A Bahá’í perspective
Youth are the hope of tomorrow and it is within their power to contribute significantly to the transformation of society. National Youth Day we commemorated on 16 June, is a reminder of the great potentialities of our youth, their strength and vigour; and of the fact that it is in our youth that we have to place our hope for a better and brighter future.
According to the Universal House of Justice, the governing council of the worldwide Bahá’í Community: “The transformation which is to occur in the functioning of society will certainly depend to a great extent on the effectiveness of the preparations the youth make for the world they will inherit”.
The period of youth is a time for preparation. It is the time for personal change, the time during which the youth begin to consciously explore and apply their knowledge, values and beliefs about individual and collective life.
Many of the approaches to education today treat children and youth in a very passive way, as receptacles of information rather than active members of their community. Yet young people are anxious to become partners in helping to plan the world they will inherit.
Need for a balanced education.
Youth have many wonderful powers, and channeling them properly is an important concern, because when misdirected or manipulated by others, they can cause much social distress. Both spiritual and intellectual education will be essential to enable them to realize their full potential as contributing members of communities that are both socially and spiritually advancing.
The Bahá’í Writings emphasize the need for a balanced education – combining intellectual education with spiritual guidance – but with emphasis on the moral and spiritual aspect. In a world where youth are increasingly left without moral guidance, where the distinction between right and wrong is being lost, only the power of the Word of God can regenerate their spiritual senses; guide them to acquire an upright character and to contribute towards the construction of a progressive and peaceful society.
The Bahá’í Writings assert: “The proper education of children is of vital importance to the progress of mankind, and the heart and essential foundation of all education is spiritual and moral training”. Through effective guidance our youth can be empowered to override the needs of their lower nature in keeping with ethical requirements, to control and channel their natural drives and urges and to transform them into human perfections.
Youth should be guided to acquire professions, trades, arts and crafts which are necessary to the progress of humankind. However, it is not enough for them to learn skills and techniques. They should also be trained in the right values and attitudes.
A balanced education, through combining spiritual and intellectual education, will help our youth to develop ability and interest to work for the common good. According to the Bahá’í Writings: “Service to humanity is service to God”.
Educating our youth in the principle of service to humanity will arouse and maintain motivation and when this is coupled with the acquisition of practical skills and appropriate technologies, will open many possibilities for development and advancement in our societies.
Preparing youth to act in the long-term interests of humanity.
There is need for a new direction in education that emphasizes the role of youth as global citizens. Such a direction in education should prepare young people to act in the long-term interests of humanity as a whole and it should instil in them the awareness of the fundamental oneness of mankind.
It is the Bahá’í view that, world peace and “world order can be founded only on an unshakeable consciousness of the oneness of mankind”.
“Everywhere the signs multiply that the earth’s peoples yearn for an end to conflict and to the suffering and ruin from which no land is any longer immune. These rising impulses for change must be seized upon and channeled into overcoming the remaining barriers that block realization of the age-old dream of global peace”, stated the Bahá’í International Community in one of its statements.
Fulfilment of our dreams for peace, for social integration will largely depend “on the effectiveness of the preparations the youth make for the world they will inherit”.
Nurturing the consciousness of oneness of humanity and fostering a love for all races, nations, tribes and religions must begin in the family, where children and youth should be trained to rid themselves of various prejudices. Encouraging youth to independently search for truth leads them to personal conviction, rather than merely imitating others, and will help free themselves from prejudices and preconceptions. Importantly, they will also be empowered to take charge of their own spiritual, social and intellectual development.
Fulfilment of our dreams for peace, for social change and integration, in the Bahá’í view, will largely dependon the manner in which educational programs and methods are designed to release the latent potential of youth and prepare them for the world they will inherit.
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By: Flora Teckie