We started a new year with new hopes, new dreams and aspirations. Let us mark this new year with new thoughts, new ideals: new resolutions for the betterment of our communities, for the betterment of the world.
The realization of our hopes and dreams will greatly depend on reinforcing our material achievements with spiritual perfections. The same way as we seek to improve and transform our material surroundings in the new year, let us also focus on the development of our spiritual capacities.
Spiritual transformation, in the Bahá’í view, is the basis for lasting improvements in our lives and central in our approach to social change. In one of its statements, the Bahá’í International Community asserts: “The profound and far-reaching changes, the unity and unprecedented cooperation, will only be possible by touching the human spirit, by appealing to those universal values which alone can empower individuals and peoples to act in accordance with the long-term interests of the planet and humanity as a whole. Once tapped, this powerful and dynamic source of individual and collective motivation will release such a profound and salutary spirit among the peoples of the earth that no power will be able to resist its unifying force”.
Close link between practical and spiritual aspects of life
There is a close link between the practical and spiritual aspects of our lives. The body is the instrument of the soul’s development in this earthly life, and as such physical health and development cannot be neglected. Material means are essential for humanity to be able to pursue its spiritual and other goals, as long as we use our material means towards the primary goal in life, which is fostering our soul’s progress, and contributing towards the betterment of our societies.
It is stated in the Bahá’í Writings that: “… only if material progress goes hand in hand with spirituality can any real progress come about, and the Most Great Peace reign in the world. If men followed the Holy Counsels and the Teachings of the Prophets, if Divine Light shone in all hearts and men were really religious, we should soon see peace on earth and the Kingdom of God among men. The laws of God may be likened unto the soul and material progress unto the body. If the body was not animated by the soul, it would cease to exist”.
Moral standards we adopt must lead to unification of humanity
Prejudices and sectarianism are currently causing millions of people around the world to suffer from the ravages of conflict, war and displacement. In the Bahá’í view, we need a new set of spiritual and moral standards that lead to the unification of humanity and focus on the emergence of a world civilization. It has to take into account that our well-being, peace and security will depend on our unity as humanity. As Bahá’u’lláh says: “The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established”.
Such a world civilization should be built in a context of love and respect for those who differ from us, whether because of their beliefs, race, nationality or ethnic backgrounds. The creation of a global civilization requires the establishment of institutions and laws that are universal in both character and authority.
The Bahá’í Writings state: “…we must lay aside all prejudice — whether it be religious, racial, political or patriotic; we must become the cause of the unification of the human race. Strive for universal peace, seek the means of love, and destroy the basis of disagreement so that this material world may become divine, the world of matter become the realm of the Kingdom and humanity attain to the world of perfection”.
Our love for humanity must be expressed in deeds
Only when we, as individuals, see ourselves as members of one human family, sharing one common global homeland, will we be able to commit ourselves to the far-reaching changes, on both individual and collective levels, which an increasingly interdependent and rapidly changing world necessitates.
The Bahá’í Writings prescribe: “Love ye all religions and all races with a love that is true and sincere and show that love through deeds and not through the tongue; for the latter hath no importance, as the majority of men are, in speech, well-wishers, while action is the best” and “Do not allow difference of opinion, or diversity of thought to separate you from your fellow-men, or to be the cause of dispute, hatred and strife in your hearts. Rather, search diligently for the truth and make all men your friends.
In this new year may we all attain lasting joy in our homes, and at work and in society, and contribute our share towards the betterment of our communities and peace and tranquillity on earth.
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OPINION: Flora Teckie