Social change needs spiritual dimension

Dianne Nagy

Dianne Nagy

Meaningful social transformation flows from spiritual awareness. A social order that ensures the well-being of all its members will not come about through the application of political prescriptions or technical recipes alone, however ingenious they may be. Constructive, enduring social change can only come from achieving coherence among the spiritual, moral and practical aspects of daily life. A just social policy will emerge only when human relations and social arrangements are infused with spiritual intent, an intent characterized by an all-embracing equity, unconditional love and an ethos of service.

In the Baha’i view, fostering constructive change is intimately linked to raising human capacity. Human beings are not regarded as a source of endless problems, but rather as rich in potential and capable of transforming their individual and collective circumstances. True capacity-building involves equipping people with tools that allow them to effectively address the complex social realities they face. This entails the development of concepts, skills, attitudes and qualities that promote learning about social and economic advancement, and deepen human solidarity.

A unique set of tenets and practices characterizes the Baha’i approach to social transformation: open and inclusive consultative decision making, participatory learning, and sustainable grassroots activity. Social development must be an organic process where the people most affected are directly engaged in identifying and addressing their needs. Although a focus on grassroots action is critical, this does not preclude outside entities from playing a catalytic role in assisting communities to carry out programs and realize their aspirations.

Nothing short of an awakening of the human spirit can imbue a desire for true social change and instill confidence that such change is indeed possible. To build a new world requires a recasting of conceptions concerning human nature and society. It calls for conviction in recognizing the underlying goodness and oneness of human beings, and an attitude of service to all people. It implies a fresh vision of human purpose and contentment – one that integrates the aspirations of the individual with the common good and responds to both the mind and the heart. Above all, it is a task that can be realized only through spiritual understanding and resolve. As Baha’u’llah urges: “Strive thou, that haply thou mayest achieve a deed the fragrance of which shall never fade from the earth.”

Nagey serves on the Campus Interfaith Council as a member of the Baha’i Faith. She can be reached at [email protected].

#1.884878:3161056744.jpg: dianenagy01_tm.jpg:Dianne Nagy, Religion Columnist:Troy Miller