Social Justice in the Context of Race Relations

"Social justice is that set of conditions that enables every individual and social group to develop their latent potentialities and thereby contribute to the flourishing of the entire social body, from which their own flourishing ultimately derives."

Social Justice in the Context of Race Relations

Our Sunday programs this month are on the topic of Race Relations. This week, June 18, our topic is "Social Justice in the Context of Race Relations." Please join us for devotionals at the Edmond Baha'i Center, at 11 a.m. followed by discussion until noon. Come early for coffee.

11:00 Welcome and Introduction

My God, My Adored One

O Son of Spirit! The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice

Reading 1

Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh

THIS is the Day in which God’s most excellent favors have been poured out upon men, the Day in which His most mighty grace hath been infused into all created things. It is incumbent upon all the peoples of the world to reconcile their differences, and, with perfect unity and peace, abide beneath the shadow of the Tree of His care and loving-kindness. It behooveth them to cleave to whatsoever will, in this Day, be conducive to the exaltation of their stations, and to the promotion of their best interests. Happy are those whom the all-glorious Pen was moved to remember, and blessed are those men whose names, by virtue of Our inscrutable decree, We have preferred to conceal. Beseech ye the one true God to grant that all men may be graciously assisted to fulfill that which is acceptable in Our sight. Soon will the present-day order be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its stead. Verily, thy Lord speaketh the truth, and is the Knower of things unseen.

Reading 2

Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh

BEHOLD the disturbances which, for many a long year, have afflicted the earth, and the perturbation that hath seized its peoples. It hath either been ravaged by war, or tormented by sudden and unforeseen calamities. Though the world is encompassed with misery and distress, yet no man hath paused to reflect what the cause or source of that may be. Whenever the True Counselor uttered a word in admonishment, lo, they all denounced Him as a mover of mischief and rejected His claim. How bewildering, how confusing is such behavior! No two men can be found who may be said to be outwardly and inwardly united. The evidences of discord and malice are apparent everywhere, though all were made for harmony and union. The Great Being saith: O well-beloved ones! The tabernacle of unity hath been raised; regard ye not one another as strangers. Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. We cherish the hope that the light of justice may shine upon the world and sanctify it from tyranny. If the rulers and kings of the earth, the symbols of the power of God, exalted be His glory, arise and resolve to dedicate themselves to whatever will promote the highest interests of the whole of humanity, the reign of justice will assuredly be established amongst the children of men, and the effulgence of its light will envelop the whole earth. The Great Being saith: The structure of world stability and order hath been reared upon, and will continue to be sustained by, the twin pillars of reward and punishment.… In another passage He hath written: Take heed, O concourse of the rulers of the world! There is no force on earth that can equal in its conquering power the force of justice and wisdom.… Blessed is the king who marcheth with the ensign of wisdom unfurled before him, and the battalions of justice massed in his rear. He verily is the ornament that adorneth the brow of peace and the countenance of security. There can be no doubt whatever that if the daystar of justice, which the clouds of tyranny have obscured, were to shed its light upon men, the face of the earth would be completely transformed.

"O Son of Being" by Yosi Mesbah


11:20 Reflections on the Readings

11:30 Discussion on "Social Justice in the Context of Race Relations."

Michael Karlberg

Michael Karlberg is a professor of Communication Studies at Western Washington University. His interdisciplinary scholarship examines prevailing conceptions of human nature, power, social organization, and social change – and their implications for the pursuit of peace and justice.

The Pursuit of Social Justice - Bahai World
Michael Karlberg is a professor of Communication Studies at Western Washington University. His interdisciplinary scholarship examines prevailing conceptions of human nature, power, social organization, and social change – and their implications for the pursuit of peace and justice.

Social justice is that set of conditions that enables every individual and social group to develop their latent potentialities and thereby contribute to the flourishing of the entire social body, from which their own flourishing ultimately derives.

--

Mahatma Gandhi promoted the concept of a constructive program. This concept arose from Gandhi’s recognition that the means and ends of social change need to be coherent. This is because the means we adopt in the pursuit of social change prefigure the ends we achieve. Thus, nonviolent ends cannot be achieved through violent means. As Gandhi gained experience applying this principle, and as his thinking matured, he recognized the importance of actively constructing a new social order that could displace or supplant the prevailing social order. This is what he meant by a constructive program, which he came to see as the fullest expression of the principle of coherence between means and ends.

By persevering with a principled and constructive approach in the pursuit of social justice—and showing resilience in the face of violent repression—Bahá’ís are demonstrating the potential of a purely non-adversarial model of transformative social change. Moreover, when they encounter direct repression, Bahá’ís do not let their oppressors establish the terms of the encounter. They refuse to play the role of victim; refuse to be dehumanized; and refuse to forfeit their sense of constructive agency.

In relation to the society-building endeavors of the Bahá’í community, it should also be noted that Bahá’ís do not seek to impose their beliefs or practices on others. They believe the patterns of community life they are constructing, along with the administrative structures that support those patterns, will only be viable if they are embraced through a supremely voluntary process. In this regard, Bahá’ís reject all forms of force, coercion, compulsion, pressure, or proselytization as means of social change. Rather, their strategy is consistently one of construction and attraction: Construct a viable alternative to prevailing social norms and structures and, to the extent it proves itself more just and inclusive, it will steadily attract more and more people. When Bahá’ís encounter repression in this process, they adopt a posture of resilience while laboring on with their constructive efforts.

Reference Links

Louis Venters
Abdu'l-Baha and Louis Gregory


Building vibrant communities across racial and cultural divides

Jan Mauras

Home - 2023 National Race Amity Conference

11:55 Closing

Subscribe for the weekly newsletter.