BAHA'I COMMENT

My personal views on topics of interest to the world     ...by Patricia Wilcox


11. One School, Many Teachers --- Part 2

One day whilst wandering round my new neighbourhood, I came across a neighbour toiling in an unkempt vegetable garden. Keen to get to know my fellow residents, I invited this sweaty new friend into my flat and we introduced ourselves.

I had long been an active feminist, so I was surprised when it was Suzi herself who first introduced the subject of the equality of men and women, which she then began  to talk enthusiastically about. This wasn’t a dialogue I had been expecting.

Intrigued now, I listened with growing attention as she asked if I knew about such matters as the first women’s suffrage conference and the first women’s suffrage martyr. Humbly admitting my ignorance, I began to learn about a woman who was such a greatly respected poet that the Shah of Iran himself, in this very male-dominated nation, held her in high esteem.

Then Suzi asked if I’d like to read some more about this unique figure, Tahereh. To mix metaphors, the die was cast and I was hooked.

One book followed another, as I learned about the very subjects – life after death, care of the environment, principles of education, and many more – that had been the focus of passionate enquiry for much of my adult life.

Over 3 days and nights I used every moment of whatever spare time could be snatched between my occupations as teacher and parent to devour the many books Suzi shared with me, whilst in passionate conversation we discovered so very much in common with two otherwise vastly different lives.

Although it may seem sudden now, after those 3 extraordinary days and nights I was like a new creation. I found to my surprise that I now considered myself a Bahai.

Equal only to the sheer joy and wonderment this realisation brought was a sense of irritation. Why, I asked myself, after all those years of passionate search, had I never heard of this before? And how did Suzi, admittedly no great feminist or intellect, know about it years before myself?

And that’s where Barry Crump fits in, because it was he – renegade hunter, author and raconteur – who did a search of his own and found Lena. And Lena found the Bahai Faith from Shirley Charters who, as legend had it last time I heard, simply read a newspaper article about it back in the ‘50’s and found herself hooked forever.

Shirley turned out to be a kind of Johnny Appleseed because, thanks in large part to her, Lena, Barry, Suzi, and the considerable number of spiritual ‘seekers’ they went on to inspire, the Bahai Faith is today increasingly known and respected in this country, and growing in numbers around the world.

And all this is the fruit of those great Teachers - Abraham, Krishna, Christ, Mohammad, Baha’u’llah and that divine company - who brought us to this pivotal time in the development of our mutual home, the Earth.

"These principles and laws, these firmly-established and mighty systems, have proceeded from one Source, and are the rays of one Light. That they differ one from another is to be attributed to the varying requirements of the ages in which they were promulgated." - Baha'u'llah

 

 

 


12. Religion In Harmony With Science.

Some things just go in and out of fashion, like bellbottoms, bouffant hair and stiletto heels, (you’ll need to ask a woman over 60).

Back when I was a pre-teen undergoing religious instruction, our national statistics showed that pretty much everyone was 'religious', except for a few hardy atheists and communists.

Religion was for the most part like the recently ended war - not a polite topic of conversation - and attitudes to religion seemed to follow what would in future become the U.S. Armed Service’s attitude towards homosexuality of 'don't ask, don't tell'.   

I had always found Sunday School to be a kind of interesting story-telling event during which parables were like fairy tales where amazing things happened, of seas being parted and people walking on water. Every year I succeeded in my personal goal to win the annual Sunday School prize which was invariably a well chosen book, thus providing me with quality reading for the long school holidays ahead.  

However, these pleasant story telling sessions became increasingly troubling when the forthcoming Religious Confirmation classes began insisting I believe that hell lay beneath the surface of the planet, where souls of the unbelievers were condemned to eternal fire and brimstone, whilst heaven soared triumphantly above our heads, lorded over by a grey-bearded God on his throne, surrounded by adoring cherubim and seraphim.

At the same time, my science class taught contradictory things like the earth having a molten core, and the heavens being a vast universe of increasingly identifiable planets and supernovas.   

The creation story of Adam and Eve was similarly perplexing. God made Eve from one of Adam's ribs?  That didn't help the gender equity issues I struggled with, having been raised an only girl in a family of boys.

When my biology class that taught about the function of ectoskeletons and endoskeletons, this suggested to me that ribless Adam must have had a hard time manning up to whatever dinosaurs etc. still roamed the earth in his day, and required some powerful conquering. 

