Crisis and the Power of an Inclusive Historical Consciousness
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Smith, T. “Crisis and the Power of an Inclusive Historical Consciousness: Progressing from Delusional Habits to Dynamic Freedom”. The Journal of Bahá’í Studies, vol. 30, no. 1-2, June 2020, pp. 47-113, doi:10.31581/jbs-30.1-2.6(2020).


In view of the many crises now facing humanity—such as the coronavirus pandemic, overt racial strife, environmental degradation, and political turmoil and extremism—this essay has two objectives. The first objective, addressed in Part One, is diagnostic. Specifically, it is to examine two macro habits of mind that are described as delusional because, while they may seem warranted, they in fact perpetuate defects of being, doing, and associating that, in turn, exacerbate the crises before us. These two habits of mind, namely, the habit of totalizing reality and the habit of fragmenting reality, manifest in various harmful ways, including in our compulsions to ideologize, to dichotomize, to reduce, to individualize, to hyper-consume, to dogmatize, and to otherize. The second objective, addressed in Part Two, is to propose how these delusional macro habits of mind and their associated compulsions can be overcome. It is argued that overcoming them entails embracing an inclusive historical consciousness, centered on the idea of humanity’s path to maturity, and developing the related capacities to think and act in accordance with a number of dynamic interplays, including the interplays between unity and diversity, the individual and the collective, and worship and service. Finally, it is maintained that learning to think and act in accordance with these interplays promotes what is called dynamic freedom—a condition in which the wealth of individual and collective potential is progressively realized for the benefit of all. It is hoped that this article will be of some assistance to readers’ efforts to contribute to the advancement of the discourses in which they are involved, by helping them correlate the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith with the ideas of thoughtful individuals from the larger community who are alert to the consequences of totalizing and fragmenting reality.
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Copyright © 2020 Todd Smith