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WAR noun 1. a conflict carried on by force of arms, as between nations or between parties within a nation; warfare, as by land, sea, or air. 2. a state or period of armed hostility or active military operations
Finally, humanity has begun to grow tired of war.
So far in the 21st Century, we haven’t had any widespread global wars, thank God. Of course, since World War II, leaders have propagated dozens of wars: the Indo-Pakistani wars, the Korean “conflict,” the Vietnam War, the Six-Day War, the Dirty War in Argentina, even the Football War in 1969. But since the turn of the century, wars have steadily become dwindled and smaller “rebellions,” “wars of independence,” “military actions,” and especially “civil unrest” have taken over. Make no mistake, these “smaller” wars still provoke the unmitigated suffering that larger wars bring. Misery, displacement and destruction continue, along with mass exoduses across vast distances, and death for tens of thousands. But the world has not had a war with death counts in the millions so far in this century.
There are no wars or conflicts of any kind in North America, unless you count race and class struggles or Mexico’s “drug wars.” Central and South America have remained relatively calm, except for several now-settled civil wars in places like Nicaragua and El Salvador and the short-lived Falklands War back in ’82. Europe, the progenitor of most wars on earth into the 20th century, remains relatively unscathed now. The Eastern Bloc with its clash of ideologies broke apart in ’89, and many smaller clashes continue in the region, but no wider war has broken out yet. China is mostly calm. In Africa, several rebellions and coups have taken place, but most of the continent has stayed peaceful.
Baha’is believe that humanity is coming of age—leaving behind the six thousand years of fractious warfare and constant bloodshed and maturing into a more thoughtful, empathetic and spiritually-minded species:
…it is our duty to put forth our greatest efforts and summon all our energies in order that the bonds of unity and accord may be established among mankind. For thousands of years we have had bloodshed and strife. It is enough; it is sufficient. Now is the time to associate together in love and harmony. For thousands of years we have tried the sword and warfare; let mankind for a time at least live in peace. Review history and consider how much savagery, how much bloodshed and battle the world has witnessed. It has been either religious warfare, political warfare or some other clash of human interests. The world of humanity has never enjoyed the blessing of Universal Peace. Year by year the implements of warfare have been increased and perfected. Consider the wars of past centuries; only ten, fifteen or twenty thousand at the most were killed but now it is possible to kill one hundred thousand in a single day. In ancient times warfare was carried on with the sword; today it is the smokeless gun. Formerly battleships were sailing vessels; today they are dreadnoughts. Consider the increase and improvement in the weapons of war. God has created us all human and all countries of the world are parts of the same globe. We are all his servants. He is kind and just to all. Why should we be unkind and unjust to each other? He provides for all. Why should we deprive one another? He protects and preserves all. Why should we kill our fellow-creatures? – Abdu’l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 50.
The wars we’ve put ourselves through fill thousands of bookshelves. Yet mankind can rejoice! You and I can rejoice! Wars, in the old sense of fighting to retain or expand one country’s borders against another’s, are almost over. The consequences of modern warfare and atomic weapons have become too terrible to contemplate–or use. The Baha’i writings point this out:
Unification of the whole of mankind is the hall-mark of the stage which human society is now approaching. Unity of family, of tribe, of city-state, and nation have been successively attempted and fully established. World unity is the goal towards which a harassed humanity is striving. Nation-building has come to an end. The anarchy inherent in state sovereignty is moving towards a climax. A world, growing to maturity, must abandon this fetish, recognize the oneness and wholeness of human relationships, and establish once for all the machinery that can best incarnate this fundamental principle of its life. – Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 282.
Yes, we’ve had a few wars in the 21st Century—Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, to name three–yet they tend toward models of a new type of war fought by a coalition of multiple country’s military forces. These wars protect borders rather than expanding them.
Military wars to permanently colonize or build nations have almost ended, and now claims for land acquisition are predominantly fought diplomatically or in the courts. We can be grateful for the demise of all-out global warfare—and yet, humanity’s unrest grows with its discontent over the Old World Order, as clearly demonstrated by citizens calls for change around the world through massive demonstrations of civil unrest.