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Equality and World Peace
by Marie Lansdowne

The Baha'i vision of equality rests on the central spiritual principle of the oneness of humankind. Baha'is believe that war will cease only when women enter fully into all areas of decision-making.

"We are trying to achieve the most important thing in the world ­ peace for the new millennium ­ and we're doing it, for the most part, with only 50 percent of people having a say in the outcome," said Marie Lansdowne, Sherwood Baha'i spokesperson. "We've never achieved a real and lasting peace in the past with women excluded from the process. Perhaps we should change tactics and bring women into the sphere of waging peace."

The Baha'is believe that as we stand on the threshold of a new century, it is vital to address what they call a "fault-line beneath the foundation of our national life" ­ the effects of gender prejudice. Men and women working together on this issue can do this, they say.

Another very important issue facing our nation as it enters the new century is that of racial prejudice ­ what Baha'is believe is the most challenging moral issue facing this country today.

Baha'u'llah, the prophet-founder of the Baha'i Faith, made the oneness of humanity under God, and thus the elimination of all forms of prejudice, the central point of His teachings.

Baha'u'llah said, "So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth."

Baha'is see the people of the world as belonging to one large, loving family ­ young, old, of all ethnic groups and religious backgrounds, in every country and territory of the world. World peace begins with unity within each person, within each family, then unity in each neighborhood, town, state, country and finally the entire planet. Baha'u'llah also said in His writings "The world is one country, and mankind its citizens."

The religion also believes that strife and dissension destroy families the same way warfare and jealousy destroy nations. When each person respects and cares for all the other members of the world family, there will be peace. Likewise, when the nations of the world respect and care for each other as the members of one family, would peace is inevitable, according to Baha'i beliefs.

The Sherwood Baha'is hold monthly public meetings on the second Thursday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the Sherwood Senior Center. The topics have included the above themes plus "The Promise of World Peace," and "The Interpretation of Prophecy." The talk in December was about the fulfillment of prophecy in the New Testament. The upcoming talk on Jan. 13 will be entitled "Spirituality Through Music" and will feature the musical talents of Portland musicians Robert and Beverly Bassett. Future talks will be about the importance of prayer in achieving happiness, the pathways to spirituality and marriage and family life.

For more information about meetings in Sherwood or the Baha'i Faith, or if you would like a Baha'i speaker to attend your meeting, please call 503-925-0904. To locate a Baha'i meeting in areas other than Sherwood please call 1-800-22UNITE.