The news these days is heartbreaking. Like you, I continually ask myself what more I could be doing to promote racial harmony and understanding.
Last year, I sold out of all of my pamphlets on Race Unity, and I’m sorry to say, the interest in them had gotten so low that I couldn’t justify reprinting any of them.
I’m reconsidering that decision, but I need your help. After the picture below, which links to the few race unity materials I still have, I am posting the full text of two of my old pamphlets. If you have the time, please read them and see if either of them would be useful to you in today’s climate.
1) Ignore formatting errors. They will be fixed.
2) If I receive no responses to this e-mail I will assume that people do not want to see either of these pamphlets reprinted.
Nine Reasons and Nine Things
This is a two-sided pamphlet. One side is titled “Nine Reasons to Work for Race Unity” and the other is “Nine Ways to Work for Race Unity.”
Nine Reasons to Work for Race Unity
Because racism hurts everyone. It is not just the occasional race riot or hate crime that hurts us. Rather, it is the daily dose of tension, suspicion and distrust that crosses racial lines in both directions and eats away at human potential from every side.
Because these tensions raise the over-all level of violence and aggression in our country, which, in turn, increase stress, depression, domestic violence, drug abuse, and a host of other social and spiritual ills.
Because our children deserve the chance to live in a world free of prejudice.
Because, “All humanity are the children of God; they belong to the same family, to the same original race.”
Because the belief that some people are better or more valuable than others is a spiritual cancer that can consume our souls and destroy our relationships.
Because love between black and white Americans will set such a powerful example that it will encourage peace and cooperation around the world.
Because treating everyone with dignity and respect is the spiritual essence of the Golden Rule.
Because making friends and feeling comfortable with people from diverse backgrounds is so much fun and feels so good.
Because it is God’s Will – and it is always smarter to be with God than against Him.
O my God! O my God! Unite the hearts of Thy servants, and reveal to them Thy great purpose. May they follow Thy command-ments and abide in Thy law. Help them, O God, in their endeavor, and grant them strength to serve Thee. O God! Leave them not to themselves, but guide their steps by the light of Thy knowledge, and cheer their hearts by Thy love. Verily, Thou art their Helper and their Lord. – Bahá’u’lláh
Selected Baha’i Writings
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.
O SON OF SPIRIT!
Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou wast created.
O well-beloved ones! The tabernacle of unity hath been raised; regard ye not one another as strangers.
Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch.
The well being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.
Consider the virtues of the human world and realize that the oneness of humanity is the primary foundation of them all.
God does not look at colors; He looks at the hearts. He whose heart is pure is better. He whose character is better is more pleasing.
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.
So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.
Nine Ways to Work for Race Unity
Promote education – both your own and other’s, because ignorance and blind imitation are the root causes of prejudice.
Recognize the essential nobility of the Human Soul – Many of the symptoms of racism are the result of either projecting or internalizing feelings of unworthiness. When we like ourselves, we feel less need to hate or fear others
Practice the qualities of “genuine love, extreme patience, true humility, consummate tact, sound initiative, mature wisdom, and deliberate, persistent and prayerful effort.”
Become sensitive to forms of prejudice and oppression that you might experience from a different perspective, (like sexism or ageism) and apply what you learn to your own racial attitudes.
Develop a personal awareness of the Oneness of Humanity as a spiritual and scientific reality.
Read the Holy Writings of the world’s religions – including the Bible, Quran and the Bahá’í Writings – and pray for guidance every day.
Contemplate the mortality of your body and the immortality of your soul.
Develop a thirst for justice because “The best beloved of all things in My sight is justice….” and “The purpose of justice is the appearance of unity amongst men.”
Make lots and lots of diverse friends so that you have many opportunities to study unity and practice virtues.
“We work and pray for the unity of mankind, that all the races of the earth may become one race, all the countries one country, and that all hearts may beat as one heart, working together for perfect unity and brotherhood .
“Only have faith, patience and courage – this is but the beginning, but surely you will succeed, for God is with you!”
Ten Things Baha’is Can Do to Help:
Offer you the moral support of a group of people who are committed to unity.
Provide a safe place for you to practice unity and learn about diversity without feeling judged.
Touch your heart with the power and beauty of the Bahá’í Sacred Writings.
