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I know that my unity with all people cannot be destroyed by national boundaries and government orders. – Tolstoy
Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual understanding. – Romans 14:19.
Today in the world of humanity the most important matter is the question of universal peace. – Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 27.
The gift of God to this enlightened age is the knowledge of the oneness of mankind and of the fundamental oneness of religion. War shall cease between nations, and by the will of God the Most Great Peace shall come; the world will be seen as a new world, and all men will live as brothers. – Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, pp. 19-20.
Every community-building effort requires a stable, peaceful environment as a basic starting point. Without peace, in the midst of hostility and violence, no community, local or global, can ever thrive.
Today, Baha’is all around the world devote themselves to Baha’u’llah’s promise of a new world-encircling community committed to justice, unity and peace.
In fact, the Baha’i Faith has now established, in its relatively short period of existence, a global, grassroots force of committed people actively laboring for the cessation of warfare, the likes of which the Earth has never before witnessed. This truly new development, unique in human history, links millions of Baha’is from every class, culture, country, racial group and former Faith in a unified, planet-spanning peace building program.
Viewing themselves as citizens of the world, Baha’is in every nation on Earth advocate and conscientiously work for international peace. Peaceful and nonviolent themselves, the Baha’is have created the most diverse, widespread and sustainable peace movement ever assembled.
But the Baha’is themselves didn’t just decide one day to focus on peace.
Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, announced that primary principle as the Faith began, by enunciating a sophisticated spiritual system of community- and peace-building teachings he referred to as “a new World Order.” That World Order, Baha’u’llah wrote, would upset the Earth’s status quo, exert a powerful influence on the entire planet and consequently lead us to unified global governance—which would ultimately secure the peace and tranquility of humanity. Baha’u’llah made the pursuit of universal peace the chief priority for everyone:
It is incumbent upon all the peoples of the world to reconcile their differences, and, with perfect unity and peace, abide beneath the shadow of the Tree of His care and loving-kindness. It behoveth them to cleave to whatsoever will, in this Day, be conducive to the exaltation of their stations, and to the promotion of their best interests… Soon will the present-day order be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its stead. Verily, thy Lord speaketh the truth, and is the Knower of things unseen. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, pp. 6-7.
The Baha’i writings outline a fully-realized vision for a unified world at peace—complete with a detailed plan for achieving it. No mere hope or empty expectation, the Baha’i prescription for universal peace takes a realistic, practical approach to establishing Baha’u’llah’s new World Order. Baha’is believe that unprecedented approach will help usher in a completely new cycle of human harmony:
The call of the Kingdom has been sounded, and the annunciation of the world’s need for Universal Peace has enlightened the world’s conscience.
…through the zeal and ardour of the pure of heart, the darkness of hatred and difference will be entirely abolished, and the light of love and unity shall shine; this world shall become a new world; things material shall become the mirror of the divine; human hearts shall meet and embrace each other; the whole world become as a man’s native country and the different races be counted as one race. – Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 37.
In this new era, Baha’is believe, world unity has finally become not only possible but inevitable:
In cycles gone by, though harmony was established, yet, owing to the absence of means, the unity of all mankind could not have been achieved. Continents remained widely divided, nay even among the peoples of one and the same continent association and interchange of thought were well-nigh impossible. Consequently intercourse, understanding and unity amongst all the peoples and kindreds of the earth were unattainable. In this day, however, means of communication have multiplied, and the five continents of the earth have virtually merged into one. And for everyone it is now easy to travel to any land, to associate and exchange views with its peoples, and to become familiar, through publications, with the conditions, the religious beliefs and the thoughts of all men. In like manner all the members of the human family, whether peoples or governments, cities or villages, have become increasingly interdependent. For none is self-sufficiency any longer possible, inasmuch as political ties unite all peoples and nations, and the bonds of trade and industry, of agriculture and education, are being strengthened every day. Hence the unity of all mankind can in this day be achieved. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 31-32.
In the subsequent essays in this series, we’ll take a detailed look at the elements of the global Baha’i peace program, explore their practicality and promise, and visualize the day when humanity can finally lay down its weapons and partake in the long-awaited joys of a peaceful planet.