Humanity is living at a special time in its history, at the edge of maturity.
Over the course of time, mankind has passed through stages similar to infancy and adolescence. As we matured and learned to cooperate with others, we began to expand our idea of family to include more and more people outside of our immediate homes. Shifting from childhood to adolescence, human society has progressed from independent families to groups and tribes, and eventually to villages, towns, kingdoms, cities and city-states.
In recent centuries, we have achieved a global society of sophisticated and interdependent nations and collectively have made great strides towards improving literacy, health, education and human rights. Technological advancements have been spectacular, artistic and literary accomplishments constant, and humanitarian aid has been consistently improving. We have much to be proud of.
There remain, however, many challenges. Terrible conflicts continue around the world, extremes of wealth and poverty are growing, the environment is becoming increasingly fragile, and there is an increase in a variety of addictions such as drugs and alcohol, sex and pornography and excessive materialism. Like adolescents in the process of becoming physically and intellectually mature, we experiment with our identities, and constantly test boundaries. We can be capable of incredible acts of selflessness and compassion, but also capable of being uncaring, intolerant, impulsive and selfishly materialistic. All of which are a normal part of growing up, but for us to achieve a truly peaceful and prosperous society, we must eventually enter into adulthood to embody more responsibility, virtue and a deeper respect for other human beings and for the natural environment in which we live.
Essential to forming a stable and mature civilization is accepting that all the people within it really belong to a single family, and that there is, in fact, only one God. The recognition of these two vital truths will greatly impact the life of a community and society at large. When love and justice characterize relationships among our fellow human beings, all are given the opportunity to use their God-given attributes to have personally meaningful lives, and to advance social good.
These are spiritual truths that have been consistently and lovingly provided by God through His Messengers, each of Whom brought their teachings to humanity at different times in history. For example, Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammed each taught the same spiritual principles such as to love one-another, The Golden Rule, and that we are spiritual beings with the prospect of life after death. Differences among the religions become manifest in the way the teachings of each Messenger are tailored to the capacity of people, and to the social characteristics and needs of the day and age in which they lived. It’s like a loving and kindly school principal that assigns a different teacher for each grade with the same core “curriculum,” but with different teaching methods and concepts that are suited to the development of the pupils. Each religion has therefore been part of a constant outpouring of guidance and support to mankind from a single, loving God, endless in the past and endless in the future, and should never be the cause of discord or conflict. Baha’is understand this as Progressive Revelation. Like a book with many unfolding chapters.
Baha’is believe that the most recent of God’s Messengers are the Bab and Baha’u’llah. The Bab, or the “Gate,” was the herald of Baha’u’llah’s coming. Baha’u’llah’s teachings revolve around the oneness of humanity, and His message signals a special time in history as the entire human race shifts to a new stage of maturity and wholeness in fulfillment of Divine Prophecy. The challenges and difficulties of this shift resemble the changes encountered as a person becomes an adult.
Baha’is understand the world to be at the threshold of an age in which education for all, equality of women and men, an equitable and just system of governance, and the recognition that scientific and spiritual truths must agree, will be among the chief values and achievements of a prosperous and harmonious global society.
On Oct. 21 of this year, Baha’is and their neighbours, friends and supporters around the world will celebrate the birth of both the Bab and Baha’u’llah on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Baha’u’llah’s birth. As a gift and a service, we offer to share what we believe to be the singular significance of their message, along with some of the key beliefs, values and aims of the local and global Baha’i community, along with concrete ways that the Baha’i community believes that we can all contribute to the development of unity, justice and peace in the world.
This article was contributed by the Baha’i communities of Vernon and Coldstream. For more information, please contact Bahaisofvernonbc@gmail.com or Coldstream.email@example.com