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The Baha’i teachings call for the disarmament and demilitarization of the whole world—but today humanity has a long way to go before we reach that goal.
Right now, the world is an armed camp. We possess more weapons—and more destructive weapons—than ever before, including the nuclear arsenals that have now proliferated across our planet. Yes, we’ve signed multilateral disarmament treaties and worked to reduce weapons of mass destruction, but those efforts have not succeeded in stopping the proliferation and spread of these deadly weapons:
There are currently about 15,700 nuclear weapons deployed or in reserve in the stockpiles of eight countries: China, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Of these about 1,800 of these are on high alert, i.e. ready to be launched on short notice. The combined explosive yield of these weapons is approximately 5,000 megatons, which is about 200,000 times the explosive yield of the bomb used on Hiroshima. – Nuclear Stockpiles
So a friend of mine asked me the other day, after hearing more news about North Korea’s growing nuclear arsenal: “Do you think any of those weapons will ever be used?”
It’s a terrifying question. According to public policy experts, we’re definitely at risk. We could see the use of those weapons in our lifetimes. How can we stop that from happening?
Baha’is foresee and work toward a time when:
The enormous energy dissipated and wasted on war, whether economic or political, will be consecrated to such ends as will extend the range of human inventions and technical development, to the increase of the productivity of mankind, to the extermination of disease, to the extension of scientific research, to the raising of the standard of physical health, to the sharpening and refinement of the human brain, to the exploitation of the unused and unsuspected resources of the planet, to the prolongation of human life, and to the furtherance of any other agency that can stimulate the intellectual, the moral, and spiritual life of the entire human race. – Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 202.
The prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, Baha’u’llah, in his groundbreaking nineteenth-century letters to the kings and political and religious leaders of the world, repeatedly warned those rulers, instructing them to reduce their spending on armaments, and to stop laying the fiscal burden of such expenditures on their populations:
Compose your differences, and reduce your armaments, that the burden of your expenditures may be lightened, and that your minds and hearts may be tranquillized. Heal the dissensions that divide you, and ye will no longer be in need of any armaments except what the protection of your cities and territories demandeth. Fear ye God, and take heed not to outstrip the bounds of moderation, and be numbered among the extravagant.
We have learned that you are increasing your outlay every year, and are laying the burden thereof on your subjects. This, verily, is more than they can bear, and is a grievous injustice. Decide justly between men, and be ye the emblems of justice amongst them. This, if ye judge fairly, is the thing that behoveth you, and beseemeth your station. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, pp. 250-251.
This is new. No founder and prophet of a worldwide Faith had ever done this before.
Baha’u’llah even issued a veiled warning about nuclear weapons in the 1880s, long before they were ever invented or used:
Truly I say: Moderation is desirable in every affair, and when it is exceeded it leads to detriment. Consider the civilization of the people of the Occident—how it has occasioned commotion and agitation to the people of the world. There has appeared an infernal instrument, and such atrocity is displayed in the destruction of life, the like of which was not seen by the eye of the world, nor heard by the ears of nations. It is impossible to reform these violent, overwhelming evils, except the peoples of the world be come united in affairs, or in one religion. Hearken ye unto the voice of this oppressed One, and adhere to the Most Great Peace!
A strange and wonderful instrument exists in the earth; but it is concealed from minds and souls. It is an instrument which has the power to change the atmosphere of the whole earth, and its infection causes destruction. – Baha’u’llah, Baha’i World Faith, p. 183.
Just for a moment, consider the uniqueness of these warnings. From exile and as a prisoner of conscience, Baha’u’llah addressed the kings and rulers of the world’s greatest powers, charging them all with the responsibility of disarming their nations, reducing their armies and navies, stopping the unjust taxation that paid for wars—and forging a global peace.
This radically unprecedented call from a prophet of God, so profound and so prescient, applies even more urgently today.
The Baha’i teachings insist that we must disarm and demilitarize our planet, and that the taxes we pay for weapons of war must be significantly reduced and channeled to the prosperity, the education, the health and the well-being of all humanity.