The American election is finally over, but the anger, divisiveness and discord haven’t ended.
During this election period, many of my fellow Americans realized our country is ill, divided and desperately in need of healing. Realizing this at first, I became depressed and fearful—but then something occurred to me.
People don’t change when they’re comfortable.
This election has made us very uncomfortable with the state of our country—just as recent elections in many other countries have exposed the deep divisions there. Along with these divisions, though I’ve observed a repeating international theme. Our discomfort with the status quo has spurred good people everywhere to rise up to try and heal these ills.
Once perhaps unaware of human rights issues, these same people now vehemently stand up for them. How-to videos have surfaced on social media to guide us through dealing with Islamophobia. More and more of us want to know how to defend our fellow man who is being harassed or persecuted because of race. Non-profit websites promote protection for women and LGBT’s. Environmental watchdogs have ramped up their public awareness campaigns, and spiritual and religious organizations remind us more than ever of our common humanity and the power of love to make a change. Baha’is believe this kindness, love and caring for all humanity signals the beginnings of a new state of society:
If you desire with all your heart friendship with every race on earth, your thought, spiritual and positive will spread; it will become the desire of others, growing stronger until it reaches the minds of all men. – Baha’u’llah, Baha’u’llah and the New Era, p. 163.
A race of men, incomparable in character, shall be raised up which, with the feet of detachment, will tread under all who are in heaven and on earth, and will cast the sleeve of holiness over all that hath been created from water and clay. – Baha’u’llah, quoted by Shoghi Effendi in The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 31.
I don’t have my head in the clouds thinking that everything is going to be rosy anytime soon, but I do believe that we are collectively identifying our world’s darkest and most troubling issues with a heightened sense of clarity. It’s a humbling experience to realize that we are falling short of our highest ideals, in America and across the rest of the world. We can’t pretend everything is going to be alright or that America or any other nation is somehow infallible. There is much work to be done, but I feel that many of us are becoming more aware of this than ever.
We also know that relying solely on the government is not enough. We need spiritual maturity and action to bring about a new unified humanity. We have also learned that not standing up for the oppressed may in fact be worse than being the oppressor:
The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything. – Albert Einstein
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. – Edmund Burke
Baha’is believe that now is the time to join the champions of uprightness and rectitude, no matter your age or religion, sexual orientation or race. We are one human family that must come together, not to fight the evil, but to embrace the good. If one of us is oppressed, we are all oppressed:
Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe. – Frederick Douglass
From the beginnings of the Baha’i Faith in 1863, its followers have promoted the explicit teachings of a common humanity, the elimination of religious and racial prejudice, the equality of men and women, and the oneness of all nations and peoples. Since we believe in the virtues and spiritual teachings of all the major religions, Baha’is understand that light is light, no matter from what vessel it shines:
All the Manifestations of God bring the same Light; they only differ in degree, not in reality. The Truth is one. The light is the same though the lamps may be different; we must look at the Light not at the Lamp. If we accept the Light in one, we must accept the Light in all; all agree, because all are the same. – Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, pp. 66-67.
There is a new day ahead of us, with each successive day offering fresh opportunities for positive change. Our collective discomfort means we have a chance to make America and the world what they deserve to be, a planet of equals, “…With liberty and justice for all.”