Looking around, there are signs of chaos, confusion, division and destruction everywhere. How do we remain hopeful in a world in turmoil?
What if the signs we’re witnessing are actually the birth pangs of a whole new story; a whole new way of being?
Baha’is believe a new day is dawning for humanity and that we are living in an “Age of Transition.” The Baha’i Holy Writings describe this period as both the “Age of Transition” and “the century of light” ― the dawning of awareness that we are one human family.
Could Baha’is be somewhat naive about the ills in the world? They are no more naive than a parent of teenagers ― seeing erratic and impulsive behavior, yet hopeful their children will grow into mature adults one day.
Think of it as humanity’s coming of age; a time where transition will give way to transformation, a time where adolescence gives way to adulthood. Baha’u’llah, the prophet-founder of the Baha’i Faith said, “Is it not the object of every revelation to effect a transformation that shall manifest itself, both outwardly and inwardly, that shall affect both its inner life and external conditions?”
Whenever a prophet or manifestation of God appears, new energies and potentialities are released, transforming the world. True religion transforms the human heart and contributes to the transformation of society. These creative energies have instilled into humanity the capacity to attain this final stage in its organic and collective evolution, even if the process is painstakingly slow and gradual.
The faith’s writings refer to a titanic spiritual struggle taking place that will ultimately be “unspeakably glorious” in it consequences. Baha’u’llah ― as the latest in the series of divinely inspired messengers who have guided humanity from age to age ― spoke about these creative energies, and proclaimed that humanity is now approaching the stage of maturity. He said, “Through the movement of Our Pen of Glory we have, at the bidding of the Omnipotent Ordainer, breathed a new life into every human frame, and instilled into every word a fresh potency. All created things proclaim the evidences of this worldwide regeneration.”
Baha’u’llah further said, “The whole earth is now in a state of pregnancy. The day is approaching when it will have yielded its noblest fruits, when from it will have sprung forth the loftiest trees, the most enchanting blossoms, the most heavenly blessings.”
Is it possible we are seeing death pangs and birth pangs at the same time? Old institutions, outmoded attitudes and habits of thinking, and hollow doctrines are exhibiting death pangs, while the forces working to reshape humanity into wholeness and the full recognition of its unity are expressing birth pangs. Confident that these two processes are happening at the same time, the Baha’i community is working to build new patterns of individual and community life.
The Baha’i Holy Writings clearly state, “We stand on the threshold of an age whose convulsions proclaim alike the death-pangs of the old order and the birth-pangs of the new.” On this threshold, we now have the tools and teachings needed to usher in an age of peace and justice ― if we choose to apply them.
Yes, there are signs of chaos, confusion, division and destruction everywhere. There are also signs of order, clarity, unity and reformation. There are people of good-will everywhere on the planet committed to building a peaceful and just world.
Sometimes it is helpful to reflect on the long sweep of history to stay confident and hopeful. “The winds of despair,” wrote Baha’u’llah, “are, alas, blowing from every direction, and the strife that divides and afflicts the human race is daily increasing.” Yet He also promises, “These fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the ‘Most Great Peace’ shall come.”
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