Friday, 8 June 2018

Respect for life

The cities of Britain are currently suffering an alarming number of seemingly senseless murders of young people. Since the start of 2018, over sixty have been killed in London alone. Most often the weapon is a knife, in other cases it is a gun.

There is no one definite cause we can point to, but those who perpetrate these killings often seem to have loyalty to one tiny group of people: their own group or “gang”. They do not subscribe to any wider sense of right or wrong. The most important thing seems to be what is now called “respect” – that others recognise the claimed importance of their group. The killings may sometimes be committed under the influence of alcohol or some mind-altering drug. They may even be committed because of some quarrel over drug supply. In some cases it seems more likely that it was simply an argument which got out of hand.

Almost invariably, the family and friends of both the deceased and of the killer tell us what a lovely person he or she was, and how popular they were with their friends. These people were not “loners”, unable to function in society, but they were victims of a lack of community cohesion, and a general lack of spiritual awareness. In most cases, the killers have no loyalty to the wider community. Bahá’ís all over the world are working to re-establish that sense of community, where often it has been lost. Bahá’u’lláh declared that all mankind is one family: “These strifes and this bloodshed and discord must cease, and all men be as one kindred and one family.” He also asserted the complete equality of all races, nationalities and religions: “Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other.”

Somehow, the teaching that you should not kill, and the teaching that you should love and forgive other people, have both been lost. These teachings seem to have no place in the minds of the killers. Presumably, not enough emphasis has been placed in their lives on these teachings to successfully steer them away from confrontational situations, and from carrying weapons. The result is that many people carry a knife “for self-protection”, and end up using it when they lose self-control on the street. Bahá’u’lláh specifically said that: “It is better to be killed than to kill.”

Worldwide, the Bahá’ís are engaged in a process of community-building. They are organising neighbourhood classes for children of all backgrounds, focussing on self-respect, on respect for others, and on moral behaviour. Similarly, there is the Junior Youth Empowerment Programme, which is for youth between the ages of eleven and fifteen. Where possible, these are run by older teenagers, to whom the “junior youth” can look up as role models. The Junior Youth have a set of workbooks, along with social activities, which aim at positive character formation and at empowering the young people to take control of their own lives and their own job prospects, as well as to make a positive contribution to the life of the neighbourhood. An essential part of this programme is the adoption of local projects – helping old people, cleaning up the environment, collecting for the food bank, whatever the Junior Youth themselves suggest or the local area needs. They often also take part in junior youth camps, alongside members of similar groups, to broaden their horizons. From the age of fifteen, the option is there to channel the energy of the youth into helping those younger than themselves, by training to run children’s classes and junior youth groups themselves.

But society as a whole also needs to adopt a wider vision and a supportive philosophy. For most people in the past, religion gave a moral framework and an outward-looking belief system. Those who believe in God see their behaviour as answerable to the Life Force behind creation, to the Creator Itself, not as answerable to a tiny group of friends. The teenage killers reflect an aspect of a society that needs to adopt this wider vision, and have a loyalty to the world, to mankind as a whole. In the words of Bahá’u’lláh, "That one indeed is a man who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race." 


  1. SACRE has to expand its consciousness. The easiest and way that will not cause disension is to implement the two proposals that were put forward to the Council on 27th June 2017.
    ''The two proposal's I would like to put forward are that the Baha'i Faith be the pre-curser of All religious studies. This would conform with the religious principle that ''The first shall be last and the last first'' . The second proposal is a humble request, that Brent Baha'is are given a locaton in Brent where our member's can meet and inter-act with member's of the public. We are not asking for large premises but a space in a focal position, to place maybe one or two 'ship containers' or a prefabricated building.
    That would be a fitting tribute to Baha'is all over the world who are celebrating The Bicentenary of the Birth of Baha'u'llah this most recent religious revelation.''
    The flaws need urgent attention. How can a organization that act as advisory agents for schools over look a World Wide Faith, that has been active in the community for over fifty years be overlooked, which In my view is tantamount to ignorance or suppression !
    It is criminal because the spirituality of a community have ceased to influence the morality of our community to its detriment.
    The channel four news recently had a meeting with the victims of Knife crime and recognised that there was a Crisis of stabbings were occurring every day, this coupled with the breakdown overall within societies with curruption which has beeen uncovered in such establishments as Banks, Charities, Police and in other old established Institutions are widespread.
    There is no doubt that many will feel that this is Too radicalhoweverin desperatetimes such as we are living in we all have to be prepared to be 'Whistle Blowers'

  2. Abraham's comment shows the passionate feeling of a Bahá'í living with the problem, in inner London. He advocates something which could easily be done. I do not expect people to necessarily accept that the Bahá'í Teachings are the answer - but at this point in time, advocating Bahá'í principles is *part* of the answer.