First and foremost, Bahá’ís endeavour, whether as individuals or as a community, to put into practice the command of Bahá’u’lláh: "They that are endued with sincerity and
faithfulness should associate with all the peoples and kindreds of the earth with joy and radiance, inasmuch as consorting with people hath promoted and will continue to promote unity and concord, which in turn are conducive to the maintenance of order in the world and to the regeneration of nations." It is through "association and meeting", ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has explained further, that "we find happiness and development, individual and collective." "That which is conducive to association and attraction and unity among the sons of men", He has written in this connection, "is the means of the life of the world of humanity, and whatever causeth division, repulsion and remoteness leadeth to the death of humankind." Even in the case of religion, He has made it clear that it "must
be the cause of love and fellowship. Should religion become the cause of contention and enmity, its absence is preferable." So it is that Bahá’ís do their utmost at all times to heed the counsel of Bahá’u’lláh, "Shut your eyes to estrangement, then fix your gaze upon unity." "That one indeed is a man", He exhorts His followers, "who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race." "Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in," is His admonition, "and centre your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements." "The supreme need of humanity is cooperation and
reciprocity," ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has indicated. "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." "So powerful is the light of unity", Bahá’u’lláh declares, "that it can illuminate the whole earth."
It is with such thoughts in mind that Bahá’ís enter into collaboration, as their resources permit, with an increasing number of movements, organizations, groups and individuals, establishing partnerships that strive to transform society and further the cause of unity, promote human welfare, and contribute to world solidarity. Indeed, the standard set by passages such as the above inspires the Bahá’í community to become actively engaged in as many aspects of contemporary life as feasible. In choosing areas of collaboration, Bahá’ís are to bear in mind the principle, enshrined in their teachings, that means should
be consistent with ends; noble goals cannot be achieved through unworthy means.
Specifically, it is not possible to build enduring unity through endeavours that require contention or assume that an inherent conflict of interests underlies all human interactions, however subtly. It should be noted here that, despite the limitations imposed by adherence to this principle, the community has not experienced a shortage of opportunities for collaboration; so many people in the world today are working intensely towards one or another aim which Bahá’ís share. In this respect, they also take care not to overstep certain bounds with their colleagues and associates. They are not to regard any joint undertaking as an occasion to impose religious convictions. Self-
righteousness and other unfortunate manifestations of religious zeal are to be utterly avoided. Bahá’ís do, however, readily offer to their collaborators the lessons they have learned through their own experience, just as they are happy to incorporate into their community-building efforts insights gained through such association.