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The world watches in shock as Russian troops occupy Ukraine, targeting Ukrainian military, fuel facilities, and air fields.
Most horrifying of all, as demonstrated by live video, is the destruction of hospitals, schools, and neighborhoods. The airstrikes and missiles have forced many traumatized citizens of Ukraine to flee from the crisis into bomb shelters. Many others who try to escape the brutality of war by leaving the country – almost a million people to date – remain stranded on the country’s western border due to the long lines.
These refugees have little or no access to water or other resources, with starvation and death at their backdoor. Migrants and international students are heavily impacted, too – especially from South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Just think of the impact on pregnant women, babies, and those with disabilities or illnesses due to the lack of access to crucial medical support.
This alarming aggression has sparked an enormous humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and throughout Europe. What can we, as a concerned society and as compassionate individuals, do to help our fellow human beings at this crucial hour? Are we powerless to help?
In fact, we are not.
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As demonstrated by the international sanctions now going into place, and by more to come, we can, as a collective human family, rise up against this atrocity. As Baha’u’llah clearly counseled over 160 years ago, when power-hungry aggressors invade other countries, all of the world’s governments should rise up against that injustice as a united front to defend the world’s collective security:
Be united, O concourse of the sovereigns of the world, for thereby will the tempest of discord be stilled amongst you, and your peoples find rest. Should any one among you take up arms against another, rise ye all against him, for this is naught but manifest justice.
As a Baha’i, I was raised to believe that unity could act as the glue to mend our broken world. “The world is but one country and mankind it’s citizens,” Baha’u’llah wrote, and I know many agree as I hear this important quote being repeated over and over. But unity can never be achieved if the selfish ambitions of those in power usurp the rights and the lives of each individual. To value a piece of land over human lives is senseless, merciless, and cruel. For the sake of a few, thousands die and millions become desolate, homeless, and forced to live in the utmost misery.
The Baha’i teachings speak out strongly against this horrible human tendency to kill others for a mere piece of land, as Abdu’l-Baha did in this speech he gave in Paris before World War I:
The highest of created beings fighting to obtain the lowest form of matter, earth! Land belongs not to one people, but to all people. This earth is not man’s home, but his tomb. It is for their tombs these men are fighting. There is nothing so horrible in this world as the tomb, the abode of the decaying bodies of men.
I heard a woman being interviewed on the news yesterday regarding the unlawful occupation of Ukraine. Her response was telling: “The only thing we have learned from history is that we haven’t learned from history!”
As true as her statement may be, I still have hope that with time we are evolving as a people and as a planet. Clearly, a large and growing number of awakened people sincerely want a lasting global peace. The worldwide voices raised in support of the Ukrainian people prove it. Those voices recognize that we are all one human family, and that if an offense happens to one member of that family, we are all affected.
The Baha’i teachings say that this peaceful progress must be supported and initiated by our governments – but must also start in our hearts:
If you desire with all your heart, friendship with every race on earth, your thought, spiritual and positive, will spread; it will become the desire of others, growing stronger and stronger, until it reaches the minds of all men.
To stop this war, we can all help with the relief efforts, contact our elected representatives, and pray for peace. Collective prayer has a powerful influence. As the Bible states in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” When we feel powerless to help our victimized brethren abroad, our prayers create a link to access divine assistance. We must hold the people of Ukraine in our hearts and minds and remember that we are all connected.
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After watching the news last night, it felt impossible to sleep. All I could do was see video images of people trapped in bomb shelters with young mothers holding their tiny babies – then long lines of fleeing people at Poland’s border, and warehouses packed with a traumatized population. So I decided to make a donation to help ameliorate the pain of at least a few precious lives, and then, with this beautiful Baha’i prayer for peace from Abdu’l-Baha, I prayed:
O Thou kind Lord! Thou hast created all humanity from the same stock. Thou hast decreed that all shall belong to the same household. In Thy Holy Presence they are all Thy servants, and all mankind are sheltered beneath Thy Tabernacle; all have gathered together at Thy Table of Bounty; all are illumined through the light of Thy Providence.
O God! Thou art kind to all, Thou hast provided for all, dost shelter all, conferrest life upon all. Thou hast endowed each and all with talents and faculties, and all are submerged in the Ocean of Thy Mercy.
O Thou kind Lord! Unite all. Let the religions agree and make the nations one, so that they may see each other as one family and the whole earth as one home. May they all live together in perfect harmony.
O God! Raise aloft the banner of the oneness of mankind.
O God! Establish the Most Great Peace.
Cement Thou, O God, the hearts together.
O Thou kind Father, God! Gladden our hearts through the fragrance of Thy love. Brighten our eyes through the Light of Thy Guidance. Delight our ears with the melody of Thy Word, and shelter us all in the Stronghold of Thy Providence.
Thou art the Mighty and Powerful, Thou art the Forgiving and Thou art the One Who overlooketh the shortcomings of all mankind.
This morning I will educate myself further on this very sad humanitarian crisis to find out if there are further ways to help, and I will pray some more. Will you join me?
How can I help?
The International Committee of the Red Cross
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