Race Unity Day, celebrated the second Sunday in June, was inaugurated by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States in 1957. Baha'i teachings state that God created the world as one, that divisions by country and race are manmade ideas. Baha'u'llah, the founder of the Baha'i faith, states: "Let not a man glory in that he loves his country, but that he loves his kind." We are all of the family of man, one race. We are all humankind.
In 1912, Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'u'llah's son, toured the United States for nine months. He addressed the fourth annual convention of the NAACP and observed that America's most vital and challenging issue was racial prejudice. Baha'u'llah has said that all prejudice arises from an individual's "deep-seated sense of superiority."
A Baha'i prayer opens with the following statement, "O Thou kind Lord! Thou hast created all humanity from the same stock. Thou hast decreed that all belong to the same household. In thy Holy Presence they are all Thy servants, and all mankind are sheltered beneath Thy Tabernacle ..." The pressing need during this time of worldwide upheaval is that mankind will acknowledge its oneness, and work as a single body to solve its interconnected problems.
In a world of true rugged individualism, the goal would be complete self-reliance, a noteworthy Emersonian goal, yet the general behavior of mankind is to live in families and societies, communities and nations.
May 11 marked the second year of the imprisonment of the seven Baha'is in Evin Prison in Iran. The five men and two women are confined to two cramped cells without bedding. They are representative of the many oppressed souls we hear about daily. The categorical suppression of peoples around the world derives from a mentality that presumes superiority, however misguided.
The Baha'i prayer continues, "Thou hast endowed each and all with talents and faculties, and all are submerged in the Ocean of Thy Mercy. Let the religions agree and make the nations one, so that they may see each other as one family and the whole earth as one home. May they all live together in harmony."
The cacophony of voices that one hears during the discussions of any of today's issues leads one to hope for civility and consultation. The daily strife among nations cannot help but lead the world's population to hope for peace and serenity. Sincere and methodical meditation on the sacred writings cannot help but lead the way to a saner and more focused path to the goal so urgently desired for man's future progress.
Baha'u'llah has said, "The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established."
Todd Oleson is a member of the the Baha'is of Walla Walla. He has taught in Turkey and China as well as in the United States. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should contact Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312, or by e-mail at email@example.com.