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Is race a myth?

| June 10, 2010 9:00 PM

Seldom does one associate great thinkers with great actors, but some qualify. Consider the words of James Earl Jones (African, Irish, and Native American) which often contain ponderous wisdom. Jones referred to race as "a perilous mythology."

If race is a myth, it's a persistent one.

Believing racial disharmony to be the greatest of America's challenges, the Baha'i community focuses much effort on fighting it. This Sunday, June 13, is "Race Unity Day," an annual worldwide event to promote unity among all people. To celebrate, the Coeur d'Alene Baha'i community will host a free picnic at City Park, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. that day.

The world's most widespread monotheistic religion (236 countries) next to Christianity, the Baha'i faith has spread its message of non-violence and religious and ethnic tolerance since its inception in 1844. So strong is this advocacy that Baha'ism is not incompatible with other religions; one can be Christian or Muslim and also Baha'i. Ironically, Baha'is are oppressed and targeted with violence in many countries.

Their goal is to eliminate all forms of prejudice, not just race. The central message is simple: the oneness of humanity.

If all humanity is one, interconnected, peace becomes a natural extension of that shared philosophy and racism becomes myth. Regardless of faith or personal belief, that's a message most can celebrate, if not yet fully embrace.

Celebrating second Sundays in June is a start, if for no other reason than mutual interest. (And as Bill Rutherford reminded in his Wednesday column, cultural blending also provides great food.)

By the way, the great voice of James Earl Jones once stuttered. Acting lessons were sought to control it.

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"Gentleness, self-sacrifice and generosity are the exclusive possession of no one race or religion." - Mohandas Gandhi

Sholeh Patrick is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network. Sholehjo@hotmail.com

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