Full talk available here.
“Do not be content with showing friendship in words alone, let your heart burn with loving kindness for all who may cross your path.” These exquisite and poignant words were spoken by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on October 16th & 17th of 1911 in His talk exploring “The Duty of Kindness and Sympathy towards strangers.” In addition to challenging his audience to show genuine love towards every individual that they meet, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá discussed the need for humans to be “filled with universal love;” to be kind to people from every country of the world and for the people of the West to show warmth to their brethren in the East. The talk then shifts to the climax; an emphasis on action. He said that if thoughts are not transformed into action “they are useless.” His talk ends with Him beautifully elaborating on this point. He states that, “The wrong in the world continues to exist just because people talk only of their ideals, and do not strive to put them into practice.” He gives the example of love, saying that it need not be spoken of constantly because if it exists it will be clear through actions, as He notes that people who do a great deal of good “use fewest words concerning their actions.” Finally, he beckons the people of the world to “work without ceasing till justice reigns in every land.”
These striking words spoken by Abdul-Baha are still of crucial relevance today, as they can serve as a roadmap in our efforts to affect social change. Let’s use the example of community building. If we spend time reflecting on what this concept means, this is a start. However, we know that these thoughts have not reached their full potential if they are not changed into action. If we have in fact internalized the idea of showing love to all people and if our hearts truly “burned with loving kindness” for our fellow human beings, then our first inclination would be to act. In this action we would strive to include the entirety of the human family in our efforts, irrespective of nationality, socioeconomic status, and any other factor. We would implement a strategy that is inclusive of all, empowering to all, and that helps foster unity based upon a shared love and respect amongst the peoples of the community.
This is no small feat, as there is much work to be done before this concept is realized and implemented. Fortunately, though, we have the framework established by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to help the world community in approaching this monumental task that He says is, “what the near approach to God requires from you, and this is what I expect of you.”