2001: Five Year Plan
by Peter J. Khan2001-06-03
In this he expresses his own ideas and understanding, and this must not be confused with the word of the Institution of the Universal House of Justice.
If you want to summarize the Five Year Plan, this can be done easily: the Faith has developed in the recent years tremendous capabilities and we must use them for new attitudes and new actions. This is a very simple set of ideas. We develop these new attitudes and begin with these new actions in a very interesting time, the entry to a new stage or epoch, when we are beginning the last 20 year period before the centenary of the formative age.
We will talk about 3 subjects:
1 - Why do we talk about new capabilities?
Because there are several things:
Or, "Do you think that your gardens are more important than hospitals and schools? Is this how you solve the problems of the world?"
Or, "Strange leaders you have, people who want to work and live in white marble buildings."
The Universal House of Justice has no problem with these remarks. Our deepest reason is related to the mystery of our Faith, the mystery of Carmel as the Mount of God, the mystery of Bahji, mystery of sacredness and holy ground, mystery of the Book of Isaiah, the spiritual significance of Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet of Carmel. These are deep spiritual mysteries which we may not understand but they are the reason of our efforts.
In 1939 Shoghi Effendi moved the remains of the family of Bahá'u'lláh to the Monument Gardens. He said at that time that that action would release spiritual forces and energise the whole world. This you can't tell to someone who is materially oriented because he won't understand it. Our religion tells us there is a profound connection between material things and spiritual things. We are not fanatical or stupid, but this is the reality of our concepts, the deep interaction of material and spiritual. In that sense the completion of the project by the sacrifice of the Bahá'ís will energize us far beyond our comprehension. I believe that in participating in this project we carried out a collective act of worship and showed our devotion through action.
It was also a measure of the capacity of the Bahá'í community to carry out a project (collective action) over a long time. This is now very difficult everywhere else.
It is also an example and a symbol of transformation within us and also in the larger world. Our religion is a religion of change and transformation. It also demonstrates that our religion is very much concerned with beauty. All religions have created beauty to begin with; but the Bahá'í Faith emphasizes beauty in the statements and actions of Bahá'u'lláh, of Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi. This surprisingly high degree of emphasizing Beauty in our Faith is to show that the future will be beautiful (opposite to what we see in the movies which portrait highly scientific achievements). But our vision of the future is one of efficiency, but also very beautiful.
Another reason is the upcoming and growing work of training institutes. In the Four Year Plan thousands of believers followed these institutes — a systematic program of study around the Holy Text, oriented to action and service. There are different forms but the basis is the systematic program. The speed will grow in the future but we see already a change. There are already many people oriented to the work of the Faith such as child education, and the institutions are working better. But the enrolments are not much higher. The Universal House of Justice says: Continue with your efforts and the enrolments will come.
The final point is that the prestige of the Faith has risen much higher. The involvement of Bahá'ís at the UN Millennium Conference is an example; there are also more and more interfaith programmes like the one in New Delhi. Mrs. Zena Sorabjee was there with the Pope.
52 National Spiritual Assemblies have offices for the advancement of women. Mostly the other religions tell us that they also believe in the same principles except for the equality of sexes. 99 National Spiritual Assemblies have programs for education on human rights.
Some countries such as Australia have Bahá'í religion education at schools. For example in East Fremantle in west Australia, a school had 300 students and only one Bahá'í student; now they have 152 students following the Bahá'í religion education classes.
The National Spiritual Assembly of the USA have a media campaign by the TV and radio, scientifically organized on a focused group, moving from one group to the other until they could find the good way for the good group; and they had more 100,000 people asking questions about the faith. A year ago one of the National Spiritual Assembly members said that many are asking but few are joining. This year he said now many are joining too. What kinds of people are joining? Mainly the young working group in their twenties or thirties with small families, and professionally active people like teachers, lawyers, doctors ... and also some others. They all want to read themselves and act.
The website has about 25,000 viewers every month. The short wave radio programme to Iran has already had a great effect; it is the only positive thing happening in the whole country while every other thing is tearing down. There will be opposition and we will find something to face it, no worry.
2 - The new attitudes that we need
Basically we must become comfortable with the idea that we are organic and don't fit in the way people think. For example we are process oriented rather than event oriented. Every parent knows what this means and starts little by little till it becomes more difficult and complex; like the organic body of a child. This goes together with an unshakable confidence that we will grow.
The ability to give attention to many things at the same time (parents know what this is) like attention to local, national and international issues. But the world around us is event-oriented and one thing at a time (a sequence of events).
We have to develop an attitude of mind of interaction between different elements. It is an organic unit. Like teaching and working in the administration. Shoghi Effendi talks about both as the most important work, and both are true. These issues are interrelated constructively. Each one is a main element of the other one. Or like consolidation and expansion, there is also an interactive relationship between them, like hand in hand.
Another new attitude in one of the messages of the House is the development of a new culture, one in which there is a natural expectation of growth, just like children. A culture with natural expectation of growth will have an effect on growth. In this culture there is a universal approach of learning — thinking about things — taking action — reflecting and modifying = process of learning.
We need communities, which are going to make mistakes; this is an evidence of learning — take a step and learn. Don't make the same mistake over again but new ones — otherwise it will become too boring. A culture that is critical, reflecting, uniting in diversity. Allow for diversity to exist. A culture of balance between individual initiative and community (collective action). If only individual, things will not continue and if only collective, people will become an ant heap. [This line was garbled in this transcription. See bahaindex.com/documents/2001-06-03-Khan-talk.pdf. -J.W.] Individual is creative and collective is enduring.
3 - Some new actions in the Five Year Plan
It is important to realize that we are building a process — so we have to continue with the elements of the Four Year Plan and the One Year Plan. The Universal House of Justice is progressively building a great system of consolidation with study circles, junior activities and so on.
One new element is now added to this process and others will come later, with God's guidance. There is a talk by Mr. Leroy Ioas, where he says that Shoghi Effendi did the same, one by one he added new steps, and after 20 years it was marvellous how things were done. This new element is mentioned in the message of 9 January and the message of Ridvan 158 and is about teaching work growing as the institute grows, dividing each country into clusters (villages/ towns) that are of manageable size. It depends upon culture, language, transport, social economic activities etc. Every country will be do this in its own way. Then divide them in 4 categories:
History is repeating. In the 10 year crusade, believers went to new territories as pioneers. Now in the coming 20 years we will summon up the same heroic spirit for home front pioneers. There will be a similar sense of sacrifice and heroism and a similar success; and maybe in 2021 many will have believers in all clusters.
To conclude: We are working together on a vast spiritual enterprise. Something that is growing and developing in strength with the time while most things in the world are falling down. God has blessed us to be part of it. This means hard work and sacrifice and it will lead to a deep satisfaction that our activities are aligned with the will of God for this age. Nothing can be compared to this satisfaction.