Baha'is send message of peace to America
Area members of faith joyful at statement of peace
By KAREN ANNE WEBB
"America has a great spiritual destiny," proclaim banner ads on Web sites all over the Internet.
"America, evolving through tests and trials, will become a land of spiritual distinction and leadership, champions of justice and unity among all peoples and nations, and a powerful servant of the cause of everlasting peace."
It seems a hopeful assertion to make in light of Sept. 11 and its aftermath.
Yet these sentiments and others like it were expressed by the national governing body of the Baha"is of the United States as a response to the events of that day. A few months ago, the entire statement ran as a full-page display ad in the national edition of the New York Times.
Since then, Baha"is all over the country -- including the Top of Utah -- have been working to get the statement disseminated to the public.
Speaking for the Baha"i Faith"s Office of Public Information in Washington, D.C., Gregory Mayjes said, "The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha"is of the United States no doubt wished to inspire the country at a decisive point in its history, but there was method in their decision not to issue a statement immediately after the events of September 11," he said.
"They wanted to look more deeply at the role of America in world affairs and to formulate a public statement that took into account the many implications of what we feel is our country"s destiny," he said.
For as long as the faith has existed in the United States, the Baha"is have had a unique perspective on the destiny of America in the unfolding of world peace.
Included in their sacred texts is even a prayer that reads in part, "O God! Let this American democracy become glorious in spiritual degrees even as it has aspired to material degrees, and render this just government victorious."
Other aspects that the statement says America must address if it is to realize its great spiritual destiny include recognition of the oneness of mankind, the emancipation of women, the elimination of all forms of racism, and the state of civil unrest propagated when the gulf between the wealthiest and poorest in society exists almost without moral or material bound.
Locally, the Baha"is have greeted the viewpoint in the statement with enthusiasm.
"Everywhere you look," said Rachelle Grant, a photographer and homemaker from Layton, "you see more and more groups telling us we should unite and get over our differences. Just recently, I noticed an ad in the "Oprah" Magazine, of all places, for a group called "Artists Against Racism." Dan Aykroyd is quoted saying, "There"s only one race, the human race." "
Grant said the unity of mankind is necessary for the very advancement of humankind. "A world where everyone looks at a new person and sees there a potential friend rather than someone to be avoided because his skin color or language are different is the world I want my kids to grow up living in."
Ogden Baha"i Kingsley Thurber said, "I can"t say I"ve been unilaterally positive about the Olympics, but the one great thing they do is show people from all over the world from all races and ideologies uniting in common cause.
"If we can unite to pull off an event of this magnitude that unites virtually the entire world, there must be other things we can work on on that same worldwide basis," he said. "It"s pointing the way to a world commonwealth that will work on all levels, not just on the level of the one big thing, the Games, that we have in common."
The Baha'i Community of Centerville kicked off local attempts to share the message contained in the letter in Davis, Weber and Cache counties Tuesday night when the group presented it to the City Council there.
The message's text may be found at www.us.bahai.org.
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