  Needless to say, I was labelled argumentative and certainly not encouraged for having such a 'thoughtful' attitude to my religious studies.

Eventually, nascent atheism triumphed over easy contentment with a double standard, and I knew the time had arrived to 'come out'. That phrase with all its later implications of shame and condemnation was how it felt to be announcing oneself as an atheist back in the early '60's.

Then, with the self-righteousness of the new convert, I insisted to my virtuous, pioneering mother, who had been one of the very first women Elders in the Presbyterian Church of NZ, that she arrange for me to be formally excommunicated from the local church which she and my father had personally helped to establish, thus carrying for them those same connotations of family shock and shame. 

But I had felt it wasn't enough to simply stop attending church services; I was making the bold point that I was no 'drop out', but a firm 'ex-believer' (an act that was extremely courageous at the time, yet merely symptomatic of present standards).  

It was only when I explored the Bahai teachings that I realised those early Bible stories were our 'Europeanised' Semitic creation stories; our 'Adam and Eve' were like 'Rangi and Papatuanuku', or much later, like the morality tales of Hans Christian Anderson. They served an important purpose at the time, but now was a new age; now it was essential that religion be in harmony with science.    

"Every age hath its own problem, and every soul its particular aspiration. The remedy the world needeth in its present day afflictions can never be the same as that which a subsequent age may require."  - Bahaullah    


13. UNITY IN DIVERSITY.

It really aggravates some people that we don't all see things in exactly the same way.

But if we're to continue as one peaceful global community we need to allow for diversity. I will have certain views and you will have others. And that's ok.

Imagine a garden where all the flowers were the same colour. Or, if you're no gardener, a wardrobe where all your dresses and accessories were identical. And to be fully gender-free, trying to find your car in a parking lot where all the cars were the same.  

Depending on where on our planet you live, the Creator of this existence - if you believe such a being even exists, and more and more people don't - is variously known as Yahweh, Atua, Dieu, Krishna, God, Jehovah, 'he who has no name' or any one of many others, depending on our languages.   

In the past many people understood this diversity of names to mean that the religions concerned worshipped many different gods. However, it is increasingly recognised that these seemingly diverse names merely reflect a variation of language.

Some religions use in the place of God those names that express various divine attributes, such as Peace, Love or Glory, often with different names for feminine or masculine qualities, yet they still describe that single God. One God.  

Rejecting former primitive anthropomorphic concepts, this complex Creator is increasingly recognised as a vast unknowable force of indefinable nature whose influence is capable of creating vast solar systems, the size of which is beyond our mortal capacity to comprehend. The influence of Science is informing our limited concepts of the past.

We are recognising a God that needs no feminine or masculine name and is beyond gender. However, due to our extremely limited consciousness, the very idea of a limitless eternal existence daunts the human mind, so it's not surprising that we have needed to develop much simpler, often childlike, embodiments of this 'force' or 'being' that will also embody the attributes of knowledge, intelligence, attraction and love that are associated with such a Being.  

So what does all this lead to? In my own personal paradigm as described in this blog, I believe that there is only one God known by different names.

Humanity is one common race and our different Prophets have come to different places on the planet at different times, bringing messages inspired by our one God with the purpose of healing the diverse problems that have been unique to each age.  

Humanity's great challenge in this day is to recognise the extent to which in the past we have 'anthropomorphised' this vast force that is God, and find a new way of exploring what is meant by that great Reality which is beyond our limited human minds to comprehend.  

We are being called to a new way of being in this wonderful family; now is the time for the unification of the whole human race.  

'The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens'.  - Baha'u'llah   


14. BLACK DAYS FOR BAHA'I'S in IRAN.

Something is very wrong with the wonderful country of Persia that gave us exquisite architecture, illumined poets and extraordinary contributions to our collective human history. No longer is it taking a lead in the world.

Perhaps it is not surprising that such ancient cultures and institutions are slow to change.

In contrast with this long and inspiring history the Baha'i Faith, with its origins in Iran, is the world's youngest religion. However, the laws of that country of its birth do not even recognize the Baha’i Faith as a religion.

Dating from the time when international attention became focussed on TV footage of a humbled deposed Shah of Iran overcome by the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Baha'is have been the target of government policy.

