Sunday, April 4, 2010

How the balance of justice is being set: Part 2

This is part of a "condensed" text written by the author first distributed in the 1970's, in lectures and classes at Baha'i conferences and schools.

JUSTICE IN THE CONDITION OF HUMANITY TODAY

According to the process of divine justice, the cumulative progress of mankind up to our time is generally the consequence of acceptance by men of the guidelines laid down by God's Great Educators in the past, such as Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. Similarly, the consequences of man's denial of the divine standard proclaimed by Baha'u'llah a century ago are the following features of the current sickness of humanity:

1. Suffering and Self-Punishment
The promised day is come, the day when tormenting trials will have surged above your heads, and beneath your feet, saying: "Taste ye what your hands have wrought!" (PDC,1)

They are themselves the victims of what their own hearts have devised, and yet they perceive it not. (BWF,132)

...as they have failed to appreciate this loving-kindness and these bounties, they have been, and will be, afflicted with the retribution which their acts must entail. (ESW,106)
2. Blinded Perception
The dust of sedition hath clouded the hearts of men, and blinked their eyes. (G,40)
3. Impotence of Leaders and Persons of Position
From two ranks amongst men power hath been seized: kings and ecclesiastics. (PDC,19)

We had seized the reins of authority by the power of God and His Divine might, as He alone can seize, Who is the Mighty, the Strong. (ESW,105)
4. Eventual Perception of Past Errors
Erelong, they will perceive the consequences of what their hands have wrought in the Day of God... This is the Day whereon the earth shall tell out her tidings. (G,40)

The time is at hand when whatsoever lieth hid in the souls and hearts of men will be disclosed. (ESW,107)

Erelong will ye witness the result of your deeds; for the Lord My God lieth in wait and is watchful of your behavior... (BA,174)

O Children of Fancy! Know verily, that while the radiant dawn breaketh above the horizon of eternal holiness, the satanic secrets and deeds done in the gloom of night shall be laid bare and manifest before the peoples of the world. (HW,65)

We have set forth the whole matter before thee, that perchance thou might realize what thou hast done... (G,230)

The world is in great turmoil, and the minds of its people are in a state of utter confusion. We entreat the Almighty that He may graciously illuminate them with the glory of His Justice, and enable them to discover that which will be profitable unto them at all times and under all conditions. (G,97-8)
Thus, one consequence of the past rejection of the divine standard and of the continuance of the malfunction for which this standard was prescribed is that these past errors and the perpetrators of these errors are eventually exposed.

5. The Present Plight of Justice
Justice is, in this day, bewailing its plight, and Equity groaneth beneath the yoke of oppression. (G,92)

We entreat God to deliver the light of equity and the sun of justice from the thick clouds of waywardness, and cause them to shine forth upon man. (ESW,28)
6. The Extinction of the Old World Order
The day is approaching when We will have rolled up the world and all that is therein, and spread out a new order in its stead. (G,313)
In sum, the justice in the condition of humanity today is that the above features of the sickness of society are the consequences of its own failure to implement the new standard announced by Baha'u'llah. In contrast to this disintegrative process, the unity, vigor and growth of the Baha'i world community is the consequences of the extent to which its members have translated that which has been written in the Baha'i revelation into reality and action.

FORCES INVOLVED IN SETTING THE BALANCE OF JUSTICE

As ever in human society up to this day, each aspect of the current structure of society is unjust to some degree. This condition has lasted because the bonds between persons of position and the rank and file have become fixed and resistant to change. To take but one example, it is not fair for clergymen to hinder "their people from attaining the shores of eternal salvation" by holding the "reins of authority in their mighty grasp" (BWF,63). As the community of Baha'u'llah expands, consolidates and proclaims this increasing strength, it will stimulate a redirection of the course of these relationships between persons of position and their rank and file away from their current injustice and toward a closer realization of the divine purpose for man. Thus the principle forces involved in setting the balance of justice in this day are the persons of position and high rank in the world, their respective rank and files, and the creative community of Baha'u'llah. With regard to the theme of divine justice, Baha'u'llah has delineated the crucial features of each of these groups:

1. Persons of position are largely responsible for the sick condition of humanity today. This is the time
when the reins of mankind will have fallen into the grasp of the foolish and ignorant... Such a condition as this is witnessed in this day when the reins of every community have fallen into the grasp of foolish leaders, who lead after their own whims and desire. On their tongue the mention of God hath become an empty name; in their midst His holy Word a dead letter. Such is the sway of their desires, that the lamp of conscience and reason hath been quenched in their hearts... (BC,29)

The leaders of men have, from time immemorial, prevented the people from turning unto the Most Great Ocean. (PDC,83)

From time immemorial they who have been outwardly invested with authority have debarred men from setting their faces towards God. (PDC,17)

They (leaders of men) have disliked that man should gather together around the Most Great Ocean, inasmuch as they have regarded, and still regard, such a gathering as the cause of, and the motive for, the disruption of their sovereignty. (PDC,17)

