Oneness of humanity will eliminate racism
RACIAL discrimination has been dividing communities and undermining social cohesion. It is the Bahá’í view that we cannot achieve race reconciliation without embracing human diversity and that we cannot have social justice so long as prejudice blocks reconciliation.
Current world upheavals and problems are a by-product of prejudice. Prejudices of all kinds – including racial, national, ethnic, religious, gender-based and those of economic status – have been the main causes of division, hatred, warfare and bloodshed in human history.
Remedies to such prejudices must “address first and foremost those mental illusions that have for so many thousands of years given rise to false concepts of superiority and inferiority among human populations,” asserts the statement of the Bahá’í International Community (BIC) to the World Conference on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban in 2001. The above paragraph from the statement of the BIC starts with this sentence: “Racism originates not in the skin but in the human mind.”
At the root of all forms of racial discrimination and intolerance is the erroneous idea that humankind is somehow composed of separate and distinct races, peoples or castes, and that those sub-groups inherently possess varying intellectual, moral, and/or physical capacities, which in turn justify different forms of treatment.
The reality is that there is only one human race. We are one people, one human family inhabiting the planet Earth. The reality of human oneness is fully endorsed by science. Anthropology, physiology, psychology, sociology and genetics all confirm that there is only one human species, although infinitely varied in the secondary aspects of life.
In the Bahá’í view, racism will be eliminated only when the peoples of the world are convinced of the oneness of humankind and proceed to reconstruct their lives and their societies on that basis. The principle of human oneness is not just another vague hope or slogan but reflects, rather, an eternal spiritual, moral and physical reality.
The implementation of appropriate legal measures that safeguard the observance of human rights and opportunities for everyone is another requirement.
Just as fever is a symptom of disease in the body, racism is a symptom of disease in society. Suppressing the symptom does not cure the disease, but curing the disease eliminates the symptom. The disease from which society currently suffers is the failure to recognise the principle of the oneness of humanity – and racism is just a symptom of this.
“The principle of the oneness of humankind,” in the Bahá’í view, “lies at the heart of the exhortation that we should treat others as we ourselves would wish to be treated. To establish justice, peace and order in an interdependent world, this principle must guide all interactions…”
Besides, human nature is fundamentally spiritual. Although human beings exist on earth in physical bodies, the essential identity of each person is defined by an invisible, rational, and everlasting soul and “… the rational soul has no gender, race, ethnicity or class, a fact that renders intolerable all forms of prejudice”.
“Close your eyes to racial differences,” is Bahá’u’lláh’s counsel, “and welcome all with the light of oneness”.
The unity that must be at the basis of creating a peaceful and just social order, in the Bahá’í view, is a unity which embraces and honours diversity. Oneness and diversity are complementary and inseparable. It is not by suppression of differences that one will arrive at unity but, rather, by an increased awareness of, and respect for, the values of each culture, and indeed of each individual.
The Bahá’í Writings state: “Every human creature is the servant of God. All have been created and reared by the power and favour of God; all have been blessed with the bounties of the same Sun of divine truth; all have quaffed from the fountain of the infinite mercy of God; and all in His estimation and love are equal as servants.
“He is beneficent and kind to all. Therefore, no one should glorify himself over another; no one should manifest pride or superiority toward another; no one should look upon another with scorn and contempt; and no one should deprive or oppress a fellow creature.”
The Bahá’í Writings state: “Love ye all religions and all races with a love that is true and sincere and show that love through deeds and not through the tongue; for the latter hath no importance, as the majority of men are, in speech, well-wishers, while action is the best.” The differences in the human family are what make the world a more beautiful place to live in. The great wealth of cultural diversity achieved over thousands of years is necessary to the development of the human race. It is a heritage that enriches us all.
Differences are not only in the human family, but are apparent throughout the whole of nature. A beautiful garden is normally made of flowers of different colours, charm and beauty, and shrubs and trees of different types and sizes.
The Baha’i Writings state: “The diversity in the human family should be the cause of love and harmony, as it is in music where many different notes blend together in the making of a perfect chord.”
It emphasises that “If you meet those of different race and colour from yourself, do not mistrust them… Think of them as different coloured roses growing in the beautiful garden of humanity, and rejoice to be among them”.
Great wealth of cultural diversity is a heritage that enriches us all
Flora Teckie is an architect who loves studying and writing about socially relevant issues