Updated: Jun 25, 2022
Many of us share the dream of our worldly family living together as one. We share a recognition that our birthplace is Earth, our race is Human, our politics are Freedom and our religion: LOVE.
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.
But not our national anthems.
Most national anthems remain celebrations of uniqueness and - dare I say it - superiority. So the dreaming of unity and the singing and talking about it were the easy parts.
Now we've moved beyond the pleasant stage of 'dreaming'. Now we're at the pointy edge; the 'doing' stage.
How do we go about keeping our diversity whilst achieving unity?
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 skin colour, our language, our dress. Less apparent are our unique beliefs, our traditions and social behaviours; often these are the practices of generations. They produce much of the richness and beauty of our world, yet too often we cling to practices that are no longer suited to today and actually constitute a barrier to ongoing development and unity.
Often it is these negative attitudes to our differences that become reinforced in the political vying of the electoral process. Global politics are at this very moment embroiled in conflicts of race, religion, ethnicity; even our choice of clothing!
Bahais avoid the divisive world of party politics which pits one group against another, to instead become actively and collectively engaged in our wider social welbeing.
"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
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? This is the purpose of Consultation, a skill that needs to be taught at every level of society and is a proven means of attaining unity.
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.
“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".
"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
This exciting assurance of a bright future to which humanity is irresistibly moving carries no quick or easy promise. It will be the gradual outcome of a number of factors to which a chastened world - national leadership included - will unitedly contribute.