Our hearts are breaking and full of grief as we deal with the twin pandemics of the coronavirus and racial injustice.
Our National Spiritual Assembly recently sent a message saying, “The Baha’is of the United States join our fellow-citizens in heartfelt grief at the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others whose lives were suddenly taken by appalling acts of violence. These heartbreaking violations against fellow human beings, due only to the color of their skin, have deepened the dismay caused by a pandemic whose consequences to the health and livelihoods of people of color have been disproportionately severe. This has come to pass against a backdrop of longstanding racial injustice in virtually every aspect of American life. It is clear that racial prejudice is the most vital and challenging issue we face as a country.”
Baha’is are laboring to create a new world where the oneness of humanity is the foundation of our future; a society based on love, equity, justice, collaboration, reciprocity and the nobility of all. In the same message, the national statement to the community talked about signs of hope, the need for sustained and concerted effort to eliminate racism, and the profound challenge of creating a new framework for justice.
It said: “To create a just society begins with recognition of the fundamental truth that humanity is one. But it is not enough simply to believe this in our hearts. It creates the moral imperative to act, and to view all aspects of our personal, social and institutional lives through the lens of justice. It implies a reordering of our society more profound than anything we have yet achieved. And it requires the participation of Americans of every race and background, for it is only through such inclusive participation that new moral and social directions can emerge.”
Baha’u’llah, the prophet-founder of the Baha’i faith, called upon us to “Be ye as the fingers of one hand, the members of one body.” The Baha’i faith’s most vital teaching is the principle of the oneness and wholeness of the human race. It is regarded as the pivot around which all the teachings revolve. In fact, most all of the problems facing the world can be viewed as humanity’s lack of fully understanding and embracing what it means to be one family.
Racism can be viewed as a toxin or poison; it can be viewed as a sin; or as a cancerous disease. No matter which lens seems most analogous, it is certain that it is a spiritual illness, and a spiritual illness requires a spiritual remedy. Baha’u’llah’s revelation, as with all the great prophets, released potent spiritual energies to transform, reform and heal the ills of their time.
Baha’u’llah proclaimed, “Justice is, in this day, bewailing its plight, and equity groaneth beneath the yoke of oppression. The thick clouds of tyranny have darkened the face of the earth, and enveloped its people.” He further said, “We have breathed a new life into every human frame, and instilled into every word a fresh potency.”
The Baha’i writings often refer to racial and ethnic differences as beholding the beauty of a variegated garden, saying: “Consider the flowers of a garden. Though differing in kind, color, form and shape, yet, inasmuch as they are refreshed by the waters of one spring, revived by the breath of one wind, invigorated by the rays of one sun, this diversity increaseth their charm and addeth unto their beauty. How unpleasing to the eye if all the flowers and plants, the leaves and blossoms, the fruit, the branches and the trees of that garden were all of the same shape and color! Diversity of hues, form and shape enricheth and adorneth the garden, and heighteneth the effect thereof.”
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all work together to breathe life into this vision of a just and peaceful world? This is multi-generational work, and we are committed to carrying it out.
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