Updated: Jul 9, 2022
Many of us share the dream of our worldly family living together as one. We write about this oneness. Some of our most beautiful poems celebrate it. Many of our most moving songs sing about it. And some of our most stirring speeches (like Martin Luther King's famous 'I Have a Dream' speech) describe it.
How do we go about keeping our diversity whilst achieving unity, because it's the doing of it and living it - day by day - that brings the real challenges.
Many of our differences are readily apparent; our gender and skin colour, our language, our dress. Less apparent are our unique beliefs, our traditions and social behaviours; the practices of generations. Yet often we cling to practices that are not suited to today's world and actually constitute a barrier to development and unity.
To what extent do we need to agree on these important subjects, or is there some way to live together that accepts differences without disharmony?
Often it is those very differences that become reinforced in the political vying of the electoral process, which is of its nature divisive. Bahais avoid this division by actively contributing to the development of society while remaining strictly apart from party politics.
"Speak thou no word of politics; thy task concerneth the life of the soul, for this verily leadeth to man’s joy in the world of God. Except to speak well of them, make thou no mention of the earth’s kings, and the worldly governments thereof." --'Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, 53
The Bahai Writings proclaim that ""the most important condition that can bring about peace is unity—the unity of families, of nations, and of the great currents of thought and inquiry that we denote science and religion". ---Universal House of Justice, 19 Oct 93 to an individual.
For Bahai's '...the principle of the Oneness of Mankind, the cornerstone of Bahá’u’lláh’s world-embracing dominion, implies nothing more nor less than the enforcement of His scheme for the unification of the world—the scheme to which we have already referred". “In every Dispensation,” writes ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá, “the light of Divine Guidance has been focussed upon one central theme.… In this wondrous Revelation, this glorious century, the foundation of the Faith of God and the distinguishing feature of His Law is the consciousness of the Oneness of Mankind.”---Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh.
"How pathetic indeed are the efforts of those leaders of human institutions who, in utter disregard of the spirit of the age, are striving to adjust national processes, suited to the ancient days of self-contained nations, to an age which must either achieve the unity of the world, as adumbrated by Bahá’u’lláh, or perish. At so critical an hour in the history of civilization it behooves the leaders of all the nations of the world, great and small, whether in the East or in the West, whether victors or vanquished, to give heed to the clarion call of Bahá’u’lláh and, thoroughly imbued with a sense of world solidarity, the sine quâ non of loyalty to His Cause, arise manfully to carry out in its entirety the one remedial scheme He, the Divine Physician, has prescribed for an ailing humanity'. ------Shoghi Effendi, The Guiding Principles of World Order, The World Order of Baha'u'llah.
Yet in achieving this, we do not overlook those structures necessary to a politically united world, or lack a sustainable growth strategy. In 2001 as our world emerged from the strife and challenges of the 20th Century, The Universal House of Justice thrillingly declared that "the future has never looked so bright".
"A long and arduous process of struggle, experimentation and construction has led to the victories that lift our hearts as a new century opens. Through the rapidly proliferating system of institutes and the energy being invested everywhere in area growth strategies, the Bahá’í community has moved swiftly to capitalize on what has been achieved. However deep may be the gloom enveloping the world, the future has never looked so bright for the prosecution of Bahá’u’lláh’s mission." ---UHJ 24 May 2001 To the Believers Gathered for the Events Marking the Completion of the Projects on Mount Carmel.
""Every nation and every group—indeed, every individual—will, to a greater or lesser degree, contribute to the emergence of the world civilization towards which humanity is irresistibly moving. Unity will progressively be achieved, as foreshadowed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, in different realms of social existence, for instance, “unity in the political realm”, “unity of thought in world undertakings”, “unity of races” and the “unity of nations”. As these come to be realized, the structures of a politically united world, which respects the full diversity of culture and provides channels for the expression of dignity and honour, will gradually take shape"---2 Mar 2013 UHJ to Bahais of Iran
“Social action... is to be carried out in the context of a much larger enterprise—namely, the advancement of a civilization that ensures the material and spiritual prosperity of the entire human race. The fundamental teachings of the Faith that will inspire this civilization...need to find expression in the sphere of social action. Clearly, the application of the requisite principles to the social and material progress of communities involves a vast process of learning.” —The Universal House of Justice, 26 November, 2012.
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