In the Baha’i revelation, Baha’u’llah, the prophet-founder proclaims: “My object is none other than the betterment of the world and the tranquility of its peoples. The well-being of mankind, its peace and security are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.”
In Part 1 of my column, I talked about the Baha’i view that humanity is passing through stages of development from infancy to childhood, a process ultimately leading to world unity. It helps illustrate how Baha’is feel confident that world peace is possible despite the chaos and conflicts we see.
It also examined how a distorted belief about human nature as selfish and aggressive has led to a paralysis of will, preventing meaningful steps toward peace. Viewing prejudice, war and exploitation as the expression of immature stages in vast historical process helps us to envision a peaceful future as humanity moves out of adolescence into adulthood.
In “The Promise of World Peace, the Universal House of Justice,” the Baha’i international body elaborates on both the favorable signs and the barriers to living in a united world. They weave a powerful narrative that affirms human dignity and humanity’s great potential for transformation. They also emphasize the signing of treaties and protocols will not abolish war, rather “it is a complex task requiring a new level of commitment to resolving issues not customarily associated with the pursuit of peace.”
So what are the underlying issues not usually associated with peace? The House of Justice identifies these barriers and root causes that need urgent attention, quoted here from “The Promise of World Peace”:
1. Racism, one of the most baneful and persistent evils, is a major barrier to peace. Its practice perpetrates too outrageous a violation of the dignity of human beings to be countenanced under any pretext. Recognition of the oneness of mankind, implemented by appropriate legal measures, must be universally upheld if this problem is to be overcome.
2. The inordinate disparity between rich and poor, a source of acute suffering, keeps the world in a state of instability. The solution calls for combining spiritual, moral and practical approaches.
3. Unbridled nationalism, as distinguished from a sane and legitimate patriotism, must give way to a wider loyalty, to the love of humanity as a whole. Current international activities in various fields that nurture mutual affection and a sense of solidarity need greatly to be increased.
4. Religious strife, throughout history, has been the cause of innumerable wars and conflicts, a major blight to progress, and is increasingly abhorrent to the people of all faiths and no faith. Followers of all religions must be willing to submerge their theological differences in a great spirit of mutual forbearance, allowing them to work together to advance human understanding and peace.
5. The emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality between the sexes, is one of the most important, though less acknowledged prerequisites of peace. Only as women are welcomed into full partnership in all fields will the moral and psychological climate be created in which international peace can emerge.
6. The cause of universal education deserves the utmost support that the governments and people of the world can lend it. For ignorance is indisputably the principal reason for the decline and fall of peoples and the perpetuation of prejudice. In keeping with the requirements of the times, consideration should also be given to teaching the concept of world citizenship as part of every child’s standard education.
7. A fundamental lack of communication between peoples seriously undermines efforts toward world peace. Adopting an international auxiliary language would go far to resolve this problem.
A tranquil world order can only be founded on an unshakeable consciousness of the oneness of mankind—the first fundamental prerequisite in establishing peace. Let us teach this in every school, and assert it in every nation, and let peace begin with us.