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National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís: The role of faith in building unity

National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís
Special to The Union

The Bahá’í Communities of Nevada County received this message from the Baha’i National Community. Its comments are offered for consideration by interfaith groups and the community at large. For more information, visit https://nevadacountyca.local.bahai.us.

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. It is clear that racial prejudice is the most vital and challenging issue we face as a country.

Yet, amidst these tragedies, there are also signs of hope. Countless citizens have arisen to proclaim the truth that we are one nation, and to demand specific actions to address the pervasive inequities that for too long have shaped our society. 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.

To create a just society begins with recognition of the fundamental truth that humanity is one. But it is not enough simply to believe this in our hearts. It creates the moral imperative to act, and to view all aspects of our personal, social, and institutional lives through the lens of justice.

It is one thing to protest against particular forms of injustice. It is a far more profound challenge to create a new framework for justice. Our efforts can only succeed when we learn to build relationships with each other based on sincere friendship and trust, which, in turn, become pillars for the activities of our institutions and communities.

An essential element of the process will be honest and truthful discourse about current conditions and their causes, and understanding, in particular, the deeply entrenched notions of anti-Blackness that pervade our society. We must build the capacity to truly hear and acknowledge the voices of those who have directly suffered from the effects of racism. This capacity should manifest itself in our schools, the media, and other civic arenas, as well as in our work and personal relations. This should not end with words, but lead to meaningful, constructive action.

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. We should earnestly discover what is being done, what truly helps to make a difference, and why.

Religion, an enduring source of insight concerning human purpose and action, has a key role to play in this process. All faith communities recognize that we are essentially spiritual beings. All proclaim some version of the “Golden Rule” — to love others as we do ourselves.

To understand and firmly believe that we are all children of God provides us with access to vast spiritual resources. It gives us the faith, strength and creativity to transform our own hearts, as we also work for the transformation of society.

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. The world has contracted to a neighborhood, and it is important to appreciate that what we do in America impacts not only our own country, but the entire planet.

We have come to a moment of great public awareness and rejection of injustice. Let us not lose this opportunity. Will we commit to the process of forming “a more perfect union?” 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.

National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States consists of a nine member governing body, who have penned this letter. You can read more about the organization and faith at https://www.bahai.us/.


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