The recent Canadian election season offered me time to ponder and reflect about the Baha’i attitude regarding politics. I find it quite difficult to place myself within the Canadian political system, given Baha’u’llah’s command to refrain from involving oneself in partisan politics. (And living in Ottawa, you tend to hear a lot about politics no matter what time of year it is.) I’ve heard different things from many Baha’is about what forms of political involvement and expression are appropriate. The following quote from a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi pretty much sums up my take on the matter:
The Guardian wishes me to draw the attention of the friends through you that they should be very careful in their public utterances not to mention any political figures-either side with them or denounce them. This is the first fact to bear in mind. Otherwise they will involve the friends in political matters, which is infinitely dangerous for the Cause.
From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, January 12, 1933: Bahá’í News, No. 72, April 1933, p. 3 Lights of Guidance, p. 441
That’s why, for example, I leave my “Political Views” line blank on Facebook. It’s also why I never blog about political figures, either to compliment or criticise them, either to express. When I get emails from people criticizing this or that politician—yes, even unpopular ones (who shall remain nameless)—I kind of bristle, just like I would when hearing someone backbiting about a friend.
What do you think? Is it appropriate for Baha’is to openly express their hopes that one or the other candidate in a partisan election will win? Is the opposite appropriate? Why or why not? Oh, and here are a few links as fodder for discussion: Bahá’í Involvement in Politics (from bahai.org), The Spiritual Character of Baha’i Elections (from the Compilation of Compilations), a short Compilation on Criticism. (on that, since my lunch break is over, I’m out!)