The Universal House of Justice (on crisis and resilience)

The seat of its deliberations: the Universal House of Justice, evening on Mount Carmel.

[2-minute read]

This is a “They Said” entry. They speak with one voice. None asserts individual privilege or claims personal credit. When they write, as with the samples below, one of them signs “The Universal House of Justice” for the group. This is no cultivated mysteriousness, no marketing shtick; it is just that their function as a body is all that matters, and their avoidance of egotism and arrogance is as complete as can be imagined…

The House of Justice, an elected council which directs the affairs of the Baha’i Faith, is an astonishing institution, though it remains unknown to most people. (I wrote about it on this site before, a long-ish read right about here.) Elected without fanfare or campaigning every five years by the global Baha’i community, it is beloved. It guides and inspires the Baha’is, and an increasingly large number of its allies and friends who admire the Universal House of Justice’s approach to the task of building global peace, unity and progress. I will not go on and on. Let me say only this: against the backdrop of the “furious storms lashing humanity” in November of 2020, what follows is part of this institution’s advice and counsel during the various ongoing crises of that time (and this). [I have italicized passages that ring the loudest in my mind.]

Your resilience and your unwavering commitment to the well-being of those around you, persistent through all difficulties, have filled us with tremendous hope. But it is no wonder that, in some other quarters, hope has become a depleted resource. There is a mounting realization on the part of the world’s people that the decades ahead are set to bring with them challenges among the most daunting that the human family has ever had to face. The current global health crisis is but one such challenge, the ultimate severity of whose cost, both to lives and livelihoods, is yet unknown; your efforts to succour and support one another as well as your sisters and brothers in society at large will certainly need to be sustained…

As usual, the House praises our community’s efforts in helping to build a new civilization — for that *IS* the call of Baha’u’llah, the Author of the Baha’i teachings and practices — and urges us to stay the patient yet urgent course that it prescribes. There are no rash promises or threats, yet the language of their diagnoses and prescriptions is uncompromising.

The following spring (April, 2021), the Universal House of Justice sent its annual “Ridvan Message”, a much-anticipated highlight of the community’s greatest festival, the 12 days of Ridvan (Arabic for “paradise”). We read it eagerly, and shared it with friends. The following extract is a small part of its assessment of the world’s condition, along with a brief reminder of Baha’u’llah’s central remedy: the overarching need for planetary unity.

[H]umanity, chastened by the exposure of its vulnerability, seems more conscious of the need for collaboration to address global challenges. Yet, lingering habits of contest, self-interest, prejudice and closed-mindedness continue to hinder the movement towards unity, despite growing numbers in society who are showing in words and deeds how they, too, yearn for greater acceptance of humanity’s inherent oneness. We pray that the family of nations may succeed in putting aside its differences in the interests of the common good.

I love to share and explore quotations that seize and galvanize me. It is amazing that I cite the Universal House of Justice here for the first time, for nothing provokes hope and purpose in me more than a letter from Mount Carmel.

Comments (2)

  1. Jessie

    Thank you for these thought-filled reflections

  2. Bahereh Wise

    Very insightful and touching article about the Universal House of Justice.

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