65. There is no Cause for Despair
Updated: May 17
Our earliest forebears and all those generations who, over time, have shared this beautiful planet, have been collective participants in an amazing series of events.
Humanity has been travelling from the earliest days of family life to the level of tribal solidarity, to city-state and currently to our present stage of independent, sovereign nations.
Now, genetic science has established that we are one family. With this new awareness of our oneness, the human race stands on the threshold of its maturity.
Our collective task is to confront the destabilizing forces that now threaten this world and prevent attainment of the next phase of our development.
Although the dream of world unity is possible it cannot be achieved without full and unreserved acceptance of the cardinal principle of the oneness of humankind which is described by Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha'i Faith, as “the pivot round which all the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh revolve”.
The reality that humanity is one people must be the starting point for a new order; all relations among nations need to be re-envisaged in this light. Such a radical re-conception of our origins requires a huge shift in understanding.
Presently, the will to achieve this transformation is still wanting. Sooner or later, it will require an historic feat of statesmanship from the leaders of the world.
The progressive recognition of our diversity, and the turbulence created as a result, has all humanity - both nations and individuals - gripped in a crisis of identity, as various peoples and groups struggle to define themselves, their place in the world, and how they should act.
Without a vision of shared identity and common purpose, they fall into competing ideologies and power struggles. Recognition of our diversity has produced countless permutations of “us” and “them”, defining group identities ever more narrowly and in contrast to one another.
This has resulted in a splintering into divergent interest groups, weakening the very cohesion of society itself. Beliefs about the primacy of any particular group obscure the reality that all humanity is on a common journey, in which we are mutual companions.
Our earlier perceptions of human identity differ radically from what is emerging with this new perspective of our human oneness.
The value inherent in our diversity actually endows us with new richness and the promise of exciting potential and possibilities.
Unity, in its Bahá’í expression, embraces the essential concept of diversity, whilst clearly distinguishing it from uniformity. It is through love for all people, and by subordinating our lesser loyalties to the best interests of all humankind, that the unity of the world can be realized and our infinite expressions of human diversity may find their highest fulfilment. It calls for unity and a selfless love for humankind. This is the task of religion.
At this momentous time in our history, religious leaders have the opportunity to recognise the great possibilities before them to cultivate fellowship and concord. Or they can incite violence by using their influence to stoke the fires of fanaticism and prejudice.
Writing of religion, Bahá’u’lláh’s words are emphatic: “Make it not”, He warns, “the cause of dissension and strife.” Peace, for “all who dwell on earth”, is one of “the principles and ordinances of God”.
We are regularly confronted by the suffering endured by so many because of disunity.
We cannot shut ourselves off from the increasing turmoil of the society that surrounds us, yet must be on guard, too, from becoming enmeshed in its conflicts or falling into its adversarial methods.
No matter how bleak conditions may appear at any given time, no matter how dismal the immediate prospects for bringing about unity, there is no cause for despair. The distressing state of the world only spurs us to redouble a commitment to constructive action.
“These are not days of prosperity and triumph” cautions Bahá’u’lláh. “
The whole of mankind is in the grip of manifold ills. Strive, therefore, to save its life through the wholesome medicine which the almighty hand of the unerring Physician hath prepared.” ---The Universal House of Justice 18 January 2019 To the Bahá’ís of the World.