“There are certain kinds of agony and certain kinds of pains that exacerbate already terrible wounds,” says Michael Penn, a Baha'i living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
It’s a reminder that in 1938, Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha'i Faith, referred to the Black community as “a people who have received, for so long a period, such grievous and slow-healing wounds.”
“I think that some approaches to racism actually inflict on an already scarred humanity more wounds, and we have to, I think, be very careful of that,” Michael says. “Words are really, really powerful.”
And Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, wrote, “For every land We have prescribed a portion, for every occasion an allotted share, for every pronouncement an appointed time and for every situation an apt remark.”
In this short clip from “The Race Unity Project,” Michael shares how reading the Baha'i writings and reflecting on what he’s learned from his Native American ancestors influenced his understanding of the power of language.
Native Americans “were convinced that words that we use either create the world or destroy it,” Michael says.
Produced by Journalism for Change, Inc, a nonprofit media organization founded by filmmaker and human rights activist Maziar Bahari, “The Race Unity Project” tells “the century-long story of the American Baha’i community and its efforts — as well as its tests and challenges — in promoting race unity.”
Watch Michael discuss what kind of language he believes helps us avoid inflicting more harm on ourselves and others. “To say the right thing in the right way for the right reason is really sort of the key to healing these terrible, terrible wounds,” he says.
Radiance Talley is a staff writer at BahaiTeachings.org and a corporate communications associate at One Planet Group. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in communication, a College Park Scholars Arts Citation, and a cognate in journalism. In addition to her writing,...READ MORE