Corruption, governance, and global justice examined in new book
HAIFA, Israel — Corruption, justice and global governance are among the issues examined in the newly released volume "The Baha'i World 2001-2002."
An annual record of Baha'i activities and perspectives, the new volume includes a profile of the European Baha'i Business Forum, a group actively engaged in counteracting corruption and greed in business practices while fostering new values.
A "World Watch" article by the book's senior editor, Dr. Ann Boyles, looks at some of the effects of corruption on government, business, and religion, surveys some current efforts to combat this global problem, examines attitudes and behaviors fostered in Baha'i communities, and discusses their applicability in the wider society.
"Some see corruption as an inevitable manifestation of our flawed human nature, but in the Baha'i perspective, corruption lies in the realm of free will and moral choice," says Dr Boyles. "For that reason, Baha'is are making efforts to educate people within a moral and ethical framework so that they refuse to commit corrupt acts and look instead towards fostering the well-being of all."
Other essays offer insight into topics of global relevance, such as Paul Vreeland's "World Order and Global Governance: A Baha'i Perspective" and Barbara Johnson's "Fostering the Spiritual Education of Children."
The book is the 10th volume in an annual series aimed both at Baha'i readers and the general public. It surveys the aims and growing sophistication of communities throughout the world, describing a Baha'i community which numbered only 100,000 people when the book was first published in 1926 but now includes more than five million people in more than 200 countries and territories.
Displayed on the cover is a photograph from the opening of the terraces of the Shrine of the Bab, on Mt. Carmel in Haifa, the location of the Faith's spiritual and administrative world centre. In May 2001, some 3,000 Baha'is from virtually every land came to Haifa for dedication ceremonies for the terraces, which took US$250 million and 10 years to complete.
A comprehensive section dedicated to the opening of the terraces is among the book's highlights. As well as being of spiritual significance for Baha'is, the garden terraces are now a major tourist attraction in Israel.
"The volume is as a reflection on the progress of the Baha'i community," says Dr. Boyles.
"It's an important publication for researchers, for journalists, for Baha'i communities to use in their public information work to acquaint local or government officials or prominent people with the basic aims and current activities of the Baha'i community."
"This is a truly international publication -- the information is gathered from all over the world," Dr. Boyles says.
"For example, this year we have a social and economic development project profile of the Bayan Association in Honduras, and in previous volumes we've profiled projects in India, in Mongolia, and other places.
"This kind of documentation is unique in the history of early religious communities," she says. "It's an enduring historical record that will be invaluable to people who want to chart the progress of the Baha'i Faith."
Features include a report of Baha'i involvement in the World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa; accounts of anniversaries of Baha'i communities in the Hawaiian Islands, Uganda, and Sarawak; and the "Year in Review," an annual survey of worldwide Baha'i events.
The book also includes selections from the Baha'i sacred writings like this quotation about justice from Baha'u'llah:
"In these days the tabernacle of justice hath fallen into the clutches of tyranny and oppression. Beseech ye the One true God… therein lie the welfare, security, and true interests of all men; otherwise the earth will be tormented by a fresh calamity every day and unprecedented commotions will break out. We cherish the hope that everyone may be adorned with the vesture of true wisdom, the basis of the government of the world."
Profiles of Baha'i activities and organizations provide concrete examples of Baha'i organizations that are working to put into practice the ideals such as that one described by Baha'u'llah.
This 352-page book is prepared by the Baha'i International Community's Office of Public Information. It contains numerous color photographs, and is available for US$18.00. It can be ordered from World Centre Publications through the United States Baha'i Distribution Service, 4703 Fulton Industrial Boulevard Atlanta, GA 30336-2017, USA (telephone: (800) 999-9019; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).