So Accurate It's Scary

I didn't publish this post for almost two month because I wanted to find a quote that the Baha'i who first introduced me to the Faith told me about many years ago. Thanks to Chad Jones, who, in an extremely devoted and praiseworthy effort to be of service to both the Baha’i Faith and the world, recently updated that very invaluable Baha’i Writings  (and other religious texts) search engine, Ocean, I was finally able to find it. My Baha'i teacher, Don Erby, said that The Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, Shoghi Effendi, was talking to Rúhíyyih Khánum (his wife), about the role the United States would play in ushering in a new world that will be guided by the teachings of Baha'u'llah. During a fireside meeting during the mid-80s, Don paraphrased what the Guardian said: "America will lead the rest of the world to Bahá'u'lláh’s Administrative Order not because it is worthy, but because it is the most corrupt." Apparently, I reacted the same way his wife, Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum ( an American born, second generation Baha'i whose birth name was Mary Sutherland Maxwell) reacted: with a slack-jawed, open mouth look of surprise. Don laughed, as he usually did when I was stunned by something he said, and moved on with whatever it was we were initially talking about.

Here is what Don was referring to: an excerpt from Rúhíyyih Khánum’s book, The Priceless Pearl. I can’t claim that I understand everything in these passages. I only pray that by posting this, the ones who are more knowledgeable than I will read this post and give their perspectives of its meaning, in hopefully straight-forward, easy-to-understand terms for the readers who are not familiar with the Bahá'í  Faith.

Shoghi Effendi's exposition of the teachings on the role certain nations have been called upon to play in history at the inception of the Bahá'í Cycle was illuminating, thought-provoking and often at sharp variance with our own limited understanding. The reason Persia was the Cradle of the Faith and America the Cradle of its Administrative Order was based on the teaching that the greatest power in the world is the power of the Holy Spirit, a divine alchemy which can transmute the base material of copper into the precious metal of gold. In {The Advent of Divine Justice} the Guardian educated us in this fundamental truth: "To contend", he wrote, "that the innate worthiness, the high moral standard, the political aptitude and social attainments of any race or nation is the reason for the appearance in its midst of any of these Divine Luminaries, would be an absolute perversion of historical facts, and would amount to a complete repudiation of the undoubted interpretation placed upon them, so clearly and emphatically, by both Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá." He goes on to say that such races and nations as are chosen specially by God must unreservedly recognize and courageously testify to the fact that they have been so chosen because of their crying needs, their lamentable degeneracy, their irremediable perversity, and not because of any racial superiority, political capacity or spiritual virtue. For such reasons as these the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh had chosen Persia to be the Cradle of the Faith and America the Cradle of its World Order. Through the fulfilment of this great law the glory of God is manifest and man is made to realize that the source of his own powers and glory is God alone. That members of "one of the most backward, the most cowardly, and perverse of peoples" should, when they accepted the Divine Message, have been transformed into a race of heroes "fit to effect in turn a similar revolution in the life of mankind", was proof of the regenerating spirit of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation. The same principle applied, Shoghi Effendi stated, to America: "It is precisely by reason of the patent evils which, notwithstanding its other admittedly great characteristics and achievements, an excessive and binding materialism has unfortunately engendered within it" that it has been singled out to become the standard-bearer of the New World Order. "It is by means such as this", he went on to say, "that Bahá'u'lláh can best demonstrate to a heedless generation His Almighty power to raise up from the very midst of a people immersed in a sea of materialism, a prey to one of the most virulent and long-standing forms of racial prejudice, and notorious for its political corruption, lawlessness and laxity in moral standards, men and women who, as time goes by, will increasingly exemplify those essential virtues of self-renunciation, of moral rectitude, of chastity, of undiscriminating fellowship, of holy discipline and spiritual insight" which will fit them to play a preponderating role in the establishment of Bahá'u'lláh's World System.
When Shoghi Effendi was beginning to write {The Advent of Divine Justice} he was one day expatiating on this theme and suddenly stated that the United States was the most corrupt country politically in the world. (The bold italics are mine, not the Ms. Khanum's.) I was simply stupefied by this remark as I had always taken it for granted that it was because of our system of democracy and our political prominence that God had chosen us to build His Administrative Order! I ventured to remonstrate and said surely Persia was more corrupt politically. He said no, America was the most corrupt politically. He must have seen in my face how hard and unbelievable this new idea was for me to accept for he suddenly pointed his finger at me and said: "Swallow it, it is good for you." I swallowed it and kept silent and as he elaborated this theme, and when he wrote his memorable passages on it, and, indeed, in the course of years, I came to see clearly how he was enunciating, clarifying from the teachings, great spiritual laws and truths in which lie healing and strength for us if we but grasp them. We derive no advantage, as Bahá'ís, from having the wrong concepts, from colouring the teachings of the Divine Educator with our limited, prejudiced, environment-produced ideas. Nothing is improved or rendered more serviceable by distortion. That is why I think of these great themes, these statements of truth given us by the Guardian, as guiding lines of thought which enable us to see things as they are and obtain a correct understanding of our Faith.

