Now compare these with the second paragraph of the letter of 28 December 2010. We notice that the list of accomplishments of the Faith are now too many to enumerate. Therefore instead of listing the achievements, there is an assessment in terms of raised capacity. The entire paragraph provides an assessment of the growth and advancement of the Faith, not so much in terms of a religious language, but in the language of community building. There is talk of the raised capacity "to engage in grassroots action". And from this perspective it indicates that "The vista from this vantage point is stupendous indeed."
The following 4 questions are suggested by the study of this paragraph:
1. The “dynamics of the process of learning” speaks about the training institute, which “has steadily gathered momentum” “through four successive global Plans”. What capacity does the institute enhance?
2. The first institute course gives rise to the capacity to shape a pattern of life distinguished for its devotional character. What should we pray for? The efficacy of our efforts depends on what?
3. Describe the strength of the pyramid of human resources in the world.
4. The act of teaching, studied in Books 2, 4, and 6 is described as “exploration of reality that gives rise to a shared understanding of the exigencies of this period in human history and the means for addressing them.” What does this refer to?
Transformation of the society is ultimately a question of education. That the Baha'i community has focused on providing a systematic education, in the form of a network of training institutes, to its members is a great lesson for all those who work in the field of development. In the words of Baha'u'llah:
"Man is the supreme Talisman. Lack of a proper education hath, however, deprived him of that which he doth inherently possess. Through a word proceeding out of the mouth of God he was called into being; by one word more he was guided to recognize the Source of his education; by yet another word his station and destiny were safeguarded. The Great Being saith: Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom." [Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, page 260]
If this is true for the Baha'i community, why would it not also be the key to all efforts for development of any city, any village or neighborhood?
And what education does is raise the capacity of a population to improve its own lot. With a raised capacity the people of a neighborhood can gradually and steadily acquire the knowledge, the spiritual insights, and the skills to engage in ever more complex activities for the betterment of their own community.
Baha'u'llah Himself specifies that His goal is not just to obtain a few (or many) converts. He writes that "The allegiance of mankind profiteth Him not, neither doth its perversity harm Him." Here is the full quote in its context:
"If any man were to meditate on that which the Scriptures, sent down from the heaven of God’s holy Will, have revealed, he would readily recognize that their purpose is that all men shall be regarded as one soul, so that the seal bearing the words “The Kingdom shall be God’s” may be stamped on every heart, and the light of Divine bounty, of grace, and mercy may envelop all mankind. The one true God, exalted be His glory, hath wished nothing for Himself. The allegiance of mankind profiteth Him not, neither doth its perversity harm Him. The Bird of the Realm of Utterance voiceth continually this call: “All things have I willed for thee, and thee, too, for thine own sake.” If the learned and worldly-wise men of this age were to allow mankind to inhale the fragrance of fellowship and love, every understanding heart would apprehend the meaning of true liberty, and discover the secret of undisturbed peace and absolute composure." [Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, page 260]
This lack of self-interest is an important ingredient in the efforts of all those who want to empower a population to take ownership of their own development.