The coming together of the peoples of the world in a harmonious relationship is the most crucial need of today.
Advances in science and technology have brought about a greater interdependence between the nations. The main strategy that will assist humanity to assume responsibility for its collective destiny is “the consciousness of the oneness of humankind”, in addition to returning to spiritual awareness and responsibility.
Acceptance and belief in the oneness of humanity, in the Bahá’í view, provides both a unifying vision and the foundation for a new system of values. Only when we, as individuals, see ourselves as members of one human family, sharing one common global homeland, will we be able to commit ourselves to the far-reaching changes, on both individual and collective levels, which an increasingly interdependent and rapidly changing world necessitates.
The oneness of mankind does not imply uniformity. It is because of our diversity that we have a beautiful and colourful human family. The Bahá’í Writings state: “Consider the flowers of a garden: though differing in kind, colour, form and shape, yet, inasmuch as they are refreshed by the waters 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. Thus when that unifying force, the penetrating influence of the Word of God, taketh effect, the difference of customs, manners, habits, ideas, opinions and dispositions embellisheth the world of humanity.”
The natural diversity of temperament and talents as well as our varied and rich experiences, cultures and viewpoints contribute to the human family’s progress and well-being. The immense wealth of cultural diversity achieved over thousands of years is vital to the development of the human race which is experiencing its collective coming-of-age. It represents a heritage that enriches us all and that must be permitted to bear its fruit in a global civilisation.
Embracing the variations that characterise our society
Belief in the oneness of humanity is to embrace the variations that characterise human society, and to desire for every individual the opportunity to develop and express his or her unique capacities and inherent talents.
Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í Faith, compared the world to the human body, to which we can look as a model. Human society is composed of not only a mass of diverse people, but of associations of individuals, each one of whom is bestowed with intelligence and will.
The main principle operating in the human body is that of unity in diversity.
This diversity of form and function is necessary for the life of any complex, well-developed organic entity, such as a human being.
No cell lives apart from the body, whether in contributing to functioning of, the body or benefitting from the well-being of the whole.
The same way as the perfect functioning of the human body is due to the unity of diverse cells and organs, so the well-being and well-functioning of body of mankind is dependent on the unity of its diverse elements — of all races, nations, religions and ethnic groups.
What is causing currently division, hatred, warfare and bloodshed in many parts of the world is prejudice. Prejudices of all kinds of race, of class, of ethnicity, of gender, or religious belief, continue to hold a strong grip on humanity. Prejudice comes from the belief that one group or a part of humanity is superior to another.
“The reality,” in the words of the Bahá’í International Community, “is that there is only the one human race. We are a single people, inhabiting the planet Earth, one human family bound together in a common destiny, a single entity created from one same substance . . .”
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. The principle of human oneness is not just another vague hope or slogan. It reflects rather an eternal spiritual, moral and physical reality.
Returning to spiritual awareness and responsibility
Through spiritual principles one can find solutions for every social problem. Overcoming our prejudices and acceptance of the oneness of humanity require a profound change of heart and a new mindset. It is the power of the Word of God that can produce such a necessary transformation.
We also need to reflect on the fact that, as the Bahá’í Writings confirm, human nature is fundamentally spiritual, and that although we live on earth in physical bodies, but our essential identity is defined by an invisible, rational, and everlasting soul. As the Bahá’í Writings state: “… the rational soul has no gender, race, ethnicity or class, a fact that renders intolerable all forms of prejudice”.
Belief in the oneness of humanity is the foundation for a new system of values. It has the power to inspire the transformation of individual attitudes and behaviour. It can, at the same time, help chart the structural changes necessary for the emergence of a sustainable pattern of development in a peaceful, harmonious, and prosperous global society.