These days, when policy questions of epochal magnitude face governments everywhere and the constitutional order in a number of countries faces grave crises, my thoughts turn often to Baha'u'llah's counsels to the world's legislators.
In his remarkable Tablet to Queen Victoria (ca. 1868, currently on display at the British Museum), Baha'u'llah lays out several vital principles for both good governance within each country and the establishment of peace among counties, including universal human rights, representative democracy, social solidarity, protection of refugees, demilitarization, and collective security. And he speaks directly to the necessary qualifications for members of parliaments, those who are charged with fostering humanity's collective coming of age:
It behoveth them . . . to be trustworthy among His servants, and to regard themselves as the representatives of all that dwell on earth.
Concise and simple words--yet compared to the corruption and narrow self-interest that seem everywhere apparent, how revolutionary and far-reaching!
With the next breath he offers legislators a prayer that reminds them of their purpose as servants of the people:
And if any one of them directeth himself towards the Assembly, let him turn his eyes unto the Supreme Horizon, and say: “O my God! I ask Thee, by Thy most glorious Name, to aid me in that which will cause the affairs of Thy servants to prosper, and Thy cities to flourish. Thou, indeed, hast power over all things!” Blessed is he that entereth the Assembly for the sake of God, and judgeth between men with pure justice. He, indeed, is of the blissful.
In Bolivia, Hong Kong, Iraq, Sudan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and every other country, the people deserve representatives at all levels who are fundamentally honest, who prize justice, who have the best interest of the whole society at heart, and who see their ultimate constituency as the whole planet.
May the members of all our legislative assemblies take these words as inspiration, goal, and mode of operation--and may the rest of us hold them, and ourselves, accountable.