Does a model for world peace exist? If so, how does it fit in with all those other models that have been expounded from time immemorial?
I think we do have a pre-existent model for peace. It has evolved over countless centuries. Its design has been constantly modified. It depends on which concept of reality has succeeded in dominating the human psyche at any given moment in human history, and how its vision of humanity has been translated into everyday life.
Its institutions, like previous empires, have also come and gone. Its regulations have been constantly altered throughout time as different civilizations have risen and fallen. Its decision-making paths and control mechanisms have fluctuated as technologies have changed and political and social realities have changed with them. A study of past civilizations whether of China, India, Persia, Greece, or Rome will testify to this, as too will the study of Africa’s past glories.
What about the age in which we presently find ourselves—is it any different? I would say that if we accept climate change as a definite reality, then yes it is. Our planet’s environmental issues prove that time is not on our side; and that urgent global challenges face us as a human species.
In this technologically-driven world, the search for the most effective individuals and decision making bodies to tackle today’s critically important global challenges has—due to the advanced deterioration of our natural environment—presented us with an extreme dilemma: Which is the best way forward?
Politicians and political parties the world over are at a loss, as they find themselves almost powerless to take the necessary steps to ensure our common global future. Key economists and economic institutions until recently held in high regard the world over are now looked upon with disdain due to a series of devastating failures they have engineered over the preceding decades. Large multinational corporations and those individuals who ultimately control them, although gradually becoming aware of their role in creating a peaceful and secure future, are also at a loss when it comes to comprehending the big picture.
So where do we now look for inspiration in order to steer ourselves successfully into the future? How do we proceed, if there is no fixed model, no perfect design, no failsafe institution, no set of commonly-accepted rules and regulations, no certain decision-making path or control mechanism, no shared sense of reality or humanity?
We now stand at a crossroads where the whole of humanity can come together in a way that so far has not yet happened. Throughout history, we’ve made many attempts to synchronize our cultures, religions, politics and economies, sometimes succeeding for a short time and then finally collapsing into conflict and division. With that record in mind, how do we intend to survive? Experts have failed, so what chance do we lesser mortals have to bring about permanent change?
In fact, a whole range of principles do exist, and they need to be employed so that we can ensure our safe passage into the future. In order for these principles to be deployed effectively, though, there will have to be some drastic changes in terms of how we view ourselves in relation to one another and indeed in relation to the planet itself.
These changes will require significant sacrifices, not just by the powerful but also by the general populace. These changes will require simplicity, honesty and truth, and will ask us to accept the simple fact that all humanity has a common heritage. Although we are not all identical, and do not have the same set of skills, we all possess a smaller or larger capacity to cope with the problems that need to be overcome.
The solutions, then, can come only from unity. We will never make good decisions, or formulate effective solutions to our common problems, without involving the whole of humanity. That’s the model the Baha’i teachings offer us—and the only one we haven’t tried so far.
By combining our strengths—and our weaknesses—we will succeed in bringing the world together. With an unshakeable vision in the oneness of humanity expressed in our deeds as well as our thoughts, we will be able to wholeheartedly accept, implement and share the Baha’i teaching that:
Blessed and happy is he that ariseth to promote the best interests of the peoples and kindreds of the earth. … It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 167.