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We live in a world out of balance. These are scary times, and life is not easy. In the relentless onslaught of disaster and doom, where can we find safety and shelter?
Climate change consistently produces “events of a lifetime” – fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, drought, flood. Random acts of violence rise, while trust in law enforcement’s ability to maintain order and justice declines. Political unrest surges and economic systems are threatened. The scale and constancy of global catastrophe and stress is relentless.
I’ve found my safety and shelter in the Baha’i revelation.
The Baha’i teachings speak often and at length about the shelter they provide for humanity during this time of rapid global change. For me, Baha’u’llah’s revelation provides both a place of personal protection and a process designed to bring about world stability – which will eventually calm the storms and bring the peace and justice humankind craves.
The multi-layered and multi-faceted shelter this new revelation offers manifests itself on a deeply personal, spiritual level – but also reverberates throughout human society and ultimately bringing about global shelter for all. Baha’u’llah’s writings testify that the Baha’i revelation provides real, relevant protection for this time. He wrote:
Man must seek shelter in the mercy and protection of God, for he is constantly subject to a hundred thousand dangers. Save for the refuge and protection of the Most High, man is without shelter.
For me, the personal comfort and security I experience as a Baha’i is like walking under an arbor covered in vines and flowers. As I walk, I feel the beauty and safety the arbor provides. I feel certainty that I am going in the right direction. I see that this walk leads to a beautiful garden. Abdu’l-Baha’s prayer says:
Shelter under Thy protection, O Thou Spirit of purity, Thou Who art the All-Bountiful Provider, this enthralled, enkindled servant of Thine. Aid him in this world of being to remain steadfast and firm in Thy love and grant that this broken-winged bird attain a refuge and shelter in Thy divine nest that abideth upon the celestial tree.
The daily spiritual sustenance the Baha’i teachings impart gives me the ability to walk the storms of life with determined resolve and confidence, reassuring me that forces larger than myself are moving the world toward maturity. The Baha’i perspective on world tumult, both compassionate and resigned, reminds us that the Cause of God in this day and age, which is nothing less than unifying the world, will not happen easily or swiftly. Mankind holds onto old habits and methods and resists embracing change. The Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, Shoghi Effendi, put it this way: “That the forces of a world catastrophe can alone precipitate such a new phase of human thought is, alas, becoming increasingly apparent.”
The Revelation of Baha’u’llah … should … be regarded as signalizing through its advent the coming of age of the entire human race. It should be viewed not merely as yet another spiritual revival in the ever-changing fortunes of mankind, not only as a further stage in a chain of progressive Revelations, nor even as the culmination of one of a series of recurrent prophetic cycles, but rather as marking the last and highest stage in the stupendous evolution of man’s collective life on this planet. The emergence of a world community, the consciousness of world citizenship, the founding of a world civilization and culture … should … be regarded, as far as this planetary life is concerned, as the furthermost limits in the organization of human society, though man, as an individual, will, nay must indeed as a result of such a consummation, continue indefinitely to progress and develop.
Shelter, in this global perspective, consists in a reorganization of the institutions that govern life on Earth. The Baha’i revelation replaces old ideas about nations and states competing, even warring with each other, with the new reality of the oneness of the planet. The revelation provides an effective and proven worldwide framework for participatory governance organized around the principle of justice, justice for all, everywhere, all the time. The democratically-elected governing body of the Baha’i Faith, located on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel, is called The Universal House of Justice. In The Hidden Words, Baha’u’llah says:
O Son of Spirit! The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes.
Notice that Baha’u’llah says justice results in change. By holding fast to justice, I “see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others.” By this process, old ways that perpetuate humanity’s woes can be and will be replaced with new concepts and methods that foster unity.
In our world, justice seems rare. In too many places on too many days, expediency has replaced principle, while justice and fairness have been set aside, obscured by the quest for money and power. These dynamics have contributed to our planet’s angry weather patterns and its many “once in a lifetime” catastrophes. The reality of the situation cannot be denied.
Safety, shelter, and comfort are seldom associated with change – which must also include upheaval, disorder, and even chaos. But Baha’u’llah’s revelation has prepared us for this time. The Baha’i teachings provide a safe arbor while we walk toward the beautiful garden of the Most Great Peace that he foretells. I may not see it in my lifetime – but under the safeguards of the Baha’i Cause, I can take refuge and contribute, if only in small ways, to the ultimate shelter of the unity of humankind.