Thursday, October 15, 2009
In 1860 the first ever aerial image of a city was photographed from a hot-air balloon over Boston and published a few days later in the Boston Herald. Just over a century later, in 1968, Apollo 8 gave us Earthrise, the photo of Earth from the moon that “began to bend human consciousness.”**
Even before that first aerial image Baha’u’llah was born in Tehran in 1817; and long before we could begin to wrap our minds around the image of a planet with no political boundaries, Baha'u'llah had called the peoples and nations of the world to the next step in our collective life: to establish the unity of the entire human race and from that to raise up a new, world-wide civilization of peace and justice. Not only a call, but with specific guidance on how to get there.
Fast forwad to today and our Blog Action Day topic: Climate Change. Do I care about only the climate around my house or in my neighborhood? How foolish. Such a mind-set not only draws too small a circle, but is out of touch with reality. Climate is global. And solving the climate challenges that now confront us requires a new mind-set, one with a vastly different ethic.
“The impacts of climate change are going to be inequitable, unequal, and severe in many parts of the world,” says Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, Chairman of the Nobel Prize-winning Panel on Climate Change. “We have to think at a much higher level.”
In fact, we need a mind-set that fits the image we now hold of the planet we all call home. In the words of Baha’u’llah: “The world is but one country and mankind its citizens.” Words that embrace a wider set of people to care about, that suggest a larger neighborhood.
But the biggest leap in mind-set from Baha’u’llah seems at first counter-intuitive: “The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.” Unity first, then peace; or unity first, then climate change. Gee, if we wait for world unity before we address climate change, a good many of us may be under water. Then again, think of unity, not as a single historical event, but as a process, and the picture changes, expands.
Consider this view from a document of appeal to world leaders, drafted by the Baha’i International Community at the United Nations: “. . . the quest for climate justice is not a competition for limited resources but part of an unfolding process towards greater degrees of unity among nations as they endeavor to build a sustainable, just and peaceful civilization.”
Unity defined as a process of learning how to work together, even as we strive to solve this grave global challenge. That we can do. Because solving difficult problems is what we do as creative beings. Because working together is what we do, too. The science of evolution has discovered that survival actually favors the most cooperative.
So, to tackle the crisis of climate change we must take it in hand as an opportunity to create a new mind – in us as individuals, in the human race as a whole; and choose to work together in ever “greater degrees of unity.” And we must never forget the relationship of unity to justice. “The purpose of justice is the appearance of unity among men,” Baha’u’llah has written, and states “No radiance can compare with that of justice . . . The organization of the world and the tranquility of mankind depend upon it.”
**Quote in first paragrah from Whole Earth Catalogue
RELATED POST: Blog Action Day Follow-up