What is Canada’s ethical role in the world?
Answer: I mention first ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s
statement written to the Bahá’ís of Canada in 1917, following his visit
to Montreal in the fall of 1912: “Again I repeat that the future of
Canada, whether from a material or a spiritual standpoint, is very
great. Day by day civilization and freedom shall increase.” (Tablets of
the Divine Plan, p. 94).
Canada’s material prosperity and domestic peace place a burden of
responsibility on our government and service-oriented individuals to
reach out to the world to share our material, human and spiritual
resources with the developing world. Bahá’ís have no official position
on what Canada’s ethical role should be in today’s world, but we
believe that our moral and spiritual teachings require concrete social
action. Responsible global citizenship is required.
The Bahá’í International Community translates its ethical concerns into
various socio-economic development projects worldwide. Through
partnership with the Canadian International Development Agency, the
Bahá’í Community of Canada has collaborated on a number of development
projects overseas. This outreach includes increasing collaboration with
the UN and international aid agencies, and non-governmental
Canadian Bahá’í agencies keep our government informed of the gross
violations of human rights inflicted on the Bahá’í community in Iran.
These actions have resulted in parliamentary resolutions condemning the
Iranian government’s treatment of the Bahá’ís in that land.
Any approaches to international development must go far beyond
“technology transfer” to include a two-way exchange of wisdom. This
exchange must include close consultation with local leaders,
communities and agencies to avoid the post-colonial “top down” solution
mentality. Any proposed solutions must result from grassroots
participation. These development projects demonstrate how Canadian
Bahá’ís view Canada’s ethical role in the world in terms of concrete
social action. -