Invite you to workshops, celebrations, seminars, services and classes – we take a proactive approach to teaching unity.
Demonstrate diversity – we include members of over 2,000 tribes, races and ethnic groups.
Prepare your youth and children to be examples of interracial love and unity.
Give you hope by giving you a glimpse of a prejudice-free future.
Introduce you to Bahá’u’lláh – the Messenger of God who gave us a vision of a glorious future, and the tools to help us get there.
Welcome you with open arms.
A New Vision of Race Unity
The second pamphlet I’m considering reprinting is a summary of the National Spiritual Assembly’s statement “The Vision of Race Unity.”
Racism is the most challenging issue facing America. Our country is made up of people from all over the world. Our motto, seen on every dollar bill, is “E pluribus unum” which means “Out of many, one.” Our ideals of freedom under law have inspired millions of people throughout the world. We cannot continue to hold prejudice against any racial or ethnic group without being untrue to our beliefs. Racism is an insult to human dignity; a cause of hatred and division and is a disease that destroys society.
In spite of our efforts to eliminate it, racism continues to work its evil upon this nation. Progress towards mutual respect and unity has been painfully slow. Recent events make the need for solutions even more urgent. If we ignore this problem we expose the country to physical, moral and spiritual danger.
The U.S. Bahá’í community appeals to all people of goodwill to rise up and resolve this basic problem in our country. We do so because we feel a shared responsibility, because we have had positive experiences with diverse Bahá’í communities around the world, and because our Faith teaches that the United States has a great destiny awaiting it as a nation.
The oneness of humanity is the heart of the Bahá’í Faith. More than 100 years ago, Bahá’u’lláh, the Prophet-Founder of our faith, wrote: “The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.”
Humanity as a family is growing up. The world is approaching a maturity which makes unity possible. Because the United States is made up of people from every part of the world, it has a unique role to play in this process. Sadly, it cannot play this role because racism, like a cancer, is destroying the very foundation of our nation.
Throughout history, one part or another of the human race has tried to prove that it was different from the rest. This has led to endless conflicts in the name of tribe, race, class, nation, and religion. Instead of proving that groups of people are significantly different, these conflicts have proven just the opposite. The fact is, if given the same circumstances, all people behave in the same ways. In trying to prove the un-provable, humanity has become confused. The Bahá’í Faith teaches that without religious guidance, a clear vision of our true nature, our purpose and our destiny is impossible. The writings of Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í Faith, offer just such guidance in His teachings on the oneness of humanity.
The oneness of humanity is a spiritual and scientific fact. We need now to begin applying it to life in the United States. The principle of the oneness of humankind “is no mere outburst of ignorant emotionalism or an expression of vague and pious hope. . . . It does not constitute merely the enunciation of an ideal. . . . It implies an organic change in the structure of present-day society, a change such as the world has not yet experienced.” In other words, a change of heart is needed and that change needs to show in the way our society operates.
Applying the principal of oneness to the daily life of our nation will both require and create great changes. Prejudice and discrim-ination have created a large gap in living standards. African Americans, American Indians, and Hispanic Americans suffer from poverty far more than white Amer-icans do. But in the end, all Americans pay a heavy price for the continued effects of prejudice.
American businesses have noticed the negative effects of ethnic conflict on our economy. In response, many firms are starting programs to reduce racial tensions in the workplace. These steps are important and should be encouraged. However, if their goal is limited to economic growth, they will fail. No program can succeed unless it is founded on mutual respect and a common acceptance of the oneness of humanity.
Respect and personal dignity are deep-seated human needs. No educational, economic or political plan can substitute for them. Without respect, genuine regard and a general attitude of support from society, people lose hope. Without hope, people lose the moral power to live up to their true potential. Mutual respect needs to be grounded in a spiritual and moral truth which can be as universally accepted as the air we breathe. The Bahá’í community is convinced that the oneness of humanity is such a truth.
The fact that humanity is one species should be at the heart of educational programs in the United States. In addition to teaching basic intellectual skills, each school should teach the moral skills of tolerance, brotherhood, and appreciation of diversity. In this way, education can be the shortest route out of poverty, and out of prejudice as well.
