Building any kind of community always requires a stable, peaceful environment as a basic starting point.
Without peace, in the midst of hostility and violence, no community, local or global, can ever grow or thrive. That’s why Baha’is all around the world devote themselves to Baha’u’llah’s promise of a new world-encircling community committed to justice, unity and an end to violent human conflict.
The Baha’i Faith has now established and built, in its relatively short period of existence, a world-encircling, grassroots force of committed people from every culture, color and class actively laboring for the cessation of warfare. The Baha’i teachings have already created an unprecedented global peace movement:
Today there is no greater glory for man than that of service in the cause of the Most Great Peace. Peace is light, whereas war is darkness. Peace is life; war is death. Peace is guidance; war is error. Peace is the foundation of God; war is a satanic institution. Peace is the illumination of the world of humanity; war is the destroyer of human foundations. When we consider outcomes in the world of existence, we find that peace and fellowship are factors of upbuilding and betterment, whereas war and strife are the causes of destruction and disintegration. All created things are expressions of the affinity and cohesion of elementary substances, and nonexistence is the absence of their attraction and agreement. Various elements unite harmoniously in composition, but when these elements become discordant, repelling each other, decomposition and nonexistence result. Everything partakes of this nature and is subject to this principle, for the creative foundation in all its degrees and kingdoms is an expression or outcome of love. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 123.
This truly new development, unique in human history, links millions of Baha’is from every class, culture, country, racial group and former religion in a unified, planet-spanning peacebuilding program.
Identifying as citizens of the world, Baha’is in every nation on Earth advocate and conscientiously work for international peace. Committed to peaceful behavior and nonviolent action themselves, the Baha’is have created the most diverse, widespread and sustainable peace movement ever assembled. But the Baha’is themselves didn’t just decide one day to focus on peace—instead, this focus on “the Most Great Peace” comes organically from the teachings of Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith.
Baha’u’llah announced that primary Baha’i principle of peace as the Faith began, by enunciating a sophisticated spiritual system of community- and peace-building teachings he referred to collectively as “a new World Order.” That World Order, Baha’u’llah wrote, would first upset the Earth’s status quo, then begin to exert a powerful influence on the entire planet, and consequently lead us to a universal system of unified global governance—which would ultimately secure the peace and tranquility of humanity.
In his writings and teachings, Baha’u’llah made the pursuit of universal peace the chief priority for all humanity:
It is incumbent upon all the peoples of the world to reconcile their differences, and, with perfect unity and peace, abide beneath the shadow of the Tree of His care and loving-kindness. It behoveth them to cleave to whatsoever will, in this Day, be conducive to the exaltation of their stations, and to the promotion of their best interests … Soon will the present-day order be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its stead. Verily, thy Lord speaketh the truth, and is the Knower of things unseen. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, pp. 6-7.
Accordingly, the Baha’i writings outline a fully-realized vision for a unified world at peace—complete with a detailed plan for achieving it. No mere hope or empty expectation, the Baha’i prescription for universal peace takes a realistic, practical approach to establishing Baha’u’llah’s new World Order. Baha’is believe that unprecedented approach will help usher in a completely new cycle of human harmony:
The call of the Kingdom has been sounded, and the annunciation of the world’s need for Universal Peace has enlightened the world’s conscience.
… through the zeal and ardour of the pure of heart, the darkness of hatred and difference will be entirely abolished, and the light of love and unity shall shine; this world shall become a new world; things material shall become the mirror of the divine; human hearts shall meet and embrace each other; the whole world become as a man’s native country and the different races be counted as one race. – Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 37.
In this new era, Baha’is believe, world unity has finally become not only possible but inevitable:
In cycles gone by, though harmony was established, yet, owing to the absence of means, the unity of all mankind could not have been achieved. Continents remained widely divided, nay even among the peoples of one and the same continent association and interchange of thought were well-nigh impossible. Consequently intercourse, understanding and unity amongst all the peoples and kindreds of the earth were unattainable. In this day, however, means of communication have multiplied, and the five continents of the earth have virtually merged into one. And for everyone it is now easy to travel to any land, to associate and exchange views with its peoples, and to become familiar, through publications, with the conditions, the religious beliefs and the thoughts of all men. In like manner all the members of the human family, whether peoples or governments, cities or villages, have become increasingly interdependent. For none is self-sufficiency any longer possible, inasmuch as political ties unite all peoples and nations, and the bonds of trade and industry, of agriculture and education, are being strengthened every day. Hence the unity of all mankind can in this day be achieved. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 31-32.
In the following essays, we’ll take a detailed look at the elements of the global Baha’i peace program, explore their practicality and promise, and visualize the day when humanity can finally lay down its weapons and partake in the long-awaited joys of a peaceful planet.