18. Growing Global Movements towards Unity.
Once upon a time, our world had no borders.
Until the mid-19th century, most of the world was just a sprawl of empires, of unclaimed land, city-states and principalities, which travellers freely crossed without any checks or passports. Then, those who were most able to unify and coordinate their activities - their physical regions, languages, records, economies and actions - slowly grew more powerful than their neighbours.
However, as industrialisation made societies more complex, larger and more appropriate systems of governance became required in order to manage them.
Our world slowly transformed into nation-states, populated by people with common attributes and characteristics, with organised political systems exerting sovereignty over their defined spaces, and borders being agreed upon by other nation-states. Greater association and communication produced a unification of language, culture and identity.
Gradually the nation-state model spread worldwide; there are now 195 countries in the world today.
Today's level of international organisation would have been unthinkable prior to the coming of Baha’u’llah in the mid-nineteenth century. Try to imagine a world without 'countries' today – tricky, isn't it?
Our whole sense of who we are, our loyalties, our rights and obligations, is bound up in them. However, this nation-state with its borders, centralised governments, common people and sovereign authority has been growing increasingly out of step with the world. That seemingly invincible rule of the past is rapidly changing.
The case against the nation-state is hardly new. Twenty years ago, many were anticipating its imminent demise, anguishing that the end of a nation-states’ power to enforce control would exert dire effects upon businesses, finance and people.
When the light of Baha’u’llah broke upon the world in the 19th century, humanity was completing an age-old journey that had travelled from family to community to city state, and most recently to the experience of nation state. And then, seemingly without warning, the appearance of an exciting new internet seemed to herald a borderless future. Suddenly our friends and trading partners and learning communities were situated all over the planet.
A new phrase entered public currency; that of the ‘global village’. The world would never be the same again. Suddenly it became more essential than ever, that mankind must learn to live together on this shared planet with cooperation and harmony.
Baha’u’llah’s teachings explain that this process will be followed by the unification of the entire planet, as it is progressively effected through application of the principle of Unity.
Unity, in its Bahá’í expression, contains the essential concept of diversity, distinguishing it from uniformity. It is through love for all people, and by subordinating lesser loyalties to the best interests of humankind, that the unity of the world can be realized and the infinite expressions of human diversity find their highest fulfilment." 18 January 2019, Universal House of Justice to the Baha'is of the World.
His core Teachings address such essential themes as the oneness of God and religion, and the oneness of humanity, stating:
“That which the Lord hath ordained as the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of the world is the union of all its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith." - Baha'ullah, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh CXXI