Ye Gay Old Valley
By: Dani Langevin, Lesbian Columnist
“The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.” This message struck me as simple and true, but one that is lost to present day greed and sectionalism. I am taking a course on the religions of the world and was introduced to the religion Baha’i. It began in Iran over a century and a half ago. From my research, I’ve discovered that, today, Baha’i has over five million followers in every corner of the world and is growing exponentially probably due to its non-discriminatory and all encompassing message of unity.
What attracted me immediately to this religion is that it does not categorize people. There is no we or them; there is simply us. It demands economic justice and equal rights for everyone and calls for the breaking down of traditional barriers of race, class and creed. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Is it at all possible?
The Baha’i religion sees humanity as an evolving entity that is becoming more mature and responsible. Every religion and its founder throughout history have been essential parts of this evolution. We cannot and should not apply the same rules and expectations to the human race of today as we did to the human race of the past just as we don’t apply the same rules and expectations to children as we do adults. “Baha’is believe that we now stand on the threshold of becoming an adult in our behavior, and thus capable of forming one world rather than diverse nations, race and religions.”
This is very powerful. I have been an advocate for celebrating diversity and embracing those things that differentiate people from on another hoping to move towards a more just and accepting society. However, with the introduction to the Baha’i message, perhaps I/we have been looking at things through the wrong lens. Perhaps, instead of focusing on what makes us different, we should focus on what makes us the same. And it is as simple as the fact that we are all human-period.
Baha’i believes in one God. This one God created a special and uniquely good race of people. According to the Baha’i, humanity is on the brink of blurring the lines between races, nations and religions. And why shouldn’t we? Why do we have to distinguish ourselves as black or white, Muslim or Christian, American or Iranian, gay or straight? We all walk the same earth, breathe the same air, warm ourselves under the same sun and sleep under the same stars. And yet, we have to categorize ourselves based on belief, proximity, bank accounts and whatever else we can departmentalize.
Here, in the great United States, we pride ourselves on being a democratic, representative society. This is the very foundation of how the Baha’i function. “The structure of Baha’i assemblies worldwide is democratic and participatory. They take great pride in the consultative style of their operations and in the equality given to all, regardless of class, race, gender or age, a tradition that goes back to the earliest days of the Babi movement.” It sounds to me to be a very ‘American’ mind set, but one that our entire population has yet to truly embrace and commit.
I’m going to look further into this Babi movement. As a member of the human race and as an American citizen, I believe it is my duty to do everything I can to make a more unified and selfless world. This is my first step. I hope you’ll join me.