It seems to me that we live in a materialist society that encourages us to exercise subjective choice as consumers but discourages us from having objective ideals and values as human beings. Advertisers use consumer preference to promote the illusion of liberty whereas in reality the choice is merely between buying the same model in different colours.
The New Zealand educationalist John Heenan wrote that
Preferences and principles are opposites. Preferences are subjective while principles are objective. Values, that are preferences, are something “to have,” but values that are principles, are something “to be.”
We may not always live up to our ideals but I believe it is by trying to apply our guiding principles in everyday life that we are ennobled and our lives are given meaning. It is one of the reasons that I am grateful to have been touched by the teachings of Baha’u’llah at an early age.
Baha’u’llah teaches that there is one God who has revealed His will through progressive revelation by his Divine Messengers. The common objective of these Divine Messengers is to promote the spiritual and social development of the human race. Humanity has reached such a stage of development that it’s unification in one peaceful world community is now possible. In order to promote this peaceful world community Baha’u’llah enunciated principles that include
- That humankind is one family
- That the religions have one common divine source
- That true religion is consistent with reason and the quest for scientific understanding
- That extremes of poverty and wealth should be avoided
- That universal education should be made available to all-an education both spiritual and material in character
- That all forms of prejudice should be left behind
- That the sexes are equal, ‘the wings of a single bird’
- That a world commonwealth of nations should be created, founded on principles of peace and justice