Two hundred years of a unifying vision

Bahá’ís of Manitoulin celebrate the birth of their founder and his vision that ‘the earth is one country’

To the Expositor:

In these trying times, it’s not always easy to celebrate, even on Thanksgiving Day. And the further we look beyond Manitoulin Island, the harder it is, when we see and hear the news of fire, flood, hurricane, earthquake, mass murder, genocide, threats of war and corruption in high places. But that’s only one side of the story.

For many of our First Nations neighbours, and for some of us settlers, it was hard to celebrate “Canada 150,” knowing even a little about what life has been like for First Nations people since 1867, including survivors of residential schools and the Sixties Scoop. But on second thought, maybe there is something to celebrate here, in the small steps we have taken toward reconciliation. We should thank 4elements Living Arts, for instance, for their recent Elemental Festival, which devoted much of its programming to furthering the cause of better understanding between First Nations and the rest of us. Just the fact that we are waking up to the need for reconciliation, and for better ways of living together, is worth celebrating.

On the global scale too, there are signs of an awakening, one that is worth celebrating. Even in the midst of disasters we see all sorts of ordinary people reaching out to help one another; and the recognition that we need better ways of living together seems to be spreading. Racism, sexism and hate make the news, but so does the counter-movement toward “unity in diversity,” as the Bahá’ís call it. The seeds of this global movement have been growing for centuries and are beginning to bear fruit.

This month, the Bahá’ís of the world are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Faith, who brought the message to all humanity that “the earth is one country.” The Universal House of Justice, the body elected to lead the global Bahá’í community, wrote in a recent message of some reasons we have for celebrating even in the current state of the world:

“People with divergent perspectives are discovering how to replace contention and the imposition of authority with consultation and the collective search for solutions. From every race, religion, nationality, and class, souls are uniting around a vision of humanity as one people and the earth as one country. Many who have long suffered are finding their voice and becoming protagonists of their own development, resourceful and resilient. From villages, neighbourhoods, towns and cities are arising institutions, communities, and individuals dedicated to labouring together for the emergence of a united and prospering world that might truly deserve to be called the kingdom of God on earth.”

We aren’t there yet, by a long shot, but the movement in that direction is worth celebrating, and that’s what the small band of Bahá’ís on Manitoulin will be doing on the bicentennial of Bahá’u’lláh’s birthday, Saturday, October 21. If you’d like to celebrate with us, contact one of us, for instance Gary at (705) 210 0391, or

The Bahá’ís of Manitoulin,

Gary Fuhrman, Pam Jackson,

Margaret Pitawanakwat, Ina Swain