“Recognition of the oneness of mankind, implemented by appropriate legal measures, must be universally upheld if this problem is to be overcome,”
WE just observed the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, but how far are we from the goal of eliminating racism? Can race unity become a reality and how can we overcome the prejudices that divide humanity? Can we have peace, while racism is allowed to continue?
“Racism, one of the most baneful and persistent evils, is a major barrier to peace. Its practice perpetrates too outrageous a violation of the dignity of human beings to be countenanced under any pretext. Racism retards the unfoldment of the boundless potentialities of its victims, corrupts its perpetrators, and blights human progress.
“Recognition of the oneness of mankind, implemented by appropriate legal measures, must be universally upheld if this problem is to be overcome,” states the Universal House of Justice, the governing council of the Baháí International Community.
It is clear that racism is one of the most harmful and persistent evils in our societies and is a major barrier to peace. Racism will be eliminated only when the peoples of the world are convinced of the oneness of humanity and proceed to reconstruct their lives and their societies on that basis.
“The principle of the oneness of humankind,” in the Baháí 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.”
Implementing appropriate legal measures that safeguard the human rights and opportunities for everyone is another necessary requirement for eliminating racism.
If we look at the reasons for racial discrimination, we find that it is based on the erroneous idea that we are somehow composed of separate and distinct races, peoples or castes, and that those sub-groups possess varying intellectual, moral, and/or physical capacities, which in turn justify different forms of treatment.
“The reality”, in the words of the Baháí 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.”
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.
The Baháí concept of the oneness of humanity goes beyond mere tolerance, and advocates a change in our attitudes, and requires that an active effort be made towards establishing genuine unity among the races.
For this to become a reality, there is need for conscious, deliberate and sustained effort.
Furthermore, there is need for genuine love, extreme patience, true humility and prayerful reflection to eliminate the destructive impact of racism.
“Close your eyes to racial differences,” is Bahá’* ’llá* ’s counsel, “and welcome all with the light of oneness.”
Those seeking to understand more fully how the oneness of humanity can be brought into practice might find it useful to examine the experience of the Baháí community, which offers a continuously advancing model for how diverse individuals can live together in harmony and unity.
Flora Teckie is an architect who writes on socially pertinent issues.