Monday, September 19, 2005

Baha'i Activism: Politics Revisited

Having discussed the spiritual and moral reasoning behind Baha'is abstaining from politics in an earlier post, I wanted to follow up with writing about what I understand to be Baha'i activism. The principle aim of the Baha'i Revelation is to establish a social order that reflects the reality of the oneness of humankind. Clearly this involves profound political, economic, social and cultural implications for humanity. The question is, if Baha'is have renounced politics (as currently practiced) as the means to bring this new order about what is our approach? My understanding is the that the global strategy of the Baha'i Faith involves essentially two things, the creation of a pattern of community life based on the teachings of Baha'u'llah that through the "dynamic force of example" is exerting an influence on the wider society, and efforts to influence those processes leading toward world peace. The first aspect of this global strategy involves the focus by Baha'is of making people aware of the Revelation of Baha'u'llah and allowing them to investigate and embrace it if they chose. People who become Baha'is are then collaborators in the process of creating a new pattern of community life based on Baha'i teaching, practice and social organization. The Baha'i community which today represents one of the most diverse, organized bodies of human beings on the planet provides an example of what a united humanity could be like and is the living proof that its Founder's vision can and will be realized. This community includes both those who are enrolled Baha'is and members of the "community of interest", people who have not yet enrolled in the Baha'i community but who are actively involved in exploration and application of the Revelation of Baha'u'llah to transforming their own lives and society through worship, collective study of the Word of God and the spiritual education of children and youth. The second aspect of this global strategy is pursued in a variety of ways, such as social and economic development, Baha'i scholarship, external affairs work with governments and leaders of thought, and collaboration with like minded organizations. All of such efforts are viewed by Baha'is as exerting an influence on those processes, spiritual, political and social that are leading toward world peace. The examples of this kind of activity are too numerous to mention in here, but will be provided in future posts illustrating Baha'i activism. So, Baha'is are extremely active participants with our fellow citizens of the world in working for human betterment. We simply make a principled choice not to engage in adversarial and partisan activities which would undermine our mission, to unite the human family. So as a Baha'i I say it loud, I'm non-political and I'm proud!