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In my country we often hear people exclaim, “I’m proud to be an American!” “God bless America!” America is a great nation and does have much to offer the world.
But times are changing right before our eyes. Whether we like it or not, all the nations are becoming increasingly interdependent. This unifying process is due to advances in technology, communication, transportation, and many other factors.
We can’t stop that process—the only thing we have control over is how we choose to respond to it. Do we try to resist it, do we ignore it, or do we embrace it? The future of humanity depends upon the choice we make.
If we try to resist or ignore it, which most people in general and world leaders in particular are doing as a result of excessive nationalism, the result will be increasingly severe pain and suffering. Why? Because no one has the power to stop this irresistible process, just as no one has the power to stop the rising of the sun:
Unbridled nationalism, as distinguished from a sane and legitimate patriotism, must give way to a wider loyalty, to the love of humanity as a whole. Baha’u’llah’s statement is: “The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.” The concept of world citizenship is a direct result of the contraction of the world into a single neighbourhood through scientific advances and of the indisputable interdependence of nations. Love of all the world’s peoples does not exclude love of one’s country. The advantage of the part in a world society is best served by promoting the advantage of the whole. – The Universal House of Justice, October 1985, The Promise of World Peace, p. 3.
Consequently, the best way to deal with this issue is to face it and welcome it. This is not easy! Old habits and ways of thinking die hard.
Does it all mean that patriotism will become a thing of the past? No—there’s nothing wrong with loving our country. It’s perfectly natural to do so.
That said, our priorities are turned upside down. It’s like being more proud to live in Arizona than to live in America. I’m proud to be an Arizonan! God bless Arizona! Arizona is a great State and has much to offer, not the least of which is the Grand Canyon. But Arizona is part of America, just as America is part of the international community of nations.
At this critical time in history we must, once and for all, accept the indisputable fact that humankind is one family. There is only ONE race: the human race. We are all a beautiful human flower garden. We need to accept and appreciate our diversity, not condemn and destroy it.
Unless and until the entire human race embraces its oneness and the interdependency of the nations, the disunity that is destroying the very foundations of human society will increase to unimaginably catastrophic proportions.
The Baha’i teachings say that unity is the spirit of this new day! Humanity is maturing. Our greatest and longest period of growth and development is ahead of us, but we still act like rebellious, immature teenagers. We refuse to admit it’s time to become responsible adults in our attitudes and behavior toward ourselves and each other.
As Baha’is see it, the human race has two choices: come together in unity and harmony, or continue along its path of increasing disunity and destruction.
How much destruction will be required to awaken us to accept the realities of the oneness of our human family and the interdependency of the nations?
If we take two pieces of steel and heat them hot enough, they fuse together. Humanity is now going through the same process, being increasingly welded together in the heat of suffering. The heat is not yet intense enough to make us realize we absolutely must unite as one human family to survive on this planet, how much more to thrive and go forward:
Disunity is a danger that the nations and peoples of the earth can no longer endure; the consequences are too terrible to contemplate, too obvious to require any demonstration. ‘The well-being of mankind,’ Baha’u’llah wrote more than a century ago, ‘its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.’ In observing that ‘mankind is groaning, is dying to be led to unity, and to terminate its age-long martyrdom’, Shoghi Effendi [Guardian of the Baha’i Faith] further commented that: ‘Unification of the whole of mankind is the hall-mark of the stage which human society is now approaching. Unity of family, of tribe, of city-state, and nation have been successively attempted and fully established. World unity is the goal towards which a harassed humanity is striving. Nation-building has come to an end. The anarchy inherent in state sovereignty is moving towards a climax. A world, growing to maturity, must abandon this fetish, recognize the oneness and wholeness of human relationships, and establish once for all the machinery that can best incarnate this fundamental principle of its life.’ – The Universal House of Justice, October 1985, The Promise of World Peace, section IV.
A wonderful Baha’i, Ruth Moffatt, often said, “Cheer up! Things are going to get worse!” But no matter how severe the labor pains become, let us feel confident that we as a human family are birthing. A new spiritual global civilization is slowly, painfully rising from the ashes of present-day society, which no longer serves the crying needs of most people.
The Baha’i teachings say the time has come to enthusiastically proclaim: I’m proud to be a world citizen! God bless the human race and planet Earth!