Humanity is a single species.
The Baha'i Response To Racism
By Neva F. Darbe
The Baha'i response to racism can be stated in one sentence: "Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch."1 While we do not deny the differences that adorn the human race, neither do we consider them as being essential in determing ability or happiness. They occur simply to give beauty and variety to humanity.
The Oneness of Mankind is the heart of Baha'u'llah's message to humanity. Based on justice, this spiritual principle goes beyond earlier concepts of kinship to encompass the entire human race. It reveals a vision of brotherhood founded on divine truth rather than human imagination. It foreshadows a dynamic transformation in the composition of modern society.
The Oneness of Mankind implies an organic unity between the various branches of the human species. A unity that was latent in the human race from the beginning. Speak in the voice of God, Baha'u'llah addresses us saying: "O Children of Men! Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created. Since We have created you all form the same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul. To walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs o f oneness and the essence of detachment may be manifest. Such is My counsel to you, O concourse of light! Heed ye this counsel that ye may obtain the fruit of holiness from the tree of wondrous glory."2
Because of numerous obstacles, both natural and imagined, humanity was unable to comprehend its unity. Though the natural barriers, such ans mountains and oceans, were conquered long ago, the imagined ones still persists. The most notorious of these obstacles is racial prejudice.
The principle of the Oneness of Humanity requires complete freedom from all forms of prejudice. 'Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'u'llah's son, tells us: "The most important teaching of Baha'u'llah is to leave behind racial, religious, national and patriotic prejudices. Until these prejudices are entirely removed mankind will not find rest. Nay, rather, discord and blood shed will increase day by day, and the foundation of prosperity of the world will be destroyed."3
The standard of the Oneness of Humanity requires us to take a firm stand against racial prejudice. Racism, one of the most malevolent and tenacious evils in existence today, is a violation of human dignity. It retards the advancement of its victims, corrupts those practicing it, impairs humanity's progress, and is one the the chief impediment to peace. It completely destroys the edifice of human relations.
how is it possible to overcome ingrained prejudices; to eliminate beliefs so widespread, that they are part of the very institutions that make up society? It can be done! Racism can be eliminated, through the universal recognition of the Oneness of Mankind. Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Baha'i Faith, said: "Let there be no mistake. The Principle of the oneness of mankind--the pivot round which all the teachings of Baha'u'llah revolves--is no mere outburst of ignorant emotionalism or an expression of vague and pious hope. Its appeal is not to be merely identified with a reawakening of the spirit of brotherhood and good will among men, nor does it aim solely at the fostering of harmonious cooperation among individual peoples and nations. Its implications are deeper, its claim greater than any which the Prophets of iold were allowed to advance. Its message is applicable onlt only to the individual, but concerns itself primarily with the nature of those essential relationships that must bind all the states and nations as members of one human family. It does not constitute merely the enunciation of an ideal, but stand inseparable associated with an institution adequate to embody its truth, demonstrate its validity, and perpetuate its influence. It implies an organic change in the structure of present-day society, a change such as the world has not yet experienced."4
Baha'is believe the process of change begins at the grass root level, with the individual. As the individual works to promote race unity in his own life by eliminating intolerance, society itself is effected. However, to do this requires faith, spirituality, courage, fearlessness, and self-sacrifice on the part of the individual. This is because the individual must undergo a complete spiritual transformation to eradicicat all prejudice on a personal level.
The principle of the Oneness of Mankind, the very foundation of world order and peace among the various factions of humanity, was revealed at a time when the human race begin its emergence from adolescence. This is the latest, the most traumatic, and the most demanding stage in the evolution of the species. The limited concepts of childhood cannot be applied to a world where natural barriers no longer matter. A world where a riot in one city spreads nationwide, or a war between two mid-eastern countries affects nations oceans away.
The purpose of humanity is to carry forward an ever advancing civilization. However, unless the maturing race can find common ground upon which to build a peaceful world, neighter humanity nor civilization will advance any farther. 'Abdu'l-Baha states: "O ye beloved of God! Know ye, verily that the happiness of mankind lieth in the unity and harmony of the human race, and the spiritual and material developments are conditioned upon love and amity among all men."5 The concept of the Oneness of Humanity is the foundation of the unity and harmony of the human race. Without it there would be no reason for us to struggle to overcome learned prejudices.
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