|←95||Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1986-2001
Means for Assisting a Traumatized World
|24 OCTOBER 1990|
The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Australia
Dear Bahá’í Friends,
96.1 The Universal House of Justice has received your letter . . . . We have been directed to convey the following on its behalf.
96.2 The several issues raised in your letter are best considered in light of the insights conveyed in the Bahá’í teachings about the manner in which the innumerable problems of an ailing society can best be resolved and its distressing condition ameliorated.
96.3 Bahá’u’lláh has stated in His Tablet to Queen Victoria:
- 96.3a That which the Lord hath ordained as the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of all the world is the union of all its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith. This can in no wise be achieved except through the power of a skilled, an all-powerful and inspired Physician. This, verily, is the truth, and all else naught but error.
96.4 The well-being of humanity is a reflection of its spiritual state, and any enduring change for the better in its material affairs requires a change in its spiritual condition. For this reason the principal concern and contribution of the followers of Bahá’u’lláh is the spiritual transformation of human society, with full confidence that by this means they are making a most valuable and most fundamental contribution to the betterment of the world and the rectification of its many problems.
96.5 It is the responsibility of the institutions of the Faith to assist the believers in their endeavors to acquire an accurate and profound understanding of the indissoluble connection between their efforts to propagate the Faith and consolidate its institutions and their commendable desire to contribute to improvement in the quality of human life. They should realize also that their approach to the solution of the world's problems will not be understood, and may even be disparaged by the idealistic materialists whose labors are directed so assiduously to improvement in the material welfare of humanity, and to whom material good is the only standard by which the condition of society is assessed. The Universal House of Justice has stated on an earlier occasion that:
- 96.5a . . . most people have no clear concept of the sort of world they wish to build, nor how to go about building it. Even those who are concerned to improve conditions are therefore reduced to combating every apparent evil that takes their attention. Willingness to fight against evils, whether in the form of conditions or embodied in evil men, has thus become for most people the touchstone by which they judge a person's moral worth. Bahá’ís, on the other hand, know the goal they are working towards and know what they must do, step by step, to attain it. Their whole energy is directed towards the building of the good, a good which has such a positive strength that in the face of it the multitude of evils―which are in essence negative―will fade away and be no more. To enter into the quixotic tournament of demolishing one by one the evils in the world is, to a Bahá’í, a vain waste of time and effort. His whole life is directed towards proclaiming the Message of Bahá’u’lláh, reviving the spiritual life of his fellow-men, uniting them in a divinely created World Order, and then, as that Order grows in strength and influence, he will see the power of that Message transforming the whole of human society and progressively solving the problems and removing the injustices which have so long bedeviled the world.
96.6 Such a perspective does not mean that Bahá’ís should avoid doing what-ever they can to help others and alleviate human distress, or that they should not associate with and support suitable like-minded organizations. On the contrary, the believers should, at all times, be alert to opportunities to do whatever is within their power to make the conditions of human life better; by this means they will manifest that commitment to action exemplified by the Master, will demonstrate the relevance of Bahá’í principles to the issues of contemporary society, and will attract the receptive and discerning to the Bahá’í teachings. In so doing they should keep clearly in mind that the ultimate purpose is to hasten the establishment and triumph of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh within which resides the power to heal the ills of the world and to establish a world civilization.
96.7 Not only is the Bahá’í perspective unique, so too are the methods used by the believers to achieve their objectives. Unity and cooperation are important values which should be the watchwords for activities in which the believers engage. As a consequence, Bahá’ís eschew the adversarial approach of dispute and confrontation, and seek rather the methods of consultation, with its commitment to informed discussion and mutual respect, and with its goal the achievement of consensus in the pursuit of truth. Bahá’ís aim to persuade others of the correctness of their views through their example and the use of reason, and shun the techniques of pressure, condemnation and abuse which are a deplorable feature of much of the present-day quest for social justice.
96.8 The injunction to avoid participation in political controversies, identification with political pursuits, or involvement in partisan political affairs is binding on all believers, whether they act as individuals or as representatives of the Bahá’í community. Within those bounds, there is a wide range of possible activities open to them in participating with other groups which aim to promote measures entirely in accord with the Bahá’í principles, such as improvement in race relations, the emancipation of women, conservation of the earth's resources, the promotion of world peace, and so on. The institutions of the Faith are generally subject to a greater restriction in the issues with which they would choose to identify themselves, since their involvement will necessarily have a direct implication for the reputation of the Faith and for its possible misrepresentation by its adversaries.
96.9 These considerations may be used to clarify the specific issues raised in your letter. For example, in light of the Bahá’í approach to the search for truth, it would not be proper for a Bahá’í to become involved in environmental activities which are confrontationist. The concern of the Tasmanian Bahá’ís for conservation is highly commendable, but they should be aided to find other, more productive, means to express this concern; a study of the recently prepared compilation on conservation of the earth's resources may well be of benefit to them in this regard.
96.10 In considering whether they should participate in coordinated campaigns such as letter writing, or signing petitions, Bahá’ís should be guided by their Spiritual Assemblies, and are encouraged to accept this guidance in a spirit of radiant acquiescence. The Assemblies should give careful consideration to the motives of the originators of the activity and the methods which are being used. Bahá’ís should avoid contention and strife, and are to be distinguished by their honesty and fair-mindedness, and their respect for the rule of law. They should carefully avoid being involved in partisan activities which are sponsored by a political organization, and are warned to "beware lest they allow themselves to become the tools of unscrupulous politicians, or to be entrapped by the treacherous devices of the plotters and the perfidious among their countrymen."
96.11 As your letter points out, there are instances where the Guardian endorsed Bahá’ís identifying themselves with protest activities on vital issues which the Bahá’í teachings illuminate. It must be remembered that there is an important distinction between protest against attitudes and practices prevalent in some quarters of society and protest antagonistic to the government. The Bahá’í Faith directs its attention principally to the promotion of attitudinal change consequent to acceptance of the claim of Bahá’u’lláh, confident that the transformation of attitudes and values will, in due course, yield its fruit in measures which will resolve the problems with which humanity is now burdened.
96.12 The Universal House of Justice appreciates the serious attention you are giving to providing appropriate guidance to the believers as they seek to steer their course around the many hazards and pitfalls associated with this transitional stage in human affairs. Understanding the Bahá’í approach is facilitated by a deep appreciation of the implications of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, destined to evolve from the present-day Administrative Order; this divinely ordained system is an expression of the social reorganization of humanity far beyond the conception of present-day political and social movements whose aim is no more than to repair a lamentably defective order which is fundamentally incapable of meeting the needs of the new age into which humanity is being irresistibly propelled.
- With loving Bahá’í greetings,
- DEPARTMENT OF THE SECRETARIAT