Episode 29: The Ridvan Message of 2024

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To a better world, to a better day

A united approach to building a new society.

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Society Builders.

Society Builders with your host Duane Varan.

Welcome to another exciting episode of Society
Builders – and thanks for joining the conversation

for social transformation.

We’re again pausing our discussion on the
science of depolarization today– I promise – well

I almost promise – that we’ll pick up
again on that theme in our next episode – barring

some new urgent development, of course. But
we’re pausing this discussion today because

of another exciting opportunity – and that’s
the advent of some more guidance from the

Universal House of Justice – it’s Ridvan
Message for 2024.

This comes to you HOT off the press – in
fact, it’s so hot off the press it’s still

sizzling! Tsss.

So today, we explore the Ridvan Message of

(Musical Interlude)

Now - by now, if you’ve been following this
podcast series, you know that episodes where

we can explore the guidance from the Universal
House of Justice are our most exciting episodes

– because the insights they provide us with
here gives us so much deep guidance – guidance

that we can reflect on that directly relate
to our conditions and opportunities today.

So I’m so excited to join with you today
in this journey of discovery.

And once again, I start with my standard disclaimer
here – that my views are no more meritorious

than yours. I share my reflections with absolutely no
authority and my views are not the official

views of any Baha’i agency. So with that
disclaimer let’s dive in.

Now – I think to fully appreciate the Ridvan
Message, you really need to have explored

the recent Naw Ruz Message of the Universal
House of Justice to the Baha’is in Iran.

That was the focus of our last episode. Because
that message really sets the stage for this

one – and this message really builds on
much of the foundations of that message.

So, for example, there is a reference in this
message to us being “true practioners of

peace” – and it’d be easy to read past
that reference without critical reflection.

But when you frame these words within the
context of the Naw Ruz Message, suddenly it

means something so much deeper. Like there’s
a whole system of meaning behind those words.

So if you haven’t listened to our last episode yet,
I’d encourage you to hear it – because

it will help you understand this message in
a much deeper light.

OK – by now you know that whenever I reflect
on a message from the Universal House of Justice,

the first thing I do is look for is how they analyze
the conditions of the world. I mean, this

is our crystal ball. This is the best we can get to understand what’s happening in the

world around us.

And again, if you follow this podcast, you
know that the recent messages of the Universal

House of Justice paint an incredibly dark
picture of the state of the world – a world

polarized and paralyzed, where collective
progress has seldom seemed gloomier, increasingly

frustrated by the inability of present-day
structures to meet humanity’s needs. They

describe a plethora of destructive forces
and events which have left their traces in

blood and anguish on the pages of history
and the lives of billions, a crisis that is

destabilizing and disrupting the world’s
order, with destructive results and consequent

confusion that are more apparent than any
time past. I mean DARK, right!

And in THIS message, the Universal House of
Justice really extends these brushstrokes

– further elaborating on our dark, dark
times. It’s a moment of crisis. The condition

of the world is growing MORE desperate – and
its divisions more severe. And this is having

its consequences – in despair – and conflict.

Now similar to its other recent messages,
this dark condition – these forces of disintegration

– are symbiotically tied to the countering
forces of integration – and the message

clearly focuses on our response to the pain
and suffering around us rather than on the

gloom and doom that is growing.

And here, they quote from Shoghi Effendi who
describes how "a process of 'progressive

deterioration in human affairs' is occurring
in parallel with another process, a process

of integration, through which the 'Ark of
human salvation', society’s 'ultimate

haven', is being built up."

Now this is a reference to a message from
the beloved Guardian that was written in April

of 1957, just a little over six months before
his passing. And in this passage, Shoghi Effendi

is describing the “violent derangement of
the world's equilibrium; the trembling that

will seize the limbs of mankind.” And in
this passage, the beloved Guardian goes on

to describe the response that this must evoke.

Now my personal read here is that towards
the beginning of the message the Universal

House of Justice is praising the community
for its progress over the past two years – the

community has taken the new plan to heart
– we’re seeing increased depth in our

understanding in the transition from community
to society building. So there’s a pat on

our back saying ‘good job commnity’ – but this
is where the plight of the world comes in.

It’s like we’re doing a good job, but
the world around us is growing more desperate

– its divisions more severe. And so even
though we’re doing a good job, all of this

makes new demands on us

And for me, personally, this is the main theme
of the entire message – it’s a calling

to help sensitize us to the desperate plight
of humanity so we can better understand the

growing demands this makes on us both as individuals
and as communities.

And this relates to a sentence that really
leapt out to me. Which is their calling here.

They say: “All of this points to an urgent,
inescapable conclusion: There must be a sustained,

rapid rise in the number of those committing
their time, their energy, their concentration

to the success of this work.”

And that, I think, is the calling here. For
a “sustained, rapid rise in the number of

those committing their time, their energy,
their concentration to the success of this work."

(Musical Interlude)

OK – with that bird’s eye view of the
message, let’s now dive into some of its


The second paragraph echoes a theme that they
have previously elucidated on. Our suffering

is one with humanity. We are being and will
be impacted by the forces of destruction just

like everybody else. And in fact, the point
here is not for us to try to avoid this – it’s

not about us building bunkers. It’s the
opposite. It’s about us rushing into the

field to help humanity through this critical

This is so important. It’s so powerful.

