How Racism is Bankrupting America
Join us June 4th at 7:30 PM
NY Times bestselling author highlights Baha'i teachings in her new book
New York Times Bestselling author of "High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out" Amanda Ripley in an Aspen Institute interview speak about the ways the Bahá'í Faith breaks out of the binary, political, high conflict environment currently rampant! She outlines a process of consultation and elections the Bahá'ís follow. The Bahá'ís around the world in 233 countries held annual local and national democratic elections from April 16 - May 1. Locally, these elections were held in the communities of Austin, Round Rock, Pflugerville, San Marcos, and Cedar Park!
Current Guidance Regarding Activities and COVID-19
"Bahá’ís must be careful not to be swept up in a spiral of fear and darkness engendered by prevailing conditions but, rather, devote their energies to building up a new world and promoting an environment of serenity and courage."
- The Universal House of Justice, December 3, 2020
In previous guidance, the Assembly noted that the situation regarding COVID-19 "is constantly evolving, and the friends should be aware that the guidance could change at any time." The Assembly also strongly encouraged the friends to abide by the guidelines issued from the city, state, and federal government. The city of Austin has now entered "Stage 4" of the risk based guidelines, The mayor of Austin is instructing everyone to wear a mask and avoid all gatherings larger than 10 people.
It is important to note, however, that we can continue the important work of transforming the spiritual nature of our neighborhoods and community building even under these challenging circumstances. We can use available resources and technology to continue to stay in contact with each other and our community. It can be as simple as a phone call to someone to share a prayer like mentioned in Ruhi Book 1, or have an uplifting conversation like the ones we are encouraged to have in Book 2. We can also send cards or letters to our friends and family with inspirational passages from the Writings.
Of course almost any activity can be conducted with online tools like Zoom, Skype, etc. A list of some of these tools can be found on our website under "Community Building Tools." You can host a devotional in just three easy steps, If you find yourself in need of physical material, like a prayer book, Holy Writings, or an Institute course book, please contact the bookstore manager.
Every Friday the Assembly will be hosting an event, either a study of recent guidance from the Universal House of Justice or a monthly Fireside. So despite the restrictions, we will have a number of activities for everyone to continue to be engaged in the work of the Five Year Plan. Upcoming activities will be updated on our website, www.austinbahai.org.
In its May 9, 2020 letter, the Universal House of Justice assured us that "[a]ll our trust and confidence in your capacity to face this challenge comes from our knowledge that your ultimate supporter and helper is the Abhá Beauty Himself." The Assembly is confident that the friends will come through the current challenge stronger than ever before.
With Loving Baha'i Greetings,
Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Austin
Check out our YouTube Channel!
Explore the book "The Secrets of True Happiness" written by the Masumian family
Tod Ewing, author of "Building Cultural Bridges," "Toward Oneness," and "Seeing Heaven in the Face of Black Men," discusses the Bahá'í approach to healing racism.
A Message from the Bahá’ís of the United States
The Bahá’ís of the United States join our fellow-citizens in heartfelt grief at the deaths
of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others whose lives were
suddenly taken by appalling acts of violence. These heartbreaking violations against
fellow human beings, due only to the color of their skin, have deepened the dismay
caused by a pandemic whose consequences to the health and livelihoods of people of
color have been disproportionately severe. This has come to pass against a backdrop of
longstanding racial injustice in virtually every aspect of American life. It is clear that
racial prejudice is the most vital and challenging issue we face as a country.
Yet, amidst these tragedies, there are also signs of hope. Countless citizens have arisen
to proclaim the truth that we are one nation, and to demand specific actions to address
the pervasive inequities that for too long have shaped our society. We have
remembered who we aspire to be as a people, and are determined to make a change for
the better. This moment beckons us to a renewed commitment to realize the ideal of
E Pluribus Unum—out of many, one—the very ideal upon which America was founded.
To create a just society begins with recognition of the fundamental truth that humanity
is one. But it is not enough simply to believe this in our hearts. It creates the moral
imperative to act, and to view all aspects of our personal, social, and institutional lives
through the lens of justice. It implies a reordering of our society more profound than
anything we have yet achieved. And it requires the participation of Americans of every
race and background, for it is only through such inclusive participation that new moral
and social directions can emerge.
Whatever immediate results might come from the current demonstrations, the
elimination of racism will require a sustained and concerted effort. It is one thing to
protest against particular forms of inAmazonjustice. It is a far more profound challenge to
create a new framework for justice. Our efforts can only succeed when we learn to build
relationships with each other based on sincere friendship, regard, and trust, which, in
turn, become pillars for the activities of our institutions and communities.
It is essential for us to join hands in a process of learning how to create models of what
we want to see in every dimension of American life, as we learn to apply the principle of
oneness through practical engagement and experience. To this end, we offer the
An essential element of the process will be honest and truthful discourse about current
conditions and their causes, and understanding, in particular, the deeply entrenched
notions of anti-Blackness that pervade our society. We must build the capacity to truly
hear and acknowledge the voices of those who have directly suffered from the effects of
racism. This capacity should manifest itself in our schools, the media, and other civic
arenas, as well as in our work and personal relations. This should not end with words,
but lead to meaningful, constructive action.