During that first decade of persecution, more than 200 were killed or executed. Hundreds more were tortured or imprisoned, and tens of thousands lost jobs, access to education, and other rights – solely because of their religious belief.

Despite fresh hope engendered by the 2013 coming to power of President Hassan Rouhani who promised to end religious intolerance, a committee of the United Nations General Assembly was shortly impelled to condemn Iran for its continuing violations of human rights - specifically of Baha'is, highlighting a continuing economic and educational discrimination - and calling on Iran to release the more than 97 Baha’is who are today unjustly held in Iranian prisons.

Other restrictions include exclusion from university education, and prevention from working in a wide range of jobs including those in government offices and the private sector. Last year a hundred shops belonging to Baha’is were closed, and 115 were banned from attending universities.

Youth is a time of idealism, of opportunity to begin the realisation of dreams, preparing for future possibilities. Instead, BahaiNews website reported that efforts by Bahai youth to enter university often led to long-term imprisonment.

Baha’is who have succeeded in passing their entrance exams have been told by officials that they might be able to study if they write a letter to disavow their faith; most won’t, under any circumstances.

So what are the teachings of Baha'u'llah that are so deserving of extinction?

"We desire but the good of the world and the happiness of the nations, that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened... what harm is there in this?... these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the 'Most Great Peace' shall come". - Baha'u'llah.

The following news item will make you love Muslims as much as I do;

https://blavity.com/83-year-old-muslim-cleric-from-nigeria-honored-for-saving-the-lives-of-hundreds-of-christian-refugees

This short but comprehensive animation explains the situation of Baha'is in Iran; https://www.facebook.com/foaad.haghighi/videos/10209391987457184/UzpfSTEwMDAwMjcxMzMwMTQ3NjoxOTQ1MjE4NTg4OTExODk5/?

And here is an inspiring project by concerned non-Baha'is in support of those affected; www.AQuietGenocide.com.


15. DIRE CONSEQUENCES OF A RELIGIOUS LEADER'S DEATH.

Did you know that many of your forebears were quite likely killed in a religious war in some place at some time?

Conflict often resulted because of contention over divine leadership. These conflicts may seem distant concerns until we consider the numbers of wars fought both presently and historically for this reason. Which seems ironic to the many today, who believe that religion should be about love and peace.

However, when the life of a Holy Figure ends, the ramifications are grave. It is a dangerous time for the followers connected with His mission, who can expect retribution from those who felt adversely affected by their leader's teachings. For those anointed to continue a holy figure's mission into the future, succession is also fraught with danger, not just immediately but sometimes for centuries into the future.

Successions are of many kinds, like the birth right of the “first-born” child in Jewish law or the eldest son or daughter to a kingly throne.

Some situations require election to select a candidate by the vote of the majority. In religion the roles of God’s chosen Messengers are considered as theological appointments by Divine Decree, such as the call of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad and Baha'u'llah who were divinely appointed to their office in this manner.

However, when succession is disputed the consequences are grave. Both Moses (who preceded Jesus Christ by some 1300 years) and Jesus were rejected over their claimed right to be a 'prince and a judge over Israel'. Some six centuries later, Muhammad succeeded to the high office previously held by Jesus, immediately causing dispute over His station. Each event was, and remains, highly contentious.

Among the dramatic acts of the disciples who gathered to plan for the consequences of the execution of Christ, His successor quickly became a subject of contention. Today the Catholic Church claims a unique leadership role for the disciple Peter, who was believed to have been named by Jesus as head of the Apostles and a focus of their unity, later becoming the first Bishop of Rome. The rift between Catholic and Protestant festers even to today.

Muhammad is considered by Muslims as the natural successor to Christ, Who is the most mentioned figure in the Quran. Muhammad's succession became the central issue that split the Muslim community in the first century after His passing, even today resulting in violent contests between Shia and Sunni branches of Islam.

The core institution of a covenant between God and humanity finds expression in all Faiths, and underpins all Baha'u'llah's teachings upholding the principle of unity. It is a covenant that clearly defines future successor-ship, and is to be accepted by all believers.

It was to avoid disunity that the Will of Baha'u'llah clearly delineated as successor His son Abdu'l-Baha. Later, with the passing of Abdu'l-Baha the matter of succession was again paramount, becoming a source of disunity amongst those few who refused His Covenant and Testament.

