2020 Opening Plenary –

Devotions-

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. Such is My counsel to you, O concourse of light! Heed ye this counsel that ye may obtain the fruit of holiness from the tree of wondrous glory.

Bahá’u’lláh

______________________

Oh, Divine Providence! This assemblage is composed of Thy friends who are attracted to Thy beauty and are set ablaze by the fire of Thy love. Turn these souls into heavenly angels, resuscitate them through the breath of Thy Holy Spirit, grant them eloquent tongues and resolute hearts, bestow upon them heavenly power and merciful susceptibilities, cause them to become the promulgators of the oneness of mankind and the cause of love and concord in the world of humanity, so that the perilous darkness of ignorant prejudice may vanish through the light of the Sun of Truth, this dreary world may become illumined, this material realm may absorb the rays of the world of spirit, these different colors may merge into one color and the melody of praise may rise to the kingdom of Thy sanctity. Verily, Thou art the Omnipotent and the Almighty!

‘Abdu’l-Bahá

___________________

“Thou art He, O my Lord, Whose bounty hath surpassed all things, and Whose power hath transcended all things, and Whose mercy hath encompassed all things. Look, then, upon Thy people with the eyes of Thy tender mercies, and leave them not to themselves and to their corrupt desires in Thy days. How farsoever they may have strayed from Thee, and however grievously they have turned back from Thy face, yet Thou, in Thine essence, art the All-Bountiful, and, in Thine inmost spirit, art the Most Merciful. Deal with them according to the unrevealed tokens of Thy bounty and Thy gifts. Thou art, verily, the One to the power of Whose might all things have testified, and to Whose majesty and omnipotence the whole creation hath borne witness.”

Bahá’u’lláh

_____________________________


Introduction-

Walking Together on a Path toward Race Unity and Oneness -Part 2

 

*Audio of below text-



To the Participants-  

Dear Friends:

The long and thorny road to eliminating racial prejudice from our societal reality requires an ever-expanding number of individuals, communities and institutions who are committed not only to abolishing entrenched patterns and behaviors that tend to privilege one’s self or group over others, but also to working together shoulder to shoulder, as we build the necessary spiritual and social capacities to bring humanity ever-closer in unity and oneness. To this noble goal, the Bahá’í community remains ever-committed, focusing its energies across a worldwide grassroots community building initiative centered on the study of the creative Word found in the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh and carried out through a systematic institute process that stimulates learning through individual and collective reflection, consultation and action.

In the turbulence and commotion in which society finds itself today one can see the fits and starts of humanity struggling to come of age. As Bahá’ís we hold the conviction that humanity is “approaching today the crowning stage in a millennia-long process which has brought it from its collective infancy to the threshold of maturity– a stage that will witness the unification of the human race.”  Outdated modes of thought, attitudes, habits, laws, practices and conventions that have oppressed and continue to oppress segments of our society are fast becoming obsolete.

“Bahá’ís are encouraged to see in the revolutionary changes taking place in every sphere of life the interaction of two fundamental processes. One is destructive in nature, while the other is integrative; both serve to carry humanity, each in its own way, along the path leading towards its full maturity. The operation of the former is everywhere apparent—in the vicissitudes that have afflicted time-honoured institutions, in the impotence of leaders at all levels to mend the fractures appearing in the structure of society, in the dismantling of social norms that have long held in check unseemly passions, and in the despondency and indifference exhibited not only by individuals but also by entire societies that have lost any vital sense of purpose. Though devastating in their effects, the forces of disintegration tend to sweep away barriers that block humanity’s progress, opening space for the process of integration to draw diverse groups together and disclosing new opportunities for cooperation and collaboration. Bahá’ís, of course, strive to align themselves, individually and collectively, with forces associated with the process of integration, which, they are confident, will continue to gain in strength, no matter how bleak the immediate horizons. Human affairs will be utterly reorganized, and an era of universal peace inaugurated. Such is the view of history that underlies every endeavour pursued by the Bahá’í community.” Universal House of Justice 2 March 2013 

In The Advent of Divine Justice, Shoghi Effendi states:

“Freedom from racial prejudice, in any of its forms, should, at such a time as this when an increasingly large section of the human race is falling a victim to its devastating ferocity, be adopted as the watchword of the entire body of the American believers, in whichever state they reside, in whatever circles they move, whatever their age, traditions, tastes, and habits, it should be consistently demonstrated in every phase of their activity in life, whether in the Baha’i community individually, or as in their official capacity as organized groups, committees, and assemblies. It should be deliberately cultivated through the various and everyday opportunities, no matter how insignificant, that present themselves, whether in their homes, their business offices, their schools and colleges, their social parties and recreation grounds, their Bahá’í meetings, conferences, conventions, summer schools and Assemblies.”

“Walking Together on the Path Towards Race Unity and Oneness – Part II,” portrays how, in the most unassuming settings, heroic efforts are being made to heal racial prejudice, illustrating the manner in which families and community members can engage in neighborhood devotionals, study circles, children’s classes and junior youth groups to develop new capacities, attitudes and habits to replace outworn modes of thinking, particularly those founded on the falsehood that one group or population is superior to another.

As the program unfolds, we will take a closer look at how families and friends from a neighborhood

“are striving to establish a pattern of activity and the corresponding administrative structures that embody the principle of the oneness of humankind and the convictions underpinning it, only a few of which are mentioned here as a means of illustration: that the rational soul has no gender, race, ethnicity or class, a fact that renders intolerable all forms of prejudice, not the least of which are those that prevent women from fulfilling their potential and engaging in various fields of endeavour shoulder to shoulder with men; that the root cause of prejudice is ignorance, which can be erased through educational processes that make knowledge accessible to the entire human race, ensuring it does not become the property of a privileged few. . .”
(Universal House of Justice 2 March 2013)

On a practical level, this program allows for collective learning in settings where those aged eight to one hundred and eight share their opinions and accompany one another in a group setting. There are also sessions in the program where adults and youth, older children and junior youth will have their own breakout sessions. Those seven and younger will be accompanied in age-appropriate break-out classes. As with every summer or winter school, whether inviting friends to come together at the regional or neighborhood level, individuals and families come in a spirit of joyful excitement to learn alongside other families and communities. To assist us in upholding the spirit of joy, our hearts should be filled with tender emotions for one another. What we think about our friends affects them, even if our thoughts are not expressed explicitly in words or deeds. Constant effort is needed to cleanse the mind from the slightest hint of paternalism or a desire to dominate, to remove all forms of estrangement or suspicion. Let every word we choose to share be expressed with milk and honey, avoiding contention in expressing one’s opinion, being always striving to be in a humble posture of learning. We are trained by the Exemplar of every Bahá’í ideal and virtue, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, to walk in the ways of love and cooperation, and the standard He sets for us is high indeed. 

 

IMG_0700

Audio recording documentation of the Opening Plenary that occurred on 8/21 via Zoom (52 mins)