" Praise be to God! The medieval ages of darkness have passed away and this century of radiance has dawned, this century wherein the reality of things is becoming evident, wherein science is penetrating the mysteries of the universe, the oneness of the world of humanity is being established, and service to mankind is the paramount motive of all existence. Shall we remain steeped in our fanaticisms and cling to our prejudices? Is it fitting that we should still be bound and restricted by ancient fables and superstitions of the past, be handicapped by superannuated beliefs and the ignorances of dark ages, waging religious wars, fighting and shedding blood, shunning and anathematizing each other? Is this becoming? " (Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 368)
Do we heed the Word or follow the preachings of men?
Without doubt we live in a time of revolution, evolution and wonder! Technologies, transportation, communication and lifestyles have changed dramatically. Comforts and gadgets unknown a mere century ago are commonplace today. Brief controlled flight of a flimsy kite-like flying contraption leading to the "giant leap" of man landing on the Moon, within a span of 66 years, is a good representation of just how remarkably fast developmental progress is being made. The transportation industry is now global in scope as regularly scheduled dependable flights to the four corners of the Earth are now considered routine.
It is hard to look at recent happenings without wondering if the stage is truly being set for the dawning of a new paradigm of thought. Instant worldwide communication has ushered in a new era of world awareness. No longer are those who reside overseas unable to communicate with loved ones. Indeed, a phone call to distant lands is much the same as a local call. Modern media allows us to see and hear what is going on virtually anywhere. For the first time human civilization, as a whole, is evolving a worldwide consciousness as we interact, travel to, visit and make acquaintances in foreign lands. war, its politics and horrors, is now graphically portrayed to the masses. Weapons of mass destruction are suicidal to use. Greater knowledge, acquaintance and "fear of consequences" is helping to make war humanely ever-more non-desirable. Consulting and working together for the common good has the potential of remediating much hunger and suffering worldwide.
Of course, this technological world would not be possible without the vast increase in scientific knowledge asupporting it. Questions, direct observation, discoveries, testable results and science based theories have largely replaced superstition, habit, dogmatic fear and assumed "truths" from traditionally accepted sources.
The new rapidly evolving computer science industry must be given credit for laying the foundation for much of what is known as "the information age". The impact of computer use in our daily lives, as well as its global implementation, is no less than revolutionary!
One great gift of technology to the masses are two special symbol-laden pictures. Mankind has been enabled to see the Earth from Space as it really is.He can behold the full earth as taken on the Apollo 8 and 17 Moon Missions or view our home from outside the Solar System via the Voyageur Spacecraft as a mere speck of dust floating within a realm of ever-expanding Cosmic Immensity. Among many, these images have kick-started a growing awareness, a new understanding, a humility of just how we rank in the physical Cosmic order of things.
Certainly our place in this Universe seems so insignificant, yet, at the same time, humanity has been given the capacity to investigate reality for himself; to use his God-given potential for the betterment of all mankind; to truly work through partnership and consultation, in harmony with the "Spirit of Truth", in realizing," Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.,"
But tragically, people, "given dominion over the earth," impose their own self-centered will. Humanity seems destined to be ruled by its own self-made interests. Citizens and nations the world over appear mired in an endless unrelenting fervor of misunderstanding, divisiveness and bloodshed. Short-term needs and ideals often completely over-shadow long-term sustainable actions done for the benefit of all. The human species draws boundaries; nourishes creeds, vain imaginings and superstition; supposes his own religious faith to positively reflect the most accurate and complete Will of the Almighty. History is replete with accounts of "appointed" authority figures and fanatics calling for holy wars, atrocities and Inquisitions in the name of their particular parochial man-made perceived god! Accordingly, the modern media brings to the masses the scenes and sounds of "wars and rumors of wars.
