Celebrating our oneness and diversity

Contact tshwane@bahai.org. za, call 083 794 0819, or visit www. bahai.org, www.bahai.org.za



African News Agency



MARCH 21, celebrated in our country as the Human Rights Day, is an opportune time to reflect on the fact that implementing human rights for all will not be achievable without valuing our diversity, and embracing the principle of the oneness of humanity. Celebrating our oneness, according to the Baháí Writings, requires valuing our diversity and eliminating prejudices of race, religion, class, colour, creed, nation or gender – any kind of prejudice that enables us to consider ourselves superior to others. Recognising our oneness is the most effective way to emancipate us from the oppressive forces that have made human `rights a universal longing. March 21 is celebrated globally as the Baháí New Year. The realisation of the oneness of humanity, and achievement of unity in diversity, are the goals and the basic principles of the Baháí Faith. It is then befitting that the Baháí New Year coincides with the Human Rights Day here in South Africa. According to the Bahá’í Writings, humanity is one principal, and that the diversity of ethnic backgrounds adds to the beauty and perfection of the whole, and that the day has come for the unification of humanity into one global society. With unity – a unity that embraces and honours the full diversity of humankind – the problems which face the humanity today can be solved. Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í Faith, states: “The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established”. “So powerful is the light of unity”, is his further testimony, “that it can illuminate the whole Earth”. The Baháí New Year, known as Naw-ruz, also coincides with the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere, the vernal equinox. Naw-ruz is celebrated as an annual feast of renewal, as the spiritual and physical springtime. The Bahá’í Faith has a new calendar based on the solar year. The year is divided into 19 months of 19 days each. Four intercalary days are added (and in the leap years a fifth day) to make up the year. The months are named after some of the attributes of God such as might, glory and grandeur. The Bahá’í calendar dates its years from 1844, which marks the beginning of the Bahá’í Era. This year is 180BE (Bahá’í Era). Through inspiration from the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, Tshwane Baháís and those in other parts of the world work to improve their own lives and contribute to the betterment of their communities. They welcome everyone to join them in a united effort to build a civilisation founded on the oneness of humanity and on observing human rights for every member of the human family. Recognition of the principle of the oneness of human family gives rise to an elevated concept of human rights, one that includes the assurance of dignity for each person and the realisation of each individual’s potential. It has the power to inspire the transformation of individual and collective values, attitudes and behaviour. The Baháí International Community, in a statement titled, “The Prosperity of Humankind”, asserts: “The bedrock of a strategy that can engage the world’s population in assuming responsibility for its collective destiny must be the consciousness of the oneness of humankind.”