Abdu'l-Baha nominated as successor, first His grandson Shoghi Effendi and thence a future divinely established, elected body, the Universal House of Justice.

"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. If religion becomes a cause of dislike, hatred and division, it would be better to be without it... Any religion which is not a cause of love and unity is no religion." --- Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks part Two, 40 014.

 


16. The Extraordinary Life of 'Abdu'l-Baha.

As a child 'Abdu'l-Baha (b.1844) often played happily with his sister in the mansion of their wealthy family home and it was anticipated that his father would later succeed his own father who had an important role in the Government of the Shah (King) of Persia.

Then at the age of 8 'Abdu'l-Baha's life changed forever. His father Baha'u'llah's growing public popularity was perceived as a threat to the Shah's sovereignty. He was dragged away, imprisoned and chained to many others in a dark airless underground dungeon 3 levels below ground.

It was in this stench-filled place that He received a divine revelation that He was the Promised One foretold by all the prophets.

Public opposition, incited by the government, resulted in young 'Abdu'l-Baha enduring stoning and then, in company with his family, a succession of exiles from Iran (the first whilst His mother was heavily pregnant), over snow-covered mountains during which the boy suffered frostbite.

They were never to see their native land again and 'Abdu'l-Baha would spend the next 40 years of His life in a series of bleak prisons.

Exile proceeded through the Ottoman Empire over the next 15 years, culminating at the desolate prison city of Akka in Palestine (today known as Israel) where Bahá’u’lláh spent the last years of His life under house arrest at the mansion of Bahji where he passed away in 1892, aged 74.

This final banishment determined that the Holy Land of Israel would be their eventual destination, and ultimately the World Centre of the infant Bahá'í Community.

It was from here that 'Abdu'l-Baha gained a Knighthood from Queen Victoria in recognition of His far-sighted services in alleviating a terrible drought then ravaging the people.

'Abdu'l-Baha did indeed succeed His father, but not in service to the Shah. His service would be to His father Baha'u’llah (this being an Arabic name meaning 'The Glory of God') Who became recognised as Prophet-Founder of the Baha'ı Faith.

'Abdu'l-Baha's future role was to lead a progressively established global community. Despite spending 40 years in prison with considerable opposition from both ecclesiastics and governments, He became well known in Palestine and abroad.

“The Funeral of 'Abdu'l-Baha "a funeral the like of which Palestine had never seen" drew no less than ten thousand people...representing every class, religion and race in that country." "A great throng," the British High Comissioner wrote, "had gathered together, sorrowing for His death, but rejoicing also for his life." The Governor of Jerusalem at the time also wrote in describing the funeral: "I have never known a more united expression of regret and respect than was called forth by the utter simplicity of the ceremony".---Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, Chapter XXI

Today, of all the world religions, the Baha’i Faith is the newest and the fastest-growing.

According to 'The World’s Religions in Figures: An Introduction to International Religious Demography', 'The Baha’i Faith was the only religion to have grown faster in every United Nations region over the past 100 years than the general population'.

"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. If religion becomes a cause of dislike, hatred and division, it would be better to be without it... Any religion which is not a cause of love and unity is no religion." --'Abdu'l-Bahá


17. THE POWER OF UNITY.

The mid-19th century was a time when many people of various beliefs were awaiting a divine messenger.

In 1844 there appeared in Persia a dignified young man, twenty-four years of age, claiming to be a messenger of God.

Known as The Bab (an Arabic term meaning The Gate), this descendant of the Prophets Abraham and Mohamed taught of the imminent appearance of another Messenger to follow, described as 'Him Whom God Shall Make Manifest'.

The influence of The Bab spread so rapidly that the Muslim authorities became alarmed. More than 20,000 Babi followers were killed, many by gruesome methods, and His immediate imprisonment was decreed. The banishments that followed served to extend His influence amongst even wider populations.

By the time of His subsequent execution on July 9, 1850 the event was considered of such significance that it attracted representatives of the crowned heads of Europe.

Rather than silencing His teachings, it had promoted their global spread.

The subsequent appearance of His successor, Baha’u’llah (The Glory of God) brought much needed teachings focussed on unity; in the political realm, unity of thought, freedom, religion, nations, races and language.

In 1848 His followers convened in Badasht (Persia) to consult on freeing Baha'u'llah from what would become only the first of successive places of imprisonments.

