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bullet.gif (837 bytes) The Bahá'ís
bullet.gif (837 bytes) Unity in Diversity
bullet.gif (837 bytes) Bahá'u'lláh
bullet1.gif (837 bytes) Social and Moral
bullet1.gif (837 bytes) Spiritual Beliefs of
the Bahá'í Faith
bullet1.gif (837 bytes) A System for
Global Governance
bullet1.gif (837 bytes) A Century of
Growth and
bullet1.gif (837 bytes) New Approaches
to Old Problems
bullet1.gif (837 bytes) Towards the New
World Order

Toward the New World Order

Bahá'u'lláh's vision of the future

Bahá'ís understand that the dramatic changes and transformations we have witnessed over the last century and which we are continuing to see--have been initiated by the coming of a new Messenger of God and influenced by the breaking light of a new Revelation.

A few years ago, the phrase "new world order" suddenly and dramatically re-entered the world's popular vocabulary.

In 1988, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev spoke at the United Nations of a need to search for "universal human consensus" as humanity moves toward a "new world order." In 1990, United States President George Bush seized on the term to describe the new level of post-cold war cooperation among nations--and especially to the United Nations action against aggression in the Persian Gulf.

Since then, the phrase has gained currency as academics, journalists and world leaders have taken it up. The term has come to frame the discussion over how the next stage of our planet's social and political life might best be organized.

Yet for all of the discussion, the new world order remains without real definition. Its dawn is apparent; its details, however, are only guessed at.

For Bahá'ís, the term "new world order" has a special and clear-cut meaning. More than 100 years ago, Bahá'u'lláh invoked the phrase to categorize a future series of momentous changes in the political, social and religious life of the world. "The signs of impending convulsions and chaos can now be discerned, inasmuch as the prevailing Order appeareth to be lamentably defective," He wrote. "Soon will the present-day order be rolled up and a new one spread out in its stead."

Bahá'ís understand that the dramatic changes and transformations we have witnessed over the last century--and which we are continuing to see--have been initiated by the coming of a new Messenger of God and influenced by the breaking light of a new Revelation. That may seem a dramatic leap of faith. Yet, if God exists and His representative walked the earth a century ago, the effect would obviously have extended far beyond the horizon of His immediate presence.

Thus, for Bahá'ís, the idea of a new world order encompasses something far more than a mere political reorganization, the visionary proclamation of a few world leaders, or the legalistic construct of a few academics. Instead, it is that "wondrous System" outlined by Bahá'u'lláh that represents the full implementation of His principles and teachings. The new world order, like the Bahá'í Faith itself, covers the full range of human activities, from the social and political realm to the everyday relationships in our cultural, spiritual, economic and community lives. It is both an internal and an external re-ordering.

This grand vision is what Bahá'ís both work for and see as imminent. It is, in essence, the fulfillment of the vision set down by Isaiah in the Bible, of the time when the nations "shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruninghooks..., nor shall they learn war any more." It is what Christians have prayed for throughout the centuries when they recite the Lord's Prayer, testifying to the coming of God's Kingdom: "Thy will be done on earth as in heaven."

It is the intent of the Islamic promise that the light of God's justice will one day break over the entire earth and "Thou shall see in it no hollows or rising hills."

The seeds of this historic transition can be seen today in the changes and transformation that portend this new world order. The emergence of this order can be seen in thousands of ways: the century-long trend toward greater equality for women and minorities; in the century-long trend toward greater economic justice and the elimination of the traditionally vast differences over wealth and class; and in the century-long trend toward global interdependence.

Bahá'u'lláh foresaw all of these trends. He spoke of humanity's impending transformation and promulgated a framework of principles and ordinances that could promote social progress in this new age.

Many visionaries today promote similar principles and ideas; indeed, as noted earlier, Bahá'u'lláh's social teachings have in many ways become synonymous with the modern definition of a progressive society.

Yet the promulgation of a new social ideology alone is not enough to transform the world and bring about the new world order--as the collapse of communism has shown.

The new world order can only be built upon the deep comprehension of humanity's spiritual reality--a reality that lies at the very essence of our beings.

It is the spiritual world that is the source of those human qualities that engender unity and harmony, that lead to insight and understanding, and that make possible cooperative undertakings. Among such qualities are love, courage, vision, self-sacrifice, and humility. Essentially spiritual in nature, these qualities form the invisible yet essential foundation of human society.

In considering the connection between spiritual qualities and social development it is helpful to recall how the world's previous great religious teachers have guided humanity in the past. The moral code of the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule--both of which find their expression in nearly every religious tradition exemplify those religious teachings and serve both as ethical guidelines and a summons to spiritual achievement. They have permeated human consciousness and re-structured cultures everywhere. Even for the non-believer, the value of such teachings is evident.

In the past, such spiritual teachings have been concerned primarily with individual actions--or with the harmony of relatively small groups of people. Moral concern has likewise focused mostly on individual behavior: do not steal; do not lie; love your neighbor.

Today, our understanding of spirituality must embrace not only personal and group life, but also the collective progress of humanity as a whole. Indeed, it is only because the human race has at last entered on its age of maturity that the age-old prophecies of an era of peace and justice can now be fulfilled.

The essential message of Bahá'u'lláh is the call to unity; its audience, the entire world: "Let your vision be world-embracing, rather than confined to your own selves." A century after His passing, this summons has begun to take visible shape in a community that represents a microcosm of the human race itself, and that is established in every corner of the globe.

The emergence of the Bahá'í community offers persuasive evidence that humanity, in all its diversity, can learn to live and work as a single people in a global homeland. It represents, as well, a compelling argument for earnest and dispassionate examination of the claims of the extraordinary Figure whose spirit created and sustains it.

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"Excerpted from The Bahá'ís, a publication of the Bahá'í International Community."

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Image from page 72
As part of a project sponsored by the Bahá'í International Community in connection with the Earth Summit in Rio de joaner, children at Bahá'í schools around the world created drawings and paintings with environmental themes. This painting by 10-year-old Manaj Subba, a student at the Splendour Bahá'í School in West Bengal, India, was used on the cover of a book of their best works, entitled Tomorrow Belongs to the Children, published for the Rio Summit."

Photo from page 74
Presentation of the Peace Statement by Local Spiritual Assembly of Nabala, Zambia, to Head of State, Kenneth Kaunda.

Photo from page 76
The Bahá'í House of Worship in Apia, Western Samnoa.







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