Reflections on the Bahai Concept of World Government

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Thoughts on the Bah’ concept of World Government

One of the teachings of Bah’u’llh, the Prophet-Founder of the Bah’ Faith, is that the human race, as a race of spiritual beings, is reaching a new stage in our development on earth. This stage will be global in nature. Humans have progressed past the stages of hunter-gatherer family units, past tribal allegiances, and city-states. We are now at the end of the age of nations. The next step is global.

In many ways, our society is already global. The food we eat, the items that make up our cars and homes and other objects in our lives, come from many parts of the world. Unfortunately, we have not learned any manner or procedure for a just or equitable use or distribution of resources. That is why what is now called “globalization” is disruptive.

We cannot go back to a former way of life.

We cannot cut all links to other parts of the world. The process toward a global village is too far along, it has been going on for more than a century and is too much a part of the world economy and everyone’s way of life.

Bah’u’llh proposed a system of councils to make decisions; that decision-making did not rest with an individual person. And He offered a decision-making process for councils to use which ensures that no member of the council dominates the decisions and that no minority is oppressed. In fact, if there is a tie vote for a member of the council, the minority automatically gets the spot.

The Overlooked in Decision-making Processes

Some of the features of this consultative process are obvious but often overlooked in decision-making processes. The first is to determine and agree on the relevant facts and principles so everyone starts together on the same page. If the council does not have sufficient knowledge of the subject, experts are sought. When ideas are offered regarding the subject under discussion they are given as gifts to the group: personal identity is not attached to an idea. The group is free to use, reject or modify any idea offered. The consensus is the goal before a solution is adopted. If no consensus can be reached the decision is postponed or, in an extreme case, a vote is taken.

Supporting the Final Decision

After a decision is reached everyone has a responsibility to support it. If a person disagrees with a decision the only way to prove it won’t work is to support it. If it is an unworkable decision, it will be evident to everyone and a new decision can be made. Fighting about a decision will never prove it’s the ability to work or not.

Factionalism is not supported because it undermines the unity of the group and unity is more important than being right. Unity can accomplish things. Disunity is destructive we can see that all around us. The right decision will eventually be obvious to everyone.

As a test model, Bah’ communities all around the world are experimenting with this process. This testing has been in process for over a hundred years. This testing has involved a comprehensive cross-section of the human race. People from more than 2112 different ethnic, racial, tribal and religious groups have participated. It has worked well for these Bah’s.

Local Bah’ communities as small as nine members, and as large as thousands, have formed these consultative councils in their local communities. They have been formed in the heart of jungles and the midst of urban cities, in the rural countryside everywhere that Baha’is live. There is no priesthood in the Bah’ Faith (it is forbidden by Bah’u’llh) so these councils administer the local Bah’ communities. They plan events, coordinate activities, educate children and adults and generally work to improve their communities. Enough experience has been obtained in the past century that people can see how it works.

At the national and international levels, similar councils also operate in the Bah’ community. Elections for members of all councils are done by secret ballot with no campaigning or electioneering. Voting is considered by Bah’s to be a sacred act – an act of worship. The elections for the international council may be the only international, secret ballot elections the world has known. Bah’s hold them every five years. Local and national elections are held every year.

It is this system of layered councils that Bah’s offer as a model on which can be based a global democratic federation of nations. This is what Bah”s mean by the generic term world government.

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