70. A Baha'i Response to UN's 'Spiritual and Moral Crisis'
Updated: Apr 16, 2020
About 70,000 years ago Homo Sapiens was still an insignificant animal who made his own business in a corner of Africa ... Today he is on the verge of becoming a god, ready to acquire not only eternal youth, but also the divine abilities to create and to destroy ... Can there be something more dangerous than a mass of dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who do not even know what they want?" ---Yuval Noah Harari, "From Animals into Gods - A brief History of Humankind".
The dubious advice -"If it feels good, do it" - recently inspired a therapist writing for 'Psychology Today' to comment; "Maybe, like me, you're just barely old enough to remember this expression. To my father, a minister, this dictum summed up everything that was wrong with the emerging values of the 1960s and 1970s. Can you imagine? If everyone just did what felt good? Anarchy! Ribaldry!" Fortunately we've matured a bit since then. But collectively we are still being guided by such self-focussed factors as the search for pleasure, fame, wealth and eternal youth. Unlike many other cultures, maturity of years in the western world is considered a social negative. Without any collective charter of spiritual or moral limits, we are continuing to produce that "mass of dissatisfied and irresponsible gods..."
The closest thing we have to any collective social responsibility can be found in standards set by United Nations agencies. Lacking universally ethical and enforceable standards of behaviour, we have used scientific capacity to create without limit, to consume without restraint and to vastly increase our ability to destroy.
A recent report notes a mass exodus out of organized religion in the United States, stating that the number of Americans with "No Religion" has soared 266% over the last 3 decades. https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-04-06/
The most comprehensive study of life on Earth ever undertaken was leaked this year. This global assessment report, compiled over three years by the UN’s leading research body on nature, warns that the planet’s life-support systems are approaching a danger zone. All future generations and wildlife are at risk unless urgent action is taken to reverse the loss of plants, insects and other creatures on which humanity depends for food, pollination, clean water and a stable climate.
The present 'immoral, overconsumption, extinction crisis' is an aggregate of ignorance, greed, inequity and other self-serving 'if it feels good' values-deficiencies. As such, it is essentially a Spiritual crisis.
It happened despite the passage of centuries since Homo Sapiens first set about 'his own business in Africa', during which humanity continued to be guided by a series of Divine Messengers addressing the specific needs of their places and times.
The values of those past civilisations may still be found today in such sources as the four Noble Truths of Buddhism, the Jewish Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule of Jesus and The Five Pillars of Islam.
Every culture had mutually agreed charters of collective social and spiritual responsibility. Today, many of those who still adhere to religion are either in conflict or diminishing in influence.
From a Bahai perspective these charters of collective social and spiritual responsiblity were not merely the result of random development, but a divinely inspired cycle reflecting humanity's growing material and spiritual capacity, emanating from a progressive revelation of divine principles.
This is why the Bahai message is uniquely relevant to the needs of our time. Our increasingly global and interconnected world demands collective values and principles that support and sustain the harmonious development of one unified world. Belief in the essential oneness of science, religion and the essential oneness of God is the central focus of the religion for our time; the Bahai Faith.
Exert yourselves with heart and soul so that, perchance, through your efforts the light of universal peace may shine and this darkness of estrangement and enmity may be dispelled from amongst men, that all men may become as one family and consort together in love and kindness, that the East may assist the West and the West give help to the East, for all are the inhabitants of one planet, the people of one original native land and the flocks of one Shepherd.---Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 469.