IN the “good old days” it used to be said of an Englishman – such was the reputation our countrymen enjoyed for honesty and straight dealing – that his “word was his bond.”

Now however, with the erosion of religious values, it seems that this cardinal virtue in its various aspects – including telling the truth and keeping one’s word – has undergone something of a decline.

For example, in a recent television documentary, it was plainly intimated by more than one high-ranking official that the Civil Service could no longer take it for granted, as used to be the case, that what they were told was true. How, the question arose, could they operate effectively if the very basis of their operations was insecure?

In the Bahá’í Faith, the values of truthfulness, trustworthiness, honesty and fidelity, are accorded a position of paramount importance.

Thus, for example, with regard to truthfulness, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the son of the Founder of the Faith, states: “Truthfulness is the foundation of all human virtues. Without truthfulness, progress and success, in all the worlds of God, are impossible for any soul. When this holy attribute is established in man, all the Divine qualities will also be acquired.”

As regards trustworthiness, he asserts: “Trustworthiness is in the sight of God the foundation of His Faith, as well as the basis of all virtues and distinctions.” And finally, on the subject of fidelity, he explains: “In the world of being there is no better, pleasanter or sweeter attribute than fidelity. This distinctive virtue is among the mightiest foundations of the Faith of God. If a man be deprived of all praiseworthy qualities, yet be endued with this holy attribute, he shall in the end possess all perfections.”

Striking as this last statement may seem, it serves as a reminder that this quality lies at the very heart of what is termed “faith,” which is in essence nothing other than allegiance to a particular belief system; on which subject ‘Abdu’l-Bahá affirms: “As ye have faith so shall your powers and blessings be.”

Mark Hellaby

Skipton Bahá’í Group