Please see my previous post, “A More Perfect Union Through Race Unity,” for an important disclaimer.
A lot of people have been viewing my blog in the past few days, a few hundred and counting (not much by blogosphere standards, but the trend-line is up). Aside from a bit of ego gratification, I take this trend as a sign I’m meeting the needs of people other than me. I’m particularly pleased with comments from two people in their 80s. Who says the Internet is only for the young! Dorothy Schatz, 82, wrote this of her feelings about America’s history of slavery and mistreatment of Native Americans:
The pain in the very bowels of my soul has been caused by this anguish and wrong doing those of us that are white have ignored by our arrogance.
I am immeasurably thankful that this blight on our country is being talked about, in terms that will help us dispel this cancer from our country forever.
Another comment came from Dr. Jim Turpin, 80 years old:
Our blessed Faith , for the past 140 years, [the Bahai’ Faith began in 1844] makes it abundantly clear that the ultimate answer to racial unity is a spiritual one, recognizing in a profound way that racism is an abomination to our Creator …
In a way this identification with each other is not unlike the unity of a deep, eternity-long marriage, in that we need to recognize that we NEED each other, that limited to our own “color”, we are less than completed, less than whole.
That hunger for a new vocabulary, a new dialogue, for a unity that transcends our differences without eliding them, is real and widespread, and has been observed often as a key to the appeal of Sen. Barack Obama, particularly among the young.
In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.
For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle … We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel … and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.
“We can do that, ” Obama went on, or we can say “not this time” and work together to solve common problems, such as education, health care, economic competitiveness and the war in Iraq.
But, as Jim Turpin declared above, the answer to our racial troubles [indeed, to all of our troubles] will not come from politics as we know it, but from spiritual sources. Jim said in his comment: ” … this unity is supported by ample documented evidence that we- black, white, brown, red, yellow, “uncertain”- are truly made by the very same “recipe”.
Baha’u’llah provides the recipe thus:
Know ye not whey We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other … Since We have created you all from the same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest …
For the most part, humanity has not lived up to this high standard. America, despite great strides, has yet to consistently and completely live up to the promises of its Constitution. As Senator Obama said in his “More Perfect Union” speech:
What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part – through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk – to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.
The Baha’i way is not through war or civil disobedience, but we, too seek to narrow the gap between the promise of our beloved nation’s ideal the reality of our time:
A rectitude of conduct, an abiding sense of undeviating justice, unobscured by the demoralizing influences which a corruption-ridden political life so strongly manifests … a fraternity freed from the cancerous growth of racial prejudice which is eating into the vitals of an already debilitated society …
Thus, wrote Shoghi Effendi, great-grandson of Baha’u’llah, the Prophet/Founder of the Baha’i Faith — in 1939! Through great efforts on the part of many brave Americans, the growth of that cancer has at least been arrested, even reversed, by some measures. The controversy over the sermons of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s long-time pastor, proves we have yet to cure it.
Regardless of your party or whom you vote for, in fact, despite the political obstacles, you, too can work toward the cure.
Effendi, Shoghi, “The Advent of Divine Justice,” originally published in 1939. Wilmette, Ill., Baha’i Publishing Trust.
“The Vision of Race Unity: America’s Most Challenging Issue. A Statement by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States. 1991. Wilmette, Ill., Baha’i Publishing Trust.