I don’t know if you remember – but in
episode 13 I shared the story of Dr. Zia Baghdadi

and the race riots in Chicago in the summer
of 1919. The Red Summer. At a time when black neighborhoods

were being burnt to the ground by white hooligans
– a time of absolute terror – where even

the police and fire departments dared not
enter – Dr. Baghdadi rushed into these black

neighborhoods bringing them food and medical
care. And that’s the image we should form

– that our times need us – and that we
need to rush to the aid of our fellow friends

and neighbors.

Yes – we are impacted by the forces of destruction
– but we understand the forces at work – so

we’re not paralyzed by them. We understand
the forces of an organic evolution that is

at work and we understand this with absolute
clarity on its direction and destiny. We have

a duty here – and it’s to provide a desperate,
suffering humanity with the ‘ultimate haven’

they need – the 'Ark of their salvation'.

They explain how even though we are affected
by the travails of society, and I quote here,

“…not confused by them; it is saddened

by humanity’s sufferings, but not paralysed
by them. Heartfelt concern must prompt sustained

effort to build communities that offer hope
in place of despair, unity in place of conflict.”

HOPE in place of despair

UNITY in place of conflict

So here the Universal House of Justice is
helping us understand our role in this drama

playing out in the world – in this battle
between the forces of disintegration and integration.

In our need to provide humanity with the haven
they need to navigate through these difficult

times – offering hope and helping cultivate

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Now – if that’s our role – HOW do we
do that? And here, the Universal House of

Justice reminds us that the Plan provides
us with the methods and instruments we need

– in a process that builds long-term, constructive
processes that unfold over generations.

And it’s here that they frame this as part
of the practice of peace building – and

again, this builds on their recent Naw Ruz
message which, I think, is helping steer our

society building focus to this meta-narrative
of peace building. And here, they telescope

starting with the individual and growing up
to family, neighborhood and community. They

“We see it in every account of a heart being

enkindled with the love of God, a family opening
up its home to new friends, collaborators

drawing on Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings
to address a social problem, a community strengthening

a culture of mutual support, a neighbourhood
or village learning to initiate and sustain

the actions necessary for its own spiritual
and material progress, a locality being blessed

with the emergence of a new Spiritual Assembly.”
(Musical Interlude)

So we have a clear role – the Plan provides
us with our methods and instruments – but

the Universal House of Justice also provide us with our message for

They say: “Where else but in Bahá’u’lláh’s
principle of the oneness of humankind can

the world find a vision broad enough to unite
all its diverse elements? How else but by

translating that vision into an order based
on unity in diversity can the world heal the

social fractures that divide it? Who else
can be the leaven through which the peoples

of the world can discover a new way of life,
a pathway to enduring peace?”

And they call on us to “Extend then to everyone
the hand of friendship, of common endeavour,

of shared service, of collective learning,
and advance as one.”

So let’s reflect on these

Extending the hand of friendship – around
a common endeavor, with shared service, collective

learning – and advancing as one.

And they elaborate further on that theme of
service – helping us understand the special

joy it creates. And joy is critical to navigating
through dark times, right?

They say: “The call to service is an uplifting,
all-embracing summons. It attracts every faithful

soul, even those weighed down by cares and
obligations. For in all the ways in which

that faithful soul is occupied can be discovered
deep-rooted devotion and a lifelong concern

for the well-being of others. Such qualities
give coherence to a life of manifold demands.

And the sweetest moments of all for any enkindled
heart are those spent with spiritual sisters

and brothers, tending to a society in need
of spiritual nourishment.”

And by the way, there’s a special calling
here for our youth. They say while the entire

community must surge forward, our youth must
soar. Wow!

And they highlight some very specific qualities
that youth need to bring to this mission – immense

kindliness, courage, complete reliance on
God – all in a path for them reaching out

to their peers and inviting them to join in
our important work.

And in their close, there is a nice celebration,
I think, of our focus on training – they

say: In the Holy Shrines, with overflowing
hearts, we thank Bahá’u’lláh for having

raised you up and trained you in His ways,
and we entreat Him to send you His blessing.”

So inspiring.
(Musical interlude)

Now as always – don’t rely on this podcast
as a substitute for your own study of this

important message. My intent here is to further
stimulate your study – both individually

and as communities. I mean, the Universal House of
Justice just sent YOU a letter – this is

a letter to you - so read it – and ask yourself
how YOU want to respond to them.

It’s critical that you read this message
for yourself to understand how the message

speaks to you – and what your unique response
to it will be.

So with that thought, I leave you to reflect.
Thanks again for joining the conversation

– for social transformation.
I look forward to continuing our journey together

– next time – on Society Builders.

Society Builders pave the way to a better world – to a better day
A united approach to buil-ding – a new society

There’s a crisis facing humanity
People suffer from a lack of unity

It’s time for a better path to a new society

Join our conversation
For social transformation

Society Builders

So engage with your local communities
And explore all the exciting possibilities

We can elevate the atmosphere in which we

The paradigm is shifting
It is so very uplifting

It’s a new beat, a new song, a brand new

Join our conversation
For social transformation

Society Builders

The Baha’i Faith has a lot to say
Helping people to discover a better way

With discourse and social action framed by

Now the time has come to lift our game
And apply the teachings of the Greatest Name

And rise to meet the glory of our destiny

Join our conversation
For social transformation

Society Builders

Join our conversation
For social transformation

Society Builders

Send us your comments at info@societybuilders.com © Duane Varan 2022