20. Preserving Unity in a New Age of Diversity
Are you old enough to remember the 1963 hit song, 'Little Boxes' by Pete Seager, or the 1969 hit "Melting Pot" from Blue Mink? Both songs highlighted common fears of the age. As we are increasingly drawn together as a global family, will it create a boring sameness? Will we lose our unique flavours and identities?
The era known as the Age of Exploration began in the early 15th century, creating unprecedented exposure to human differences. It resulted in much conflict as people found themselves confronted by a growing variety of choices and options for which they were ill prepared.
Challenges caused by extremes of diversity will potentially grow ever more pronounced as we more further into the age of Space Exploration. People are torn between valuing individuality on the one hand and embracing diversity on the other.
Growing fears of what this could involve were expressed in those two popular songs of the 60's. The first, 1963 hit 'Little Boxes' expressed concern about housing, and suburban sprawl. Today it even more powerfully addresses growing social concerns with privilege and social inequality.
..."Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky-tacky,
There's a green one and a pink one,
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky,
And they all look just the same.
And the people in the houses
All went to the university,
Where they were put in boxes.
And they came out all the same
And there's doctors and lawyers
And business executives
And they all play on the golf course
And drink their martinis dry,
And they all have pretty children
And the children go to school,
And the children go to summer camp
And then to the university ..." (abridged)
These words highlight two key Baha'i principles; the abolition of extremes of wealth, and the need for universal education.
"Melting Pot" was generally considered an inspiring plea for racial harmony. However over time it also conveyed fears of what unity could involve, suggesting that it would result in a planet of people all the same.
WIth the advanced understanding of 4 decades, we can see in the lyrics some now-abhorrent racist terminology:
"Take a pinch of white man,
Wrap him up in black skin
Add a touch of blue blood
And a little bitty bit of red Indian boy
Oh like a Curly Latin kinkies
Oh Lordy, Lordy, mixed with yellow Chinkees, yeah,
You know you lump it all together
And you got a recipe for a get along scene
Oh what a beautiful dream
If it could only come true, you know, you know,
What we need is a great big melting pot
Big enough enough enough to take
The world and all its got
And keep it stirring for a hundred years or more
And turn out coffee coloured people by the score
Rabbis and the friars Vishnus and the gurus
We got the Beatles or the Sun God.
Well it really doesn't matter what religion you choose
And be thankful little Mrs. Graceful You know"...Abridged.
This song highlights the essential need of both human unity and also the preservation of diversity.
For Baha'is around the planet that "recipe for a get along scene... a beautiful dream..." is more than just a dream.
Unity in DIversity is an ideal that we have been working on - fostering and collaborating with others - to make it come true. And it is happening! The Baha’i Faith is now the world’s second-most widespread religion after Christianity.
Its 'recipe' is spanning the globe, working to unite us in all our diversity. These teachings of Bahá'u'lláh constitute the final stage in the evolution of humanity; World unity. Bahá'ís believe that humanity must now move forward towards global maturity, recognising ourselves as One Human Family.