Monday, February 08, 2016

Kings and families (and UHJ letter)

Letter from UHJ about kings in the future

February 8, 2016

Here is today's little meditation that I periodically share with my Facebook friends: 

Baha'u'llah's Proclamation declares: "Be united, O kings of the earth..." The difference between a dictator and a king is hereditary succession -- that is, family. The royal family is the head of a whole hierarchy of aristocratic families, lords, dukes, knights, etc. In modern times, the kings of the world could not unite, and few royals remain today. Families could not unite, either, and they have lost all claim to power or legitimacy. If such a proclamation were written today, would it say: "Be united, O bureaucrats and corporations of earth..."?

The belief in family as the cornerstone of politics is one of the traditional differences between Canadians and Americans. After the American Revolutionary War (known to Americans as the War of Independence) Canada was filled with refugees from the south who still firmly believed in royalism as an ideal. The madness of King George was an illness, an aberration that should not be used as an excuse to end rule by individual forever. They called themselves the United Empire Loyalists, and they had great influence on the development of Canada as a nation. New citizens of Canada still declare loyalty to Queen Elizabeth, for example.



I suppose this has an effect even among Baha'is. Our family had a stimulating visit from a dedicated travel teacher from Chicago, Chuck. We had a discussion about whether there will be kings in a future Baha'i-influenced world. About a year later, he shared this letter from the Universal House of Justice, written in response to his query about this issue. Here is the letter:


The Universal House of Justice
Department of the Secretariat
18 May 2015

Dear Baha'i Friend,

The Universal House of Justice has received your letter dated 12 September 2014 concerning whether kings will have a role in the future Baha'i World Commonwealth. We have been asked to convey the following and regret the delay in our response.

The Baha'i writings clearly envision a role for sovereigns in the future. In The Promised Day is Come, Shoghi Effendi wrote,

"Indeed if we delve into the writings of the Author of the Baha'i Faith, we cannot fail to discover unnumbered passages in which, in terms that none can misrepresent, the principle of kingship is eulogized, the rank and conduct of just and fair-minded kings is extolled, the rise of monarchs, ruling with justice and even professing His Faith, is envisaged, and the solemn duty to arise and ensure the triumph of Baha'i sovereigns is inculcated. To conclude from the above quoted words, addressed by Baha'u'llah to the monarchs of the earth, to infer from the recital of the woeful disasters that have overtaken so many of them, that His followers either advocate or anticipate the definite extinction of the institution of kingship, would indeed be tantamount to a distortion of His teaching." (Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1996, paragraph 176)

Nevertheless, Baha'u'llah, `Abdu'l-Baha, and Shoghi Effendi have given only the broadest outline of what the Baha'i World Commonwealth will entail, and it is impossible for us today, being so far removed from its establishment, to accurately describe what that system will be like. In The World Order of Baha'u'llah, Selected Letters, the Guardian indicated that we cannot visualize the World Order of Baha'u'llah in its entirety and can only strive to discern some of its guiding principles. Accordingly, at the present time, the detailed workings of the future World Commonwealth, including how kings might play a role in it, are not known.

Rest assured of the supplications of the House of Justice that your efforts to teach the Cause may be blessed and confirmed.


With Loving Baha'i Greetings ... For the Department of the Secretariat

3 comments:

Sen McGlinn said...

The secretariat's letter seems to have conflated the Bahai Commonwealth, the World Order of Baha'u'llah and the commonwealth of nations. When those 3 are distinguished, the scripture quoted by Shoghi Effendi in his compilation on monarchy, beginning in The Promised Day is Come at page 71, do give us a clear idea of the role of monarchs in the World Order and the commonwealth of nations. They do not, of course, have a specific role to pay in the Bahai Commonwealth, which is a religious community which revers the institution of monarchy but is governed internally by elected bodies of lay people, not by either monarchs or ecclesiastics.

John Craig said...

Note also that Baha'u'llah wrote in the fifteenth Glad-Tidings:

Although a republican form of government profiteth all the peoples of the world, yet the majesty of kingship is one of the signs of God. We do not wish that the countries of the world should remain deprived thereof. If the sagacious combine the two forms into one, great will be their reward in the presence of God.

John Craig said...

Note also that Baha'u'llah wrote in the fifteenth Glad-Tidings:

Although a republican form of government profiteth all the peoples of the world, yet the majesty of kingship is one of the signs of God. We do not wish that the countries of the world should remain deprived thereof. If the sagacious combine the two forms into one, great will be their reward in the presence of God.