One can feel worried and hopeless in these uncertain times. By looking to the past, we can see that crisis is often followed by victory, and taking a step back in time can help give us hope for the future:
Two significant examples are worth mentioning. Only 100 years ago, the Spanish Flu swept across the planet, claiming millions of lives, in a time relatively limited in global communication and co-ordination. Twenty years later, the world endured the ruinous Second World War, which claimed even more lives than the pandemic. Though these two tragedies caused world-wide hardship, we have emerged from those hardships more acutely aware of our interdependence and our need for co-operation on every level from the neighbourhood to the nation to the entire planet.
Out of the aftermath of the Second World War, international institutions were established with the aims of promoting international peace, security and public health. Within a lifetime, humanity has grown from a nascent international community with primitive global collaboration to one where offices of these institutions can be found in nearly every country on the globe. With the help of the internet, governments, doctors and researchers are working together to quell the spread of COVID-19; they have been able to widely disseminate their learnings with unprecedented speed. The number of individuals and institutions working for the good of humankind, and the tools available to assist them in their lofty efforts, is unlike the world has ever seen before.
Though the world today is advanced beyond the dreams of our ancestors from 100 years ago, we are again humbled by a sobering fact: regardless of race, nationality, gender, religion or economic status, we are all susceptible to this virus. We can see with our own eyes that, without a doubt, we are one species and one human family. Our common suffering reminds us to look inward at our own prejudices and behaviours and ask ourselves if our thoughts and actions truly align with the conviction that we are one. The unprecedented interdependence and interconnectedness we experience during this difficult time demonstrate how humanity has reached a new stage of life in its evolution, a stage that necessitates the recognition of our fundamental oneness.
Though the pandemic is affecting many, it is also acting as a catalyst, bringing the possibilities for many positive changes on the horizon. Let us keep our sights fixed on the world we wish to build, confident that humanity will pass through this ordeal. There is hope for the future of humankind on this beautiful planet. Let us “look with eyes of faith into the future” and realize that “the earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”
Baha’i Community of St. Albert