Saturday, 13 October 2018

We can go backwards, or we can go forwards

When we look at the things that are wrong in the world, and the many problems we have, it is easy to forget that it has taken us very many generations to make this much progress. But we now operate in national groups, rather than as families, clans or tribes; to some degree, stronger countries are supporting weaker countries, through aid, by supplying peace-keeping troops, and in providing support after disasters; we have an increasing understanding between people of different religions; we have the United Nations, which is a brave attempt at international co-operation; and we have neighbouring countries co-operating in economic groupings in various parts of the world. All of these have been moves forward.

But in the last few years, it seems as if we have started going backwards again. One country has been allowed to “annex” part of another, with no real action having been taken by the world. Trade wars are breaking out between the most powerful trading nations. There are constant tensions between the states that have nuclear weapons, and those that might be developing them. Countries are trying to undermine one another through cyber-attacks. Diplomacy has been replaced by hostile actions. In some quarters an insular patriotism is replacing world vision.

Some people do not seem to have noticed that we all live on one planet! We are just one world. For thousands of years, the history of the human race has been a history of rival camps, and there has been a theme of the few trying to control the many - those with a less well-developed conscience deciding on the lives of everybody else. But we can now see our planet, our home, in just one photograph. With modern equipment, we can communicate instantly with people anywhere on the planet. As we are one planet, and one world, we need to act as one mankind. Bahá’u’lláh said: “The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.” We need to replace outworn ideas, such as unlimited national sovereignty, with a world view. As Bahá’u’lláh put it: “Let your vision be world-embracing.” From religious rivalry, we need to go forward to religious unity. In Bahá’í eyes, the different religions are all from God, and are as chapters in one book. In essence there is no difference between them: “Know thou assuredly that the essence of all the Prophets of God is one and the same. Their unity is absolute.”

From national rivalry, we need to go forward to world unity. From economic systems run on the principle of “survival of the fittest”, we need to go forward to fair treatment for all. New laws need to be enacted at a global level, ensuring a minimum income for every person, and limiting the unreasonable extremes of personal wealth. The Bahá’í Writings state that the workers should have a share in company profits, by right. Every enterprise is in reality a collective enterprise, with some people providing the financial input and ideas, and others their labour or skills. Therefore: “According to the Divine law, employees should not be paid merely by wages. Nay, rather they should be partners in every work.”

But any new world-wide economic arrangement has to follow a global change in the governmental system. Instead of world leaders denouncing one another, why are they not consciously trying to build world peace? Bahá’u’lláh, in the nineteenth century, urged the world’s most powerful rulers to bring about a universal peace conference, to reach a universal peace treaty. In 1985, the Universal House of Justice, which is the Bahá’í world body, pointed out that: “The holding of this mighty convocation is long overdue.” They nonetheless had the confidence to write in the same document that “World Peace is not only possible but inevitable.” It is the next stage in the progress of humanity. Let us drive further forwards rather than putting the world into reverse.