The power of community
What a start to the year. Floods, cyclones, fires. And just when you think the worst is over, another disaster strikes.
The greatest devastation has been in Queensland which has been hit by both floods and cyclones over a wide area, but there has been a trail of devastation across the country, culminating this month in storms and bushfires which have destroyed dozens of homes in Western Australia.
Baha’is, like everyone else, have been both victims and helpers. They have pitched in with spades and wheelbarrows, provided equipment such as generators and helped in relief centres.
At times like this, it is a strong sense of community spirit — volunteers helping out — that basically kick starts the process of recovery from devastating loss. It’s just a shame that it often takes something terrible for that dormant spirit to awaken.
As Baha’is, we believe that “something terrible” is happening on a daily basis to the whole world as old structures and traditions are breaking down. That is why Baha’is everywhere feel the need to focus on building up a new spirit of community, one that will be in action whether or not a crisis is happening.
In many ways, Baha’is are permanent full-time volunteers, lending a hand to help build and maintain a new vision of society, working alongside like-minded people who also see the overwhelming need for unity among people of all backgrounds, nationalities and beliefs.
Core Baha’i activities such as children’s classes, junior youth programs, study circles and religious education in schools are largely in the hands of volunteers, both Baha’is and others who choose to join us in this work. Even the Faith’s administration is mostly carried out by unpaid volunteers serving in various capacities in their spare time.
All this puts a lot of responsibility on the individual, but change — the actual sweat and hard labour of change — comes from people at the grassroots. It’s not handed down on a plate from a leader.
The individual is not alone when emboldened and nurtured by that ever-present sense of community spirit.