The Elimination of Racial Discrimination

March 21 is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966. The Day coincides with the anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960, an event that began as a non-violent demonstration against the increased enforcement of apartheid pass laws but ended with the killing of sixty-nine people and the wounding of many more, at the hands of tense South African police. It is a day to reflect on racism as a violation of basic human rights, and to work toward the fundamental change required to put a stop to the pernicious practice of discrimination.

There are examples aplenty of the hurts, conflicts, tragedies, and atrocities that prejudice spawns. At the time of The First World War, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá–son of the founder of the Bahá’í Faith, Bahá’u’lláh–explained that “…as to religious, racial, national and political bias: all these prejudices strike at the very root of human life; one and all they beget bloodshed, and the ruination of the world. So long as these prejudices survive, there will be continuous and fearsome wars.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá identified “the root cause of prejudice” as “blind imitation of the past–imitation in religion, in racial attitudes, in national bias, in politics.” He laid out the consequences of that continued behaviour as follows: “So long as this aping of the past persisteth, just so long will the foundations of the social order be blown to the four winds, just so long will humanity be continually exposed to direst peril.”

From a Bahá’í point of view, Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings provide the remedy, empowering mankind to break the cycle of blind imitation of the past, recognize its oneness, and carry forward an ever-advancing civilization.

To learn more, read the topic “Abandoning Prejudice” and the Bahá’í International Community statement “International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.” The article “The Struggle Toward Global Consciousness” by Canadian Ann Boyle puts processes of globalization into perspective with references from the Bahá’í Faith: the processes evident at the time of writing (1995) are not much different from present-day as the struggle continues, but the references are just as valid as when they were published. The last reference is a case in point–a description of the worldwide Bahá’í community that serves as an example of what the world at large can become:

“The Faith of Bahá’u’lláh has assimilated, by virtue of its creative, its regulative and ennobling energies, the varied races, nationalities, creeds and classes that have sought its shadow, and have pledged unswerving fealty to its cause. It has changed the hearts of its adherents, burned away their prejudices, stilled their passions, exalted their conceptions, ennobled their motives, coordinated their efforts, and transformed their outlook. While preserving their patriotism and safeguarding their lesser loyalties, it has made them lovers of mankind, and the determined upholders of its best and truest interests.”

For collaborative study of the elimination of racial discrimination and other subjects, please call the Bahá’ís of Comox (250.702.3041).