Community: A Baha'i Blueprint Part 2/4
THE NATURE OF A COMMUNITY
During my research, I outlined 4 concepts which I felt pertained to the nature of a community. These concepts were; 1) The Community as a Living Breathing Organism, 2) A Community of Unified Thought and Action, 3) A Community of Fellowship and Love, and 4) A Community of Excellence and Distinction. For the sake of this blog entry, I am going to talk about my findings in the first two areas; the community as a living breathing organism and a community of unified thought and action.
The Community as a Living, Breathing Organism.
‘In the human body, every cell, every nerve has its part to play. When all do so the body is healthy, vigorous, radiant, ready for every call made upon it. This is true of the body of mankind in which God “hast endowed each and all with talents and faculties,” and is supremely true of the body of the Baha’i World Community, for this body is already an organism, united in its aspirations, unified in its methods, seeking assistance and confirmation from the same Source, and illumined with the conscious knowledge of its unity. . . The Baha’i World Community, growing like a healthy new body, develops new cells, new organs, new functions and powers as it presses on to its maturity...’
The various elements of the Baha’i community work together in an organic manner comparable to the functions of a living organism. One of the foremost characteristics of the Baha’i community is growth and while growth may vary across the world and growth may be discerned in surges as opposed to in a unified continuum, there must always be some level of positive change. If growth is missing entirely, then there is something fundamental missing from the basic requirements of organic life which is preventing advancement and progress.
(Organism = oxygen, water, soil, sun; community = communication, activity, unity, spirituality etc.)
Each cell, each tissue, each organ has a purpose, which, when combined create a functioning whole within an organism. No one action by any of these parts alone can have an effect without the other. Different lines
of action and growth are seen according to the levels of maturity within a community; for example: the mandate of the Baha’i community is widening as it grows. A multi-faceted body of complex organs has been born from a simple set of administrative bodies; and this complexity will continue to increase its growth and development.
“Collective action in the Baha’i community is not a series of disconnected events selected from an arbitrary list of things to do” Paul Lample
A holistic and organic approach to community action may appear to be erratic and unplanned but it results in increased development for it allows what naturally needs to happen in a community to unfold. Holistic approaches to development allow each community to development in a manner which is suitable to its individual needs and can be tailored as such. Collectively the community must strive to achieve their unified goals and better the community as a whole body; each cell, tissue, organ playing its part.
Fruits of our labors: Much like a plant which receives the correct amount of sun, minerals, oxygen and water, will grow and prosper; communities will grow and prosper according to the levels of commitment from its basic necessary parts. When the love, communication, levels of activity and unity are all present; the growth of the community will reflect this.
A Community of Unified Thought and Action
In order for a community to develop to the fullest degree, the members must be unified in their thoughts and actions. There must be an unspoken unity which pervades every member, some crucial thread which links them all. This allows discussions to be constructive; as controversial or difficult arguments can be handled as the knowledge of essential unity is never doubted by those participating.
This does not put aside the need for the individual investigation of truth for every man. But these efforts must be simultaneous and bear in mind the need for balance and an appreciation for consulting and unified learning.
The vast nature of reality confirms that no one person can hold all of reality in their hand and so differences in opinion are expected. The analogy of the elephant and the blind men is useful here; if you place an elephant and several blind men in a dark room and ask them to establish the nature of the option they are feeling by touch alone, they will never succeed, as the animal is too large. They can only understand and perceive the small segment which their hands are blindly grappling at. It is not until all men can combine their knowledge that the whole truth can be seen. Yet it comes from many angles and these angles do not all simulate, making consensus a vast challenge to mankind.
Individuals must of necessity hold subjective, partial views – personal opinions about reality and truth can be shared and contrasted with the views and opinions of others in the quest for great understanding. Paul Lample
Changing our comprehensions of truth is an important part of activating the potential within a community. Two opinions may hold truth; to a greater or lesser extent. Opinions might also be wrong entirely. We must be open and accepting of this and not hold fast to our own opinions but rather see them as an opinion for a consultative group to consider and either accept or reject.
O son of man! If thine eyes be turned towards mercy, forsake the things that profit thee and cleave unto that which will profit mankind. And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbor that which thou choosest for thyself. Humility exalteth man to the heaven of glory and power, whilst pride abaseth him to the depths of wretchedness and degradation. Baha’i Writings