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Say the phrase “world peace” in mixed company and you’ll likely get a few scoffing dismissals, chuckles, or skeptical side-eye glances. Apparently many people see a peaceful world as an unachievable dream.
Obviously some have concluded that world peace represents a utopian fantasy, that because of humanity’s long past history of war and violence, we’re permanently doomed to wage bloody conflict with each other.
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We human beings are basically violent creatures, this kind of thinking goes, so we’ll always have war.
This simplistic conclusion has led to thousands of books, articles and scientific papers on the subject, many concluding that human beings have natural genetic programming that makes them aggressive, contentious, and combative.
The psychiatrist Sigmund Freud advanced the idea when he said that all humans have within us a reservoir of “aggressive energy” that naturally emerges as violence.
This basic philosophy – humans as inherently warlike beings – has been buttressed and supported by some scientists and philosophers for a very long time. One recent magazine essay in The National Interest titled “What Our Primate Relatives Say About War” maintained that we’ve warred with and killed each other for so long “Because we are human.”
Another article in the “New Scientist” journal asserted that warfare has “played an integral part in our evolution,” treating it as a given that war would always be with us. Even the respected research journal Science claimed in 2016 that “death in warfare is so common in hunter-gatherer societies that it was an important evolutionary pressure on early Homo sapiens.”
Simply summarized, this cynical philosophy says war is inevitable and always will be, because violence is embedded in our DNA.
The Baha’i teachings most definitely do not subscribe to that theory – Baha’is understand that peace isn’t just a pipedream. Instead, Baha’is believe that human beings have kind, compassionate, and loving capabilities that can overcome violence – and that Baha’u’llah’s new revelation has set in motion a practical, comprehensive peace plan now working towards the time when humanity will have succeeded in a gradual and permanent eradication of warfare worldwide.
Baha’is are not naïve – they recognize the violent human impulses that have brought about war in the past, but also diligently work toward the day when a lasting peace will become a global reality. Abdu’l-Baha, in a speech he gave in the United States in 1912, said:
Universal peace is assured by Baha’u’llah as a fundamental accomplishment of the religion of God – that peace shall prevail among nations, governments and peoples, among religions, races and all conditions of mankind.
Skeptics should know that millions of people around the world, from all continents, cultures and civilizations, are putting the Baha’i peace plan into action every day.
In the course of human history, this represents something entirely unprecedented. For the first time, a grassroots global peace force has formed – a nonviolent, cross-cultural, unified mass movement devoted to ending war forever. You may not have noticed it yet, because its tactics and techniques are themselves quietly peaceful, but that movement, the Baha’i cause, has marshalled a dedicated army of peacemakers unparalleled throughout the existence of our species.
The Great Being, wishing to reveal the prerequisites of the peace and tranquillity of the world and the advancement of its peoples, hath written: The time must come when the imperative necessity for the holding of a vast, an all-embracing assemblage of men will be universally realized. The rulers and kings of the earth must needs attend it, and, participating in its deliberations, must consider such ways and means as will lay the foundations of the world’s Great Peace amongst men.
We have enjoined upon all mankind to establish the Most Great Peace – the surest of all means for the protection of humanity … for this is the supreme instrument that can ensure the security and welfare of all peoples and nations.
God’s purpose in sending His Prophets unto men is twofold. The first is to liberate the children of men from the darkness of ignorance, and guide them to the light of true understanding. The second is to ensure the peace and tranquillity of mankind, and provide all the means by which they can be established.
O ye rulers of the earth! Wherefore have ye clouded the radiance of the Sun, and caused it to cease from shining? Hearken unto the counsel given you by the Pen of the Most High, that haply both ye and the poor may attain unto tranquillity and peace. We beseech God to assist the kings of the earth to establish peace on earth.
Abdu’l-Baha put it this way:
There is not one soul whose conscience does not testify that in this day there is no more important matter in the world than that of universal peace.
With those powerful statements in mind, let’s explore the framework Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha – the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith and his son and successor – revealed for the establishment of this enormous, ambitious and ultimate human goal of universal peace. Please follow along in this series of essays on the Baha’i peace plan, and see if it can help you understand that peace is truly possible.