Issue 120 / November - December 2017
System Blindness and the Lifespan of a Society
Question: It usually is inevitable to lose motivation in good works, which, like other things, may become ordinary and monotonous in time. Is this a consequence of system blindness? What can be done to prevent such blindness?
Answer: The credit for all of our achievements is first and foremost due to the Divine favors that shower abundantly over those who seriously endeavor for their lofty ideals. For these achievements, which are but the results of Divine favor, to continue, the sincerity of purpose and commitment to the core ideal of this issue must remain. We have no right to ignore these showers of blessings and lay a personal claim to the achievements, nor can we let the means replace the purpose; for then we will also fall like all previous societies did.
For a comparison, there are many who devote themselves to humanity and travel around the world for good work. Although they do not suffer for the good of humanity to the degree of forgetting their way home, their spouse’s face, or their children’s names, they are welcome in every land they go to, and receive appreciation for the services they fulfill. However, the endeavors they make in the places they go are becoming a means for good works with worldwide benefit. So, failing to recognize the Divine support, guardianship and protection behind all of these beautiful services, laying personal claim to them or thinking that what has come about as a result of Divine grace and favors will always continue, even without keeping up our spiritual state, is a serious kind of blindness.
Rising to an esteemed position, becoming institutionalized, or establishing a well-built system, might cause a person to become blind to the truth. In addition, people affected by such blindness might then fail a Divine test or fall for a Divine stratagem by laying personal claim to the graces granted by God. Thus, instead of acknowledging blessings in the face of success and turning to God with thankful praise, they might be overcome by pride and conceit. All of these are factors which will bring about a person’s fall.
As stated by sociologists and social historians as well, after enjoying certain achievements, almost every people and society experienced, to different degrees, a period of blindness as a result of the dizziness of victory. This situation caused societies to disintegrate, and consequently brought about their end. Gaining insight into the fall of Rome, the Byzantines, the Seljuks, and the Ottomans will reveal that all of them actually shared the same destiny in this sense.
In order to save a society from such blindness and increase its lifespan, it is necessary to constantly focus it on higher targets and give people relevant duties to busy them with good works. With their functioning mind, open spirit and a conscience that embraces the entire universe, they must constantly be engaged in an activity and never lose their metaphysical vigilance. If you do not direct people to high ideals and then occupy them with certain tasks for the sake of realizing these ideals, the devil will find work for their idle hands to do.
On the other hand, it is necessary to take into consideration different cultural environments in the world and make favorable use of common points and correctly determine the common ground. Afterwards, it is necessary to renew the good works you are occupied with and find some new ways and methods according to conjuncture so that you do not develop blindness. Otherwise, it is inevitable that you will become dull, lose your purpose, and rot.
In particular, the people who are at the forefront with the most responsibilities must close their doors to self-indulgence and worldliness. When worldliness beckons temptingly they must answer, “Do not waste your energy in vain, the door is bolted shut!” Let alone worldly expectations, they should not even cherish otherworldly expectations in return for the services they fulfill. Their philosophy of life should be in line with Bediuzzaman (who said): “Neither do I have a passion for Paradise, nor a fear of Hell. Given that I see the faith of my people is saved, I accede to burning in the flames of Hell; for while my body is burning, my heart will be a rose garden.”
Orbit of the heart and mind
Those who ascribe issues to themselves will experienceâ€”tomorrow if not today, or the day after thatâ€”a “fatigue of excitement” and die in spirit. As for self-effacing people however, they will have proven the existence of God in a way and taken refuge in His power and strength. Since such people rely on the Infinite Source of power and strength, they pass mountains and rivers, but never experience fatigue of spirit and lose nothing from their power or strength.
In this respect, people at the forefront of society must constantly keep alert so that they can enliven those around them. People who do not act in the orbit of the heart and spirit cannot serve as a means for others’ revival. Those who have lost their liveliness and enthusiasm, who are spiritually decayed, are no good to themselves, let alone able to kindle vitality, love or excitement in others. In particular, those who give in to fear, comfort, self-indulgence and home-addiction, or who take advantage of their position in order to allocate a personal share from what belongs to the people, definitely cannot breathe life into others.
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The factors mentioned so far may not suffice to prevent the death of a society completely, since death is inevitable for societies, as it is for people.
However, by being careful about the points mentioned above, it is possible to delay a seemingly inevitable fall or collapse for a society and lengthen its life span.