(The Promise of World Peace, October 1985)
One of the problems which has lingered on into the present age is that of racism, which holds back the potential of all people, and blights human progress. The Bahá'í Faith believes fervently that the unity of all races and peoples is the only way forward for a suffering humanity. Under pressure from the collapse of the old order, some people turn to a recipe of racism for a reaffirmation of their identity. The Bahá'í Writings, to the contrary, emphasise oneness, unity in diversity:
" The world of humanity is like a garden and the various races are the flowers which constitute its adornment and decoration.... The very fact that there is difference and variety lends a charm to the garden. If all [the flowers] were of the same colour the effect would be monotonous and depressing....."
"In the animal kingdom also we find variety of colour. See how the doves differ in beauty yet they live together in perfect peace, and love each other. They do not make difference of colour a cause of discord and strife. They view each other as the same species and kind. They know they are one in kind...... Throughout the animal kingdom we do not find the creatures separated because of colour. They recognise unity of species and oneness of kind. If we do not find colour distinction drawn in a kingdom of lower intelligence and reason, how can it be justified among human beings?"
"In the estimation of God there is no distinction of colour.... Colour is not important; the heart is all-important."
Bahá'ís believe that all human beings are part of one human family. This one human race boasts an infinite variety of personality, customs, interests, appearance, beliefs and language. The challenge for human beings at this stage of development is to unite as one organic whole, delighting in the differences which make each member of the human family unique.
"World order can be founded only on an unshakeable consciousness of the oneness of mankind, a spiritual truth which all the human sciences confirm. Anthropology, physiology, psychology, recognise only one human species, albeit infinitely varied in the secondary aspects of life."
Over the centuries, different languages have developed, different tribes and peoples have gained dominance at the expense of others, and different nations have come into being. In many nation states, one language group, racial group or religious body has come to dominate the life of the nation. Bahá'ís believe that we should actively nurture the minority cultures. We can only evolve towards a new world order if every nation and every culture feels itself to be a valued part of the world family.
"The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me..... By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others..... Verily justice is my gift to thee..... Set it then before thine eyes."
"No light can compare with the light of justice. The establishment of order in the world and the tranquillity of the nations depend upon it."
Within the Bahá'í administration, the elected Spiritual Assemblies usually consist of men and women from several ethnic and racial groups. If two individuals should receive an equal number of votes for a position, preference is given to one who comes from a minority group.
Bahá'u'lláh, over a hundred years ago, taught that a universal bill of human rights should be enacted, that personal and industrial slavery should be abolished, and that every individual should be valued as a creation of God:
"An equal standard of human rights must be recognised and adopted. In the estimation of God all men are equal; there is no distinction or preferment for any soul in the dominion of His justice and equity."
In some countries where nationalism is on the rise, obvious racial minorities are the first target. The Universal House of Justice, which is the elected world body of the Bahá'í community, writes:
"Unbridled nationalism, as distinguished from a sane and legitimate patriotism, must give way to a wider loyalty, to the love of humanity as a whole..... Love of all the world's peoples does not exclude love of one's country."
As the ethnic distribution of the world's peoples is very complex, the only sure solution for the national and racial conflicts in the world is more understanding and tolerance in relationships between peoples. Bahá'u'áh declares:
"The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens."
The Bahá'í community dedicates itself to creating united local communities representing people of diverse backgrounds and differing temperaments. It is now spread throughout the world. In global terms, about one third of the Bahá'ís live in Africa, and another third in Asia. Its message of economic justice and racial harmony appeals not just to minority peoples, but also to those from culturally dominant backgrounds who realise that there must be a spiritual solution to the world's problems. It promotes the idea that the oneness of mankind should be taught in every school in the world, as Bahá'ís believe that unity is necessary for the happiness of individuals and of nations:
"The accomplishment of unity between the [races] will be an assurance of the world's peace."
Approved by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom,
27, Rutland Gate, London SW7 1PD.
A quotations are from the Bahá'í writings.