Monday, March 28, 2011

Creating vibrant communities

The Universal House of Justice in its letter of 28 December 2010, paragraph 11, wrote: "New frontiers of learning are now open to the friends, who are asked to dedicate their energies to the creation of vibrant communities, growing in size and reflecting in greater and greater degrees Baha'u'llah's vision for humanity."

First we notice that all of our activities are expressed in terms of learning. This is not merely a new language, but a new way of thinking about ourselves. Learning is not just about acquiring a few interesting facts. But beyond facts are concepts. When we learn new concepts our mind broadens and our consciousness expands. This is an essential feature of human life. And it is the source of our inner motivation. When we learn new concepts, and experience a broadening of vision, to that extent we are alive. Among the people who are most directly and immediately engaged in building new communities, those who experience this aspect of learning find that they do not need any other external motivation.

Next to attraction to beauty, thirst for learning is an inexhaustable source of motivation.

The second point to keep in mind is that we are called to dedicate our energies to the creation of vibrant communities. It is only natural that some may think of the word community as referring to the Baha'i community. But how can we create vibrant communities if people from the wider community are not included? It should be clear then that this word refers to all people who are interested to be part of a growing and vibrant community in each neighborhood or on any block or street.

Finally it is worth mentioning that Baha'u'llah's vision for humanity is expansive and all embracing. The principles and practices of the Baha'i community are such that it can easily and deliberately embrace people of all persuasions. People of any faith or no faith often feel quiet comfortable participating in the activities of Baha'is because they are designed to appeal to all people. The discourse is devoid of dogmas, doctrines and rituals, and is focused on service and on spiritual susceptibilities.

There are some 16,000 clusters in the world. Some 10,000 of which have little or no Baha'is in them. Therefore expanding the program of growth, to attain or surpass the first milestone, in over 5000 clusters is a formidable task in front of the community for the next 5 years. But such a goal speaks of the confidence and trust with which the Head of the Faith views its rank and file. It will represent a significant achievement of consolidation of unity within the Baha'i community itself as well as in thousands who participate in its activities. To what heights of service and sacrifice will the community rise, and to what levels of maturity its institutions will be called upon!

Baha'u'llah wrote: "This is not a Cause which may be made a plaything for your idle fancies, nor is it a field for the foolish and faint of heart. By God, this is the arena of insight and detachment, of vision and upliftment, where none may spur on their chargers save the valiant horsemen of the Merciful, who have severed all attachment to the world of being. These, truly, are they that render God victorious on earth, and are the dawning-places of His sovereign might amidst mankind."

The study of this 11th paragraph of this magnificient document from the inspired and unerring pen of the House of Justice suggests the following questions:

1.     What are the two tasks assigned to the friends who reside in any of the 1600 clusters with intensive programs of growth?
2.     What form of pioneering is largely called for in this Plan?
3.     How are we supposed to come up with 5000 clusters that have reached the first milestone or beyond?

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