Bahá’ís from Redwood City participated in a gardening effort recently to commemorate the arrival in San Francisco of an important Vistor over a century ago. That visitor was ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, son of the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith.
During His stay in San Francisco, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá often frequented the area of Lloyd Lake in Golden Gate Park. But a few years ago due to budget cutbacks the gardening staff for the area was significantly reduced. When some Bay Area Bahá’ís found out that this important location might not be maintained as well as before they decided to adopt it as a service project.
In 1912 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá journeyed to the US and Canada, traversing the continent over a period that was to last nine months addressing large groups of people. Travel was difficult in those days. Declining an offer to sail on the maiden voyage of the new 882′ long White Star Line ship the Titanic, He chose instead to travel on another White Star Line ship, the Cedric which was not as new and not quite as big (700′ in length). He arrived in New York four days before the Titanic hit the iceberg and at a time when women did not yet have the right to vote in the US. His arrival in New York had made headlines – one New York newspaper headline shouted:
“Banished fifty years, leader of Baha’i here: Persian Philosopher favors women suffrage and will talk peace.”
He addressed many large audiences of hundreds of people, often in Churches, throughout the US and Canada. A frequent theme of His talks was the central Bahá’í teaching of the Oneness of Mankind.
The Oneness of Mankind
Excerpts from one of His talks on this theme are below:
“Today I wish to speak to you upon the subject of the oneness of humanity, for in this great century the most important accomplishment is the unity of mankind. Although in former centuries and times this subject received some measure of mention and consideration, it has now become the paramount issue and question in the religious and political conditions of the world. History shows that throughout the past there has been continual warfare and strife among the various nations, peoples and sects; but now—praise be to God!—in this century of illumination, hearts are inclined toward agreement and fellowship, and minds are thoughtful upon the question of the unification of mankind. There is an emanation of the universal consciousness today which clearly indicates the dawn of a great unity. …religion is intended to be the cause of unity, love and fellowship and not discord, enmity and estrangement. Man has forsaken the foundation of divine religion and adhered to blind imitations. Each nation has clung to its own imitations, and because these are at variance, warfare, bloodshed and destruction of the foundation of humanity have resulted. True religion is based upon love and agreement. Bahá’u’lláh has said, “If religion and faith are the causes of enmity and sedition, it is far better to be nonreligious, and the absence of religion would be preferable; for we desire religion to be the cause of amity and fellowship. If enmity and hatred exist, irreligion is preferable.” Therefore, the removal of this dissension has been specialized in Bahá’u’lláh, for religion is the divine remedy for human antagonism and discord. But when we make the remedy the cause of the disease, it would be better to do without the remedy.
Other sources of human dissension are political, racial and patriotic prejudices. These have been removed by Bahá’u’lláh. He has said, and has guarded His statement by rational proofs from the Holy Books, that the world of humanity is one race, the surface of the earth one place of residence and that these imaginary racial barriers and political boundaries are without right or foundation. Man is degraded in becoming the captive of his own illusions and suppositions. The earth is one earth, and the same atmosphere surrounds it. No difference or preference has been made by God for its human inhabitants; but man has laid the foundation of prejudice, hatred and discord with his fellowman by considering nationalities separate in importance and races different in rights and privileges…”
-Abdu’l-Baha -full text here(click)