Building Community

“The supreme need of humanity is cooperation and reciprocity... The stronger the ties of fellowship and solidarity amongst men, the greater will be the power of constructiveness and accomplishment in all the planes of human activity.”

— ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

All across Canada, people are building a pattern of community life that responds to Bahá’u’lláh’s vision of a better world. This is a vision in which everyone has a role to play: People of all ages and backgrounds share a common purpose to promote the well-being and prosperity of the whole community. They are committed to learning in action, as they strive to integrate worship and service to the common good within a shared social life.

A strong and united community is open to all and draws strength from the diversity of its membership. “See ye no strangers,” wrote ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “rather see all men as friends, for love and unity come hard when ye fix your gaze on otherness. … For each of the creatures is a sign of God, and it was by the grace of the Lord and His power that each did step into the world; therefore they are not strangers, but in the family; not aliens, but friends, and to be treated as such.”

The Bahá’í approach to community-building places special emphasis on the role of children and youth. They are the most precious treasure a community can possess, for in them are the promise and guarantee of the future. While parents have special responsibilities to children within the family unit, children are born into the trust of the community, and their well-being and moral development is the shared concern of all its members.

Bahá’í programs for children and adolescents focus on moral and spiritual education, to nurture an understanding of their essential nobility and develop their capacity to contribute meaningfully to the world around them. Classes are usually led by older youth, who are eager to take on responsibility for guiding and accompanying the younger ones along a path of service. The content of the curriculum focuses on development of spiritual qualities and their application in family and community life.

Collective life also includes regular prayer gatherings that strengthen the devotional character of the community, and observances of Nineteen-Day Feasts and Holy Days. The Bahá’í calendar includes 19 months with 19 days, and each month begins with the community gathering known as a Feast. At the Feast, community members pray together, consult about their affairs, and socialize. There are nine major Holy Days throughout the year, on which Bahá’ís suspend work and school.

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