"Ahead of you lie times of trial and promise, of hardship and progress, of anguish and joy. Under all conditions, the Master is your solace and support. For those who aspire to lasting change, His example guides the way—tactful and wise in His approach, penetrating in utterance, indiscriminating in fellowship, unfailing in sympathy for the downtrodden, courageous in conduct, persevering in action, imperturbable in the face of tests, unwavering in his keen sense of justice. And to all who arise to emulate Him, He offers this unfailing assurance: “That which is confirmed is the oneness of the world of humanity. Every soul who serveth this oneness will undoubtedly be assisted and confirmed.”
-The Universal House of Justice
In its Feast letter of Mashíyyat, September 25, 2020, the National Spiritual Assembly conveys the importance and timeliness of the focus on race unity, and the work that must go into eradicating this “patent evil”.
“In particular, the friends in clusters across the country are thinking deeply about how to respond to longstanding racial injustice employing the Plan’s concepts and methods― as we were challenged to do in the Universal House of Justice’s July 22 message to the American Bahá’í community. Some of these efforts are currently featured on our Race Unity Action website (at www.bahai.us/race-unity-action), which in the past month has received well over 3,000 unique visits.”
In our own region, there are many efforts to address the issue:
From Sarasota, Florida
In Sarasota FL, the friends have been delving in depth into the recent guidance received from the Universal House of Justice, our National Spiritual Assembly, and subsequently additional guidance on the issue of race. Individual believer Dennis Davis shares the following: “We have utilized webinars, zoom, FaceTime, Skype, as platforms for intense study of the Messages as well as other Baha’i related writings. We are finding that participants are excited and hopeful because of how our Baha’i Institutions are clearly and candidly addressing this topic. We are learning that this “moment of historic portent” is an opportunity to connect our neighbors, families, friends and coworkers to Bahá’u’lláh’s healing message of unity.
“The 22 July 2020 message from the UHJ and the 19 June 2020 message prepared by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States are two vital documents who's import has not yet been fully realized by the Baha’i Community.
“The assessment of the historic time, the clarity, focus and hope that is provided in these two documents is not of this world.
“It has been my experience that people are hungry for these messages, whether they be Baha’i or not. Devotional gatherings and elevated conversations, centered on America’s most vital and challenging issue, create the perfect opportunity to share these Messages from the UHJ and the NSA . Because of the current conditions, most sincerely desire to engage in healthy dialogue as well as seek lasting solutions to this challenge.
“These two documents are crystal clear in providing the solution to what currently ails our Country. We have experienced frank, honest and loving consultation as we explore the disease of “racism” by using the UHJ and the NSA’s words as a framework for action. What has been challenging is to steer participants back to the Messages when they begin to engage in dialogue that is based on outdated models of discussing this most challenging topic. The Guidance keeps us focused on what is necessary for true transformation to occur within ourselves and our communities.
“Study of these Messages have led us to deeper study of “The Advent of Divine Justice”, “The Pupil Of The Eye”, “The Vision Of Race Unity”, as well as many passages and quotes from the Baha’i Writings focused on “race.”
- Dennis Davis, Sarasota, Florida
From Horry-Georgetown Cluster, South Carolina
In response to renewed urging from our divine institutions to actively work for the elimination of racial prejudice, nine white Baha’is in the Horry-Georgetown cluster of South Carolina have been supporting each other in study of the Guardian’s directives in the Advent of Divine Justice and grappling with their specific responsibilities as white Baha’is. In deep conversations, facilitated by their Auxiliary Board member, the individuals in the group have identified practical, concrete examples from their own lives of what a “usually inherent and at times subconscious sense of superiority” looks like, both subtly and overtly, as well as within the wider society and within the Baha’i community. Other themes of reflection have been recognizing what a “patronizing attitude”, however subtle, can look like, sound like, or feel like; and the directive from the Universal House of Justice in its July 22 letter to “meditate deeply on [the oneness of humanity] and weigh its demanding implications for the profound alteration of thought and action required at this time.” Meeting weekly initially, and now monthly, the individuals have focused on recognizing these things within themselves and [are] striving to follow the Guardian’s directive “… to weed out, by every means in their power, those faults, habits, and tendencies which they have inherited from their own nation…” In doing so, they pray to become more pure channels for the love of Baha’u’llah and His life-altering teachings.
"These heartbreaking violations against fellow human beings, due only to the color of their skin, have deepened the dismay caused by a pandemic whose consequences to the health and livelihoods of people of color have been disproportionately severe. This has come to pass against a backdrop of longstanding racial injustice in virtually every aspect of American life. It is clear that racial prejudice is the most vital and challenging issue we face as a country."
-National Spiritual Assembly, June 19, 2020