The weakening of the pillars of religion hath strengthened the hands of the ignorant and made them bold and arrogant. Verily I say, whatsoever hath lowered the lofty station of religion hath increased the waywardness of the wicked, and the result cannot be but anarchy.

Bahá’u’lláh, quoted in The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh by Shoghi Effendi, p.186

In the estimation of historians this radiant century is equivalent to one hundred centuries of the past. If comparison be made with the sum total of all former human achievements it will be found that the discoveries, scientific advancement and material civilization of this present century have equaled, yea far exceeded the progress and outcome of one hundred former centuries. The production of books and compilations of literature alone bear witness that the output of the human mind in this century has been greater and more enlightening than all the past centuries together. It is evident therefore that this century is of paramount importance. Reflect upon the miracles of accomplishment which have already characterized it, the discoveries in every realm of human research, inventions, scientific knowledge, ethical reforms and regulations established for the welfare of humanity, mysteries of nature explored, invisible forces brought into visibility and subjection, a veritable wonder-world of new phenomena and conditions heretofore unknown to man now open to his uses and further investigation. The east and west can communicate instantly. A human being can soar in the skies or speed in submarine depths. The power of steam has linked the continents. Trains cross the deserts and pierce the barriers of mountains; ships find unerring pathways upon the trackless oceans. Day by day discoveries are increasing. What a wonderful century this is! It is an age of universal reformation. Laws and statutes of governments civil and federal are in process of change and transformation. Sciences and arts are being moulded anew. Thoughts are metamorphosed. The foundations of human society are changing and strengthening. Today sciences of the past are useless. The Ptolemaic system of astronomy, numberless other systems and theories of scientific and philosophical explanation are discarded, known to be false and worthless. Ethical precedents and principles cannot be applied to the needs of the modern world. Thoughts and theories of past ages are fruitless now. Thrones and governments are crumbling and falling. All conditions and requisites of the past unfitted and inadequate for the present time, are undergoing radical reform. It is evident therefore that counterfeit and spurious religious teaching, antiquated forms of belief and ancestral imitations which are at variance with the foundation of divine reality must also pass away and be reformed. They must be abandoned and new conditions be recognized. The morals of humanity must undergo change. New remedy and solution for human problems must be adopted. Human intellects themselves must change and be subject to the universal reformation. Just as the thoughts and hypotheses of past ages are fruitless today, likewise dogmas and codes of human invention are obsolete and barren of product in religion. Nay, it is true that they are the cause of enmity and conducive to strife in the world of humanity; war and bloodshed proceed from them and the oneness of mankind finds no recognition in their observance. Therefore it is our duty in this radiant century to investigate the essentials of divine religion, seek the realities underlying the oneness of the world of humanity and discover the source of fellowship and agreement which will unite mankind in the heavenly bond of love. This unity is the radiance of eternity, the divine spirituality, the effulgence of God and the bounty of the Kingdom. We must investigate the divine source of these heavenly bestowals and adhere unto them steadfastly. For if we remain fettered and restricted by human inventions and dogmas, day by day the world of mankind will be degraded, day by day warfare and strife will increase and satanic forces converge toward the destruction of the human race.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 228-229

Compare these splendid manifestations of the spirit animating this vibrant body of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh with the cries and agony, the follies and vanities, the bitterness and prejudices, the wickedness and divisions of an ailing and chaotic world. Witness the fear that torments its leaders and paralyzes the action of its blind and bewildered statesmen. How fierce the hatreds, how false the ambitions, how petty the pursuits, how deep-rooted the suspicions of its peoples! How disquieting the lawlessness, the corruption, the unbelief that are eating into the vitals of a tottering civilization!

Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 155

Even though the Bahá’í youth should feel with the condition in which they see their non-Bahá’í friends and not indict them for it, they should not let themselves be carried by the wave of world events as they are being carried. Whereas they see before them only a world that is crumbling down we are also seeing a new world being built up. Whereas they experience the destruction of old institutions that commanded their respect, we are beholding the dawn of a new era with its strict commands and new social bonds. Their materialistic outlook shows them the futility of all things while our faith in a regenerated and spiritualized man makes us look to the future and build for it. To make them follow our ways we should sympathize with their plight but should not follow their ways. We should take our stand on a higher plan of moral and spiritual life and, setting for them the true example, urge them up to our level. The young people should read what Bahá’u’lláh and the Master say on such matters and follow them conscientiously. That is if they desire to be true to the teaching and establish them throughout the world.

Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 632-633

He is constantly pointing out to the Bahia's that their direct Bahá’í work - teaching, perfecting the administration, propagating the Cause of God is their job and of immediate importance because, it is, so to speak, spiritually organic. What they are doing will release forces which will combat the terrible disintegration of society which we witness today in every field, political, economic or otherwise.

Shoghi Effendi, quoted in the International Teaching Centre, 1984 Jul 01, Concerns about Retributive Calamity

There is so much suffering, such a great and desperate need for a true remedy and the Bahá’ís should realize their sacred obligation is to deliver the message to their fellowmen at once, and on as large a scale as possible. If they fail to do so, they are really partly responsible for prolonging the agony of humanity.

Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 127

At this time, when despair and fear have gripped humanity from every direction and led to hopelessness, especially among the young generations, praised be God that you are the embodiments of encouragement and assurance for the peoples of the world and are like unto radiant lamps in the circles of your compatriots and acquaintances; you are as signs of love and amity and in every assemblage, as symbols of forbearance and goodly intent. Inspired by the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, you participate in the constructive discourses of society and assist your fellow citizens to develop a vision that transcends the current difficulties, so that they can dedicate themselves to developing the capacities and talents necessary for the material and spiritual advancement of their communities and go forward with confidence and hope in building a vibrant and progressive society.

The Universal House of Justice, to the Bahá’ís of Iran, 24 October 2018

Bahá’ís are encouraged to see in the revolutionary changes taking place in every sphere of life the interaction of two fundamental processes. One is destructive in nature, while the other is integrative; both serve to carry humanity, each in its own way, along the path leading towards its full maturity. The operation of the former is everywhere apparent--in the vicissitudes that have afflicted time-honoured institutions, in the impotence of leaders at all levels to mend the fractures appearing in the structure of

society, in the dismantling of social norms that have long held in check unseemly passions, and in the despondency and indifference exhibited not only by individuals but also by entire societies that have lost any vital sense of purpose. Though devastating in their effects, the forces of disintegration tend to sweep away barriers that block humanity's progress, opening space for the process of integration to draw diverse groups together and disclosing new opportunities for cooperation and collaboration. Bahá’ís, of course, strive to align themselves, individually and collectively, with forces associated with the process of integration, which, they are confident, will continue to gain in strength, no matter how bleak the immediate horizons. Human affairs will be

utterly reorganized, and an era of universal peace inaugurated.

Universal House of Justice, To the Bahá’ís of Iran, 2 March 2013

Humanity, it is the firm conviction of every follower of Bahá’u’lláh, is approaching today the crowning stage in a millennia-long process which has brought it from its collective infancy to the threshold of maturity—a stage that will witness the unification of the human race. Not unlike the individual who passes through the unsettled yet promising period of adolescence, during which latent powers and capacities come to light, humankind as a whole is in the midst of an unprecedented transition. Behind so much of the turbulence and commotion of contemporary life are the fits and starts of a humanity struggling to come of age. Widely accepted practices and conventions, cherished attitudes and habits, are one by one being rendered obsolete, as the imperatives of maturity begin to assert themselves.

Universal House of Justice, To the Bahá’ís of Iran, 2 March 2013

Painful as may be the decadent scene, deep as is your sympathy for those who suffer from the terrible decline of society, you must see the possibilities which are thus provided for augmenting the healing forces of an emerging World Order. Shoghi Effendi advised the North American community plainly in this regard. "The opportunities which the turmoil of the present age presents, with all the sorrows which it evokes, the fears which it excites, the disillusionment which it produces, the perplexities which it creates, the indignation which it arouses, the revolt which it provokes, the grievances it engenders, the spirit of restless search which it awakens, must," he asserted, "be exploited for the purpose of spreading far and wide the knowledge of the redemptive power of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, and for enlisting fresh recruits in the ever-swelling army of His followers."

