Material And Spiritual Progress

It seems to me that humanity’s development is out of kilter. We have made many impressive advances in science and technology in the last one hundred and fifty years yet our spiritual development lags far behind. Sometimes our use of technology brings to mind the image of a loaded gun in the hands of a toddler. `Abdu’l-Bahá writes eloquently about the need for spiritual and material progress to be harmonised.

Now this luminous age has come, bringing with it wonderful civilization and material progress. Men’s intellects have widened, their perceptions grown, but alas, in spite of all this, fresh blood is being spilt day by day. Look at the present Turco-Italian war; consider for a moment the fate of these unhappy people! How many have been killed during this sad time? How many homes are ruined, wives desolate, and children orphans! And what is to be gained in exchange for all this anguish and heartache? Only a corner of the earth! This all shows that material progress alone does not tend to uplift man. On the contrary, the more he becomes immersed in material progress, the more does his spirituality become obscured. In times gone by progress on the material plane was not so rapid, neither was there bloodshed in such profusion. In ancient warfare there were no cannons, no guns, no dynamite, no shells, no torpedo boats, no battleships, no submarines. Now, owing to material civilization, we have all these inventions, and war goes from bad to worse! Europe itself has become like one immense arsenal, full of explosives, and may God prevent its ignition—for, should this happen, the whole world would be involved. I want to make you understand that material progress and spiritual progress are two very different things, and that only if material progress goes hand in hand with spirituality can any real progress come about

This passage seems especially relevant today. Despite our scientific prowess we appear to be engaged in a growing number of futile military interventions- serving only to increase the sum of human suffering. Why not put that energy to more positive use?

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