When Abdu’l-Baha embarked on his travels in 1911, the West was experiencing a period of prosperity and peace – but as he warned the nations he visited, that peace would be short-lived.
Some scoffed at his predictions, since there had been no war on European soil for nearly four decades, and almost 50 years had passed since the devastation of the American civil war.
During that era, each year the world celebrated new technological and industrial advances which purported to make life easier and create more leisure time. Hundreds of peace agreements were being signed, and plans were underway to unveil, with great pomp, a Peace Palace in the Hague. Yet, just two years after Abdu’l-Baha’s North American journey, the world plunged into the bloodiest and most widespread conflict it had ever experienced. In an address he gave in Chicago on 16 November 1912 Abdu’l-Baha warned:
… enmity and strife will increase day by day, and the differences and divergences of nations will be woefully augmented. Continual additions to the armies and navies of the world will be made, and the fear and certainty of the great pandemic war – the war unparalleled in history – will be intensified; for armament, heretofore limited, is now being increased upon a colossal scale. Conditions are becoming acute, drawing nigh unto the degree of men warring upon the seas, warring upon the plains, warring in the very atmosphere with a violence unknown in former centuries.
Episode 6 of Ambassador to Humanity explores how Abdu’l-Baha clearly delineated the deep spiritual principles and attitudinal and behavioral changes required to end war and build an enduring global peace. As with so many other areas of human endeavor, he challenged the prevalent discourses on war and peace. He told crowds in Europe and North America that, beyond economic or international arrangements, lasting peace required the recognition of humanity’s fundamental oneness and the establishment of unity between all peoples. Unless and until prejudices are addressed, he proclaimed, the world will never find rest.
On numerous occasions, Abdu’l-Baha predicted the outbreak of the First World War – and then, after he had returned to the Holy Land from his travels, he also predicted the likelihood of a second, even more destructive global conflict. In his public pronouncements and in his writings, he offered humanity a clear prescription for achieving peace. The question remains: how will humanity respond?
Narrated by Parisa Fitz-Henley and Rainn Wilson, with contributions from Amin Egea, Kathy Hogenson, Moojan Momen, and Tim Perry
Featuring the voices of Emily Baldoni, Justin Baldoni, Carmel Irandoust, Adam Mondschein, and Rob Weinberg
Assistant Editor: Noah Matthews
Executive producers include Rainn Wilson, Shahin Sobhani, Steve Sarowitz, Maia Reneau, and Ford Bowers for Spring Green Media, in collaboration with 239Days.com and BahaiTeachings.org.
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