A small child who has been taught to think universally can talk with the learned. – Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 95.
Around the world, Baha’is teach children in neighborhood classes. Children come first. Or at least they should. Jesus offers a perfect example of this priority, saying:
Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 19:14.
Not only do children come first, but they can be the first to learn something new. Parents may not be so receptive to new teachings—even though parents often become receptive to new ideas when they hear them from their children.
It’s one great way to change the world, teaching children first.
Deganawida, the Iroquois prophet known as the Peacemaker (Tekanawitaˀ), used this wise approach when he first proclaimed his teachings to little children. These teachings were new. No one had heard them before:
Thereupon, as to Tekanawitaˀ, this is what happened: When the children began walking around, and more especially, when they played, some of the children repeatedly quarreled, and they wanted to fight. Thereupon Tekanawitaˀ prevented them, saying, “You will stop it because it is sinful for people to hurt one another; you especially, for you are all relatives, and so it is necessary for you to be kind to one another as well as to other people, those you know and those people you do not know; and you should respect them equally—all of the people—you should be kind to everyone.
Thereupon the children were amazed at what Tekanawitaˀ was saying. . . .
To their further surprise and and astonishment, the Peacemaker continued by giving the children the sacred message meant more for their parents than for the children themselves:
As to the children, the ones with Tekanawitaˀ, when he gathered them together, he spoke to the children, saying, “Now you will listen well: Now it is arriving, the Good Message, also the Power and the Peace. Moreover, now it will stop, the way in which matters are proceeding here on earth beneath the sky, such that they cause pools and streams of human blood to flow. Moreover, when it stops, and when all the people are kind to one another, people of the same kind, then it will stop, human beings killing one another and also scalping one another, then all are relatives, they becoming brothers, the men, and all the women becoming sisters in future days to come, so that families will continue on.
Thereupon the children were surprised at what they heard him say, Tekanawitaˀ.
Now the children were doubly amazed. Then they did something more amazing: they transmitted their amazement to their parents. And so the story goes on to say:
Thereupon the children went home and when they arrived at their destination, they repeated the things he had spoken about, Tekanawitaˀ. When the old people were informed, they said, “Now, indeed, we hear them with amazement, these kinds of words.”
“This we have never heard about, that someone might say, ‘Good Message,’ nor for someone to say, ‘Power,’ nor for someone to say, ‘Peace,’ nor for someone to say, ‘they are relatives, all of the people,’ nor for someone to say, ‘the men, all of them are brothers,’ nor for someone to say, ‘the women, they are all sisters’, also ‘the children, they are all siblings’, nor for someone to say, ‘pools and flowing streams of human blood will now cease to exist; from now on there will be peace and in the future days to come families will be ongoing.” Also there was great amazement at the kinds of words he used to speak in front of the children. – Concerning the League, pp. 27–33.
Baha’u’llah also brought a message of peace and power.
One hundred years ago, Baha’u’llah, Founder of the Baha’i Faith, proclaimed in clear and unmistakable language, to the kings and rulers of the world, to its religious leaders, and to mankind in general that the long-promised age of world peace and brotherhood had at last dawned and that He Himself was the Bearer of the new message and power from God which would transform the prevailing system of antagonism and enmity between men and create the spirit and form of the destined world order. – Baha’i World Centre, Proclamation of Baha’u’llah, p. ix.
If peace is a formula, then children are part of the equation. Baha’u’llah teaches:
We prescribe unto all men that which will lead to the exaltation of the Word of God amongst His servants, and likewise, to the advancement of the world of being and the uplift of souls. To this end, the greatest means is education of the child. To this must each and all hold fast. We have verily laid this charge upon you in manifold Tablets as well as in My Most Holy Book. Well is it with him who deferreth thereto.
We ask of God that He will assist each and every one to obey this inescapable command that hath appeared and been caused to descend through the Pen of the Ancient of Days. – A Compilation on Baha’i Education, p. 2.
And so two great Peacemakers, Deganawida and Baha’u’llah, each taught: Children first and foremost. If you are a mother or father with young children, consider trying out a Baha’i children’s class in a nearby neighborhood. Your children will learn about virtues, morals and manners, strengthening the foundation of their moral character and adding to their personal and social success.
In the process, your children will learn how to become peacemakers, as Jesus said:
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. – Matthew 5:9.