Nowruz 2020, the new year that comes when day and night are equal in the northern hemisphere, described as the Spring Equinox, celebrated by Zoroastrians and the Bahá’ís, followers of Bahá’u’lláh, saw no real celebrations this year except for family gatherings and small groups to offer prayers for healing and thanks-giving due to the global pandemic—novel Coronavirus “COVID-19”!
Break-down of global supply chains, disruption of airlines flights, trains and other public transport systems; closure of international borders within continents and among nation-states, derangement of stock exchanges, collapse of markets to list just a few, are pushing humanity towards a state of recession from China to Germany, Australia to the United States. The powerful operations of this titanic upheaval, are scarcely comprehensible by anyone.
However, the worldwide Bahá’í Community looks upon this calamity as divine chastisement, a cleansing process destined to purge humankind of the evil and dark forces of greed, hatred, suspicion, despair, and weld the warring societies into one single global community indivisible, purified, God-consciousness and spiritually oriented.
Clinging to patterns of behaviour derived from stubbornly refusing to acknowledge the oneness and wholeness of the earth as our common homeland will only further exacerbate the crises. For, this globe-girdling “virus” signals a radical transformation of present-day society shattering previous assumptions.
Indeed, a dramatic revolution impacting every sphere of human existence. Due to lack of coherence and unity coupled with the inadequacy of global leadership will become clearer in the months to come. When afflicted nations as much as individuals would be tempted to self-isolate and cause even greater suffering in an already chaotic society for their own survival. If that happens, then the novel Coronavirus, devastating in itself, may prove to be only the first of many further devastating shocks that lie ahead.
The challenge facing today’s leaders be they religious or secular is daunting but not something impossible. They must contemplate, with hearts filled with the spirit of compassion and a desire for truth, the plight of humanity, and to ask themselves whether they cannot, in the interest of human race submerge their theological or ideological differences in a great spirit of mutual forbearance and work together for the advancement of human understanding and peace; for unity and well-being of all.
An important demand upon those wielding authority is moving away from a world-view founded on old time formulas, the click of a ‘mouse’ answers, scoring brownie points at multi-lateral or bilateral summit conferences. It calls for the acceptance of an organic change in the very structure of present-day society accompanied by equally profound change in human consciousness. Only a mindset that takes into account the spiritual nature of human beings and the paradigm of an ever-advancing civilization can understand or appreciate the magnitude of change required on our planet. What are the priorities to save our earth from the current pandemic, or from ecological suicide due to climate change and global warming?
For many years now, the worldwide Bahá’í community have been pleading with leaders of government and all in authority to solve problems based on commonly agreed global covenants and principles in the interest of the whole world rather than their particular nation-state. Despite many wonderful decisions and charters adopted at the United Nations General Assembly, it seems to me, “there is a paralysis of will; and it is this that must be carefully examined and resolutely dealt with. This paralysis is rooted in a deep-seated conviction of the inevitable quarrelsomeness of humankind, which has led to the reluctance to entertain the possibility of subordinating national self-interest to the requirements of world order, and in an unwillingness to face courageously the far-reaching implications of establishing a united world authority.”
Ruling elites cannot be allowed to imagine that the power they have managed to arrogate to themselves provides an enduring bulwark against the relentless forces of historical change. Throughout the world, these forces, in the form of COVID-19 pandemic, are not simply penetrating our homes, but infecting anyone anywhere in most unsuspecting ways. It is compelling humanity to look at life on earth in ways that we never imagined before and respond positively ere it is too late.
- Dr. A.K. Merchant