During this conference Tahireh----one of the first followers of The Bab and a poet much admired by the Shah---announced before the assemblage of men that the time had come for the emancipation of women. She accompanied her proclamation with the dramatic gesture of removing her veil, an act so profoundly shocking to many of those present that one man cut his own throat.

Within days, and on the other side of the planet, at Seneca Falls in the United States, the first ever women’s rights conference took place “to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of women”.

Barely half a century later, as a result of landmark legislation, my own nation of New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections.

From this point the power of unity spread exponentially. The growing influence of Women's suffrage energised the labour movement. Change was afoot throughout the world.

The process of unity was beginning to exert an ever greater effect upon the nations of the world.

'Abdu'l-Baha observed; “Behold how its light is now dawning upon the world’s darkened horizon. The first candle is unity in the political realm, the early glimmerings of which can now be discerned. The second candle is unity of thought in world undertakings, the consummation of which will ere long be witnessed. The third candle is unity in freedom which will surely come to pass. The fourth candle is unity in religion which is the corner-stone of the foundation itself, and which, by the power of God, will be revealed in all its splendor. The fifth candle is the unity of nations—a unity which in this century will be securely established, causing all the peoples of the world to regard themselves as citizens of one common fatherland. The sixth candle is unity of races, making of all that dwell on earth peoples and kindreds of one race. The seventh candle is unity of language, i.e., the choice of a universal tongue in which all peoples will be instructed and converse. Each and every one of these will inevitably come to pass, inasmuch as the power of the Kingdom of God will aid and assist in their realization.” ---‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 14....

 


18. Growing Global Movements towards Unity.

Once upon a time, our world had no borders.

Until the mid-19th century, most of the world was just a sprawl of empires, of unclaimed land, city-states and principalities, which travellers freely crossed without any checks or passports. Then, those who were most able to unify and coordinate their activities - their physical regions, languages, records, economies and actions - slowly grew more powerful than their neighbours.

However, as industrialisation made societies more complex, larger and more appropriate systems of governance became required in order to manage them.

Our world slowly transformed into nation-states, populated by people with common attributes and characteristics, with organised political systems exerting sovereignty over their defined spaces, and borders being agreed upon by other nation-states. Greater association and communication produced a unification of language, culture and identity.

Gradually the nation-state model spread worldwide; there are now 195 countries in the world today.

Today's level of international organisation would have been unthinkable prior to the coming of Baha’u’llah in the mid-nineteenth century. Try to imagine a world without 'countries' today – tricky, isn't it?

Our whole sense of who we are, our loyalties, our rights and obligations, is bound up in them. However, this nation-state with its borders, centralised governments, common people and sovereign authority has been growing increasingly out of step with the world. That seemingly invincible rule of the past is rapidly changing.

The case against the nation-state is hardly new. Twenty years ago, many were anticipating its imminent demise, anguishing that the end of a nation-states’ power to enforce control would exert dire effects upon businesses, finance and people.

When the light of Baha’u’llah broke upon the world in the 19th century, humanity was completing an age-old journey that had travelled from family to community to city state, and most recently to the experience of nation state. And then, seemingly without warning, the appearance of an exciting new internet seemed to herald a borderless future. Suddenly our friends and trading partners and learning communities were situated all over the planet.

A new phrase entered public currency; that of the ‘global village’. The world would never be the same again. Suddenly it became more essential than ever, that mankind must learn to live together on this shared planet with cooperation and harmony.

Baha’u’llah’s teachings explain that this process will be followed by the unification of the entire planet, as it is progressively effected through application of the principle of Unity.

Unity, in its Bahá’í expression, contains the essential concept of diversity, distinguishing it from uniformity. It is through love for all people, and by subordinating lesser loyalties to the best interests of humankind, that the unity of the world can be realized and the infinite expressions of human diversity find their highest fulfilment." 18 January 2019, Universal House of Justice to the Baha'is of the World.

His core Teachings address such essential themes as the oneness of God and religion, and the oneness of humanity, stating:

“That which the Lord hath ordained as the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of the world is the union of all its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith." - Baha'ullah, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh CXXI


19. Turning points in Mankind's Unity.

 When Baha'u'llah appeared in the world advocating new teachings, these brought the light of unity to shine upon the realms of politics, thought, freedom, religion, nations, races and language.

