our eventual and inevitable building of a global society with peace and prosperity for all of humankind.
This series is adapted from Harvey Garver’s recently published book entitled What Comes After Nations? which explores how humanity’s development has been motivated, guided and energized by the world’s orthodox religions, and explains how the Baha’i Faith and its belief in progressive revelation reveals a new spiritual principle for the organization of human life—which Baha’is believe will lead to a burgeoning worldwide society that offers peace and prosperity to all humanity.