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Understanding Each Other in these Confusing Times

Badi Shams | May 18, 2018

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Badi Shams | May 18, 2018

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

In our world today, an air of confusion and irritation manifests itself in different ways in different people.

Baha’is believe that the world is in the process of giving birth to a wonderful new world order with a great future. What we are experiencing now is the pain before its birth. In a sense, we are the midwives responsible for preparing and assisting with the birth:

We stand on the threshold of an age whose convulsions proclaim alike the death-pangs of the old order and the birth-pangs of the new. Through the generating influence of the Faith announced by Baha’u’llah this New World Order may be said to have been conceived. We can, at the present moment, experience its stirrings in the womb of a travailing age—an age waiting for the appointed hour at which it can cast its burden and yield its fairest fruit.

“The whole earth,” writes Baha’u’llah, “is now in a state of pregnancy. The day is approaching when it will have yielded its noblest fruits, when from it will have sprung forth the loftiest trees, the most enchanting blossoms, the most heavenly blessings. Immeasurably exalted is the breeze that wafteth from the garment of thy Lord, the Glorified! For lo, it hath breathed its fragrance and made all things new! Well is it with them that comprehend.” – Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 168.

We all react to this pregnant period in different ways, but I’ll let you decide where you belong, and suggest the course of action Baha’is are taking for surviving this period of changes and transformation in the history of humanity.

One extreme is those people who show no sign of being affected by these rapid changes and confusion, but quietly and with great courage do their best for the betterment of the world. Some of them have an affiliation with religious beliefs, and yet some are believers in science. They have realized their mission in life and do the best they can without needing to fight or hate those who take opposing views. They know how to see the common ground between people, and not the differences. They know what they are doing will bear fruit in the future. The Baha’i teachings describe them like this:

Lift up your hearts above the present and look with eyes of faith into the future! Today the seed is sown, the grain falls upon the earth, but behold the day will come when it shall raise a glorious tree and the branches thereof shall be laden with fruit. Rejoice and be glad that this day has dawned, try to realise its power, for it is indeed wonderful! God has crowned you with honour and in your hearts has He set a radiant star; verily the light thereof shall brighten the whole world! – Abdu’l-BahaParis Talks, p. 69

The other extreme? Those who thrive on confusion, seek only their own self-interest, and do whatever they can to get what they want. Since people like this think the end justifies the means, they do not consider the morality of their actions—but they lie, destroy, hate and even kill anything opposed to their version of the truth. Many of them are followers of different so-called religious groups—even though no real religion supports violence—or various radical ideologies. They function as the leading causes of the destruction of the old order, which ultimately contributes to the process of change, too.

Then there are those who cannot understand what is happening around them, and feel helpless to figure out a course of action. They often give up, and their efforts are limited to complaining and reminding everyone how hopeless the present time is and how they miss the good old days when everything was good and decent. They have forgotten their most important duty as citizens of the world: “All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization.”Baha’u’llahGleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 214.

That last group of people, who could be you or me, have sincere motives and good intentions. They want to contribute towards building a just society—to defend the poor, save the planet from pollution, bring about a better health care system, a better system of education, a better system of government, and better economic policies. They have many other wonderful goals, as well. But instead of changing things for the better, they end up not knowing what to do.

We have a moral obligation to reach out to all these groups, and lovingly help them see the possibilities in creating a new world order. Those who already expend their energy selflessly building a better world need our encouragement and support for their sacrificial work. Those confused about what to do also need our help to remove the dark clouds hanging over their lives. Those good-hearted and yet frustrated souls need to be reminded that their anger and impatience is self-defeating, so that they do not end up frustrated and hating others. Those on the path of destruction are the most difficult to help, and yet we can always pray for them and make sure that their actions and words do not create feelings of hate in our hearts:

… The world is like the body of man—it hath become sick, feeble and infirm. Its eye is devoid of sight, its ear hath become destitute of hearing and its faculties of sense are entirely dissolved. The friends of God must become as wise physicians and care for and heal this sick person, in accord with the divine teachings, in order that—God willing—it may perchance gain health, find eternal healing and that its lost powers may be restored; and that the person of the world may find such health, freshness and purity that it will appear in the utmost beauty and charm. – Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, p. 356.

Baha’is believe that we should be like physicians for the healing of humanity—physicians who recognize the symptoms and then prescribe the correct medicine. That medicine, the Baha’i teachings say, is embodied in the cause, the principles and the spiritual remedies brought by Baha’u’llah.

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Comments

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  • Melanie Black
    May 20, 2018
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    While it is true that Baha'u'llah said that we must be as physicians to the soul of humanity, the way I see it is that people who want to be doctors must complete a long education. Or to use a dimple metaphor ( perhaps) we would do well to climb to the top of our mountain first before hoping to serve humanity. After all, our beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, did so by going to Switzerland before assuming his post.
    • Badi Shams
      May 20, 2018
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      Thank you for putting it out there. I was trying to avoid saying it but you are right before we do anything or heal anyone we have to get our act together or using your metaphor we will be sued spiritually by Him.
  • May 18, 2018
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    I don't fit in any of those groups. I am like the first group, except that I believe that my personal actions are insignificantly small in a society galloping in the opposite direction. So I believe that spreading the ideas of sustainability and justice is a necessary part of what I do to build a better future. I teach continuing education courses at the community college to this end, but I find that I am preaching the the choir, except that it is a choir that does not sing because it is disillusioned. I try to teach the Faith I ...don't find many people who would listen. My crisis of faith is that, although Baha'u'llah promises an eventual Most Great Peace, what I see around me projects to a collapse to stone age or human extinction.
    Read more...
    • Badi Shams
      May 18, 2018
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      My problem is different. I found that after the bicentenary celebrations as if some energy was released, now people ask me about the Faith. I am so amazed and surprise of the opportunities out there. I started the website Baha'i Inspired Economics only a few months ago and I can't believe the response I have received. I have had visitors from more than 60 countries. I am totally dumbfounded. I imagine soon you will see the result of those spiritual energies released by the bicentenary celebrations. I believe the world is ready for receiving the message it is just ...matter of time. I pray that you soon you receive the result of your wonderful efforts and sacrifices.
      Read more...
  • May 18, 2018
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    Four categories of people for all readers to sort themselves into is interesting. A quiz on how to sort yourself into one of the four would be nice too. Letting us self-identify with one of the four groups is good too. For example, lying, destroying, hating, killing, etc violate the Non-Aggression Principle and Self-Ownership. Logic, reason, rationality, science, etc lead to optimistic even utopian views of the future as seen in the Pournelle Chart created by Jerry Pournelle. Obviously, after all I said, I do identify as group 1. A world of liberty, peace, and prosperity is an utopia for ...example. Rapid changes are an opportunity, not a crisis. My Nichiren Buddhism (SGI) also contributes to my optimism/utopianism.
    Read more...
    • Badi Shams
      May 18, 2018
      -
      Making the four groups were the only way my small brain could understand what is happening. So no wisdom on my part but for the sake of simplification of the issue facing us.
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