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Look at our brokenness.
We know that in all creation
Only the human family
Has strayed from the Sacred Way.
We know that we are the ones
Who are divided
And we are the ones
Who must come together
To walk in the Sacred Way.
Teach us love, compassion, and honor.
That we may heal the earth
And heal each other. – Ojibway Prayer
This beautiful Ojibway prayer tells us that humanity became divided and lost its way. The prayer suggests that through love, honor and compassion we may unite again, and in turn, heal our planet and humanity.
Since childhood, I’ve admired and loved Native American cultures–and felt deep sadness for what Native Americans experienced as a result of others’ thirst for greed and power. But Native American cultures are important to my life for other reasons, too. My husband’s ancestors were Native Americans (along with some sprinklings of Irish, Scottish, and German). Last, and certainly not least, a Native American introduced the Baha’i Faith to my family.
Even before I became a Baha’i, I believed in the unity of life and the equality of all people on our planet. In fact, in elementary school, I believed so strongly in the equality of men and women that I had no doubt that I could compete with boys at arm wrestling and basketball. My friends have always come in all genders, shapes, sizes, and ethnicities. So when I encountered the Baha’i Faith, it confirmed what I already knew in my soul: we are all just part of one big human family.
The Baha’i Faith teaches us that unity is a fundamental truth. Baha’is believe that there is one God who has created all of us from the same dust. As Abdu’l-Baha wrote:
The second teaching of Baha’u’llah is the principle of the oneness of the world of humanity. God is one; His servants are, likewise, one. God has created all; He is kind to all. Inasmuch as He is such a tender Father to all, why should His children disagree? Why should they war and fight? Like the Heavenly Father we must live in love and unity. Man is the temple of God, the image and likeness of the Lord. Surely if one should destroy the temple of God, he will incur the displeasure of the Creator. For this reason, we must live together in amity and love. Baha’u’llah has addressed the world of humanity, saying, “Verily, ye are the fruits of one tree and the leaves of one branch.” This signifies that the entire world of humanity is one tree. The various nations and peoples are the branches of that tree. Individual members of mankind are represented by the twigs and blossoms. Why should these parts of the same tree manifest strife and discord toward each other? – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 373.
If we were created as one human family, how did we stray from the “Sacred Way”? Or more importantly, how can we become united again, the way we were meant to be?
I believe we can start by praying for unity. In the Baha’i writings, we find many beautiful prayers for unity, such as this one:
O my God! O my God! Unite the hearts of Thy servants, and reveal to them Thy great purpose. May they follow Thy commandments and abide in Thy law. Help them, O God, in their endeavor, and grant them strength to serve Thee. O God! Leave them not to themselves, but guide their steps by the light of Thy knowledge, and cheer their hearts by Thy love. Verily, Thou art their Helper and their Lord. – Baha’u’llah, Baha’i Prayers, p. 204.
After we pray, we can put our prayers into practice. We can learn about each other and appreciate our diversity of cultures, languages, and talents. We can show kindness to all and befriend all. We can build trusting relationships by respecting and honoring each other, being compassionate, and loving one another.
Let’s not forget the other piece to the unity puzzle: healing. What do you think that Objiway prayer means when it mentions that, by learning about love, compassion, and honor, we might “heal the earth and heal each other”? My interpretation: we should stop hurting each other and destroying our planet. If we care for others, care for our planet, and focus on the good in each other, we can let go of the past and build a unified future. What are your plans for bringing unity to fruition? I hope your plans involve walking with me in the Sacred Way.