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In order to abolish war we must abolish the mistrust and fear we have for others, at the personal as well as at the national levels.
Organizations of states such as the 28-state European Union have come far, through practical means, of creating soft rather than hard borders, encouraging commerce and trade, ensuring regional security, and spreading diplomacy. On a continent that hosted two world wars in the 20th Century, we’ve now had almost 75 years of peace. These multilateral organizations have created the basic building blocks of cooperation, but their foundations have begun to crack, with calls for Brexit in the United Kingdom, displeasure in Greece and Italy, and other moves away from EU political stability.
But according to the Baha’i teachings, unity based on economic or political factors alone will never provide the unity of nations sought in an interconnected world at all levels of human endeavor. Abdu’l-Baha expressed the idea that these limited forms of agreement will only achieve limited unities:
There is also the unity of tongue among those who use the same language as a means of communication; national unity where various peoples live under one form of government such as French, German, British, etc.; and political unity, which conserves the civil rights of parties or factions of the same government. All these unities are imaginary and without real foundation, for no real result proceeds from them. The purpose of true unity is real and divine outcomes. From these limited unities mentioned only limited outcomes proceed, whereas unlimited unity produces unlimited result. …
The unity which is productive of unlimited results is first a unity of mankind which recognizes that all are sheltered beneath the overshadowing glory of the All-Glorious, that all are servants of one God; for all breathe the same atmosphere, live upon the same earth, move beneath the same heavens, receive effulgence from the same sun and are under the protection of one God. This is the most great unity, and its results are lasting if humanity adheres to it … – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 190.
To abolish war once and for all, we need to establish true unity and love for all humankind. That may sound like an unreachable goal, but we’ve proven it’s possible on a national level—why not on a global level? Baha’is believe that great global unity is not only possible but inevitable:
National rivalries, hatreds, and intrigues will cease, and racial animosity and prejudice will be replaced by racial amity, understanding and cooperation. The causes of religious strife will be permanently removed, economic barriers and restrictions will be completely abolished, and the inordinate distinction between classes will be obliterated. Destitution on the one hand, and gross accumulation of ownership on the other, will disappear. 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. 281.
When Shoghi Effendi wrote that “The enormous energy dissipated and wasted on war,” will be used to further the interests of humanity’s development and peace, he expressed the central theme of the Baha’i teachings—that humanity must come together in unity to establish universal peace.
Right now, we all know that nations spend inordinate amounts on defense and war. The euphemism “defense” also means enhancing the ability to make war on others, not just protecting internal security. In the U.S. for example, national security constitutes a significant part of the federal budget—currently standing as the third most expensive government program ($696 billion annually in 2018) after Social Security and Medicare. U.S. spending on defense outpaces the next seven highest countries combined, including China and Russia.
If we trusted other countries not to wage war, we could cut the defense budget dollars to pay for social programs and education, to alleviate taxes, and to increase our world’s peace and stability:
True civilization will unfurl its banner in the midmost heart of the world whenever a certain number of its distinguished and high-minded sovereigns … shall, for the good and happiness of all mankind, arise, with firm resolve and clear vision, to establish the Cause of Universal Peace. They must make the Cause of Peace the object of general consultation, and seek by every means in their power to establish a Union of the nations of the world. They must conclude a binding treaty and establish a covenant, the provisions of which shall be sound, inviolable and definite. … In this all-embracing Pact the limits and frontiers of each and every nation should be clearly fixed, the principles underlying the relations of governments towards one another definitely laid down, and all international agreements and obligations ascertained. In like manner, the size of the armaments of every government should be strictly limited, for if the preparations for war and the military forces of any nation should be allowed to increase, they will arouse the suspicion of others. The fundamental principle underlying this solemn Pact should be so fixed that if any government later violate any one of its provisions, all the governments on earth should arise to reduce it to utter submission, nay the human race as a whole should resolve, with every power at its disposal, to destroy that government. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 64–65.
Reaching this kind of universal peace pact will not be easy, but as the European Union proves, it can be accomplished on economic, border, and security issues. With more impetus on the part of the United Nations, peace can’t be far behind in our lifetimes. Let your voice be heard and urge your nation to do more to abolish war.