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One Common Faith

  • Author:
  • Bahá’í World Centre

  • Source:
  • Bahá’í World Centre, 2005 edition
  • Pages:
  • 56
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Pages 11-13

“In addition to disillusionment with the promises of materialism, a…”

In addition to disillusionment with the promises of materialism, a force of change undermining the misconceptions about reality that humanity brought into the twenty-first century is global integration. At the simplest level, it takes the form of advances in communication technologies that open broad avenues of interaction among the planet’s diverse populations. Along with facilitating interpersonal and intersocial exchanges, general access to information has the effect of transmuting the cumulative learning of the ages, until recently the preserve of privileged elites, into the patrimony of the entire human family, without distinction of nation, race or culture. With all the gross inequities that global integration perpetuates—indeed intensifies—no informed observer can fail to acknowledge the stimulus to reflection about reality that such changes have produced. With reflection has come a questioning of all established authority, no longer merely that of religion and morality, but also 12 of government, academia, commerce, the media and, increasingly, scientific opinion.
Apart from technological factors, unification of the planet is exerting other, even more direct effects on thought. It would be impossible to exaggerate, for example, the transformative impact on global consciousness that has resulted from mass travel on an international scale. Greater still have been the consequences of the enormous migrations that the world has witnessed during the century and a half since the Báb declared His mission. Millions of refugees fleeing from persecution have swept like tidal waves back and forth across the European, African and Asiatic continents, particularly. Amid the suffering such turmoil has caused, one perceives the progressive integration of the world’s races and cultures as the citizenry of a single global homeland. As a result, people of every background have been exposed to the cultures and norms of others about whom their forefathers knew little or nothing, exciting a search for meaning that cannot be evaded.
It is impossible to imagine how different the history of the past century and a half would have been had any of the leading arbiters of world affairs addressed by Bahá’u’lláh spared time for reflection on a conception of reality supported by the moral credentials of its Author, moral credentials of the kind they professed to hold in the highest regard. What is unmistakable to a Bahá’í is that, despite such failure, the transformations announced in Bahá’u’lláh’s message are resistlessly accomplishing themselves. Through shared discoveries and shared travails, 13 peoples of diverse cultures are brought face to face with the common humanity lying just beneath the surface of imagined differences of identity. Whether stubbornly opposed in some societies or welcomed elsewhere as a release from meaningless and suffocating limitations, the sense that the earth’s inhabitants are indeed “the leaves of one tree” 1 is slowly becoming the standard by which humanity’s collective efforts are now judged.
Loss of faith in the certainties of materialism and the progressive globalizing of human experience reinforce one another in the longing they inspire for understanding about the purpose of existence. Basic values are challenged; parochial attachments are surrendered; once unthinkable demands are accepted. It is this universal upheaval, Bahá’u’lláh explains, for which the scriptures of past religions employed the imagery of “the Day of Resurrection”: “The shout hath been raised, and the people have come forth from their graves, and arising, are gazing around them.” 2 Beneath all of the dislocation and suffering, the process is essentially a spiritual one: “The breeze of the All-Merciful hath wafted, and the souls have been quickened in the tombs of their bodies.” 3
1. Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1988), page 27.   [ Back To Reference]
2. Gleanings, section XVII.   [ Back To Reference]
3. Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1988), page 133.   [ Back To Reference]