“Is it not the object of every revelation to effect a transformation in the whole character of mankind?” asks Baha’u’llah, the prophet-founder of the Baha’i faith, talking about a transformation that manifests itself outwardly and inwardly, that effects inner life and external conditions.

Of all the principles, teachings and guidance revealed by Baha’u’llah, none is more important than the concept of oneness — the oneness of humanity, the oneness of religion and the oneness of God.

As humanity matures collectively, imagine how a true understanding of the fundamental nobility of every human being, and a consciousness of the oneness of the human family, would transform so many of the divides and conflicts we see in the world. If we really understood who we are, as spiritual beings, created as noble and equal interrelated family members, the realization of heaven on earth would be within our sight.

In the Baha’i Holy Writings, Baha’u’llah revealed: “Noble I created Thee, yet thou has abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou was created.” He announced: “The doors of love and unity have been unlocked.”

He further reminds us: “O well-beloved ones! The tabernacle of unity hath been raised; regard ye not one another as strangers. Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch.”

Our hearts are broken and remain heavy as our minds try to grasp the tragic acts of terror visited upon our Muslim brothers and sisters in New Zealand. We stand with them and offer our love, support and prayers.

This horrific violence connects the dots with all the other heartbreaks we’ve suffered: the Birmingham bombing of the four innocent black girls at the 16th Street Baptist Church, the nine beautiful African-American souls killed during the mass shooting at the Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, the 11 lovely souls killed by a mass shooter in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and now, the 50 noble souls killed in a terrorist act in two mosques in New Zealand — just to name a few of the many.

This is beyond words and beyond comprehension.

How does a noble soul become so lost and twisted that it perpetrates hate and violence? This is an old story — man’s inhumanity to man. Over 100 years ago, Baha’u’llah’s son wrote:

“Fathers have lost their sons, and sons their fathers. Mothers have wept away their hearts over dead children. Children have been orphaned, women left to wander, vagrants without a home. From every aspect, humankind hath sunken low. Loud are the piercing cries of fatherless children; loud the mothers’ anguished voices, reaching to the skies. And the breeding-ground of all these tragedies is prejudice: prejudice of race and nation, of religion, of political opinion; and the root cause of prejudice is blind imitation of the past — imitation in religion, in racial attitudes, in national bias, in politics.”

How painful does the world have to become for humanity to awaken? The Baha’i teachings refer to humanity’s “coming of age” with the advent of this new revelation. Can we take hope in understanding that we are living in a difficult transition period from humanity’s adolescence to maturity?

Let us do our part for the collective growth of humanity, embracing the universal concept of oneness, and create a society where the forces of love and unity are the primary forces at work.

May these closing quotes inspire us to remember that we are all children of God; that we all come from and return to One Source:

“Religion should unite all hearts and cause wars and disputes to vanish from the face of the earth; it should give birth to spirituality, and bring light and life to every soul.”

“All mankind are creatures and servants of the one God. The surface of the earth is one home, humanity is one family and household. Distinctions and boundaries are artificial, human. Why should there be discord and strife? All most become united and coordinated in service to the world of humanity.”

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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.