Fighting for Justice

All research or scholarship questions
anonyM

Fighting for Justice

Postby anonyM » Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:22 am

There are a number of references in the Writings to the relationship between force and justice (see below). Though the aim of the Teachings is the establishment of unity and peace, under certain circumstances (i.e. when unity and peace are threatened), the use force may be justified. Under such circumstances, however, while it is apparently fine, even praiseworthy, for others to fight (read engage in armed combat, kill and be killed) Baha'is are not permitted to do so? In other words, why is okay for others to fight in a just war but not Baha'is?

The purpose underlying the revelation of every heavenly Book, nay, of every divinely-revealed verse, is to endue all men with righteousness and understanding, so that peace and tranquillity may be firmly established amongst them.
(Baha'u'llah: Gleanings, p. 206)

"Such a peace demandeth that the Great Powers should resolve, for the sake of the tranquillity of the peoples of the earth, to be fully reconciled among themselves. Should any king take up arms against another, all should unitedly arise and prevent him. If this be done, the nations of the world will no longer require any armaments, except for the purpose of preserving the security of their realms and of maintaining internal order within their territories. This will ensure the peace and composure of every people, government and nation."
(Baha'u'llah: Gleanings, p.?)

True civilization will unfurl its banner in the midmost heart of the world whenever a certain number of its distinguished and high-minded sovereigns - the shining exemplars of devotion and determination - shall, for the good and happiness of all mankind, arise, with firm resolve and clear vision, to establish the Cause of Universal Peace. They must make the Cause of Peace the object of general consultation, and seek by every means in their power to establish a Union of the nations of the world. They must conclude a binding treaty and establish a covenant, the provisions of which shall be sound, inviolable and definite. They must proclaim it to all the world and obtain for it the sanction of all the human race. This supreme and noble undertaking - the real source of the peace and well-being of all the world - should be regarded as sacred by all that dwell on earth. All the forces of humanity must be mobilized to ensure the stability and permanence of this Most Great Covenant. In this all-embracing Pact the limits and frontiers of each and every nation should be clearly fixed, the principles underlying the relations of governments towards one another definitely laid down, and all international agreements and obligations ascertained. In like manner, the size of the armaments of every government should be strictly limited, for if the preparations for war and the military forces of any nation should be allowed to increase, they will arouse the suspicion of others. The fundamental principle underlying this solemn Pact should be so fixed that if any government later violate any one of its provisions, all the governments on earth should arise to reduce it to utter submission, nay the human race as a whole should resolve, with every power at its disposal, to destroy that government. Should this greatest of all remedies be applied to the sick body of the world, it will assuredly recover from its ills and will remain eternally safe and secure.
(`Abdu'l-Baha: Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 64-65)

When describing the "unity of the human race, as envisaged by Bahá'u'lláh" Shoghi Effendi also refers to "a system in which Force is made the servant of Justice..."

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Re: Fighting for Justice

Postby BruceDLimber » Wed Aug 17, 2011 8:44 am

From the Baha'i scriptures:

“O people of the earth!
“The first Glad-Tidings which the Mother Book hath, in this Most Great Revelation, imparted to all the peoples of the world is that the law of holy war hath been blotted out from the Book. Glorified be the All-Merciful, the Lord of grace abounding, through Whom the door of heavenly bounty hath been flung open in the face of all that are in Heaven and on earth.
“The second Glad-Tidings . . .”
--Tablets of Baha’u’llah, pp. 21-22

“Beware lest ye shed the blood of anyone. Unsheathe the sword of your tongue from the scabbard of utterance, for therewith ye can conquer the citadels of men’s hearts. We have abolished the law to wage holy war against each other. God’s mercy, hath, verily, encompassed all created things, if ye do but understand. Aid ye your Lord, the God of Mercy, with the sword of understanding. Keener indeed is it, and more finely tempered, than the sword of utterance, were ye but to reflect upon the words of your Lord. Thus have the hosts of Divine Revelation been sent down by God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting, and thus have the armies of divine inspiration been made manifest from the Source of command, as bidden by God, the All-Glorious, the Best-Beloved.”
--The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p 23


Peace, :-)

Bruce

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Re: Fighting for Justice

Postby brettz9 » Wed Aug 17, 2011 1:01 pm

Hello anonyM,

Yes, you are most definitely correct, force is justified in the Writings in certain circumstances.

