The following is from the statement “The Vision of Race Unity: America’s Most Challenging Issue”, published by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States. This is the national guiding body for the Baha’is of the continental US (Alaska and Hawaii have their own National Spiritual Assemblies).
In light of our nation’s distressing “discovery” that we are not a post-racial society and that racial animus is still alive in our communities, I decided to offer another way of making reality behave—by recognizing the problems and issues it calls upon us to face.
The first segment of the statement on race unity begins by setting forth the foundational principle of Baha’i belief—the oneness of humanity.
The oneness of humanity is the pivot round which revolve all the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith. It is at once a statement of principle and an assertion of the ultimate goal of human experience on the planet. More than a century ago Bahá’u’lláh, the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, wrote: “The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.” It is a principle that issues naturally from the genesis and purpose of human existence. The Word of God as presented in the Bahá’í writings offers compelling insights as in the following examples:
Veiled in My immemorial being and in the ancient eternity of My essence, I knew My love for thee; therefore I created thee, have engraved on thee Mine image and revealed to thee My beauty.
Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created. Since We have created you all from the same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest. Such is My counsel to you, O concourse of light! Heed ye this counsel that ye may obtain the fruit of holiness from the tree of wondrous glory.
All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. The Almighty beareth Me witness: To act like the beasts of the field is unworthy of man. Those virtues that befit his dignity are forbearance, mercy, compassion and loving-kindness towards all the peoples and kindreds of the earth.
Having gone through the stages of infancy and turbulent adolescence, humanity is now approaching maturity, a stage that will witness “the reconstruction and demilitarization of the whole civilized world–a world organically unified in all the essential aspects of its life.” In no other country is the promise of organic unity more immediately demonstrable than in the United States because this country is a microcosm of the diverse populations of the earth. Yet this promise remains largely unrealized even here because of the endemic racism that, like a cancer, is corroding the vitals of the nation.
The italicized passages above are from the writings of Baha’u’llah, Prophet Founder of the Baha’i Faith. These scriptures, penned by Baha’u’llah in the latter half of the 19th century, form the foundation of our belief that we humans are one family—as singer/songwriter Red Grammer put it, “a coat of many colors”.
The US has been called “a grand experiment”, “a nation of immigrants”, “a melting pot” of diversity. As the National Assembly notes, it is “a microcosm of the diverse populations” of the world we live in.
A maxim Baha’is live by, given to us by Baha’u’llah, is Unity in Diversity. Fans of Star Trek may recognize Unity in Diversity as a byword among Vulcans and a concept revered by the United Federation of Planets. (There was a reason for that; a couple of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s writers were Baha’i.) Anyone who saw the most recent Star Trek movie—Beyond—will have recognized this theme throughout the film: that there is strength in unity.
Conversely, there is weakness in disunity. Racism is a force for disunity that can erode the strongest of foundations and cause the disintegration of the fabric of our society. It is doing that even now.
Baha’is believe that we are not powerless against this force. If we are to preserve this “coat of many colors” we must resist the forces of disintegration. The good news is that each of us has the capacity to do this and to counter those with love, faith, and reason through thought, word and action and in any and all of the interactions we have with other human beings.