We in the West hear so much news about the Middle East. It is hard to find an individual who does not fear Islam as a religion of terror and war. Assuredly, part of this thinking is justified for fanaticism seems to be reflected everywhere. This being said, how easily we forget our own legacy of terror and injustice. A brief look at American history will show, not only grave injustices done on the American Indian but a "Great Injustice" on the Black Man as well; where one might easily be killed or even burned to death for riding in the front of a bus, where un-named bodies of black people are found by federal investigators, where people were treated as sub-human; all this, a century after a bloody war to eradicate a brutal multigeneration system of slavery; all of this in a Christian "land of the free".
But certainly it is self evident, people the world over share the same basic needs, wishes and desires. Can you imagine a world having overcome the specter of conflict, hatred and endless wars; a world without thoughts of "evil empires", "you're an infidel", " you are only a savage, you don't count"," we are better than you", you need our help to be more like us", "you are a threat to our national security so must be put away", etc.? Imagine not feeling obligated to lock doors for fear of what fellow citizens might do to you or your children. Can you imagine the ramifications on a world-wide scale if we, as humanitarian humans, by truly implementing the Golden Rule in all aspects of life; would refocus our lives, efforts , standards and goals to follow suit? I am sure many dream of a time when no one exploits another for profit, where "riches of the wallet" are overshadowed by "richness of service", where liability and lawsuits cease to unduly threaten and instill fear into everyday activities; much in the name of money-changing given into the pockets of lawyers and lawmakers? How about legislation passed for the common benefit of all, not heavily influenced by lobbies or special interest groups?
Of course, it is only too self evident: lawmakers, no matter how they may try to cover every possibility by the letter of the law, can not legislate a guaranteed peace, tranquility and safety for all. These must, necessarily, be legislated within the inner changed hearts of mankind.
But, what about this idea of having "ownership" or "dominion over the earth" as mentioned in the ancient book of Genesis? Is it time for an update? Perhaps Mother Earth and Father Sky are about to teach us a stern lesson. Maybe living together in respect of and in service to the earth and sky is essential. Surely global warming and explosive human population growth, to the detriment of much other life on the planet, are supreme challenges that must be dealt with. When will human population growth overwhelm the carrying capacity of the earth's resources to sustain it? How will we tackle global warming, which threatens to dramatically change the benign climate and reliable productivity we so depend on? It seems these issues in themselves will literally force us to consult and work together in mutual world-wide cooperation for the good of all. Is there any other alternative if we are to survive as a species?
Much expressed here can be distilled into a "Yours vs. mine" paradigm: "My land is mine; I bought/fought for it, I own it therefore I have property rights others don't possess, My needs re paramount over yours.
In contrast, Deeds of Land Title were foreign to American Indian thinking before the coming of the Europeans. To them, the land belonged to all equally as given to them by the Great Spirit. Game, fruits and harvests were received with thanksgiving as a universal bounty. Perhaps all of us could learn a little from the ancients.
When might we all find a balance beneficial to all between owning and sharing?
So... How can we leap over the chasm between selfish whims and desires to realize the more noble truths of world-focused service, understanding and forgiveness? How do we come to internalize and apply the lesson given us from Space," IE: The Earth is but one country and mankind its citizens? From this perspective he Earth is truly witnessed as an oasis of life. We are but a part and parcel of that life.
This is the question set before us all. Indeed, it is becoming a growing issue of ever-increasing importance. But heedless, we carry on with our petty short-term gratification schemes blissfully ignorant of the fundamentally unsustainable path we tread.
From this has come a vision, questions,and prayers for mercy and enlightenment given to the One All-Encompassing Universal Boundless Universal Reality Surrounding us all.
A look at how humanity has invariably seen fit ...
to caste the Divine as a Maker of War when the Message is Peace.
To use literal understanding of Scripture as an excuse for imposing slavery and terrorism.
To mistake parochial elements of fanaticism, closedmindedness, politics and habit as signs of steadfastness.
Look, pondor and ask yourself; What is going on? Why must humanity take the turnpike that leads to such dissension, travesty and bloodshed?