How many of our world’s problems could be solved if humanity awakened to the truth that we are one human family?

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 hallmark of Baha’u’llah’s revelation, and the pivot around which all the prophet’s teachings revolve. Baha’u’llah unreservedly proclaims it as the central purpose of his faith, saying “We, verily, have come to unite and weld together all that dwell on earth.”

The Baha’i writings urge: “Love ye all religions and all races with a love that is true and sincere and show that love through deeds.”

Let’s imagine what that would look like. If we truly believed we are one human family, would we sit down at a meal of plenty knowing our brother or sister at another table has no food? If every human is understood to be a relative, would we ever be cruel or unkind — much less commit harm or violence?

We humans have conditioned ourselves to look away from what is difficult and uncomfortable. Yet, our spiritual teachings remind us to live from our hearts, to remember we are created noble, and that love and justice must reside together and drive our actions. It’s painful to see our brothers and sisters homeless on our streets. It’s distressing to see children torn away from their parents and jailed at our border. It’s gut-wrenching to see people gunned down for who they are — how they were born — when we know we are all created in the noble image of our creator.

Every great religious teacher and prophet has exhorted us to love one another. What does “showing that love through our deeds” really mean? It calls us to be very conscious and intentional in our choices, our words and our actions — because these things matter, and have consequences.

This takes heart — courage. Maybe this is a good time to remind ourselves that, at the root, (French, Latin and Greek) courage means “of the heart.” History has shown that humans are vulnerable to the slow and insidious practice of demonizing and dehumanizing. Ask any survivor of genocide about the gradual, slow process over time using words and images against some “other” until it starts to be seen as “normal.”

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There are times when showing love through our deeds means speaking up, having difficult conversations, protecting others, giving our time and resources to better our communities, and stepping out of our comfort zones to examine our discourse to make sure we are not reducing someone’s humanity.

This is one of those times. We know dehumanization is dangerous and leads to violence. Every great religion teaches that we diminish our own humanity when we deny someone else’s. Dehumanizing only works when we are silent.

Many of us are heart-broken at the latest tragedies. This is a natural response to horrific events. At the same time, we cannot sink into despair or lose hope. The Baha’i writings encourage us:

“Do not despair! Work steadily. Sincerity and love will conquer hate. How many seemingly impossible events are coming to pass in these days! Set your faces steadily towards the Light of the World. Show love to all.”

The oneness of humanity, as the central theme of the Baha’i revelation, ensures the protection and security of all humanity. Let’s do what we humans do best: restore, redress, reform, rebuild and re-imagine the world we desire for our children and grandchildren, for as Baha’u’llah said:

“Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship. So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.”

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Marcia Berry is a member of the Carlisle Baha’i Community. Comments are welcome at carlislebahai@yahoo.com and visit at www.bahai.us.