Humanity, mankind, mortals, souls, children of God — these are some of the terms for the multitude of humans who dwell on Earth.
While we share this planet with other living beings, we see that plants and animals of diverse backgrounds have no difficulty in living together and thriving in their growth. Why then does the world of humanity have so many challenges in living side by side with others who may be of a different race, religion or culture?
Baha’u’llah, prophet-founder of the Baha’i Faith, announced, “Consider the flowers of a garden. Though differing in kind, color, form, and shape, yet, inasmuch as they are refreshed by the water of one spring, revived by the breath of one wind, invigorated by the rays of one sun, this diversity increaseth their charm and addeth unto their beauty. How unpleasing to the eye if all the flowers and plants, the leaves and blossoms, the fruits, the branches of the trees of that garden were all of the same shape and color! Diversity of hues, form and shape enricheth and adorneth the garden, and heighteneth the effect thereof. In like manner, when diverse shades of thought, temperament and character are brought together under the profound influence of one central agency, the beauty and glory of human perfection will be revealed and made manifest. Naught but the celestial potency of the Word of God, which ruleth and transcendeth the realities of all things, is capable of harmonizing the divergent thoughts, sentiments, ideas and convictions of the children of men (World Order of Baha’u’llah).”
Sadly, mankind has been confronted with the ugliness of prejudice and its catastrophic destruction for too long. Why do people put up barriers to unity and deliberately try to plant the seeds of separation, fear, anger and distrust of others who are not exactly like them? Looking for answers and relief, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, the son of the prophet-founder of the Baha’i Faith, declared: “Your eyes have been illumined, your ears attentive, your hearts knowing. You must be free from prejudice and fanaticism, beholding no differences. You must look to God, for He is the real Shepherd, and all humanity are His sheep. He loves them and loves them equally. As this is true, should the sheep quarrel among themselves? They should manifest gratitude and thankfulness to God; the best way to thank God is to love one another (Promulgation of Universal Peace).”
How do we work to unify our neighborhoods, countries, and continents? We need to study and learn about unity and coming together, not only in our individual lives but in our schools, workplaces, the government, and social and global groups. One important way would be for historians, educators and authors of school and history books to revise the texts and honestly show the inception of mankind and how there were initially no divisions. Prejudice and its abhorrent hostility needs to be explained accurately and authentically in all history taught in schools and elsewhere. The unity that we all seek can flourish when we stop dividing ourselves into artificial groups.
‘Abdu’l-Baha proclaimed, “Concerning the prejudice of race; it is an illusion, a superstition pure and simple, for God created us all of one race. … In the beginning also there were no limits and boundaries between the different lands; no part of the earth belonged more to one people than to another. In the sight of God there is no difference between the various races. Why should man invent such a prejudice? How can we uphold war caused by such an illusion? God has not created men that they should destroy one another. All races, tribes, sects and classes share equality in the bounty of their heavenly Father. The only real difference lies in the degree of faithfulness, of obedience to the laws of God. There are some who are as lighted torches; there are others who shine as stars in the sky of humanity. The lovers of mankind, these are the superior men, of whatever nation, creed or color they may be (Wisdom of ‘Abdu’l-Baha).”
In the Promulgation of Universal Peace, it states that a fundamental teaching of Baha’u’llah and the Baha’i Faith is the oneness of the world of humanity. Addressing mankind, He says, “Ye are all leaves of one tree and the fruits of one branch.” By this, it is meant that the world of humanity is like a tree, the nations or peoples are the different limbs or branches of that tree, and the individual human creatures are as the fruits and blossoms thereof. In this way, Baha’u’llah expressed the oneness of humankind, whereas in all religious teachings of the past, the human world has been represented as divided into two parts: one known as the people of the Book of God, or the pure tree, and the other the people of infidelity and error, or the evil tree. The former were considered as belonging to the faithful, and the others to the hosts of the irreligious and infidel … Baha’u’llah removed this by proclaiming the oneness of the world of humanity, and this principle is specialized in his teachings, for he has submerged all mankind in the sea of divine generosity. Some are asleep; they need to be awakened. Some are ailing; they need to be healed. Some are immature as children; they need to be trained. But all are recipients of the bounty and bestowals of God.
Susan Haines is a retired teacher and reading specialist who found the Baha’i faith as a teenager, traveling to a Baha’i Summer Institute, Green Acre, in Maine. Having lived in Frederick County for over 40 years, she serves as the Baha’i public information officer for the Baha’is of Frederick.