According to the Baha'i vision of the history of humanity, human beings have been developing and advancing socially, grouping together in ever-larger units: the tribe, the city-state, and the nation. This social progress has been under the guidance of successive Manifestations of God (the founders of the world religions), who have brought the social teachings needed for these advances. Baha'u'llah taught that now is the time for humanity to move forward to the next phase of this social development, the stage of global unity. Human beings need to think of humanity as one people. In the words of Baha'u'llah, "The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens." The movement forward to this stage of world unity is, however, dependent on certain developments. A number of social principles need to be firmly grounded in the thinking of people; the social order needs to be radically revised; social processes need to be changed to allow greater participation by ordinary people; and international institutions need to be established that will regulate the affairs of the world more equitably than the present arrangements allow.
|From: Rethinking Prosperity: Forging Alternatives to a Culture of Consumerism
(Bahá'í International Community's Contribution to the 18th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development)
The narrowly materialistic worldview underpinning much of modern economic thinking has contributed to the degradation of human conduct, the disruption of families and communities, the corruption of public institutions, and the exploitation and marginalization of large segments of the population -- women and girls in particular. Unarguably, economic activity and the strengthening of the economy (a process that may include, but is not synonymous with, economic growth) have a central role to play in achieving the prosperity of a region and its people. Yet the shift towards a more just, peaceful and sustainable society will require attention to a harmonious dynamic between the material and non-material (or moral) dimensions of consumption and production. The latter, in particular, will be essential for laying the foundation for just and peaceful human relations; these include the generation of knowledge, the cultivation of trust and trustworthiness, eradication of racism and violence, promotion of art, beauty, science, and the capacity for collaboration and the peaceful resolution of conflicts.
In order to move toward world peace and unity, which is the goal that Baha'u'llah set as humanity's aim for this age, the Baha'i scriptures set forth a number of social principles that, according to the Baha'i Faith, need to be accepted by the majority of people: