Over the last fifty years we have not made impressive progress in dealing with social problems such as world peace and disarmament, poverty reduction, racial injustice, human rights, equality of men and women and economic and social development generally. Is it that we have adopted the wrong approach? Might there be a better way? Anthony Lee believes so and by bringing together articles by ten authors he presents an alternative for us to consider. In the first paragraph of the introduction, the author makes his position clear "Anyone familiar with the Bahai teachings will recognize that they embody a progressive social program. Indeed, it might be said that, at least in comparison to other religions, the Bahai faith is primarily oriented toward social reform. It is certainly the only world religion that defines a consciousness of the unity of mankind as its central theme and dedicates itself almost single-mindedly to the achievement of that goal. Of course, the Bahai teachings also offer guidance to and demand change from the individual believer, who is called to the highest standards of personal morality and spiritual development. But it is clearly stated in the Sacred Writings of the Faith that no amount of individual saintliness, by itself, will achieve the result of overturning the unjust and oppressive social conditions throughout the world today."
Unity of mankind is not just a re-awakening of the spirit of brotherhood and goodwill among men but implies an organic change in the structure of society - a change such as the world has not yet experienced. This change will be based on twelve principles that he explains in the book. It is these twelve principles that constitute the foundation of a more enlightened and progressive social program.
The first chapter "A Worldwide Movement of Peace" by Brad Pokorny tells us that the successes of the peace movement over the past 100 years have been few and far between while the huge number of conflicts over the last couple of decades suggest a high degree of failure. Almost from the start, the Bahai Faith has been as much a movement for peace as a religion, expressed in educational efforts to promote a new kind of thinking necessary to establish a warless world, to forge a template for a new political order and to organize a network for peace. The author argues that the twelve principles each constitute an important element in building world peace. Our problems are so major that tinkering is no longer an option; we need to reinvent politics; we need to reinvent the world.
In somewhat similar vein, the other authors deal with the various social ills confronting us, usually coming to similar conclusions that we have tried the tinkering approach and have found it lacking. We need to change the ethical and moral foundations on which the world conducts business.
Einstein told us that we need a different way of thinking to get us out of the mess from the thinking that got us into the mess; we need a new paradigm, a new world view. These ideas constitute a new paradigm that should be put on the table alongside all the others. Then let us select some wise people to make the best choice and let us move ahead as quickly as possible along the chosen path so that we make better progress in the next fifty years than we did in the last fifty years.