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Profound changes will have to take place in the human heart and in human society before we can establish a positive cycle of development toward universal justice.
In the Baha’i Writings we find this powerful message to the leaders of the world’s nations and religions:
But that warning doesn’t just apply to dictators. If we consider that the concept of justice infuses every action, every decision we make every day, we can understand that this serious warning applies to all of us. Publicly-excoriated figures like Idi Amin or Adolf Hitler aren’t the only targets of this statement. Abdu’l-Baha clarifies the matter by observing that:
A humble workman who commits an injustice is as much to blame as a renowned tyrant. Thus we all have our choice between justice and injustice. – Paris Talks, pp. 159-160.
The Baha’i community wants to create a peaceful, harmonious world where men never beat their wives, where racial abuse doesn’t happen, a world in which petty spite and ambition do not become a normal part of working life. In this new world, a woman would be able to travel alone, in perfect freedom, no child would grow up ignorant, illiterate or hungry, the haunted eyes of the destitute and dispossessed would not look out from television screens into the homes of the prosperous, impotent West night after night, war would become a long-distant memory of the dark ages, and the bitter images of an unjust world would have faded into a distant collective memory.
Nurtured within such a society and progressing into the age of its maturity, our descendants will consider the next step, a step toward the distant future of humankind, as a future “radiant, gloriously radiant—so radiant that no eye can visualize it.” – Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, p. 116.
We cannot begin to imagine what this future might look like. The Baha’i teachings give us glimpses of what will come next, when they confirm and emphasize the range of the Golden Rule. Baha’u’llah asks us to treat others not just as we would treat ourselves, but as we would treat God. Baha’u’llah says:
Deny not My servant should he ask anything from thee, for his face is My face; be then abashed before Me. – The Hidden Words, p. 11.
This is the standard Jesus spoke of, established when the “Son of man shall come in his glory.” – Mathew 25:31; and say to the righteous of their good deeds “Inasmuch as ye have done (it) unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done (it) unto me.” – Mathew 25:40.
People of goodwill everywhere struggle to hold the vision of a whole culture living in the awareness and the reality of this heightened version of the
Golden Rule. It’s not an easy task, and this transformation of humanity will only come about gradually. But it has to begin now, with us and our best efforts.
The level of change required in our inner selves to begin putting the Golden Rule into practice seems so profound that we may be tempted to give up before we have begun—but instead of falling into despair we can remember that we do have some real-life examples to help us. We have the ever-present example of Abdu’l-Baha, to walk us through this difficult new spiritual dance step. Howard Colby Ives tells us of Abdu’l-Baha’s response:
…to one who asked him why it was that those who came from His presence possessed a shining face. He said, with that sublime smile and humble gesture of the hands which once seen may never be forgotten, that if it were so it must be because He saw in every face the face of His Heavenly Father. – Portals to Freedom, p. 46.
We can also read the inspiring stories of faithful believers from the history of our own Faith and from previous revelations, whose closeness to the prophet of their age enabled them to reach an extraordinary level of understanding and behavior.
How far will we be able to go, in our efforts to live up to Baha’u’llah’s description of our true capacity? Down through the centuries we can remember the assurance of an ancient vision, telling us that we in this time live under the rule of the Prince of Peace, and that “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end…” – Isiah 9:7. And when we are disheartened, we can remember the insight of a modern idealist, who reminded us that:
The ideal is terrifying to behold, lost as it is in the depths, small, isolated, a pin-point, brilliant but threatened on all sides by the dark forces that surround it; nevertheless, no more in danger than a star in the jaws of the clouds. – Victor Hugo
This pinpoint is the daystar of justice, and:
There can be no doubt whatever that if the daystar of justice, which the clouds of tyranny have obscured, were to shed its light upon men, the face of the earth would be completely transformed. – Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 165.