24. Waging a constant fight.
Updated: May 12
Have you been caught up in one or more of the current Leader's Debates for the many national elections presently being contested? And if so, how did that make you feel? Inspired, positive? Or a much lesser feeling? I watched one and felt reminded of Shakespeare's famous play 'Julius Caesar'.
In this play, Brutus is a complex and tragic character with conflicting value systems that battle with each other, much as they continue to battle most of humanity today. And he warns about the necessity of responding to the needs of the time;
"There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures."
---Brutus, Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224
Water is a symbol of unity; the water that laps at your shore is the same water that surrounds us all, sustains the life of all, cleanses the impurities of all. Martin Luther King Jr. referred to it in his powerful 'I Have a Dream' speech when he spoke for his people, for all people, who lived with the denial of that water that confers justice and rightousness, declaring;
"No, no we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until Justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream".
Today the voyage of all humanity lies 'bound in the shallows'. Most of earth's peoples are experiencing the miseries of insufficiencies and the onslaught of numerous threats to life and liberty, whilst a privileged few 'float on a full sea', as their self-serving ambition continues to dominate above all other motivations.
We have seen the conflict of value systems that resulted in the wave that was the #Me Too movement which swept our world for several years and gradually began to recede.
Will the current of humanity allow Black Lives Matter also to recede? Or will the force of unity, of divine principles, rise like a flood, and sweep us onwards to that 'fortune' lying ahead?
Shoghi Effendi speaks of the need for a 'flow of those quickening energies which can alone insure the vigorous and speedy development of God's struggling Faith'.
He also warns of the consequences of retarding that flow, calling us to engage in a battle;
"Fully alive to the unfailing efficacy of the power of Bahá'u'lláh, and armed with the essential weapons of wise restraint and inflexible resolve, let him wage a constant fight against the inherited tendencies, the corruptive instincts, the fluctuating fashions, the false pretences of the society in which he lives and moves..." --Shoghi Effendi, Bahá’í Administration, p. 130.
These words deliberately use the terminology of war; 'armed with weapons', 'waging a constant fight'. This is no time to relax; if the world of which we are a part is to thrive, we must take direct and forceful action now.
"In their relations amongst themselves as fellow-believers, let them not be content with the mere exchange of cold and empty formalities often connected with the organizing of banquets, receptions, consultative assemblies, and lecture-halls. ..In their homes, in their hours of relaxation and leisure, in the daily contact of business transactions, in the association of their children, whether in their study-classes, their playgrounds, and club-rooms, in short under all possible circumstances, however insignificant they appear, the community of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh should satisfy themselves that in the eyes of the world at large and in the sight of their vigilant Master they are the living witnesses of those truths which He fondly cherished and tirelessly championed to the very end of His days...If we relax in our purpose, if we falter in our faith, if we neglect the varied opportunities given us from time to time by an all-wise and gracious Master, we are not merely failing in what is our most vital and conspicuous obligation, but are thereby insensibly retarding the flow of those quickening energies which can alone insure the vigorous and speedy development of God's struggling Faith." ----Shoghi Effendi, Part Two: Letters from Shoghi Effendi: Letters of Haifa, Palestine, April 12, 1927.
These words are a bold and clear challenge to each of us; to emulate our all-wise and gracious Master,
"Such is the path of servitude, such is the way of holiness He chose to tread to the very end of His life. Nothing short of the strictest adherence to His glorious example can safely steer our course amid the pitfalls of this perilous age, and lead us on to fulfill our high destiny". ---ibid
There are spiritual principles, or what some call human values, by which solutions can be found for every social problem. Any well-intentioned group can in a general sense devise practical solutions to its problems, but good intentions and practical knowledge are usually not enough. The essential merit of spiritual principle is that it not only presents a perspective which harmonizes with that which is immanent in human nature, it also induces an attitude, a dynamic, a will, an aspiration, which facilitates the discovery and implementation of practical measures.
Leaders of governments and all in authority would be well served in their efforts to solve problems if they would first seek to identify the principles involved and then be guided by them. ---Universal House of Justice,1985 Statement, October 1985. To the Peoples of the World.