Although I know little about the Baha'i faith, I have been intrigued for many years with its message quoted above. It is also printed on a piece of artwork by Maui resident Nadine Ramelb titled "Bamboo Moon."
While I interviewed Ramelb (see "Painting Peace" on page 5), it was easy to notice the gentleness of her spirit through her artistic creativity, her generosity and the importance of the Baha'i faith in her life.
"The faith embodies personally for me an inclusive reality that makes sense and is current for these modern times," Ramelb said.
"As a person of African American and Caucasian roots, living as a Baha'i is a good fit," she said, noting that Baha'is embrace diversity and encourage integration and acceptance of all races and religions.
"Believing that we are all from one Divine source encourages me to regard all humanity with patience and love," she said.
Baha'u'llah, the messenger and founder of the Baha'i faith, brought new spiritual and social teachings to our time. His essential message is one of unity. He taught the oneness of God, the oneness of the human family and the oneness of religion.
"The Earth is but one country and mankind its citizens," he said. "The essence of all the Prophets of God is one and the same. As told in all sacred scriptures of the past, now is the time for humanity to live in unity."
Founded more than a century-and-a-half ago, the Baha'i faith has spread around the globe. Members live in more than 100,000 localities and come from nearly every nation, ethnic group, culture, profession and social or economic background.
Agnes Baldwin Alexander, born in Honolulu in 1875, encountered the Baha'i faith while she was in Rome on a tour. In 1901, she returned to Hawai'i as its first Baha'i. Attracted to the faith because it portrays the joyous reality of unity in diversity, Alexander shared the Baha'i vision to bring about a spiritually united world.
At this critical time, when problems confronting nations have been fused into one common concern for the whole world, Baha'is say world peace is not only possible, but inevitable.
"Humanity is longing for peace and collective well-being," said Ramelb. "Our vision is to create a new and peaceful world based on principles of justice, prosperity and continuing advancement."
This, they say, can only happen in unity, the mainspring of humanity's future. Disunity, increasingly recognized as the ultimate source of danger and suffering, divides peoples around the globe. Thus the imperative of building bonds of reconciliation and understanding takes on greater urgency.
Baha'is draw upon the resources of both reason and faith to address challenging problems. The quote, "So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth," carries an inspiring and hopeful vision of the future, available to everyone.
For more information, visit www.bahaihawaii.org.