Culture and the Baha’i Faith

When I was a young child, I lived in Tokyo right after the Second World War. Around me were the ruins of war, but also the culture of Japan. I absorbed the horrors of war by seeing the ruins and homelessness. I also absorbed the sound of temple bells, Shinto shrines, and the awesome Kamakura Buddha. My parents were interested in the culture, lived in a Japanese neighborhood, and absorbed the many experiences of that time and place.

The United States to which I moved back in 1954 surprised me because it was nothing like the picture I had formed of the U.S. from the pictures in my Dick and Jane readers. By the time I was middle-aged I had lived in Texas, New England, and France. What I had learned from my peripatetic life was that there are nice people everywhere, that religion is dependent on culture and vice versa, and that there is excellent food wherever you go.

It seemed natural to me to join the Baha’i Faith when I discovered it because people from every country and walk of life were a part of it. In a sizeable Baha’i community, it is reasonable to eat food from many nations when we get together. Interacting with people from all parts of the world is normal. It is normal to learn together how to build community and nurture children and look forward to becoming one culture in which diversity is an expected part of living together.

Now we have reached an interesting inflection point in the cultures of the world, where the skills and values necessary to build a global community require us to think very consciously about how to move forward toward a small and united planet twirling through the empty reaches of space. It is my hope and expectation that the Baha’i Faith will have something of value to contribute to that great change


Dr. Jacqueline Osborne is a practitioner and celebrant of Bha’i principles.  She believes in “One Human Family.”

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