The Bahá'í approach to government or collective action is a vast subject that cannot be adequately dealt with in a short paper. Accordingly, this brief presentation will be confined to a few highlights, which might be of special interest in the context of the general discussion this weekend.There are at least three dimensions to the Bahá'í plan for the establishment of a permanent world peace based on justice, or in Bahá'í terminology, "The Most Great Peace." The first dimension is the creation of a new race of men: the adoption of the highest ethical standards by every man, woman, and child on the planet. It is irrational to suppose that a just society can be achieved unless the people of that society are themsel ves just individuals.
A second dimension to the Bahá'í plan are broad policies to ensure that every person in the world has equal opportunity and encouragement to develop fully his or her physical, mental, and spiritual potential. One important aspect of this issue is the abolition of extremes of wealth and poverty within nations and between nations. Another is the elimination of racist and other prejudices that crush the human spirit.
A third dimension of the plan is a new system of government based on spiritual values and a world perspective. It must be clear by now to every thinking person that the present political system corrupts even the noblest of people and is not capable of dealing with the major issues that face humanity today. The most important characteristic of the present political scene is its division into some 170 sovereign states, the so-called Westphalian system. Many of these states have authoritarian governments that exploit and oppress rather than serve their peoples. Even more appalling is the fact that the system is so out of step with the needs of the time that it risks the destruction of most, if not all, of mankind for causes, which, by comparison and in the perspective of history, can only be called frivolous. Establishment of a permanent peace based on justice is, in the Bahá' í view, only possible if we move to an entirely new system of government.
The Bahá'í Community has already established a new system of government to direct its own affairs. This system, known as the Bahá'í Administrative Order, is offered to mankind as an alternative model to conventional methods. Ultimately, it is envisaged that this model will evolve into a full-fledged system featuring a world legislature, a world executive backed by a world police force, and a world judiciary, with subsidiary branches at national and local levels in every part of the world. Meanwhile, Bahá'ís are acquiring, within their own communities, experience on how to work their radically different system of managing the collective affairs of society.I propose to discuss the Bahá'í Administrative Order in two parts: first by briefly recapitulating its main features, and second by suggesting some aspects that make it uniquely fitted for the needs of the day. There are three key elements in the Bahá'í approach to government: a world structure; an electoral system, which puts emphasis on spiritual and collective qualities rather than on individual self-interest; and full, objective consultation as the basis for decision making.
To be continued.... enshalla
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