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Could the world’s best minds and most experienced diplomats create a comprehensive plan for global unity and peace? Baha’is believe that such a plan already exists.
Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, gave the world a comprehensive plan for global unity and peace more than a hundred years ago. As a planetary society, we’ve tried to implement parts and pieces of it, and they have had some success—but until we implement all of its recommendations, Baha’is believe that world peace will remain an elusive dream.
When he was asked in 1919 by Europe’s Central Organisation for a Durable Peace to recommend a course of action for nations to avoid further catastrophic wars, Abdu’l-Baha elucidated his father Baha’u’llah’s teachings on unity and peace. But he focused on much more than just ending warfare—instead, Abdu’l-Baha laid out the wide spectrum of peace-producing Baha’i social and spiritual teachings:
Among these teachings was the independent investigation of reality so that the world of humanity may be saved from the darkness of imitation and attain to the truth; may tear off and cast away this ragged and outgrown garment of 1,000 years ago and may put on the robe woven in the utmost purity and holiness in the loom of reality. As reality is one and cannot admit of multiplicity, therefore different opinions must ultimately become fused into one.
And among the teachings of His Holiness Baha’u’llah is the oneness of the world of humanity; that all human beings are the sheep of God and He is the kind Shepherd. This Shepherd is kind to all the sheep, because He created them all, trained them, provided for them and protected them. There is no doubt that the Shepherd is kind to all the sheep and should there be among these sheep ignorant ones, they must be educated; if there be children, they must be trained until they reach maturity; if there be sick ones, they must be cured. There must be no hatred and enmity, for as by a kind physician these ignorant, sick ones should be treated.
And among the teachings of His Holiness Baha’u’llah is, that religion must be the cause of fellowship and love. If it becomes the cause of estrangement then it is not needed, for religion is like a remedy; if it aggravates the disease then it become unnecessary.
And among the teachings of Baha’u’llah is, that religion must be in conformity with science and reason, so that it may influence the hearts of men. The foundation must be solid and must not consist of imitations.
And among the teachings of Baha’u’llah is, that religious, racial, political, economic and patriotic prejudices destroy the edifice of humanity. As long as these prejudices prevail, the world of humanity will not have rest. For a period of 6,000 years history informs us about the world of humanity. During these 6,000 years the world of humanity has not been free from, war, strife, murder and bloodthirstiness. In every period war has been waged in one country or another and that war was due to either religious prejudice, racial prejudice, political prejudice or patriotic prejudice. It has therefore been ascertained and proved that all prejudices are destructive of the human edifice. As long as these prejudices persist, the struggle for existence must remain dominant, and bloodthirstiness and rapacity continue. Therefore, even as was the case in the past, the world of humanity cannot be saved from the darkness of nature and cannot attain illumination except through the abandonment of prejudices and the acquisition of the morals of the Kingdom.
If this prejudice and enmity are on account of religion (consider that) religion should be the cause of fellowship, otherwise it is fruitless. And if this prejudice be the prejudice of nationality (consider that) all mankind are of one nation; all have sprung from the tree of Adam, and Adam is the root of the tree. That tree is one and all these nations are like branches, while the individuals of humanity are like leaves, blossoms and fruits thereof. Then the establishment of various nations and the consequent shedding of blood and destruction of the edifice of humanity result from human ignorance and selfish motives. – Abdu’l-Baha, Tablet to The Hague, pp. 4-6.
Then, Abdu’l-Baha came to the difficult subject of nationalism and patriotism, advising the world’s leaders that a restoration of sanity and wisdom after World War I required a completely new approach to the planet’s problems. Without unity, Abdu’l-Baha basically said, we would never have peace:
As to the patriotic prejudice, this is also due to absolute ignorance, for the surface of the earth is one native land. Everyone can live in any spot on the terrestrial globe. Therefore all the world is man’s birthplace. These boundaries and outlets have been devised by man. In the creation, such boundaries and outlets were not assigned. Europe is one continent, Asia is one continent, Africa is one continent, Australia is one continent, but some of the souls, from personal motives and selfish interests, have divided each one of these continents and considered a certain part as their own country. God has set up no frontier between France and Germany; they are continuous. Yea, in the first centuries, selfish souls, for the promotion of their own interests, have assigned boundaries and outlets and have, day by day, attached more importance to these, until this led to intense enmity, bloodshed and rapacity in subsequent centuries. In the same way this will continue indefinitely, and if this conception of patriotism remains limited within a certain circle, it will be the primary cause of the world’s destruction. No wise and just person will acknowledge these imaginary distinctions. Every limited area which we call our native country we regard as our mother-land, whereas the terrestrial globe is the mother-land of all, and not any restricted area. In short, for a few days we live on this earth and eventually we are buried in it, it is our eternal tomb. Is it worthwhile that we should engage in bloodshed and tear one another to pieces for this eternal tomb? Nay, far from it, neither is God pleased with such conduct nor would any sane man approve of it. – Ibid.
At the end of this process, some of Abdu’l-Baha’s recommendations for establishing a global end to war made their way into the final recommendations of the Central Organisation for a Durable Peace. But his prediction—that the League of Nations was “incapable of establishing universal peace”–came true twenty years later when the League dissolved on the eve of World War II. Sadly, the League definitely did not follow Abdu’l-Baha’s advice to work on forming a universal, worldwide democratic body–instead, it limited its membership and influence to those “Great Power” nations that “won” World War I. Historians agree that the League’s flawed, faulty formation sowed the seeds of its eventual failure and dissolution—and paved the way for the development of the United Nations.