Baha'u'llah's influence over society is not restricted to the behaviour of the individual believer. He has also laid down the foundations of a new order in which all peoples, united by their common belief in God and His revelation, will live together in peace an justice. Baha'u'llah has come to establish the promised kingdom of God on earth. This kingdom is neither a supernatural, supra terrestrial place nor a metaphor for the abode of the deceased, but it is a kingdom on this planet. It is none other than the realization of the unity of mankind and of world peace, the creation of an all-embracing and just order, in which every human being can live in security and fulfil himself in conformity with God's law, a kingdom in which God Himself rules His people. (27:1)
To be a Baha'i does not mean therefore that one works selfishly, with an eye on the next world, for one's own salvation, but rather that one participates fully in this earthly life and cooperates in the building of this kingdom of peace as envisioned by the prophets. This will be realized neither in the way Christian zealots have imagined nor as so many socialists envision the creation of a new order, neither by God's cosmic interference in our order of existence with the consequent transformation of human nature which would then no longer be capable of evil, nor simply by the resolute adherence to the commandment to love one's neighbour, nor by the wholehearted observation of the exhortations in the Sermon on the Mount, as Leo Tolstoy vaguely dreamt. It will not come about simply by destroying the old social structures in revolutionary civil wars or by trying to build a new society free from contradictions in which man, no longer suppressed or exploited, can fulfil himself and will spontaneously become "good". The kingdom of peace will come to men neither as a cosmic event, as some Christians, on the basis of a literal interpretation of the Scriptures, expect, nor "from the barrel of a gun" (Mao Tse Tung). Peace and justice cannot be bombed on to the planet. They will be the fruit of a complete transformation of human consciousness and of a laborious building process by a new race of men. (27:2)
Baha'is believe that two forces-- the elements of a historical dialectic already taking place-- will bring about mankind's golden age: first, the transformation of man, his spiritual rebirth through God's creative word; secondly, the transformation of society both through the change in its structures according to the divine will proclaimed by Baha'u'llah, and through the establishment by means of Baha'u'llah's world order, of universal justice in which all men can live in peace. (29:1)
We are experiencing this process of the fall of the old order and the building up of the new one. The collapse of the old order, however painful and dangerous, is necessary and cannot be stopped; it is as necessary as the sweeping away of the leaves from the trees by the cold wind in winter, which makes room for the tender buds, already perceptible.