This week as a thousand delegates from more than 150 countries went to Haifa for the 11th annual International Baha’i Convention, I can’t help but look back on the convention that I experienced in 2008 and recall the impression that historic gathering made on me.
Seeing the diversity of the entire human race in one room is strangely humbling and empowering at the same time. You feel small because you realize your “world” is actually a tiny fleck in the vastness of the human experience happening to billions of people in every corner of the earth every minute of every day. Still, you are filled with hope when see the unity and connection they share in perhaps the most diverse gathering of people in the world – a diversity not only in nations, but also in social, economic and professional backgrounds. An Italian industrialist, a presidential adviser from South Africa, a student from South America, a Bulgarian musician, a Ph.D. working with international research, a small business owner from Cameroon, and hundreds of others gathered to cast their ballots and elect the international governing body of the Baha’i Faith.
The non-partisan, non-campaigning election process itself was itself remarkable. Over one thousand delegates representing 153 countries crossing a stage and casting their ballots with such dignity and grace. It was one of those occasions where the images were so impressed in my mind that I almost didn’t need my camera. Well… almost.