There are already significant efforts underway to learn how to create models of unity in
neighborhoods and communities throughout the nation. Bahá’ís have been persistently
engaged in such efforts for many years. The aim is not unity in sameness—it is unity in
diversity. It is the recognition that everyone in this land has a part to play in
contributing to the betterment of society, and that true prosperity, material and
spiritual, will be available to us all to the degree that we live up to this standard. We
should earnestly discover what is being done, what truly helps to make a difference, and
why. We should share this knowledge throughout the country as a means of inspiring
and assisting the work of others. If we do this, we could soon find ourselves in the midst
of a mass transition toward racial justice.
Religion, an enduring source of insight concerning human purpose and action, has a
key role to play in this process. All faith communities recognize that we are essentially
spiritual beings. All proclaim some version of the “Golden Rule”—to love others as we
do ourselves. Take, for example, the following passage from the Bahá’í Scriptures in
which God addresses humankind:
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, to walk with the same feet, eat with
the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by
your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment
may be made manifest.
To understand and firmly believe that we are all children of God provides us with access
to vast spiritual resources, motivating us to see beyond ourselves and to work steadily
and sacrificially in the face of all obstacles. It helps to ensure that the process is
consistent with the goal to create communities characterized by justice. It gives us the
faith, strength, and creativity to transform our own hearts, as we also work for the
transformation of society.
We believe that the tribulations now encompassing much of the world are the
symptoms of humanity’s failure to understand and embrace our essential oneness.
The interrelated threats of climate change, gender discrimination, extreme wealth and
poverty, unfair distribution of resources, and the like, all stem from this deficiency and
can never be resolved if we do not awaken to our dependence upon each other. The
world has contracted to a neighborhood, and it is important to appreciate that what we
do in America impacts not only our own country, but the entire planet.
We should also never forget that the richness of our diversity, and our founding ideals
of liberty and justice, attract the eyes of the world to us. They will be influenced by what
we achieve, or fail to achieve, in this regard. It is not an exaggeration to say that the
cause of world peace is linked to our success in resolving the issue of racial injustice.
The oneness of humanity is the foundation of our future. Its realization is the inevitable
next stage in our life on this planet. We will replace a world society based upon
competition and conflict, and driven by rampant materialism, with one founded upon
our higher potential for collaboration and reciprocity. This achievement will mark the
universal coming of age of the human race. How soon we achieve this, and how easily,
will depend upon the commitment we demonstrate to this cardinal principle.
We have come to a moment of great public awareness and rejection of injustice. Let us
not lose this opportunity. Will we commit to the process of forming “a more perfect
union”? Will we be guided by “the better angels of our nature” to choose the course of
wisdom, of courage, and of unity? Will we choose to truly become that “city upon a hill”
to serve as inspiration to all humanity? Let us then join hands with each other in
commitment to the path of justice. Together we can surely achieve this.
Bahá’u’lláh said: “So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.”
May that light grow brighter with every passing day.
NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF
THE BAHÁ’ÍS OF THE UNITED STATES
Resources related to Race Unity
US Baha'i Distribution Service:
From George Ronald:
Here are some tools and resources for building community while maintaining safety during the COVID-19 Crisis
Even in isolation we can study and build community together. Here are some tools and resources to help us make it through this.
Four ways to participate in the community with Baha'i's
Devotional meetings spring up naturally in a community where a conversation about the spiritual dimension of human existence is growing. In diverse settings, Bahá’ís and their friends and families unite with one another in prayer. There are no rituals; no one individual has any special role. Meetings consist largely of reading prayers and passages from the Bahá’í sacred texts in an informal yet respectful atmosphere. A spirit of communal worship is generated by these simple gatherings, and this spirit begins to permeate the community’s collective endeavours. If you are interested in a devotional gathering, click here to contact us.
Bahá’ís see the young as the most precious treasure a community can possess. In them are the promise and guarantee of the future. Yet, in order for this promise to be realised, children need to receive spiritual nourishment. In a world where the joy and innocence of childhood can be so easily overwhelmed by the aggressive pursuit of materialistic ends, the moral and spiritual education of children assumes vital importance. Click here to find out about children's classes in your area.
Baha’i communities all over the world love to create, sponsor and encourage grassroots, neighborhood- and school-based junior youth groups. Designed to help young adolescents between the ages of 11-15 develop into focused, happy and productive teenagers and young adults, junior youth groups teach the crucial moral, spiritual and ethical skills society often fails to transmit to this important age group. Click here to find out about Junior Youth activities in Austin.
To build a better world requires an ever-growing pool of people capable of contributing to the accomplishment of the myriad tasks at hand. Study Circles are designed to explore the Baha'i Writings in a way the develops knowledge, skills and insight that prepares us to serve our community. Click here to find study circles in your area.
New Day Community Garden is a place where people of many different backgrounds and gardening experience join together for the common goal of growing produce, experimenting with new plants and crops, and exchanging ideas, techniques and knowledge.
© Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Austin, Texas