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It’s well-known that the family is the building block of society. In the first sense this means our nuclear family—parents, children, grandparents and assorted aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces and cousins.
This “family” of varied ages is engaged in life at many levels and all levels based on age, personality, work, play, likes, social norms and more. As children, interacting with our family members is an experience we will always remember. Those experiences teach us how to act with others and respect others individuality and their relationships with us.
As we grow our family grows to include school teachers and classmates, sports coaches and team members, school club participants and more. We develop close friends, even best friends that sometimes become lifelong friends. If fortunate, we graduate from high school and go on to college or trade school to prepare for jobs and careers. Or, due to circumstances, we reach maturity and get a job to earn a living, to go out on our own, to marry and start our own family. In the workplace we develop new relationships that grow from meeting strangers to working hand in hand, supporting each other, meeting goals and objectives, learning from one another, and doing the best we can. And the circle grows.
As life and time progress, our interests draw us to other “families,” people we meet in our church or social clubs, volunteer organizations and non-profits, or associations and civic groups. Sometimes we even start such groups ourselves, to share like interests and promote similar ideals. And the circle grows.
All in all, by the time we are middle-aged, the circle of family and friends we know is wide, deep, and astonishing in its diversity. If we were to list all the names of those we know, it may tally in the hundreds.
Yet the circle does not stop there.
Each person and child or youth on our list that we know, also has their own wide circle of friends, acquaintances, family, co-workers, classmates, club members, church members and many many others who they know. Indeed, now the circle is in the thousands. Yet it doesn’t stop there.
Take where you live as an example. I live in the hamlet/neighborhood of Yardville, New Jersey, the geographical center of the state. It is governed by the Township of Hamilton with 90,000 residents, in the county of Mercer (pop. 363,000), one of 21 counties of the state (total pop. 8.95 million). What happens in my little town is, to a large extent, governed by the laws, ordinances and policies of those other levels of government, which are carried out by tens of thousands of public servants. And many have helped me in my own service to state government, as well as both my wife and I on personal matters, as well as helping all citizens of the state. This extends to the millions of public employees at the federal or national level as well. We all interface, one relying on another, in some way.
Add to that the businesses we frequent and deal with and the list grows exponentially. The clerks, telephone techies, company representatives, and all the service and medical personnel we interact with and the list gets bigger. And they all rely on others to do what they do. And the circle has grown.
As you can see, the list is now endless. There is no end to our family—the children, youth and adults we have contact with, even indirectly—which make up the population of our state, our country, and by extension all countries of the world. The internet alone has made that abundantly clear, as has global commerce and joint endeavors in world undertakings.
Quite physically, Baha’u’llah’s injunction, “The world is but one country, and mankind its citizens,” has literally become true. It has always been that way on a spirit basis as well.
All these connections we have or wish to have are emanations of the human spirit. Abdu’l-Baha spoke of the human spirit many times:
“The human spirit, which distinguishes man from the animal, is the rational soul, and these two terms—the human spirit and the rational soul—designate one and the same thing. This spirit, which in the terminology of the philosophers is called the rational soul, encompasses all things and as far as human capacity permits, discovers their realities and becomes aware of the properties and effects, the characteristics and conditions of earthly things.” When He says “man” here he means every human being, past and present.
We act because our spirit—our rational soul—motivates us to act. We think and act and make discoveries, gain knowledges and learn lessons. We decide to exercise our will to do something to both help ourselves and others. At the core of our life, going back to that close knit nuclear family, we act out of love and a desire to be of service to anyone who needs us.
And, as just demonstrated, children, youth and adult women and men the world over need each other, depend on each other, and can only survive through each other.
Today, with world shaking problems, we need unity of thought, will and action more now than any day gone before. Using love and the best interests of humankind as the basis for action will guarantee we thrive and prosper rather than sink back to mankind’s Dark Ages. On a practical, physical level, it also means we can work towards eliminating all nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction:
We cherish the hope that through the earnest endeavours of such as are the exponents of the power of God—exalted be His glory—the weapons of war throughout the world may be converted into instruments of reconstruction and that strife and conflict may be removed from the midst of men. –Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 23.