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 distant future...

In retrospect, some key moments in the process of the unification of mankind stand out.

The League of Nations, first proposed by US President Woodrow Wilson, came into effect on 10 January 1920. Its limitations heightened 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 Imperial Japan surrendered, effectively brought World War 2 to an end and spawned a process of decolonization resisting further development of European colonial empires. Despite that, a growing process of 'westernization' began to affect most of the peoples and nations of the earth.

The United States' Apollo 11 moon landing was the first manned mission to land on the Moon, on 20 July 1969. 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.

However, exactly 58 years ago this week as I write, and in denial of earlier impulses toward unity, construction began on the Berlin Wall to separate the Eastern side of 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, if they attempted to cross. At least 136 did die. The Wall became an international symbol of The Cold War until it fell in 1989. However, the similarly divisive 1945 Demilitarised Zone separating north and south Korea remains, and has been followed by similar walls in Jerusalem and currently U.S./Mexico.

The power of unity also impacted the world of popular music. 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, and an 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 Tiananmen Square 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 today in HongKong.

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. By 9 October, 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 and retains a lesser influence to the present day. These movements, 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."


20. Preserving Unity in a New Age of Diversity.

Are you old enough to remember the 1963 hit song, 'Little Boxes' by Pete Seager, or the 1969 hit "Melting Pot" from Blue Mink? Both songs highlighted common fears of the age. As we are increasingly drawn together as a global family, will it create a boring sameness? Will we lose our unique flavours and identities?

The era known as the Age of Exploration began in the early 15th century, creating unprecedented exposure to human differences. It resulted in much conflict as people found themselves confronted by a growing variety of choices and options for which they were ill prepared.

Challenges caused by extremes of diversity will potentially grow ever more pronounced as we more further into the age of Space Exploration. People are torn between valuing individuality on the one hand and embracing diversity on the other.

Growing fears of what this could involve were expressed in those two popular songs of the 60's. The first, 1963 hit 'Little Boxes' expressed concern about housing, and suburban sprawl. Today it even more powerfully addresses growing social concerns with privilege and social inequality.

..."Little boxes on the hillside,

Little boxes made of ticky-tacky,

There's a green one and a pink one,

And a blue one and a yellow one,

And they're all made out of ticky-tacky,

And they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses

All went to the university,

Where they were put in boxes.

And they came out all the same

And there's doctors and lawyers

And business executives

And they all play on the golf course

And drink their martinis dry,

And they all have pretty children

And the children go to school,

And the children go to summer camp

And then to the university ..." (abridged)

These words highlight two key Baha'i principles; the abolition of extremes of wealth, and the need for universal education.

"Melting Pot" was generally considered an inspiring plea for racial harmony. However over time it also conveyed fears of what unity could involve, suggesting that it would result in a planet of people all the same.

WIth the advanced understanding of 4 decades, we can see in the lyrics some now-abhorrent racist terminology:

"Take a pinch of white man,

Wrap him up in black skin

Add a touch of blue blood

And a little bitty bit of red Indian boy

Oh like a Curly Latin kinkies

Oh Lordy, Lordy, mixed with yellow Chinkees, yeah,

You know you lump it all together

And you got a recipe for a get along scene

Oh what a beautiful dream

If it could only come true, you know, you know,

What we need is a great big melting pot

Big enough enough enough to take

The world and all its got

And keep it stirring for a hundred years or more

And turn out coffee coloured people by the score

Rabbis and the friars Vishnus and the gurus

We got the Beatles or the Sun God.

Well it really doesn't matter what religion you choose

And be thankful little Mrs. Graceful You know"...Abridged.

This song highlights the essential need of both human unity and also the preservation of diversity.

For Baha'is around the planet that "recipe for a get along scene... a beautiful dream..." is more than just a dream.

Unity in DIversity is an ideal that we have been working on - fostering and collaborating with others - to make it come true. And it is happening! The Baha’i Faith is now the world’s second-most widespread religion after Christianity.

Its 'recipe' is spanning the globe, working to unite us in all our diversity. These teachings of Bahá'u'lláh constitute the final stage in the evolution of humanity; World unity. Bahá'ís believe that humanity must now move forward towards global maturity, recreating ourselves as one human family.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/…/religio…/bahai/beliefs/unity_1.shtml