Yesterday I woke up and asked myself: when will this crisis that keeps us at home, away from each other as a responsible measure to take care of one another, really end?
It will be wonderful when the quarantine is over and we reunite with the people we love. Perhaps we will more greatly appreciate that hug we took for granted or the laughs with friends on a Sunday afternoon. Just a couple of months ago, no one would have imagined that a situation like this could ever occur: a pandemic that affects all humankind without distinction. No government imagined it. Even after the crisis broke out in China, many leaders underestimated it and did not give much attention to this pandemic. “In the summer, with warmer weather, the virus will die” they said. “China is very far away.”
Maybe we would rather close our eyes when a big crisis comes our way, or maybe we are used to overlooking the problems of others and only pay attention to our own.
“When we get sick, our whole body suffers. We cannot disassociate our parts from the totality of our being.”
Whatever the answer, humanity will inevitably be led to consider why suffering in a distant country is also our problem. As the Baha’i writings say:
It is obvious that all created things are connected one to another by a linkage complete and perfect, even, for example, as are the members of the human body… And whatever member of the human body is deficient, produceth a deficiency in the other members. – Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha
When we get sick, our whole body suffers. We cannot disassociate our parts from the totality of our being. To do so would exhibit a lack of understanding of our nature. Incredible as it may seem, that’s what our planet has witnessed. We have created borders that attempt to divide something inherently indivisible: humanity.
We see politicians and government leaders who seem to cling to the increasingly erroneous belief that caring only for one’s own welfare is enough to achieve peace and prosperity in one’s own country. As Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith, said more than one hundred and fifty years ago:
The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established. – Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah
But what does being aware that we are part of one interconnected human family really mean?
If we saw our next-door neighbor as a brother, cousin or uncle, wouldn’t we be concerned about his wellbeing? If he did not have enough food during this crisis, would we not provide him with our own? If a dear family member living on the other side of the world were to become seriously ill, would we not suffer too? Would it matter that he or she does not live within our national borders?
Abdu’l-Baha, the son of Baha’u’llah, wrote about our nature as human beings:
Every imperfect soul is self-centered and thinketh only of his own good. But as his thoughts expand a little he will begin to think of the welfare and comfort of his family. If his ideas still more widen, his concern will be the felicity of his fellow citizens; and if still they widen, he will be thinking of the glory of his land and of his race. But when ideas and views reach the utmost degree of expansion and attain the stage of perfection, then will he be interested in the exaltation of humankind. He will then be the well-wisher of all men and the seeker of the weal and prosperity of all lands. – Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha
When an individual succeeds in developing this awareness, he makes it manifest through actions of solidarity that go beyond his own family, caring for the people around him, helping his neighbor, doing what he can to lessen the suffering of others. This shows that he has advanced and progressed in the awareness of his spiritual reality. It shows that he is a soul on the path to perfection. But perhaps many things have had to happen before he reaches such a state; perhaps he has had to suffer himself first in order to understand the suffering of others.
The governments of the world, if they truly succeed in developing an awareness of that reality, will take increasingly steady steps towards the inevitable unity of humanity. This is the only way to finally develop a peaceful world, where every inhabitant of the Earth feels safe and involved.
Sometimes, I miss going for a walk and feeling the breeze on my face, or seeing my friends and family. But, as attached as I might be to those things, I know that if we face it the right way, this crisis will lead to the spiritual advancement of our civilization.