The unjust ones of the world have usurped the rights of nations, and are with all power and strength occupied with their own lustful desires. (BWF,173)

The oppressed One of the world says: The orb of justice is concealed; the sun of equity is behind the clouds; thieves occupy the position of guardians and protectors, and traitors are seated in the place of trustworthy ones. (BWF,197)

The workers of inequity are her (the earth) burdens, could ye be perceive it. (G,40)

If your rules and principles be founded on justice, why is it, then, that ye follow those which accord with your corrupt inclinations and reject such as conflict with your desires? By what right claim ye, then, to judge fairly between men? (G,124)
2. To the rank and file of mankind, Baha'ullah points out "those that lead them astray" (G,41), the unjust persons of position of the world. Baha'u'llah intimates that the rank and file of the world must learn that their deprivation is largely due to the resistance of unjust persons of position to the equitable arrangement of human affairs in the Baha'i teachings:
The sun of justice hath been obscured, inasmuch as the embodiments of tyranny hath been established upon the throne of hatred, and yet the people understand not. (ESW,102)
As the "people" taste what the hands of men have wrought in the increasing decline of their archaic civilization, the power of their leaders to affect them slowly ebbs, and the whole unjust social system comprised of oppressive persons of position and non-comprehending rank and file disintegrates, leaving a formless mass ready to be reshaped into a higher, more perfect social being.

3. Since the followers of Baha'u'llah
have been endued with the Divine Elixir that can, alone, transform into purest gold the dross of the world, and have been empowered to administer the infallible remedy for all the ills that afflict the children of men, (G,183)
the essential task of this creative community is to guide and heal the people, that formless, directionless mass of humanity which is the remains of the old order fast becoming extinct. This role of the Baha'i community is unmistakably defined by Baha'u'llah:
The friends of God must become as wise physicians and care for and heal this sick person (the world), in accord with the divine teachings... The first remedy is to guide the people, so that they may turn unto God... Be...a wise guide to every one lead astray... (BWF,356)

Concern yourselves with the things that benefit mankind, and not with your corrupt and selfish desires. O ye followers of this Wronged One! Ye are the shepherds of mankind; liberate ye your flocks from the wolves of evil passions and desires... (ESW,29)

The whole of mankind is in the grip of manifold ills. Strive, therefore, to save its life through the wholesome medicine which the almighty hand of the unerring Physician hath prepared. (G,81)

The people of Baha must, in all cases, act and advise people in that which is worthy. (BWF,168)

Gird up the loins of thine endeavor, that perchance thou mayest release the captive from his chains, and enable him to attain unto true liberty (B,92)
Baha'u'llah has provided each Baha'i community with a House of Justice (known as "spiritual assembly") which is an institution adequate to embody the ideal of justice for mankind and which will be proclaiming Baha'u'llah's revelation and its requirements for justice to every phase of local society in which they operate:
The Lord hath ordained that in every city a House of Justice be established wherein shall gather counselors to the number of Baha... It behooveth them to be the trusted ones of the Merciful among men, and to regard themselves as the guardians of God for all that dwell on earth. (BA,21)

The affairs of the people are placed in charge of the men of the House of Justice of God. They are the trustees of God among His servants and the day springs of command in His countries. (BWF,195)

The men of the House of Justice of God must, night and day, gaze toward that which hath been revealed from the horizon of the heaven of the Supreme Pen for the training of the servants, for the upbuilding of countries, for the protection of men and for the preservation of human honor. (BWF,197)
For these spiritual assemblies (Houses of Justice) to upbuild countries and preserve human honor, the persons of position and their rank and file in every phase of our society -- religion, economics, human relations, government, education -- must be fully informed of their specific alternatives for action in this day and the consequences of each as defined by the revelation of Baha'u'llah and the process of divine justice. This can be accomplished through proclaiming loudly and openly the standard of justice described in the following sections. Baha'u'llah's exhortation is:
Arise, and proclaim unto the entire creation the tidings that He Who is the All-Merciful hath directed His steps towards the Ridvan and entered it. Guide, then, the people unto the garden of delight which God hath made the Throne of His Paradise. We have chosen thee to be our most might Trumpet, whose blast is to signalize the resurrection of all mankind. (G,31)
[This manuscript consists of other chapters such as "What is justice?", "The power of justice", "Justice for clergyman and congregation", "Justice for rich and poor", "Justice for men and women", "Consequences of acceptance of Baha'u'llah's standard", "Admonitions to justice", etc.]

References (page numbers from pre-1970 editions)
BA, Baha'i Administration, by Shoghi Effendi
BWF, Baha'i World Faith (quotes from Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha)
ESW, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, by Baha'u'llah
G, Gleanings from the writings of Baha'u'llah
HW, Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah
PDC, Promised Day is Come, by Shoghi Effendi
SAQ, Some Answered Questions, by 'Abdu'l-Baha
SDC, Secret of Divine Civilization, by 'Abdu'l-Baha
© 2010 James J Keene

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