This factual, realistic approach of the Guardian meant that he not only estimated the true force of the Cause but was also aware of its limitations at the present time. He never confused the two. In a letter to a non-Bahá'í youth leader in the United States, in 1926, he said: "We believe that the spirit of the Cause is gradually directing peoples and nations, and that all Bahá'ís are called upon to do is to persevere in their advocacy of the sublime principles revealed by Bahá'u'lláh. They will never hold aloof from the great humanitarian endeavours of the true leaders of public thought and always welcome every opportunity of raising their voice, in conjunction with other movements, on behalf of peace, truth and justice." In spite of this he had no illusions as to how much power we could wield. In July 1939 he wrote to the American National Assembly (representing the freest and most powerful community of the Bahá'í world) that they could not impose their will upon those in whose hands the destiny of the Persian Bahá'ís lay; that they were not yet capable of launching a campaign of sufficient magnitude to capture the imagination and arouse the conscience of mankind and thereby ensure the redress of the wrongs their persecuted brethren were suffering; that they could wield no power at the present time in the councils of nations commensurate with the claims and greatness of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh; nor could they assume a position and exercise responsibilities that would enable them to "reverse the process which is urging so tragically the decline of human society and its institutions." (Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Priceless Pearl, p. 362)

However, the inspiration for this particular blog came from a reader, who commented on an earlier post that I called, "The-Should-Have-Been-Contest-Entry: May 27, 2045".
zxcvb wrote:
Angela, please consider reading (or rereading)"America Passing Through Crisis" by Shoghi Effendi. You can find it online (scroll down):
Perhaps you are already aware of the Guardian's comments on America with relation to the rest of the world and what must happen if the situation is not remedied. As this was written more than a half century ago (and the situation is far, far worse now) my belief is that the inevitable is nearing its climax.
Anyway, I hope you read it.

I did re-read the passage zxcvb was referring to, and decided to consolidate some ideas into this post since I started to write a different one six months ago, but failed to finish it because of some pressing health concerns (which hasn't been resolved, but I'm now getting the type of help I need). I am including only a portion of the passage, and I hope all of you will read the complete text by clicking on the link at the end of the excerpt:

Moreover, the country of which it forms a part is passing through a crisis which, in its spiritual, moral, social and political aspects, is of extreme seriousness—a seriousness which to a superficial observer is liable to be dangerously underestimated.
The steady and alarming deterioration in the standard of morality as exemplified by the appalling increase of crime, by political corruption in ever widening and ever higher circles, by the loosening of the sacred ties of marriage, by the inordinate craving for pleasure and diversion, and by the marked and progressive slackening of parental control, is no doubt the most arresting and distressing aspect of the decline that has set in, and can be clearly perceived, in the fortunes of the entire nation.
Parallel with this, and pervading all departments of life—an evil which the nation, and indeed all those within the capitalist system, though to a lesser degree, share with that state and its satellites regarded as the sworn enemies of that system—is the crass materialism, which lays excessive and ever-increasing emphasis on material well-being, forgetful of those things of the spirit on which alone a sure and stable foundation can be laid for human society. It is this same cancerous materialism, born originally in Europe, carried to excess in the North American continent, contaminating the Asiatic peoples and nations, spreading its ominous tentacles to the borders of Africa, and now invading its very heart, which Bahá’u’lláh in unequivocal and emphatic language denounced in His Writings, comparing it to a devouring flame and regarding it as the chief factor in precipitating the dire ordeals and world-shaking crises that must necessarily involve the burning of cities and the spread of terror and consternation in the hearts of men. Indeed a foretaste of the devastation which this consuming fire will wreak upon the world, and with which it will lay waste the cities of the nations participating in this tragic world-engulfing contest, has been afforded by the last World War, marking the second stage in the global havoc which humanity, forgetful of its God and heedless of the clear warnings uttered by His appointed Messenger for this day, must, alas, inevitably experience. It is this same all-pervasive, pernicious materialism against which the voice of the Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant was raised, with pathetic persistence, from platform and pulpit, in His addresses to the heedless multitudes, which, on the morrow of His fateful visit to both Europe and America, found themselves suddenly swept into the vortex of a tempest which in its range and severity was unsurpassed in the world’s history.

Collateral with this ominous laxity in morals, and this progressive stress laid on man’s material pursuits and well-being, is the darkening of the political horizon, as witnessed by the widening of the gulf separating the protagonists of two antagonistic schools of thought which, however divergent in their ideologies, are to be commonly condemned by the upholders of the standard of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh for their materialistic philosophies and their neglect of those spiritual values and eternal verities on which alone a stable and flourishing civilization can be ultimately established (Bold italics are mine.). The multiplication, the diversity and the increasing destructive power of armaments to which both sides, in this world contest, caught in a whirlpool of fear, suspicion and hatred, are rapidly contributing; the outbreak of two successive bloody conflicts, entangling still further the American nation in the affairs of a distracted world, entailing a considerable loss in blood and treasure, swelling the national budget and progressively depreciating the currency of the state; the confusion, the vacillation, the suspicions besetting the European and Asiatic nations in their attitude to the American nation; the overwhelming accretion of strength to the arch enemy of the system championed by the American Union in consequence of the re-alignment of the powers in the Asiatic continent and particularly in the Far East—these have, moreover, contributed their share, in recent years, to the deterioration of a situation which, if not remedied, is bound to involve the American nation in a catastrophe of undreamed-of dimensions and of untold consequences to the social structure, the standard and conception of the American people and government. Citadel of Faith, Shoghi Effendi. Pgs 124 – 127.

There is absolutely nothing more I can say about what the Guardian has written. I’m looking forward to being educated, enlightened and inspired by your comments and questions, dear readers.
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