Consultation - Action - Reflection

A notion that has proven useful in this respect is that of a line of action. A line of action is conceived as a sequence of activities, each of which builds on the previous one and prepares the way for the next. Endeavours often begin with a single line of action, but gradually a number of interrelated lines emerge, constituting a whole area of action. For example, to be effective, even an effort at the grassroots focusing solely on the area of child education needs to simultaneously follow such lines of action as the training of teachers and consciousness raising in the community about education, as well as attending to the teaching-learning experience.

Universal House of Justice, Office of Social and Economic Development, Social Action, 26 November 2012, p. 14

At the heart of every development endeavour is consistent, systematic action. Action,

however, needs to be accompanied by constant reflection to ensure that it continues to serve the aims of the endeavour.

Universal House of Justice, Office of Social and Economic Development, Social Action, 26 November 2012, p. 14

Development strategies that are formulated simply in terms of projects with well-stated goals, followed by evaluation of how and why they were or were not achieved, have limitations. An approach to development defined in terms of learning does, at times, admit formal evaluation. Yet, it depends far more on structured reflection woven into a pattern of action, through which questions can emerge and methods and approaches be adjusted.

Universal House of Justice, Office of Social and Economic Development, Social Action, 26 November 2012, p. 14

Focused, systematic thinking and persistent, meticulous labour do not, of course, detract

from the spirit of service that animates social action. While paying attention to the

smallest practical details, one can be occupied with the most profound spiritual matters. A distinguishing feature of any Bahá’í endeavour has to be the emphasis it places on the spirit with which action is undertaken. This requires from the participants purity of motive, rectitude of conduct, humility, selflessness, and respect for human dignity.

Universal House of Justice, Office of Social and Economic Development, Social Action, 26 November 2012, p. 15

Given the multitude of humanity’s needs and the enthusiasm with which programmes

inspired by the teachings of the Faith are frequently received, it can be tempting for a Bahá’í-inspired organization to try to pursue every opportunity and become engaged in frenetic action. Learning to be systematic and focused is a challenge that all those involved in development efforts, from a small group to the community itself, have to meet.

Universal House of Justice, Office of Social and Economic Development, Social Action, 26 November 2012, p. 14

It is only through continued action, reflection and consultation on their part that they will learn to read their own reality, to see their own possibilities, make their own resources, and respond to the exigencies of large-scale expansion and consolidation to come.

Universal House of Justice, to the Continental Boards of Counsellors, 28 December 2010

Numerous, of course, are the questions that the process of learning, now under way in all regions of the world, must address: how to bring people of different backgrounds together in an environment which, devoid of the constant threat of conflict and distinguished by its devotional character, encourages them to put aside the divisive ways of a partisan mindset, fosters higher degrees of unity of thought and action, and elicits wholehearted participation; how to administer the affairs of a community in which there is no ruling class with priestly functions that can lay claim to distinction or privilege; how to enable contingents of men and women to break free from the confines of passivity and the chains of oppression in order to engage in activities conducive to their spiritual, social and intellectual development; how to help youth navigate through a crucial stage of their lives and become empowered to direct their energies towards the advancement of civilization; how to create dynamics within the family unit that lead to material and spiritual prosperity without instilling in the rising generations feelings of estrangement towards an illusory "other" or nurturing any instinct to exploit those relegated to this category; how to make it possible for decision making to benefit from a diversity of perspectives through a consultative process which, understood as the collective

investigation of reality, promotes detachment from personal views, gives due importance to valid empirical information, does not raise mere opinion to the status of fact or define truth as the compromise between opposing interest groups. To explore questions such as these and the many others certain to arise, the Bahá’í community has adopted a mode of operation characterized by action, reflection, consultation and study--study which involves not only constant reference to the writings of the Faith but also the scientific analysis of patterns unfolding. Indeed, how to maintain such a mode of

learning in action, how to ensure that growing numbers participate in the generation and application of relevant knowledge, and how to devise structures for the systemization of an expanding worldwide experience and for the equitable distribution of the lessons learned--these are, themselves, the object of regular examination.

Universal House of Justice, To the Bahá’ís of Iran, 2 March 2013