Baha’u’llah, the Divine Messenger of the Baha’i Faith, wrote that “The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.”

Many people think we must solve all of our problems and then we will be united. Baha’is understand that first we must work toward unity and then we will be able to most effectively find solutions to our problems.

However, in the quest for unity, issues expose themselves that must be dealt with in order to become united. Barriers to unity exist in all countries. In some, the biggest barrier is gender; in some, religion; in some, even language. In the United States, that most vital and challenging issue is racism.

Justice and equity are necessary for any society to function well. Racism, bigotry and the “us-against-them” attitude are roadblocks facing us that preclude achieving justice and equity for all in our communities and our country.

Racism is a spiritual problem. Of course, this disease permeates every part of our country, requiring attention be given to everything from our individual selves to our schools, our businesses, our entertainment, our government and every institution in existence. Every aspect, however, rests on what we, as individuals, can evaluate, change and commit to, consequently finding ways we can make a difference within our own circles of influence.

Baha’is recognize the common nature and teachings of all religions that call for certain moral uprightness — for example, the Golden Rule, which stated in various forms enjoins us to treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated and to not do anything to others that we ourselves would not wish done to us. Whatever spiritual path is chosen, perhaps each of us can examine how closely what we espouse is in line with how we behave.

If our goal is to stand before our beloved Creator and account for ourselves and the use we have made of our life on earth, can we be sure we are in good standing considering the mercy and justice of God?

As we ask ourselves, “What can I do?” to be part of creating justice, equity and unity, Baha’is know we must each look to ourselves within our respective faiths for guidance. We offer this from the Baha’i writings: “Do not be satisfied until each one with whom ye are concerned is to you as a member of your family. Regard each one either as a father or as a brother or as a sister or as a mother or as a child. If you can attain to this, your difficulties will vanish and you will know what to do.”

And also, “O CHILDREN OF MEN! Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created. Since We have created you all from one same substance, it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest.”

Civic leader Jo Welter is a member of the local Baha’i administrative body.

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