Neglecting the effects of racism endangers America’s order and security. From the day it was born, the United States has had two standards. Our Declaration of Independence proclaimed equality and justice, but our Constitution made slavery legal. Slavery poisoned the mind and heart of the nation until it was officially ended by a bloody civil war. The evil consequences of slavery are still visible today and still affect the be-havior of both Black and White Americans.
Healing wounds and building a society where different kinds of people live as members of one family are the biggest challenges facing America today. Our peace and prosperity, even our role as a world power depend a great deal on resolving these issues.
The fact that the world is watching should convince us to eliminate every trace of racism in our midst. America’s example would have a great effect on world society and would help to establish world peace. “For the accomplishment of unity between the colored and white,” the Bahá’í writings proclaim, “will be a cause of the world’s peace.”
Both Black and White Americans are responsible for the building of a society in which the rights of all its members are respected and guaranteed. To start, both races must have faith that this is possible. Neither race should assume that getting rid of racism is the other’s job. Both must recognize that unity is essential for everyone’s survival. Both must recognize that there is only one human species. Both must recognize that only a unified society can solve the social and economic problems facing us.
It is obvious that large numbers of both Black and White Americans are frustrated by the current state of race relations. The old ideas of racial segregation are once again gaining popularity. As the problems of crime and drug addiction multiply we seem ready to say that the years of working for integration have been worthless. But as dark as the situation appears, can we honestly say that no progress has been made since the days of sit-ins at lunch counters across the South?
Some believe that the various races are so different that they must be segregated from each other. Would this be sensible? Doesn’t this idea deny our common humanity? Wouldn’t it be a formula for the total breakdown of civilization? Those who raise the call for separation preach a grim vision. If we were to try such a thing, where would either Black or White Americans divide their cultural heritage?
Racism runs deep. It infects the hearts of both Black and White Americans. No one remains completely untouched by it. Both groups must realize that solving such a problem will take time and great effort. The Bahá’í writings warn: “Let neither think that anything short of genuine love, extreme patience, true humility, consummate tact, sound initiative, mature wisdom, and deliberate, persistant, and prayerful effort can succeed in blotting out the stain which this patent evil has left on the fair name of their common country.”
Both groups must understand that no real change will come about without close association, fellowship, and friendship among diverse peoples. Variety of color, nationality, and culture improves the human experience. It should never become a barrier to friendship or to marriage. Bahá’u’lláh wrote, “The tabernacle of unity has been raised; regard ye not one another as strangers. Ye are the fruits of one tree and the leaves of one branch.”
Our appeal is aimed mostly at the individual American because changing a whole nation really depends on changing the hearts and characters of the people who live here. No great plan of action can succeed without the backing of the people. And so we respectfully and urgently call upon our fellow Americans from every background to look at the racial situation with new eyes. We ask you to become even more determined to overcome the racism that keeps America from realizing her glorious destiny.
We mention the experience of the Bahá’í community, not because it is perfect, but because it shows great promise in overcoming racism. We offer it as a means of encouragement and proof of what can be done.
From its start in 1863, the Bahá’í community has been dedicated to the principle of the oneness of humanity. Bahá’ís rely upon faith in God, daily prayer, meditation, and study of scripture to help us grow in character. Our aim is to create a world civilization that will, in turn, create better people. We think of the human family as a body, and believe that “when one part of the organism suffers all the rest of the body will feel its consequence.”
The Bahá’í community has been guided and inspired by such principles for more than a hundred years. We have worked together for over a century, and have achieved a high level of unity despite the different races and backgrounds of our members. Bahá’ís see unity as a law of life, and so all prejudices are seen as diseases that threaten life. We believe that if we focus on curing the disease of disunity first, then solving the world’s other spiritual and material problems will be easier.
Because of our experience with building models of unity, the Bahá’ís offer the teachings of their Faith and the example of their community for examination. We are convinced that these can help defeat racism in America. We make this offer with firm faith in the assistance of our Creator, Who, out of His infinite love, brought forth all humanity from the same stock and intended that we all belong to the same household – earth.
*This is an abridged summary of:
“The Vision of Race Unity – America’s Most Challenging Issue” A Statement by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States. The original statement, released in 1991, was distributed to leaders of thought throughout the United States. This abridged summary was published by Special Ideas, an independent publisher, in order to make the ideas presented in the original more accessible to the general public.