We all know from the moment we’re born that everyone is different.

We have different speaking voices, different colored eyes and hair and skin, different-shaped faces and bodies, fingerprints, gaits, opinions, abilities and talents, dreams and much much more. So why do we insist on labeling anyone the same as anyone else? Why do we categorize people?

We label people primarily because our brains naturally try to create order out of chaos. The human brain innately categorizes everything. That’s why we have, in every language on Earth, a noun form for every individual entity. For example—I have a birth name and surname that identifies me and distinguishes me from you. Even though hundreds or thousands of people might have the same name, Rodney Richards, we are each still different.

No one can deny that fact. Try searching for your own name online, and you’ll see what I mean. I’ve found doctors, sports team coaches, chemists, Ph. D’s, and many more, all named Rodney Richards. I am not them.

Yes, some of us are twins, yet we are unique no matter how identical our physical traits may seem. You might share a skin color with some people, but the human hues number in the millions. Many of us believe in one religion or another, but we all worship in our own ways. No question about it—from our fingerprints to our philosophies, every individual is completely unique.

So how can we be the same and be so different at the same time? Because we are, in the reality of the spirit, “one soul in one body:”

He Who is your Lord, the All-Merciful, cherisheth in His heart the desire of beholding the entire human race as one soul and one body.Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 214.

The Baha’i teachings make it clear: we’re all unique, but we have something deep with us that gives us a common identity, a universal purpose, a shared reality. Abdu’l-Baha explains:

The phenomenal beings, which are captives of limitations, are ever subject to transformation and change in condition. How can such phenomenal beings ever grasp the heavenly, eternal, unchanging reality? Assuredly this is an absolute impossibility, for when we study the creational world, we see that the difference of degree is a barrier to such knowing. An inferior degree can never comprehend a higher degree or kingdom. – The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 172.

The creational world—what we call “life,” existence, physical things—sucks us into believing that all is physical. Yet the wise know that life actually consists of other equally important, non-physical realities. The purpose of religion is to educate us and open our beings to these other truths.

That’s exactly what the Baha’i Faith does: it fills our hearts, souls and minds with the reality of the mystical. It allows us to see beyond nature and the purely physical world to an entirely different realm—one that suffuses life with a higher sense of meaning. It tells us, without equivocation, that despite our individual and human differences we are essentially one human race:

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. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 218.

Think about it. Religion, and the spiritual reality of oneness it promotes, is one of the essential forces that keeps the human race together. Governments at all levels try to unify us, and hardly succeed. If it weren’t for the teachings of religion, which give us our early moral training whether our families profess a Faith or not, we would have no functioning society on Earth. Laws would be totally ignored. No standards of conduct would exist. Individuals would pursue their own animalistic inclinations without check. Society would become chaotic.

It’s time the human race recognized the contributions and assets religion offers. It’s the only hope we have of unifying the world and achieving peaceful and productive coexistence. It’s the only hope we have for resolving differences of opinion that produce hate and disruption and war.

Religion is the only hope we have for understanding our true inner spiritual, unified and unifying nature.

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.

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