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Basic Bahá'í Teachings
There is only one God--no matter what name is used;
We are one human family--no matter what size, shape, color, language or nationality;
Who live in one common homeland--the planet itself.
These are very basic teachings of the Bahá’í Faith.
I grew up in a family that had no religious affiliations, but was nevertheless very clear about ethics, honesty and morality. They were less about the Ten Commandments than the Sermon on the Mount, perhaps, but as children living on a rural farmlet we had little interaction with the world at large. We didn’t know there was a difference.
We went to a small private school just down the road from our farm, mainly because the nearby city had no bus service out our way, and didn’t yet have kindergartens, either. Going to the Christian Day School allowed my brother and I to start school together, freeing my nurse mother to work the day shift after years of night duty.
Looking back (hindsight being my best vision) I can see that those four years in an environment where Christian values were taught and the behavior enforced, actually left us ill prepared for public school, let alone urban neighborhood children, when our family moved into town in the mid-1950s!
I soon discovered that a) there were different kinds of Christians, and b) God did not smite them down instantly when they behaved in unChristian ways. Teachers did not enforce the rules I had been taught were Divine and immutable, nor did parents. So, naturally, I blamed God and churches for this betrayal.
The Bahá’í Faith attracted me because it not only did not condemn anyone who worshipped differently, but made a point of accepting other religious thought, and those thinking it, as well. Because Bahá'í theology states that all religions came originally from the same God, there was no need to be taking sides and fighting.
The core of unity--God, people, planet--flows through all the Bahá’í Teachings like thread in a string of pearls. "Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship...So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth." (Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 14) With that perspective, there is no justifiable cause for war, hatred, prejudice, segregation or fear.
I especially like the one human family idea, espoused more than 150 years ago by Bahá’u’lláh, Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, because my baccalaureate thesis was in genetics. I wanted to do human genetic research, but digital computers were not available to undergraduate researchers in those days. I had to settle for fruit flies, but my heart was in exploring the amazing closeness of all members of the species Homo sapiens.
See, I had learned that all life on this planet uses the same four building blocks of genetic code. There is less than 10% difference in the genes of a pine tree or a whale or a human being. So how much closer are all the peoples of the Earth! In fact, we are no more than 50th cousins, and most of us now living are a mere six degrees of separation from one another. Go back four, five, six generations and shake hands with common relatives!
And, I have always felt that the planet was one before people started drawing lines and fighting over pieces of it. There truly is room for everyone. We don’t, scientifically, have a population problem: we have a badly behaved population! There are adequate resources for many more humans than now live here--IF we learn to moderate our desires, take only what we need, consider others, share our toys, and act with courtesy. All stuff I was taught in kindergarten/first grade.
The Bahá’ís are committed to building just such a world, each starting with his or her own self.
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