Analysis

A Continually Advancing Civilization

  • A Bahá’í Perspective

A fundamental purpose of our lives is to contribute to the progress of the world civilization.  Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í Faith, says: “All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization”.

In an ever advancing civilization everyone would be treated with fairness, respect and dignity, based on the belief in the oneness of humanity. 

In a continually advancing civilization we would value our differences as a beautifying factor in creation rather than using them for grouping ourselves against one another. 

In a continually advancing civilization we dedicate ourselves to the service of the entire human family.

In a continually advancing civilization we progres materially and spiritually, together and simultaneously, since the two are complementary. 

Humanity is approaching its collective maturity

A planted seed grows organically and gradually.  It evolves through stages of increasing strength until it attains a stage of maturity.  Similarly, humanity, the Bahá’í Writings explain, has passed through the stage of childhood and is now approaching its collective maturity.  Just as an individual goes through the stages of infancy, childhood, adolescence and maturity, we also change and grow collectively as human society. 

Humanity is currently passing through the stage of adolescence, experiencing the commotions associated with that turbulent stage. The radical changes happening today are characteristic of this period of transition. We need to acknowledge that thoughts, attitudes, and habits from humanity’s earlier stages of development are no longer meeting the requirements of its maturity. The needs and requirements of our age present us with new problems, demanding new solutions.

The Bahá’í Writings explain: “That which was applicable to human needs during the early history of the race can neither meet nor satisfy the demands of this day, this period of newness and consummation,” and: “Man must now become imbued with new virtues and powers, new moral standards, new capacities…The gifts and blessings of the period of youth, although timely and sufficient during the adolescence of mankind, are now incapable of meeting the requirements of its maturity”.

What are the indicators of maturity?

An indicator of humanity approaching its age of maturity is the unification of the human race. Bahá’í Writings state that, while unity “of family, of tribe, of city-state, and nation have been successively attempted and fully established” world-encompassing unity is “the goal towards which a harassed humanity is striving”.

Our civilization today has evolved to the point where unity of mankind has become the paramount necessity.  In order to lay the groundwork for a united world there is need for laws and institutions that are universal in both character and authority. Besides, only through the consciousness of oneness of humanity will the people be enabled to turn away from the patterns of conflict that have been dominating social organization and begin to learn the ways of collaboration and conciliation.  It is the Bahá’í view that “… nothing short of the transmuting spirit of God, working through His chosen Mouthpiece in this day, can ultimately succeed in bringing it [unity of humanity] about”.

We need to develop the powers and capacities latent within us, so that we may contribute our share to an ever-advancing civilization. Social and spiritual development are both essential elements of a more mature civilization.  We also need to we progress materially and spiritually.

When we look at the current situation, we find it is obvious that material civilization has progressed significantly: our science and technology, our communication systems and access to information, our commerce and arts, have all advanced considerably. But spiritual civilization has been left behind.

“Material civilization”, according to the Bahá’í Writings, “is like unto the lamp, while spiritual civilization is the light in that lamp. If the material and spiritual civilization become united, then we will have the light and the lamp together, and the outcome will be perfect. For material civilization is like unto a beautiful body, and spiritual civilization is like unto the spirit of life. If that wondrous spirit of life enters this beautiful body, the body will become a channel for the distribution and development of the perfections of humanity”.

In order to create a better and peaceful world civilization based on principles of justice, prosperity, and continuing advancement, individuals need to be empowered to express their God-given talents and capacities in service to humanity. Through service, the essential principles of social integration – including compassion, understanding, sacrifice, humility, and commitment to justice – are manifested in society. 

Bearing in mind that humanity is approaching its maturity, it is now possible to create societies founded upon cooperation, trust, and genuine concern for others.  The Bahá’í Writings say: “It is incumbent upon every man of insight and understanding to strive to translate that which hath been written into reality and action. … That one indeed is a man who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race. The Great Being saith: Blessed and happy is he that ariseth to promote the best interests of the peoples and kindreds of the earth”.

For feedback please contact:
mangaung@bahailsa.org.za or call  082 773 8301
Websites: www.bahai.org, www.bahai.org.za