The next section of the document focuses on expanding the basis of human identity:

Individual and collective identity—our sense of who we are and how we fit into the world—is an important aspect of our socialization as human beings. It is closely tied to our sense of purpose and how we perceive our relationships with others. In the process of building civilizations, a significant factor has been the demonstrated capacity of human beings to compose identities which go beyond real or imagined difference Yet those who have sought advantage at the expense of others have often invoked real or imagined differences as a means of dividing people—in order to advance their own interests and ambitions. Over time, these distinctions born of self-interest have solidified into stereotyped constructs related to race, gender, nationality and ethnicity. These stereotyped constructs have often been used to define human beings and to divide them into groups. Narrowly identifying with particular physical or social characteristics and placing them at the center of our understanding of self and other has had ruinous consequences, whether that identity has been used as a basis for seeking preference over others or has congealed in response to the experience of prejudice and oppression. The deeply fragmented social reality that we find around us today is, in part, a consequence of these narrow identity constructs and attachments. 

Beyond these fragmented ways that individuals and groups have come to define themselves, men and women of insight, often inspired by the sacred scriptures of the world, have throughout history sought to broaden human consciousness by drawing attention to that which is most essential about human nature: the inner reality with which every human being is born, the reflection of the Divine in each of us, that which we all share in common, that which is whole within us, as opposed to the fragmented labels with which society tags us in the course of our life. This primary, over-arching human identity, rooted in the reality of the human soul which has no sex, race, nationality or other physical or social distinction, can be understood and developed in a manner that simultaneously values the many secondary aspects of human diversity. Through the unshakeable sense of security that comes from being consciously aware of one’s underlying spiritual nature, shared by all humanity, it becomes possible for an individual to derive joy from, and to value, all the other aspects of one’s identity. This can be done in a spirit of openness—a willingness to share with and to learn from others. This broadened sense of our common humanity is expressed in the following passage from the Bahá’í Writings: “Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created. Since We have created you all from one same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul…..”[i]  

Click here for Part I. Here for Part II.


[i] Bahá’u’lláh, The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh, Arabic no. 68, (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1985), p. 20

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