|Kimiko Schwerin lives in a suburb of
Tokyo with her American husband John, where together they operate a successful language
school. Born in Nagasaki, Ms. Schwerin has in many ways broken the mold for a Japanese
woman of her generation. Not only did she marry a foreigner--an act for which she was once
slapped in the face by a disapproving stranger--she is also active in a variety of
activities aimed at promoting the equality of women.
Kukama, who as a young man was a regional official for the African National Congress in
South Africa, gave up politics in the 1950s to pursue a different path towards ending
apartheid in his native land. Although he is now retired, his goal or the last 30 years
has been to assist in the building of an integrated community of people that could serve
to demonstrate the possibility of harmonious relations between blacks and whites in
men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization."
Primo Pacsi lives high in the Andes mountains of Bolivia,
where he grows potatoes on steep hillside land that has been in his family for
generations. A member of the Aymara people, Mr. Pacsi has only a fourth grade education.
Nevertheless, he has helped to start a pre-school for the
children in his village, which provides an important educational boost during their most
important developmental years. He has also led the way in bringing a new kind of
inexpensive solar-heated greenhouse to his village, a project which has permitted him and
his neighbors to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables--items which do not otherwise
grow at such altitudes.
Although different in their cultural heritages, educational
backgrounds, and national origins, Ms. Schwerin, Mr. Kukama, and Mr. Pacsi are united by a
common belief in the Bahá'í Faith--and a commitment to its ideals.
The worldwide Bahá'í community may well be the most diverse
and wide-spread body of people on earth. It is also among the world's most unified
organizations, a feature that is perhaps its most distinguishing characteristic.
Bahá'ís the world over come from all religious backgrounds:
Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Zoroastrian, animist, and
non-religious. Yet they study a common set of sacred writings, observe a unifying code of
religious laws, and look to a single international administrative system for continuing
your vision be world-embracing, rather than confined to your own self "
Their sense of unity goes beyond a shared theology. It is
expressed in an abiding commitment to a global program for moral, spiritual and social
progress that represents many of the finest ideals of civilization.
Promoting equality of women and men is a primary goal, as is
ending racial and ethnic strife. Encouraging the concept of economic justice for all
peoples is another major objective. So is ensuring access to good education for all. The
community eschews all forms of superstition and sets for its followers the goal of meeting
the highest moral standard. World peace and the establishment of a united global
commonwealth has been and remains a distinguishing concern.
Indeed, no other world organization of similar diversity,
whether affiliated along religious, political, or social lines, can claim a membership as
committed to a vision that is at once so singular, coherent and universal.
The source of this vision is Bahá'u'lláh
(1817-1892), the Founder of the Bahá'í Faith. A Persian nobleman who spent the last 40
years of His life as a prisoner and an exile, He authored the equivalent of more than 100
volumes--writings which today form the foundation on which the worldwide Bahá'í
community stands. continues