Everyone says they want peace, but we keep fighting wars—so what would help us achieve the true global security of a lasting peace?
Baha’is believe that process has to begin at the level of each individual human being’s moral integrity and intellectual acumen. Once a peaceful spirit spreads to a sufficient number of people, the Baha’i teachings say, it will culminate in a common desire for world unity:
Instruments and means of human destruction have enormously multiplied in this era of material civilization. But if material civilization shall become organized in conjunction with divine civilization, if the man of moral integrity and intellectual acumen shall unite for human betterment and uplift with the man of spiritual capacity, the happiness and progress of the human race will be assured. All the nations of the world will then be closely related and companionable, and the religions will merge into one, for the divine reality within them all is one reality. Abraham proclaimed this reality; Jesus promulgated it; all the Prophets who have appeared in the world have founded Their teachings upon it. Therefore, the people of the world have this one true, unchangeable basis for peace and agreement, and war, which has raged for thousands of years, will pass away. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 102.
In other words, the Baha’i teachings say, true peace begins in your heart, and in mine, and in everyone’s. Those spiritual teachings urge us all to do everything possible to educate humanity “with the sentiments of peace:”
How is universal peace to be established? By the education of the public with the sentiments of peace. Today the full realization of universal peace is the panacea of every disease. … This military and naval expenditure is a great disease. … The remedy of this disease is through universal peace. This will insure public safety. Today that which is the cause of dispersion is war. If the nations enter into a faithful agreement to leave off all warlike preparation at once, they shall secure for themselves and their posterity eternal welfare. They shall become freed from every difficulty and international confusion. This end must be obtained through the development of the intellects and the inculcation of peaceful ideals in all the institutions of modern civilization. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 9, pp. 239-240.
We can begin to establish universal peace, Abdu’l-Baha advised, by educating “the public with the sentiments of peace.” But what does that mean?
From a Baha’i perspective, public education about peace starts with the recognition that an end to war requires a countervailing spiritual power, a “universal impelling force:”
Baha’u’llah teaches that the world of humanity is in need of the breath of the Holy Spirit, for in spiritual quickening and enlightenment true oneness is attained with God and man. The Most Great Peace cannot be assured through racial force and effort; it cannot be established by patriotic devotion and sacrifice; for nations differ widely and local patriotism has limitations. Furthermore, it is evident that political power and diplomatic ability are not conducive to universal agreement, for the interests of governments are varied and selfish; nor will international harmony and reconciliation be an outcome of human opinions concentrated upon it, for opinions are faulty and intrinsically diverse. Universal peace is an impossibility through human and material agencies; it must be through spiritual power. There is need of a universal impelling force which will establish the oneness of humanity and destroy the foundations of war and strife. None other than the divine power can do this; therefore, it will be accomplished through the breath of the Holy Spirit. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 108-109.
We’re not going to establish peace through politics or diplomacy or racial and patriotic appeals, the Baha’i teachings say—instead, it has to happen “through the breath of the Holy Spirit.” It requires a new revelation from the Creator and the subsequent release of the energies needed to change the hearts of humanity. True peace can only come about through a peaceful revolution in the hearts of men.
From this unique perspective, Baha’is believe that those forces have already been unleashed by the advent of Baha’u’llah, the founder of the world’s newest global Faith:
The spiritual brotherhood which is enkindled and established through the breaths of the Holy Spirit unites nations and removes the cause of warfare and strife. It transforms mankind into one great family and establishes the foundations of the oneness of humanity. It promulgates the spirit of international agreement and ensures universal peace. Therefore, we must investigate the foundation of this heavenly fraternity. We must forsake all imitations and promote the reality of the divine teachings. In accordance with these principles and actions and by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, both material and spiritual happiness shall become realized. Until all nations and peoples become united by the bonds of the Holy Spirit in this real fraternity, until national and international prejudices are effaced in the reality of this spiritual brotherhood, true progress, prosperity and lasting happiness will not be attained by man. This is the century of new and universal nationhood. Sciences have advanced; industries have progressed; politics have been reformed; liberty has been proclaimed; justice is awakening. This is the century of motion, divine stimulus and accomplishment, the century of human solidarity and altruistic service, the century of universal peace and the reality of the divine Kingdom. – Ibid., pp. 142-143.