Updated: Apr 28, 2022
In the space of just a few months, my fellow earthlings have found that we are no longer one another’s greatest enemy. This should be the great news that humanitarian well-wishers and benefactors have been working towards throughout the ages.
Instead, that common enemy is a pretty pink virus that looks like it should belong on a Christmas tree or on some fashionista's ear. Yet it threatens our health, our security and our very way of life, both now and into the future.
In March, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on all warring parties to lay down their weapons and focus on this battle against the unprecedented global pandemic that is COVID-19. This word - previously a stranger to our lexicon - has suddenly thrown the entire world into turmoil and forcibly reminded us of John Donne's statement that 'no man is an island'. What happens in one part of the planet impacts people everywhere.
Yet we are also finding much that is beneficial to learn from this virus. Nations that have previously been enemies are now recognising that opposition is not in their longer term interests, and are turning their attention to sharing supplies of face masks, or collaborating in scientific discoveries to more greatly understand the nature, and reduce the scale, of the disease.
"Everything is interconnected today. When individuals or nations pursue only their own interests, there is strife. This short sighted and narrow-minded attitude is unrealistic and outdated. Living together as brothers and sisters, as one human family in true unity, is the only way to enduring peace and justice.
Peace is more that just an end to war. It is an attitude, a spiritual state, a commitment to treating others with justice and good will". -- Universal House of Justice, The Promise of World Peace.
Treating others with justice and goodwill has many urgent implications for the present moment.
"Just as a fever is a symptom of disease in the body, racism is a symptom of disease in society. Suppressing the symptom does not cure the disease, but curing the disease eliminates the symptom. The Bahá’í International Community is convinced that the disease from which society currently suffers is failure to recognize the principle of the oneness of humanity, and racism is but a symptom. If we wish to eliminate racism entirely, we must establish, as the moral of foundation for society, the unshakable conviction of the oneness of the human race."
-- Bahá’í International Community.
And yet, despite millennia of mankind's professed longing to achieve this, my fellow world citizens watch on helplessly as "...the process of the disintegration of a lamentably defective world order gathers momentum in all parts of the planet, engendering hopelessness, confusion, hostility, and insecurity..." - UHJ, 9.11.2018
What is needed? This requires not a mere treaty but a new way of living that combines both spirit and means: "...a spirit reflecting hopefulness for a brighter future; such 'means as lead to the elevation, the advancement, the education, the protection and the regeneration of the peoples of the earth" - UHJ, Selected Messages of the Universal House of Justice and Supplementary Material 2006–2016
“The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.” - Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas
What is the first step? The growing realisation is that everyone is interdependent with everyone else. To continue to be relevant, the nations of the world must change. We need to think more about global-level issues. Just as there are no national boundaries for a virus, there can be no boundaries in our efforts for climate protection or for resolving the global economy.
The earth belongs not to one people but to all people.
“We should continually be establishing new bases for human happiness and creating and promoting new instrumentalities toward this end. How excellent, how honorable is man if he arises to fulfill his responsibilities; how wretched and contemptible, if he shuts his eyes to the welfare of society and wastes his precious life in pursuing his own selfish interests and personal advantages. Supreme happiness is man’s, and he beholds the signs of God in the world and in the human soul, if he urges on the steed of high endeavor in the arena of civilization and justice.” --- UHJ 9.11.2018
The time has come to understand that we are all human beings on this planet. Whether we want to or not, we must coexist, and this requires a shared global ethic such as embodied in the Baha'i Teachings.