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After 17 hours of uncertainty and distress the heart of my country broke. Every Australian was touched by the hostage crisis that took place in Sydney’s Martin Place where two of the hostages were killed. Less than 24 hours later, 141 people lost their lives, including 132 children in an attack on a school in Pakistan. Amidst the horror of innocent lives being lost, our world community came together in peace and love. As you read this, thousands of souls are gathering to offer up prayers of consolation and healing for those affected by these events as well as the ongoing conflicts all over the world.
Out of so much grief came a brilliant beacon of hope for the worldwide community, for people of every race and religion that we will unite with peace in the face of every attempt to bring us down. #I’llridewithyou started as a single act of kindness towards one individual who would have denied their beliefs and identity for fear of backlash towards the Muslim community following the event in Sydney. One woman offered to accompany another and stand up for her so she could wear her religious attire without fear. From one to another became something that is, in it’s purest form, an act of love in the spirit of unity. A simple hashtag on social media became that beacon of hope and inspired the many to become one.
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.‘Abdu’l-Baha 1
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 is why Unity is such a fundamental construct of the Baha’i Faith. It galvanises people into action to stand up for those who need to be protected amidst a crisis, but it also magnifies a thousand times the love of God and peace inherent in the spirit of humanity.
It is inevitable that there will be people who will try to discourage those working towards unity and therefore peace. There will always be a small minority working for their own agendas at the expense of the wellbeing of others, where the mirrors of their hearts are “obscured by the dust and dross of this world”. 2
As a world community we have seen much fear and destruction in the last decade or so at the hands of a few misguided souls. It is important that we do not respond in kind with more fear and judgement because these misguided few are in desperate need of education. We have been given the duty to educate these souls because, As Abdu’l Baha tells us, no other divine bounty can be revealed in the heart until love has taken possession of it. Meaning, we have no hope of progressing without love. He advises us that “we must not consider any soul to be barren or deprived”, to not “make distinctions between individual members of the human family”. 3 The human race isn’t perfect, but it is making progress and this is evident in the actions of an entire country, backed by the rest of the world, coming together to support the people who are affected by tragedy. I think a few more mirrors in the hearts of our friends have been polished a little more and are now much better at reflecting the light and love of God.
While our worldwide community is still progressing, we can do no more but demonstrate that superior power of the love of God in our everyday lives, for it alone can overcome human prejudices and it is “a power which nothing in the world of mankind can withstand and which will overshadow the effect of all other forces at work in human conditions”. 4 One way to demonstrate our love for God is by expressing this love to our fellow human beings. Our love for each other that exists purely for the sake of God is what will unite us and console us in our grief. It will strengthen us and protect us when we are experiencing pain, suffering and injustice. We are one tree, one ocean, one heaven and one family:
The fourth is the love of man for man. The love which exists between the hearts of believers is prompted by the ideal of the unity of spirits. This love is attained through the knowledge of God, so that men see the Divine Love reflected in the heart. Each sees in the other the Beauty of God reflected in the soul, and finding this point of similarity, they are attracted to one another in love. This love will make all men the waves of one sea, this love will make them all the stars of one heaven and the fruits of one tree. This love will bring the realization of true accord, the foundation of real unity.‘Abdu’l -Baha 5
Now is the time to stand with our Muslim friends, our Christian friends, our Buddhist friends, all of our friends, as the fruits of one tree with love to proudly demonstrate our determination to achieve the unity of the entire human race.
I’ll ride with you.
- Prayer by Abdu’l-Baha found in Baha’u’llah and the New Era by J. E. Esslemont, US Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1980 edition, p. 286
We are all individuals under the same Sun, our hearts reflecting its light. ‘Abdu’l Baha states, in The Promulgation of World Peace, that:
Our duty lies in seeking to polish the mirrors of our hearts in order that we shall become reflectors of that light and recipients of the divine bounties which may be fully revealed through them. This means the oneness of humanity. That is to say, when this human body politic reaches a state of absolute unity, the effulgence of the eternal Sun will makes its fullest light and heat manifest. ((Baha’u’llah’s Teachings on Spiritual Reality. Compiled by Paul Lample, Palabra Publications, Florida, 1996. p.46
- Ibid p.44
- Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks. Talk given by Abdu’l-Baha at 97 Cadogan Gardens, London, Saturday, January 4th, 1913
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