The Universal House of Justice, 1994 May 19, response to US NSA

The deepening environmental crisis, driven by a system that condones the pillage

of natural resources to satisfy an insatiable thirst for more, suggests how entirely inadequate is the present conception of humanity's relationship with nature; the deterioration of the home environment, with the accompanying rise in the systematic exploitation of women and children worldwide, makes clear how pervasive are the misbegotten notions that define relations within the family unit; the persistence of despotism, on the one hand, and the increasing disregard for authority, on the other, reveal how unsatisfactory to a maturing humanity is the current relationship between the individual and the institutions of society; the concentration of material wealth in the hands of a minority of the world's population gives an indication of how fundamentally ill-conceived are relationships among the many sectors of what is now an emerging global community. The principle of the oneness of humankind implies, then, an organic

change in the very structure of society.

Universal House of Justice, To the Bahá’ís of Iran, 2 March 2013

The order of the world has been disrupted, and severe and numerous convulsions have shaken its foundation. Conditions worsen daily, confusion and fear have gripped mankind, and the pain and difficulties experienced by the generality of peoples have greatly increased. The destructive forces of materialism dominate both the East and the West and have brought about a quagmire of injustice and prejudice that has sullied and rendered powerless the wings of society, whilst the human spirit, which is created to ascend towards the divine realm, has been enslaved in the talons of greed and wilfulness and become deprived of the bounty of the light of true religion.

The Universal House of Justice, to the Bahá’ís of Iran, 24 October 2018

The power released by Bahá’u’lláh works at a quickening pace, speeding the processes of change which must usher in the new order He proclaimed. The declining state of society demonstrates it, the global yearning for new solutions to human problems confirms it. Much is at stake: the fortunes of humankind hang precariously in the balance. The Bahá’í community bears grave responsibilities towards the near and far future as movement toward the Lesser Peace accelerates. Now is the time for the friends to seize new opportunities to extend the range and influence of the Faith, to reach a new level of action in expanding the community and fortifying its foundations. It is indeed time for audacious action undeterred by a fear of mistakes, fired by the urgency of ministering to the pressing needs of humanity. Will the American Bahá’í community not see its chance to meet the challenge? Will its members not once again blaze a trail that can set in motion a myriad victories?

The Universal House of Justice, 1994 May 19, response to US NSA

The problems of the world—which are clearly evident in the arenas of politics, economics, social conditions, and the environment—confront humanity’s future with inescapable dangers and yet its leaders remain unaware of their fundamental causes, are unable to remedy them, and are fearful of their consequences.

The Universal House of Justice, to the Bahá’ís of Iran, 24 October 2018

The situation of the world calls to mind the following statement of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: “Chaos and confusion are daily increasing in the world. They will attain such intensity as to render the frame of mankind unable to bear them. Then will men be awakened”.

The Universal House of Justice, to the Bahá’ís of Iran, 24 October 2018

Without minimizing the serious situation facing a world heedless of Bahá’u’lláh's admonitions, it must be remembered that He also refers to the Golden Age of civilization to come. The House of Justice hopes that Bahá’í teachers and parents will do their utmost to encourage the Children to study the explanations of the beloved Guardian about the twin Processes at work in the world-the steady growth of the Faith, and the devastating forces of disintegration assailing the outworn institutions of present-day society."

From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 29 December 1981

You live in a society caught in the tightening grip of moral decadence on a vast scale. But this should come as no surprise to you. It is the unavoidable consequence of a pervasive godlessness; its symptoms and repercussions were described in painful detail by Shoghi Effendi in several of his letters to the Western friends.

The Universal House of Justice, 1994 May 19, response to US NSA

As existing institutions and social practices disintegrate around us, the Bahá’í teachings indicate that there is a parallel process at work of creating new structures and tools that enable unifying patterns of collective life to emerge. The Internet appears to be playing a catalytic role in breaking down longstanding geographic, cultural and institutional barriers while facilitating the formation of new communities of interaction that are increasingly global in nature.

Bahá’í Internet Agency, Bahá’í Participation on the Internet: Some Reflections, 2006

Eventually, as an ever-evolving civilization exhausts its spiritual sources, a process of disintegration sets in, as it does throughout the phenomenal world. Turning again to analogies offered by nature, Bahá’u’lláh compares this hiatus in the development of civilization to the onset of winter. Moral vitality diminishes, as does social cohesion. Challenges which would have been overcome at an earlier age, or been turned into opportunities for exploration and achievement, become insuperable barriers. Religion loses its relevance, and experimentation becomes increasingly fragmented, further deepening social divisions. Increasingly, uncertainty about the meaning and value of life generates anxiety and confusion.

Bahá’í International Community, 1992 May 29, Statement on Bahá’u’lláh, p. 14