Unless ye must,Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá 206
Bruise not the serpent in the dust,
How much less wound a man.
And if ye can,
No ant should ye alarm,
Much less a brother harm.
January 2021, Christine Muller
Why does the Wilmette Institute have tips for environmentally responsible actions in each newsletter? Do such actions really matter, and why are they relevant for Baha’is?
An environmentally responsible lifestyle is essential for the coherence between our beliefs and our actions. Polluting the environment can harm other people directly such as with air pollution that causes asthma, heart disease, and cancer. Also, we can easily see the connection of our plastics use with the horrendous plastic pollution in our oceans, and how these plastics kill sea-birds and harm ocean life. The negative impact of many human activities is often more hidden though because it is more indirect and long-term, for example its contribution to the warming of the Earth and its resulting catastrophic impacts on the climate. Many people are already seriously suffering from the impacts of climate change and the destruction of nature, and it will get much worse in the future. In many parts of the world, hundreds of millions of people will have to abandon their homes and cultures because of unbearable heat, droughts, and sea-level rise – all climate-related disasters. Therefore, understanding these connections and following the teachings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha in the quote above is important for our spiritual integrity. Our individual actions do matter!
The Universal House of Justice emphasized this point in its 1 March 2017 letter: “Every choice a Baha’i makes … leaves a trace, and the moral duty to lead a coherent life demands that one’s economic decisions be in accordance with lofty ideals, that the purity of one’s aims be matched by the purity of one’s actions to fulfil those aims.”