Part of the group of friends who came from Philadelphia to take part on the Teaching Activities in Lancaster and Harrisburg area.
THE SAME DUST.
By Dee Dombach, Special to The Sentinel, June 19, 2009
The guard probably smiled and greeted the old man, holding the door for him to enter the Holocaust Museum last week. Instead of an acknowledgement of thanks, the old man opened fire and shot the guard dead.
Reports characterize him as a white supremacist who hated Jews and blacks. The hatred in his heart finally overflowed and poured through the barrel of his gun, causing murder, chaos, terror, grief.
The Holocaust Memorial Museum — a space sacred to the memory of millions of lives destroyed by prejudice and hatred. Visitors from around the country and the world — bearing witness to the horror. An African-American guard — doing his job. A sense of safety, security — and lives shattered.
Hate groups are proliferating at an alarming rate across the country and in our own state. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Pennsylvania ranks eighth in the nation for number of hate groups with 37; nationally, the number of hate groups has risen by 50 percent since 2000.
The SPLC Web site lists contributing factors such as fears about non-white immigrants, the election of President Obama and the economic crisis, which some blame on minorities and immigrants.
Racism, as with all the other ills oppressing our society and our world, can only be solved through spiritual means. The Bahai faith expressly forbids prejudice of any kind — whether of religion, gender, socio-economic status, culture or race. The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of the United States has stated that racism is the most challenging issue confronting our nation: “To ignore the problem is to expose the country to physical, moral and spiritual danger.”
The Faith’s core principal is the oneness of humanity, which is the goal and destiny of human existence on the planet. Indeed, the survival of the human race depends on it.
How can the elimination of prejudice be achieved? Through the illumination of one heart at a time.
The NSA states, “We appeal to the individual American because the transformation of a whole nation ultimately depends on the initiative and change of character of the individuals who compose it.”
We must each examine our own hearts to root out lingering prejudices. We must each work to promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among the diverse peoples of world, starting in our own neighborhoods and towns.
Abdul-Baha said, “The divine religions must be the cause of oneness among men, and the means of unity and love; they must promulgate universal peace, free man from every prejudice, bestow joy and gladness, exercise kindness to all men and do away with every difference and distinction.”
Baha’u’llah said, “Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other.”
Dee Dombach and her husband, Scott, are members of the Carlisle Bahai Community. They welcome comments at email@example.com. Visit them on the Web at http://www.carlislebahai.wikispaces.com/.