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Now yet another bloody massacre … Multiple young innocent lives lost in a high school, to guns and madness, right in my neighboring city of Parkland, Florida.
What can anyone say?
Well, a century ago Abdu’l-Baha gave some serious, compelling Baha’i advice to a gun lover and manufacturer. In 1912, as America and the nations of Europe began to bristle with new weapons of war, the wealthy inventor, gun manufacturer and arms dealer Hudson Maxim had a bone to pick with Abdul-Baha, widely known then as the visiting “prophet of peace.”
Maxim asked to meet with Abdu’l-Baha while he was in New York, and Abdu’l-Baha agreed. They met on April 15, 1912 at the Hotel Ansonia in New York City. Abdu’l-Baha began the meeting, which included W. H. Short, the secretary of the New York Peace Society, by praising the efforts of all peacemakers:
In this day the majority of mankind are endeavouring to destroy the foundations of the happiness of the world. How many are engaged in the invention of means for the destruction of human kind; how many are employed in the science and practice of war; how many are occupied in various kinds of strife and antagonism; how many stand ready to shed the blood of innocent men, their brothers! So it is that history is blackened with this record of human intention and accomplishment. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 2, p. 4.
The New York Peace Society, an anti-war group that opposed the entry of the United States into World War I, received its primary funding from the industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie—who also met with Abdu’l-Baha during his North American trip. In a later message to Carnegie written before World War I broke out in 1914, Abdu’l-Baha wrote:
All the leaders and statesmen of Europe are thinking on the plane of war and the annihilation of the mansion of humanity, but thou art thinking on the plane of peace and love and the strengthening and reinforcement of the basis of the superstructure of the human world. They are the heralds of death, thou art the harbinger of life. The foundations of their palaces are unstable and wavering and the turrets of their mansions are tottering and crumbling, but the basis of thy structure is firm and unmovable. – Star of the West, Volume 4, p. 82.
Abdu’l-Baha praised the efforts of the peacemakers, but also encouraged the warmongers and weapons manufacturers to stop contributing to the world’s culture of carnage and death:
“I understand you are a messenger of peace to this country,” Maxim said to Abdu’l-Baha. “What is your opinion of modern war?”
“Everything that prevents war is good,” Abdu’l-Baha replied.
“Do you consider the next great national war necessary?” Maxim asked
“Why not try peace for awhile?” Abdu’l-Baha answered. “If we find war is better it will not be difficult to fight again; but if we find that peace is the glorification of humanity, the impulse of true civilization, the stimulus to inventive genius and the means of attainment to the good-pleasure of God, we must agree to adhere to it and establish it permanently. …
“You are a celebrated inventor and scientific expert whose energies and faculties are employed in the production of means for human destruction … Now you have the opportunity of becoming doubly famous. You must practice the science of peace. … You must discover the means of peace; invent guns of love which will shake the foundations of humanity.
Then will it be said by the people of the world, this is Mr. Maxim, inventor of the guns of war, discoverer of high explosives, military scientist, who has also discovered and invented means for increasing the life and love of man; who has put an end to the strife of nations and uprooted the tree of war. … Then will your life become pregnant and productive with really great results … God will be pleased with you and from every standpoint of estimation you will be a perfect man.” – reported by Howard MacNutt in Star of the West, Volume 2, pp. 4-11.
No one will ever say it better than Abdu’l-Baha. We need those “guns of love” even more today.