Consider the case of a cluster, or indeed a village or an urban neighborhood, at the very start of the process of development. While there are many people living here and each is engaged in some activity or another, initially there will not be any collective consciousness of a movement towards anything. Like a patch in a meadow, while some things are growing, there is not that sense of orderliness and purpose that characterizes a garden, a farm, or any cultivated land.
Now introduce one person into this village. Let us say that due to his or her previous experience and exposure, this "single homefront pioneer" begins to have conversations with local inhabitants creating "opportunities afforded by the personal circumstances of the [persons] initially involved". Let us say that a group of friends then decide to start a regular gathering to study the human condition in the light of Revelation. Through their study they will better understand the nature of themselves and their relations to one another, as well as their relationship to all the inhabitants of the village. They will grasp a more true understanding of social reality. Then under the edifying influence of their study of the Word of God they will begin to act. This act may be as simple an enterprise as a weekly gathering of a few families intent on educating their children, befriending and animating their young members, or just raising their voices in unison in songs of praise and devotional thankfulness.
Of course the cluster can have say hundreds of thousands of residents. So what can a few families in one neighborhood do to impact or to alter the social reality of these communities? The answer to this question requires a vision into the future that spans decades or even centuries.
One person can plant a seed, and if she is well aware of the potential of that seed - what kind of a tree, how tall, how fruitful, with what dynamics it is likely to grow - and if the initial environment is receptive, the soil is rich and ready, then there are such forces in nature that for decades after the original person has gone, that tree will continue to grow. Similar forces exist in the spiritual worlds of God and in the collective life of humanity. The operation of these forces is such that certain seeds, planted appropriately in receptive souls, can and will grow to become a new life, giving rise to new habits, a new culture and ultimately a new civilization based on spiritual foundations.
Baha'u'llah wrote: "All men have been called into being for the betterment of the world". [Baha'u'llah, Tabernacle of Unity, page 44] Therefore there must exist in the world the necessary natural and spiritual forces to enable each one of us to fulfill this goal of our lives.
This same concept is in fact explored in the first section of the first Book on Reflections on the Life of the Spirit where it quotes Baha'u'llah that "The betterment of the world can be accomplished through pure and goodly deeds, through commendable and seemly conduct", and then we explore the suggestion that there are so few good people in the world that their actions will have little impact. Most groups are able to come to the conclusion that every act, no matter how small will have an impact.
This notion is equally applicable to the efforts of any organization in civil society that is concerned with the social development of a community. If the correct spiritual forces are harnessed along their natural and proper direction even the smallest effort will be amplified and will have long lasting trans-formative effects.
The following 6 questions are suggested by the study of this 4th paragraph. You will be able to reflect on the answers by revisiting the original document here.
1. What dictates how “the process of growth begins in a cluster”?
2. When “a single homefront pioneer” arrives in a virgin cluster, what would be his/her first lines of action? What happens next?
3. What are those activities that “serve as a stimulus to growth”?
4. How can we know if it is best to multiply a given core activity, or to initiate new activities?
5. What is meant by “cohesion” in this passage?
6. What “marks the first of several milestones in a process of sustainable growth”?
"To whatever place We may be banished, however great the tribulation We may suffer, they who are the people of God must, with fixed resolve and perfect confidence, keep their eyes directed towards the Day Spring of Glory, and be busied in whatever may be conducive to the betterment of the world and the education of its peoples." [Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, page 271]