Although Baha’is are required, by their Faith, to be patient and to refrain from protesting in the name of their religion, they are not naive to the reality that the human soul cannot be contained. The human spirit is driven to participate in society and to express itself. It cannot be controlled. It cannot be told what to do. It is for this reason that, for the cause of Justice and Human Rights, Baha’is lend their voices in resolute action alongside their brothers and sisters seeking freedom and truth around the world.
“We have heard that the provinces of Persia have been adorned with the adornment of justice. When We observed closely, however, We found them to be the dawning-places of tyranny and the daysprings of injustice. We behold justice in the clutches of tyranny. We beseech God to set it free through the power of His might and His sovereignty.” ~ Baha’u’llah
The protests that have spread across the middle-east – Iran being the most recent – are a testament to the power of the human spirit to break free from the shackles of tyranny. However, we must observe caution that in this hour of opportunity we do not “succumb in resignation nor to take on the characteristics of the oppressor.” A true protest against injustice does not employ injustice; rather, it demonstrates integrity, resolve, patience, and dignity. It must exemplify purity of motive, a respect for human life, and, overall, recognize the inherent nobility of every human – even those who have disguised themselves as wolves.
A protest for justice is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. This is vital. Such protests are often borne out of the most grievous conditions. One in which the oppressor has so overpowered the oppressed that the light of truth is completely obscured, and the individual can no longer be heard. From this stagnant soil the flower of justice emerges, but if this flower does not direct itself towards the light of truth its growth will be impaired. What this means in clear terms is that breaking free from an oppressive regime is only the first step, the more important step is the building of a just society. It is crucial that when the voices of justice see the opportunity to build, they immediately redirect their energies towards this end. Without a vision for constructing a new society the movement runs the risk of losing momentum and, in turn, strength. Such a situation is akin to a wonderful feast left to rot – in time, the disease of corruption sets in, the mold of fanaticism spreads, and the ravenous begin to scavenge, only to spread their own sickness.
A protest for the cause of justice must lead to a building process that does not deny any individual the opportunity to participate. Those who refuse to participate must be allowed to refuse, and disunity of all kinds must be avoided because disunity is the greatest impediment to the advancement of civilization. Remember Baha’u’llah’s words:
“The light of men is Justice. Quench it not with the contrary winds of oppression and tyranny. The purpose of justice is the appearance of unity among men…Verily I say, whatever is sent down from the heaven of the Will of God is the means for the establishment of order in the world and the instrument for promoting unity and fellowship among its peoples.”
In light of the above quotation, I’m going to briefly discuss the issue of partisan protests:
It is of utmost importance that the people in Iran are heard, that their voices cry out “Justice for all!” However, in an enthusiasm fueled by the winds of change, individuals will often take the political path and turn the protest into a hate-fest by uttering calumny, slander, and allowing their rage to get the better of them. They will distinguish themselves with partisan brands and slogans, losing sight of the global issue at hand, justice. Simply, not everyone will agree with your political or religious position, but the cause of justice, education, human rights, and unity has the backing of all enlightened denominations and points of view – except for those, of course, who feed off of fear and desire power.
In this way, you have strength in numbers and your movement has integrity. Not only that, but you’re no longer fighting a war that agitates and invigorates your enemy; rather, you’re starting a revolution that embraces any who chooses to participate. Your goal is the advancement of civilization and all are welcome. You would even welcome your oppressor if he were somehow moved to turn away from his path of error.
To the people of Iran, Godspeed.