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Politics, Refugees, and Guns–Where Does World Peace Fit In?

Jennifer Campbell | Jan 5, 2016

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Jennifer Campbell | Jan 5, 2016

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

Come and cast down your weapons of wrath, till unity is won! Come and in the Lord’s true path each one help each one. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 273.

A great deal of hype exists in the media about gun control, refugees, and politics. We criticize, lampoon and poke fun at political candidates for their positions on those issues, argue about whether refugees are bad or good, and disagree endlessly about guns. People expound their viewpoints—often to the detriment of relationships—to ensure that we hear their voices. 

In America, we especially hear a wide range of opinions: some profess that destroying all guns and demanding stricter laws will solve the problem; some say that prayer is the fix that we all need; some don’t even want to get involved in the argument; and still others stand behind the rights that were written back in 1787 on a (frequently amended) document, at a time when slavery was legal and women had few rights. Who is right? Is anyone right?

Let’s imagine for a moment that we could remove all of the weapons in the world. If it were possible to collect and destroy every weapon and every bomb, and prevent any future weapons production, would that stop the crime or the warfare that exists in the world? Consider this statement from the Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the Baha’i Faith

Banning nuclear weapons, prohibiting the use of poison gases, or outlawing germ warfare will not remove the root causes of war. However important such practical measures obviously are as elements of the peace process, they are in themselves too superficial to exert enduring influence. Peoples are ingenious enough to invent yet other forms of warfare, and to use food, raw materials, finance, industrial power, ideology, and terrorism to subvert one another in an endless quest for supremacy and dominion. Nor can the present massive dislocation in the affairs of humanity be resolved through the settlement of specific conflicts or disagreements among nations. A genuine universal framework must be adopted. – The Promise of Universal Peace, October 1985.

This quote seems to tell us that while arms control remains an important piece of the process toward world peace; it doesn’t address the underlying root causes of war.

So maybe we shouldn’t focus on right or wrong opinions—maybe we should work collaboratively to bring about world peace. Does arguing about our opinions bring us together? Definitely not! It only focuses on our differences, instead of focusing on our commonalities—such as the essential unity of our shared humanity.

Call me an idealist, but I believe that the Baha’i Faith has answers for dealing with the issues we face today. The Baha’i writings steer us away from contention and disagreements. The basic tenets of the Baha’i Faith hinge upon building peace through loving our fellow humans, achieving universal education, promoting global communication through the use of a universal language, striving for the equality of men and women, and solving economic difficulties through spiritual means. 

In addition to building our lives upon these universal beliefs, the Baha’i writings also provide practical guidance on ways to bring about world peace. Abdu’l-Baha discusses a powerful yet simple method for changing our mindsets, which in turn has ripple effects in the world, in the following quote from Paris Talks:

I charge you all that each one of you concentrate all the thoughts of your heart on love and unity. When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love. Thoughts of war bring destruction to all harmony, well-being, restfulness and content. Thoughts of love are constructive of brotherhood, peace, friendship, and happiness. – p. 29.

Other practical guidance for building world peace hinges upon our behaviors, and the Baha’i writings have much to say about deeds and actions. In the Hidden Words, for example, Baha’u’llah says, “Say: O brethren! Let deeds, not words, be your adorning.”  Baha’is believe putting our beliefs into action can transform ideals into reality:

The wrong in the world continues to exist just because people talk only of their ideals, and do not strive to put them into practice. If actions took the place of words, the world’s misery would very soon be changed into comfort. – Ibid., p. 16.

In sum, what can each of us do to improve the problems of the world today? How can we bring about world peace? We can love each other more, and argue less. We can support equal rights and education for every human being.  We can eliminate the “root causes of war” by focusing on those things we can each control—our individual thoughts, beliefs, and actions.

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Comments

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  • Jan 7, 2016
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    The other day I encountered a great description of the difference between an argument and a discussion. An argument tries to determine WHO is right. A discussion is to determine WHAT is right. Arguments seldom, if ever, actually solve problems.
  • Mary Wilhelm Wedemeyer
    Jan 6, 2016
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    1) acknowledging error/accepting responsibility/being sorry and 2) forgiveness both can make peace and unity or improve relationships! It is amazing how it diffuses issues when that occurs!
  • Mary Wilhelm Wedemeyer
    Jan 6, 2016
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    One additional concept to share that truly helps towards making the world better is when each person gives validation to everyone and truly listens, and desires or makes efforts to know them and allow each person to be special and acknowledged and to feel good about their own potential. To "BE" who God created us to be and allowed to shine individually is paramount to becoming our fullest potential! All people need support, recognition, social life, friends, loved ones. Trying and interacting and communicating by each person is necessary. Everyone needs same basic "quality ...of life" w/ family, two-way relationships that are mutually giving and kind and productive. Ignoring a person or treating them as lesser also is a major cause in dysfunction or mental illness or war or pain and suffering. Everyone is put in our "path" for a reason. Notice everyone and give to them far more than niceties! Give your heart! Care as if it were God Himself! I have met homeless people and spent a full hour with them instead of just saying "hi" and walking by. And try with everyone anywhere anytime. It truly gives them joy and I receive so much back! One homeless man hugged me over and over and his story would use up so much space here!!! Truly God wants us to try to give more consideration to each and every person that we meet!!! Peace!
    Read more...
  • Mary Wilhelm Wedemeyer
    Jan 6, 2016
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    Peace and love begin in knowledge of God and His teachings and laws along with perfecting oneself. If each person is being kind, fair, considerate and treat each other as they desire to be treated and then guide and nurture their children by example then the world would be better or peaceful and united. It is a process and we all have choice and free will. Everyone is affected by everyone, not just themselves as in " no man is an island." Discussion, disagreements w/open-mindedness brings solutions. Remedies often need to be, for example, ...the society's protection of innocents from agressors so that a problem such Hitler is "involvement w/ armies" until negotiations amongst countries can be achieved. Such as the UN. It is complicated on all levels since the beginning of "Adam and Eve" or humanity as in "paradise" then it was destroyed by "sin" or wrong chouces and "Cain killing Abel." It has always been this conflict of "good vs evil" within each person. Forever this world has been a path to decide allegience to or against God in order to live spuritually eternally "saved" or to attain toward perfection and serve God. God's Will will be done and He is self-sufficient. We are created by His love for us! Love you, Jennifer and your desire to teach and share. Love, Mom.
    Read more...
  • Jan 6, 2016
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    The sixties' Peace Symbol still lives! I think growing numbers of good folks are fed up with talk and no action, or action with no teeth. Working for Peace a past Baha'i bumper sticker means just that, like anything worth having, it has to be worked toward, step by step. And as this article points out, it starts with me but doesn't end there.
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