The last twenty years has seen the world ever more closely linked by trading and financial networks which now seem on the brink of disruption because of years of unfettered greed and mismanagement. In all likelihood as these networks are disrupted there will be a return of nationalism and parochialism as anxious populations seek to find some stability in the economic and social chaos which results.
However the fact remains that we are all one human family and the answer to our problems are to be found in unity and not in division- the unity that comes from knowing that we are all brothers and sisters on one planet- not just buyers and sellers in a global market place. In the words of Bahá’u’lláh
“The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens”
The artist Bernard Leach concludes his autobiography ‘Beyond East and West’ with an expression of yearning for world unity-
I have seen a vision of the Marriage of East and West, and far off down the Halls of Time I heard the echo of a childlike voice. How long? How long?
Leach’s art was a conscious attempt to unify the traditions of East and West. In the years since his passing the world has seen the ‘Marriage Of East and West’ having an increasingly literal reality with a growing number of loving inter-cultural relationships. The occident and orient are reuniting like estranged lovers. In the words of Bahá’u'lláh-
…Whither can a lover go but to the land of his beloved? and what seeker findeth rest away from his heart’s desire? To the true lover reunion is life, and separation is death. His breast is void of patience and his heart hath no peace. A myriad lives he would forsake to hasten to the abode of his beloved.
It occurs to me that we live in a world where the oneness of the human race is commonplace as an ideal but is rarely put into practice. It has even become a cliché of global advertising from the ‘United Colours of Benetton’ onwards. I am strongly reminded of the words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá who said as early as 1911 that-
“What profit is there in agreeing that universal friendship is good, and talking of the solidarity of the human race as a grand ideal? Unless these thoughts are translated into the world of action, they are useless. The wrong in the world continues to exist just because people talk only of their ideals, and do not strive to put them into practice. If actions took the place of words, the world’s misery would very soon be changed into comfort”. Paris Talks, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, UK Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1972 eleventh edition reprint