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Why Creating a Unified Society Starts at Home

Jennifer Boles , Gouya Zamani | Nov 14, 2020

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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Jennifer Boles , Gouya Zamani | Nov 14, 2020

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

God wired us all for connection, for human contact. Everyone wants to belong, feel connected, and know they are loved, valued, and safe — including our family members. They long to feel appreciated and respected for who they are as noble beings. Loving and seeking the peace of our homes and families means we must humble ourselves and show — and feel — reverence for our loved ones. 

How do we do that? We must remember who we are through self-reflection, prayer, meditating on the word of God, and then take action to show that love. As Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, wrote:

Say: Let truthfulness and courtesy be your adorning. Suffer not yourselves to be deprived of the robe of forbearance and justice, that the sweet savors of holiness may be wafted from your hearts upon all created things. Say: Beware, O people of Baha, lest ye walk in the ways of them whose words differ from their deeds….” 

Of this, Baha’u’llah also wrote: “O SON OF DUST! Verily I say unto thee: Of all men the most negligent is he that disputeth idly and seeketh to advance himself over his brother. Say, O brethren! Let deeds, not words, be your adorning.”

Yet, in our advanced digital age, one of the prevalent concerns regarding the increasing emergence of loneliness is how we have become less caring for others. Our very survival depends on trusting and supportive relationships. Family connectivity is essential, and those who have it know how helpful it is to feel like you have a family unit that will always be on your side. 

Fundamentally, it doesn’t matter how technologically sophisticated we have become; emotional connectivity remains a core part of being human. We need each other — maybe not in the ways that characterized us evolutionarily, but for a need that remains essential for psychological and spiritual survival. In God’s wisdom and benevolence, He designed us to do two things, to know and love Him, and to love others.

In the Bible, Matthew 22: 37-40 tells us, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’”  

As we have been divinely created with the ability to love, we have an inherent need to love others. Especially in our families, we want to shower our beloveds with love and want them to thrive. Because our families are the building blocks of society, our homes are a fertile ground where we can grow spiritually and help our loved ones on their journey and relationship with God. 

If love and agreement are manifest in a family, that family will advance and become illumined and spiritual. But if enmity and hatred exist within the family, destruction and dispersion are inevitable. We want to express our love for God and our families by creating a safe, sacred space in which love can flourish. To keep love and harmony active within our family, it is highly important to show that we care and truly value each family member.

During a talk at the Church of the Ascension in New York City in 1912, Abdu’l-Baha, the son of Baha’u’llah and his designated successor, spoke of the role of the family — and the rights and responsibilities of its members: 

“According to the teachings of Baha’u’llah, the family being a human unit, must be educated according to the rules of sanctity. All the virtues must be taught the family. The integrity of the family bond must be constantly considered, and the rights of the individual members must not be transgressed. The rights of the son, the father, the mother—none of them must be transgressed, none of them must be arbitrary. Just as the son has certain obligations to his father, the father likewise has certain obligations to his son. The mother, the sister and other members of the household have their certain prerogatives. All these rights and prerogatives must be conserved, yet the unity of the family must be sustained. The injury of one shall be considered the injury of all; the comfort of each, the comfort of all; the honor of one, the honor of all.” 

The Baha’i­ Writings place great emphasis on the nobility of human beings and the importance of each person acquiring the highest qualities to serve their best interest and their family. 

Let’s compare the various nations to the members of your family. A family is a nation in miniature. Simply enlarge the circle of the household, and you have all the countries of the world. Let’s widen the circle of nations, and you have all of humanity. The conditions surrounding the family surround the nation. The happenings in the family are the happenings in the life of the nation. Would it add to the progress and advancement of a family if disunity and strife would arise among its members, if they compete with each other, criticize, fight, or pillage each other, or are jealous, vengeful, and seeking selfish advantage? No, this would be the cause of the end of progress and advancement. So it is in the great family of nations, for nations are but a sum of families. 

Abdu’l-Baha explained the ripple effect of harmony in our homes:

“Note ye how easily, where unity existeth in a given family, the affairs of that family are conducted; what progress the members of that family make, how they prosper in the world. Their concerns are in order, they enjoy comfort and tranquillity, they are secure, their position is assured, they come to be envied by all. Such a family but added to its stature and its lasting honour, as day succeedeth day.”

Abdu’l-Baha also said during a talk he gave in Boston in 1912, “If love and agreement are manifest in a single family, that family will advance, become illumined and spiritual; but if enmity and hatred exist within it destruction and dispersion are inevitable.”

As individuals, we can concentrate on our own work and transformation, and once we’ve done our own work and know our own shortcomings, we can accomplish the great and noble task of creating a resplendent rose garden for our families.

Self-inquiry, holding our egos in check, and being accountable is the first and most important step on our spiritual journey because it fosters the love and unity on which the family thrives.  Each time we attempt to put our spiritual qualities into practice, we run the risk of failing — but we could also succeed. Either way, spiritual growth takes time.

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