Hello, social media. Why am I not screaming? Why am I not protesting? Why am I not taking sides and holding up banners?
Why am I not posting enraged political memes on my wall? Why have I never written the name of either 2016 American presidential candidate on my page? I need to tell you why—because I am a Baha’i.
What does that mean?
Literally it means I am a follower of the Baha’i Faith, founded by the Iranian nobleman Baha’u’llah in the mid-19th century. Baha’u’llah proclaimed the oneness of humanity and the oneness of all religions, including Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism—even the Native American religions and other indigenous beliefs that didn’t leave behind a book.
Baha’u’llah proclaimed, in every essential way, the same message as Christ, Muhammad, The Buddha, and the founders of all the world’s great Faith. He said that all the messengers of God bring essentially the same message to humanity. Baha’u’llah taught the oneness of all religions. The seeming differences between their teachings, he said, is based on the needs of the historical period and people to which they appeared—not on their essential spiritual core, which is one and the same.
He said that the “pivot” around which all Baha’i social teachings revolve in this day, is “the oneness of humanity:”
It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 250.
He proclaimed the equality of men and women and said that once women had full equality with men in all spheres of endeavor, it would assure the advent of world peace.
In terms of our daily job, down here on Earth… the everyday gig down here in the San Fernando Valley of California, or Nairobi, or the Ukraine, or Tokyo or Rio de Janiero or wherever, for Baha’is that gig involves promoting the welfare and confirming the reality of the oneness of humanity, the oneness of religion, the equality of men and women, and the eradication of all forms of prejudice and oppression. Baha’u’llah asked us to eliminate the extremes of wealth and poverty; to give all children universal education, and to recognize the essential harmony of science and religion.
Baha’is have no clergy. Instead, all Baha’is have the job of educating themselves, and doing their best to promote the Baha’i principles, creating new processes that will lay the foundation for a peaceful, unified new world order.
Yes, I just put those three words together, “new world order,” because the Baha’i writings do—and did so long before they became conspiracy theory fodder. Read this quote from the Baha’i teachings, and notice the reference to the need to avoid “the evils of excessive centralization” so you will understand what I’m talking about… and what I am NOT talking about:
Let there be no misgivings as to the animating purpose of the world-wide Law of Baha’u’llah. Far from aiming at the subversion of the existing foundations of society, it seeks to broaden its basis, to remold its institutions in a manner consonant with the needs of an ever-changing world. It can conflict with no legitimate allegiances, nor can it undermine essential loyalties. Its purpose is neither to stifle the flame of a sane and intelligent patriotism in men’s hearts, nor to abolish the system of national autonomy so essential if the evils of excessive centralization are to be avoided. It does not ignore, nor does it attempt to suppress, the diversity of ethnical origins, of climate, of history, of language and tradition, of thought and habit, that differentiate the peoples and nations of the world. It calls for a wider loyalty, for a larger aspiration than any that has animated the human race. It insists upon the subordination of national impulses and interests to the imperative claims of a unified world. It repudiates excessive centralization on one hand, and disclaims all attempts at uniformity on the other. Its watchword is unity in diversity ….
The call of Baha’u’llah is primarily directed against all forms of provincialism, all insularities and prejudices. If long-cherished ideals and time-honored institutions, if certain social assumptions and religious formulae have ceased to promote the welfare of the generality of mankind, if they no longer minister to the needs of a continually evolving humanity, let them be swept away and relegated to the limbo of obsolescent and forgotten doctrines. Why should these, in a world subject to the immutable law of change and decay, be exempt from the deterioration that must needs overtake every human institution?
The principle of the Oneness of Mankind—the pivot round which all the teachings of Baha’u’llah revolve—is no mere outburst of ignorant emotionalism or an expression of vague and pious hope. …
Its implications are deeper, its claims greater than any which the Prophets of old were allowed to advance. Its message is applicable not only to the individual, but concerns itself primarily with the nature of those essential relationships that must bind all the states and nations as members of one human family.
It’s me again (I’m the WAY less articulate one). So if you read and ponder this guidance, it may come as no surprise that Baha’is don’t engage in partisan politics. We vote and believe in good citizenship, but we don’t engage in the essentially divisive, partisan process—a process antithetical to uncovering truth, providing real solutions and building unity.