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The United States of America, by most estimates, has been at war for most of the 20th and 21st Centuries. Its longest current war, in Afghanistan, has lasted almost two decades.
Some historians describe the United States as the most warlike nation in the modern era. It certainly has the planet’s largest military, and has taken on the historical role of the so-called “world’s policeman.” With that aggressive military posture, how could the United States possibly lead the world to peace? How could Abdul-Baha’s 1912 statements that America “will lead all nations spiritually” and that “The American people are indeed worthy of being the first to build the Tabernacle of the Great Peace, and proclaim the oneness of mankind …” possibly come true?
A quotation from the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, Shoghi Effendi may help us understand how America has already begun to fulfill Abdul-Baha’s designation. Shoghi Effendi wrote the following in 1947, describing two processes: the work of the American Bahai community on one hand, and the future destiny of America on the other:
The other process [the destiny of the America nation and its peoples] dates back to the outbreak of the first World War that threw the great republic of the West into the vortex of the first stage of a world upheaval. It received its initial impetus through the formulation of President Wilson’s Fourteen Points, closely associating for the first time that republic with the fortunes of the Old World [Europe]. It suffered its first setback through the dissociation of that republic from the newly born League of Nations which that president had labored to create. It acquired added momentum through the outbreak of the second World War, inflicting unprecedented suffering on that republic, and involving it still further in the affairs of all the continents of the globe. It was further reinforced through the declaration embodied in the Atlantic Charter, as voiced by one of its chief progenitors, Franklin D. Roosevelt. It assumed a definite outline through the birth of the United Nations at the San Francisco Conference.
It acquired added significance through the choice of [New York City] itself as the seat of the newly born organization, through the declaration recently made by the American president related to his country’s commitments in Greece and Turkey, as well as through the submission to the General Assembly of the United Nations of the thorny and challenging problem of the Holy Land, the spiritual as well as the administrative center of the World Faith of Baha’u’llah.
It [the destiny of America] must, however long and tortuous the way, lead, through a series of victories and reverses, to the political unification of the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, to the emergence of a world government and the establishment of the Lesser Peace, as foretold by Baha’u’llah and foreshadowed by the Prophet Isaiah. It must, in the end, culminate in the unfurling of the banner of the Most Great Peace, in the Golden Age of the Dispensation of Baha’u’llah. – Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p. 33.
So America, perhaps unwittingly and unwillingly at first, has had an enormous impact—and has a very significant role yet to play in the security and eventual unification of the human race. It initially did so by joining both world wars and helping to ensure victory for the forces of freedom and the democratic rule of law. It has continued by supporting, finally, the creation of one body that has helped to maintain peace—the United Nations.
Since then the United States has helped form innumerable alliances such as NATO and others to maintain, if not a full and secure worldwide peace, at least a balance of power among the more aggressive nations. With the U.N. in place, no planetary conflagration has happened for almost three-quarters of a century. The U.S. also participates in at least 22 other NGOs (Non-governmental Organizations) associated with the U.N., whose goal is to secure and maintain a lasting global peace.
More than that, Shoghi Effendi wrote this about America in his book The Advent of Divine Justice:
For no matter how ignorant of the Source from which those directing energies proceed, and however slow and laborious the process, it is becoming increasingly evident that the nation as a whole, whether through the agency of its government or otherwise, is gravitating, under the influence of forces that it can neither comprehend nor control, towards such associations and policies, wherein, as indicated by Abdu’l-Baha, her true destiny must lie. Both the community of the American believers, who are aware of that Source, and the great mass of their countrymen, who have not as yet recognized the Hand that directs their destiny, are contributing, each in its own way, to the realization of the hopes, and the fulfillment of the promises, voiced in the above-quoted words of Abdul-Baha. – pp. 87-88.
The Baha’i teachings say that America will continue to gravitate toward her true destiny. Progress may appear slow and fitful, or even look like regression at times, but the Baha’i writings assure us that an inexorable process is slowly unfolding, leading the world toward its eventual goal—a global system of democratically-elected governance designed to create and preserve peace:
In all the countries of the world the longing for universal peace is taking possession of the consciousness of men. There is not a soul who does not yearn for concord and peace. A most wonderful state of receptivity is being realized. This is through the consummate wisdom of God, so that capacity may be created, the standard of the oneness of the world of humanity be upraised, and the fundamental of universal peace and the divine principles be promoted in the East and the West. – Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 43.
Baha’is believe that the spiritual destiny of America and its people is high—very high. Wherever and whenever the leaven is found to fulfill that noble destiny, the ingredients will produce amazing results and powerful impacts on the world at large.