29. The Power of Change
Change is an essential feature of life. If something is remains changeless (like an overly-botoxed face?) it’s a pretty good indication that it’s dead. This applies to people and also to countries.
Around 1,500 years ago the Roman empire appeared invincible and yet it fell apart, which must have been as unthinkable at the time as for those living through the collapse of the Egyptian rule. Ditto for Greece, the Incas and Aztecs, the British Empire and so on. Our previous model of living in ‘countries’ is being gradually overtaken by recognition that the whole world is made up of nation-states; people with common attributes and characteristics, with an organised political system exerting sovereignty over a defined space, with borders agreed by other nation-states. This would have been unthinkable prior to the coming of Baha’u’llah. But today, try to imagine a world without countries – you can’t.
Our whole sense of who we are, our loyalties, our rights and obligations, is bound up in them. But they’re not really that old.
Until the mid-19th century, most of the world was just a sprawl of empires, unclaimed land, city-states and principalities, which travellers crossed without checks or passports. As industrialisation made societies more complex, larger systems of governance were required in order to manage them. Those best able to unify and coordinate their activities – their physical regions, languages, records, economies and actions - grew more powerful than their neighbours. Greater communications resulted in unified language, culture and identity.
Gradually the nation-state model spread worldwide; there are now 193 nation-states ruling the world. But their seemingly invincible rule is rapidly diminishing. This nation-state with its borders, centralised governments, common people and sovereign authority has been becoming increasingly out of step with the world.
The case against the nation-state is hardly new. Twenty years ago, many were anticipating its imminent demise. The futurists anguished that globalisation would spell the end of a nation-states’ power to enforce change. Without that control, what dire effects could this have on businesses, finance and people? The exciting, new internet seemed to herald a borderless, free, identity-less future.
When the light of Baha’u’llah broke upon the world, humanity was completing an age-old journey that had travelled from family to community to city state, and most recently t:o the experience of nation state.
This process is to be followed by the unification of the entire planet, a process progressively gradually effected though application of the Principle of Unity. The core Teachings of Baha’u’llah address such essential themes as the oneness of God and of religion, and the oneness of humanity. He stated: “That which the Lord hath ordained as the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of all the world is the union of all its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith." - Baha’u’llah