Turning points in developing mankind's unity.
When Baha'u'llah appeared in the world, introducing new teachings, an unprecedented light of unity began to shine upon the realms of politics, thought, freedom, religion, nations, races and language.
His enunciation of the principles of unity, oneness and justice began to generate a succession of movements that would continue through to the present day, and evolve into a far distant future.
Some key developments in this process of the unification of mankind include;
The League of Nations, first proposed by US President Woodrow Wilson, which came into effect on 10 January 1920. However, its limitations showed the need for a yet greater association amongst countries, resulting in the formation of the United Nations on 24 October 1945.
On August 15, 1947 as World War II showed its power to decimate whole areas of the planet, Imperial Japan surrendered, effectively bringing the war to an end and spawning a process of decolonization that would resist further development of European colonial empires.
A growing process of 'westernization' began to affect most of the peoples and nations of the earth.
The United States' Apollo 11 moon landing on 20 July 1969 was the first manned mission to land on the Moon. As astronaut Neil Armstrong famously observed; "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Steven Dick, NASA's chief historian commented "Putting a man on the moon not only inspired the nation, but also the world", showing what could be accomplished by all humanity if working as common citizens of one global homeland.
Several major events, working both for and against unity, had their genesis in this very week.
As if in denial of earlier impulses toward unity, exactly 58 years ago this week as I write, construction began on the Berlin Wall to separate Eastern Berlin from the Western side. People trying to get from east to west were regarded as traitors, and guards were instructed to shoot but not kill. However, at least 136 are known to have died.
The Wall became an international symbol of The Cold War until it fell in 1989.
In 1945 a similarly divisive Demilitarised Zone was constructed to separate north and south Korea, subsequently followed by similar walls in Jerusalem and currently U.S./Mexico.
The positive power of unity grew to impact the world of popular music. Also this very week 50 years ago a music festival, held on a dairy farm in northwest New York city, attracted an unequalled audience of over 400,000. Woodstock was billed as "An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music", and is now recognised as a pivotal moment in popular music history, a powerful impetus for an evolving counter culture generation.
However, internal national unity was still being tested. The Tiananmen Square protests were student-led demonstrations held in Beijing during 1989. They went on to inspire a popular national movement, highlighting the growing power and influence of youth which would become a prevalent aspect of future international events even to the present day, as evidenced in the current Hong Kong riots.
Due in large part to the appearance of the Internet, political and social movements became increasingly global.
The ‘Occupy’ movement became an international "global justice movement" movement against the lack of "real democracy".
The first to receive widespread attention was Occupy Wall Street in New York beginning on 17 September 2011. Within a month Occupy protests had taken place or were ongoing in over 951 cities across 82 countries, and over 600 communities in the United States. By October 2012 there had been Occupy protests and occupations in dozens of other countries across every inhabited continent.
The #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault began to spread virally in October 2017 as a hashtag on social media to demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace; it retains a lesser influence in the present day.
These movements - whether perceived as positive or negative - springing up with unprecedented swiftness, serve to underscore the unique capacity of our age to communicate, collaborate and make the formerly impossible possible.
In one of His Tablets ‘Abdu’l-Bahá reveals the following: “In cycles gone by, though harmony was established, yet, owing to the absence of means, the unity of all mankind could not have been achieved. Continents remained widely divided, nay even among the peoples of one and the same continent association and interchange of thought were well nigh impossible. Consequently intercourse, understanding and unity amongst all the peoples and kindreds of the earth were unattainable. In this day, however, means of communication have multiplied, and the five continents of the earth have virtually merged into one.… In like manner all the members of the human family, whether peoples or governments, cities or villages, have become increasingly interdependent. For none is self-sufficiency any longer possible, inasmuch as political ties unite all peoples and nations, and the bonds of trade and industry, of agriculture and education, are being strengthened every day. Hence the unity of all mankind can in this day be achieved. Verily this is none other but one of the wonders of this wondrous age, this glorious century. Of this past ages have been deprived, for this century—the century of light—has been endowed with unique and unprecedented glory, power and illumination. Hence the miraculous unfolding of a fresh marvel every day. Eventually it will be seen how bright its candles will burn in the assemblage of man. ---Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá 14