There is an aspect of the Bahá’í faith that I find absolutely fascinating. We consult. On everything.
For me it is such a break from the way many things are done. In our families, parents (typically) guide their children and make the big decisions. In school, we have teachers tell us what we need to know and make decisions about our education. In our employment, our bosses lay out tasks for us to complete and make decisions regarding our compensation. So on, and so forth.
But in Bahá’í world, we consult. And while it can be frustrating and sometimes result in endless loops of discussion, I appreciate this aspect of my religion. Sometimes it is so easy to disregard someone’s opinion because they lack experience or training or we simply don’t agree with them. (We’re all guilty of this, right? Sometimes it’s easier just to plow ahead with your own idea.) To this, the faith teaches:
“Not infrequently, nay oftentimes, the most lowly, untutored, and inexperienced among the friends [Bahá’ís] will, by the sheer inspiring force of selfless and ardent devotion, contribute a distinct and memorable share to a highly involved discussion in any given assembly.”
And it’s so true. It is a reminder that I, stubborn as I am, need to hear from time to time.
Bahá’ís are charged with consulting outside our religion as well and to use it in our marriages, parenting, business dealings, and friendships.
Good consultation takes practice and requires a sturdy foundation of mutual respect, a desire to truly hear what others say, and a willingness to change your heart and mind. Some people are better at it than others, and some take to it naturally, but it is definitely something anyone can learn to do.
Hubby and I use it constantly and I think our marriage is stronger for it. We have equal voices, and while I’m usually the one to pull the trigger on something, I do it knowing he had full input. Consultation has made our relationship stronger with time, and I think we both take comfort in knowing that we truly know what is on the other’s mind. I also look forward to the day our daughter can consult with us on family matters.
I love the following quote about the faith and consultation. I think it sums this up nicely:
“Let us…bear in mind that the keynote of the Cause of God is not dictatorial authority, but humble fellowship, not arbitrary power, but the spirit of frank and loving consultation.”