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When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. – 1 Corinthians 13:11-13.
On July 15, 1870, the United States re-admitted the State of Georgia into the union–the last Confederate state to accept the terms of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution.
More importantly, that event signified every last state’s subordination of their particular interests to the overarching, unified prerogatives of the union. That so momentous a consummation in the nation’s maturation should have come only after a civil war and its attendant sacrifices speaks to the significance of this milestone. The Baha’i writings say this federal unity laid the true foundation for the coming of age of the United States:
The stirring of a new national consciousness, and the birth of a new type of civilization, infinitely richer and nobler than any which its component parts could have severally hoped to achieve, may be said to have proclaimed the coming of age of the American people… The diversified and loosely related elements of a divided community were brought together, unified and incorporated into one coherent system. No stage above and beyond this consummation of national unity can, within the geographical limits of that nation, be imagined, though the highest destiny of its people, as a constituent element in a still larger entity that will embrace the whole of mankind, may still remain unfulfilled. – Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, pp. 165-166.
Americans were not the only ones who had made extraordinary sacrifices for the cause of unity.
In 1870 Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, had already suffered torture, exile and imprisonment for teaching the central Baha’i principles of the oneness of humanity. The global consciousness of human unity that had begun to spread prompted an extraordinary leap forward in the development of civilization.
Today, as a result of the sacrifices others before us have made for unity, we have collectively matured:
Just as the organic evolution of mankind has… involved successively the unification of the family, the tribe, the city-state, and the nation, so has the light vouchsafed by the Revelation of God, at various stages in the evolution of religion, and reflected in the successive Dispensations of the past, been slow and progressive. Indeed the measure of Divine Revelation, in every age, has been adapted to, and commensurate with, the degree of social progress achieved in that age by a constantly evolving humanity.” Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 117.
We now find ourselves at the point where human capabilities and institutions encompass the planet. From multinational corporations engaged in commerce to global sporting events to international diplomacy to instantaneous communications, people move from country to country and transcend their national identities as a matter of course. These material endeavors and accomplishments necessitate a more robust and universal outpouring of divine guidance. We find this guidance in the teachings of Baha’u’llah:
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 appeal is not to be merely identified with a reawakening of the spirit of brotherhood and good-will among men, nor does it aim solely at the fostering of harmonious cooperation among individual peoples and nations. 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. – Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 42.
All over the world Baha’is are working to explore the practical implications of the oneness of humanity through community building initiatives that embrace all, irrespective of race, religion or gender. The result is the gradual emergence of people that see themselves as one family and the earth their common homeland.
Those who choose to participate in these initiatives leverage a revelation whose ennobling insights are commensurate with the requirements of a mature human race unfettered by the limiting perspectives of childhood and adolescence:
As the peoples of the world embrace the spiritual authority inherent in the guidance of the Revelation of God for this age, Baha’u’llah said, they will find in themselves a moral empowerment which human effort alone has proven incapable of generating. “A new race of men” will emerge as the result of this relationship, and the work of building a global civilization will begin. – Baha’i International Community