These are tumultuous and troubling times. Many of us are struggling to keep peace and hope alive in our hearts and minds. Even though our small valley has not experienced the extremes of the pandemic, severe natural disasters, or violent riots, we are all affected by what’s happening in the rest of the world, because we are all connected, regardless of race, religion, politics or economics. In recognition of the oneness of our human family, and the universal need for justice and peace, the local Bahá’í community has hosted a public observance of Race Unity Day for many years. Now, we are excited to share with you the following recent (abridged) message from our National Spiritual Assembly. It provides both vision and wisdom to help illuminate the path forward towards “liberty and justice for all”. The full version is available online at www.bahai.us/path-to-racial-justice
Message from the Bahá’ís of the United States
The Bahá’ís 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.
This moment beckons us to a renewed commitment to realize the ideal of E Pluribus Unum—out of many, one—the very ideal upon which America was founded. 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.
There are already significant efforts underway to learn how to create models of unity in neighborhoods and communities throughout the nation. Bahá’ís have been persistently engaged in such efforts for many years. The aim is not unity in sameness—it is unity in diversity. It is the recognition that everyone in this land has a part to play in contributing to the betterment of society, and that true prosperity, material and spiritual, will be available to us all to the degree that we live up to this standard.
All faith communities…proclaim some version of the “Golden Rule”—to love others as we do ourselves. Take, for example, the following passage from the Bahá’í Scriptures in which God addresses humankind:
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 one 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.
We believe that the tribulations now encompassing much of the world are the symptoms of humanity’s failure to understand and embrace our essential oneness. The interrelated threats of climate change, gender discrimination, extreme wealth and poverty, unfair distribution of resources, and the like, all stem from this deficiency and can never be resolved if we do not awaken to our dependence upon each other.
It is important to appreciate that what we do in America impacts not only our own country, but the entire planet… The richness of our diversity, and our founding ideals of liberty and justice, attract the eyes of the world to us. They will be influenced by what we achieve, or fail to achieve, in this regard. It is not an exaggeration to say that the cause of world peace is linked to our success in resolving the issue of racial injustice.
Let us then join hands with each other in commitment to the path of justice. Together we can surely achieve this.
Bahá’u’lláh said: “So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.”
May that light grow brighter with every passing day.
If you or your group would like to connect with the local Baha’is towards this end, please contact 872-2222 or 1-800-22UNITE.