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Unity is a nice word, isn’t it?
I’m not so sure; I think it’s a hard word. It’s easy to be unified with people you like. It’s not so easy to create unity with people who have different perspectives. It’s easy to make fun of people who think the story of Noah is literally the Truth. And if you think the story is literally true, then it might be difficult to think well of people who don’t.
The Baha’i teachings encourage us all to get on the Ark with everyone:
Cleanse ye your eyes, so that ye behold no man as different from yourselves. See ye no strangers; rather see all men as friends, for love and unity come hard when ye fix your gaze on otherness. And in this new and wondrous age, the Holy Writings say that we must be at one with every people; that we must see neither harshness nor injustice, neither malevolence, nor hostility, nor hate, but rather turn our eyes toward the heaven of ancient glory. For each of the creatures is a sign of God, and it was by the grace of the Lord and His power that each did step into the world; therefore they are not strangers, but in the family; not aliens, but friends, and to be treated as such. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 24.
If we can all see the inner spiritual truths in stories and rely on them much more than anything that might be literally true or false, we can make a giant step toward unity together. If we find unity in those spiritual, metaphorical truths, we can get past our differences. After all — the spirit of the story is where the godly, spiritual treasure resides. As Jesus said, God is a spirit, and we must worship in spirit. Worshipping literal truths has gotten us into great heaps of trouble. The time has come to worship and reflect on the spiritual truths.
The great tragedy of western religion is that Jesus, according to the Gospels, tried to teach us this — but we didn’t understand and we still too often don’t. In fact, we have failed to even comprehend what Christ meant when He used the two simple words, “I am.”
This has got to change. Aren’t we all tired of disunity?
Let’s start small. Noah might have been a man. There may have been a flood. There might have even been a boat. Who knows? But does any of that matter nearly as much as the fact that corruption of the human heart exists, and the remedy for it lies in our daily striving to acquire the spiritual attributes we all admire in each other? When we make that purely spiritual effort to develop our inner virtues — patience, love, forgiveness, compassion, generosity, charity, humility, kindliness, and wisdom, just to name a few – we truly commit ourselves to a path of discovery and growth.
These are tough. God, I know they’re tough.
But these virtues represent God in the world. And if we want peace, then maybe we should spend more time beseeching our own hearts to manifest these attributes. Maybe these things should be the new Ark of our new global Covenant. Maybe then we would raise a new spiritual race of humans. Maybe then instead of squabbling over what’s literally true and what isn’t, we would foster a truer unity and do our part to fulfill our purest Cause of peace on Earth.