Baha'u'llah indicates "That which traineth the world is Justice, for it is upheld by two pillars, reward and punishment. These two pillars are the sources of life to the world." (Tablets of Baha'u'llah, Tablet of Ishraqat, pp. 128-129)

"...Bahá'ís recognize the right and duty of governments to use force for the maintenance of law and order and to protect their people. Thus, for a Bahá'í, the shedding of blood for such a purpose is not necessarily essentially wrong. The Bahá'í Faith draws a very definite distinction between the duty of an individual to forgive and 'to be killed rather than to kill' and the duty of society to uphold justice. This matter is explained by Abdu'l-Bahá in 'Some Answered Questions'. In the present condition of the world Bahá'ís try to keep themselves out of the internecine conflicts that are raging among their fellow men and to avoid shedding blood in such struggles, but this does not mean that we are absolute pacifists. This point is explained in the following statement written by the Guardian's secretary on his behalf on 21 November, 1935:

'With reference to the absolute pacifists, or conscientious objectors to war; their attitude, judged from the Bahá'í standpoint, is quite anti-social and due to its exaltation of the individual conscience leads inevitably to disorder and chaos in society. Extreme pacifists are thus very close to the anarchists, in the sense that both of these groups lay an undue emphasis on the rights and merits of the individual. The Bahá'í conception of social life is essentially based on the subordination of the individual will to that of society. It neither suppresses the individual nor does it exalt him to the point of making him an anti-social creature, a menace to society. As in everything, it follows the 'golden mean'. The only way that society can function is for the minority to follow the will of the majority.

'The other main objection to the conscientious objectors is that their method of establishing peace is too negative. Non-cooperation is too passive a philosophy to become an effective way for social reconstruction. Their refusal to bear arms can never establish peace. There should first be a spiritual revitalization which nothing, except the Cause of God, can effectively bring to every man's heart.'

"A further quotation which may help this dear friend to understand this matter is the passage about the establishment of the Lesser Peace on page 65 of 'The Secret of Divine Civilization'."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, February 9, 1967, in Lights of Guidance, no. 1354)


It is even recognized by Baha'is that nations cannot disarm themselves unilaterally since 'Abdu'l-Baha was to have said that would be foolish (and He was to have told the story in this context of a Christian who allowed himself to be slapped by a friend, but after a few times, pointed out to his friend that he was also commanded to be a Christian and not hit people!). There is also this indicating the imperfection of partial solutions to disarmament:

"At the present time, the subject of nuclear disarmament has become very much a political issue, with demonstrations taking place not only in the United States but also in England and some western European countries. To single out nuclear disarmament falls short of the Bahá'í position and would involve the Faith in the current disputes between nations. It is very clear that Bahá'ís believe disarmament, not only of nuclear weapons but of biological, chemical and all other forms, is essential."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, January 12, 1983, in Lights of Guidance, no. 1427)


Besides the case you mention of a global security pact allowing preemptive action against a global arms treaty violators, there is also mention of, e.g.,

1) Defensive actions by governments:

Thus when Christ said: "Whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the left one also,"+F1 it was for the purpose of teaching men not to take personal revenge. He did not mean that, if a wolf should fall upon a flock of sheep and wish to destroy it, the wolf should be encouraged to do so. No, if Christ had known that a wolf had entered the fold and was about to destroy the sheep, most certainly He would have prevented it.
As forgiveness is one of the attributes of the Merciful One, so also justice is one of the attributes of the Lord. The tent of existence is upheld upon the pillar of justice and not upon forgiveness. The continuance of mankind depends upon justice and not upon forgiveness. So if, at present, the law of pardon were practiced in all countries, in a short time the world would be disordered, and the foundations of human life would crumble. For example, if the governments of Europe had not withstood the notorious Attila, he would not have left a single living man.

('Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 270)


2) Opposition to tyrants (though Baha'is at the very least are prevented from making judgments about which regime is tyrannical--so in this case it seems Baha'is are not to become involved except in our capacity to urge the formation of an international Force in which we could participate--see below and also consider this quote which mentions how Baha'is are not getting directly involved in the Lesser Peace (though other places indicate we are to encourage it) as we are focusing on laying the foundations of the Most Great Peace, thus perhaps justifying our lack of involvement in some legitimate movements of the people):

"If he exercises his anger and wrath against the bloodthirsty tyrants who are like ferocious beasts, it is very praiseworthy; but if he does not use these qualities in a right way, they are blameworthy."

('Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 215)


"Kindness cannot be shown the tyrant, the deceiver, or the thief, because, far from awakening them to the error of their ways, it maketh them to continue in their perversity as before."

('Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, no. 138)


3) Uniting a divided state (and of course repelling invaders):

"A conquest can be a praiseworthy thing, and there are times when war becomes the powerful basis of peace, and ruin the very means of reconstruction. If, for example, a high-minded sovereign marshals his troops to block the onset of the insurgent and the aggressor, or again, if he takes the field and distinguishes himself in a struggle to unify a divided state and people, if, in brief, he is waging war for a righteous purpose, then this seeming wrath is mercy itself, and this apparent tyranny the very substance of justice and this warfare the cornerstone of peace."

('Abdu'l-Baha, Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 70-71)


Baha'is are not to carry arms unless essential, where that is interpreted as either being a law enforcement agent, or being in an extremely dangerous territory with no duly constituted government. I believe it is most likely only such a state which 'Abdu'l-Baha is referring to here, not simply warring to unite one's group with another similar group in another territory since Baha'is are NOT to get involved in such conflicts and to strictly obey their government (the only exception being when moral duties would be compromised such as being obligated to denounce a Jew (as given in one pilgrim's note) or to renounce one's Faith).

4) what we might call a war on (narcotic) drugs:

"O ye lovers of God! In this, the cycle of Almighty God, violence and force, constraint and oppression, are one and all condemned. It is, however, mandatory that the use of opium be prevented by any means whatsoever, that perchance the human race may be delivered from this most powerful of plagues. And otherwise, woe and misery to whoso falleth short of his duty to his Lord."

('Abdu'l-Baha, cited in Kitab-i-Aqdas, note 170)


Shoghi Effendi even said at the time of Prohibition, that anything to limit alcohol would be welcome, but he said it would depend on the readiness of the people.

And note the very important point in the following that it is not just an exhortation to others; individual Baha'is may become involved in the future with these when the time is ripe (except again, for the one against tyrants, if such were to be seen as including rebellion against established regimes, for which Baha'is are strictly forbidden to get involved in any such actions):

"...It is true that Bahá'ís are not pacifists since we uphold the use of force in the service of justice and upholding law. But we do not believe that war is ever necessary and its abolition is one of the essential purposes and brightest promises of Bahá'u'lláh's revelation. His specific command to the kings of the earth is: 'Should any one among you take up arms against another, rise ye all against him, for this is naught but manifest justice.' (Tablet to Queen Victoria, 'The Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh', p. 13) The beloved Guardian has explained that the unity of mankind implies the establishment of a world commonwealth, a world federal system, '...liberated from the curse of war and its miseries ... in which Force is made the servant of Justice...' whose world executive 'backed by an international Force ... will safeguard the organic unity of the whole commonwealth.' This is obviously not war but the maintenance of law and order on a world scale. Warfare is the ultimate tragedy of disunity among nations where no international authority exists powerful enough to restrain them from pursuing their own limited interests. Bahá'ís therefore ask to serve their countries in non-combatant ways during such fighting; they will doubtless serve in such an international Force as Bahá'u'lláh envisions, whenever it comes into being."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, September 11, 1984, in Lights of Guidance, no. 1429, underlining and emphasis added)


And emphasis is made that the justification against taking up combatant duties on national forces (and even serving on national forces made for protecting internal order ought to be allowable in the future, no doubt, once they are assured of not being used for foreign wars) unless compelled by law does not at all prohibit Baha'is' accepting their lives being endangered in non-combatant roles:

"It is still his firm conviction that the believers, while expressing their readiness to unreservedly obey any directions that the authorities may issue concerning national service in time of war, should also, and while there is yet no outbreak of hostilities, appeal to the government for exemption from active military service in a combatant capacity, stressing the fact that in doing so they are not prompted by any selfish considerations, but by the sole and supreme motive of upholding the Teachings of their Faith, which make it a moral obligation for them to desist from any act that would involve them into direct warfare with their fellow-humans of any other race or nation.

"The Bahá'í Teachings, indeed, condemn, emphatically and unequivocally, any form of physical violence, and warfare in the battlefield is obviously a form, and perhaps the worst form, which such violence can assume.

"There are many other avenues through which the believers can assist in times of war by enlisting in services of a non-combatant nature--services that do not involve the direct shedding of blood--such as ambulance work, anti-air raid precaution service, office and administrative works, and it is for such types of national service that they should volunteer.

"It is immaterial whether such activities would still expose them to dangers, either at home or in the front, since their desire is not to protect their lives, but to desist from any acts of wilful murder.

"The friends should consider it their conscientious duty, as loyal members of the Faith, to apply for such exemption, even though there may be slight prospect of their obtaining the consent and approval of the authorities to their petition. It is most essential that in times of such national excitement and emergency as those through which so many countries in the world are now passing that the believers should not allow themselves to be carried away by the passions agitating the masses, and act in a manner that would make them deviate from the path of wisdom and moderation, and lead them to violate, however reluctantly and indirectly, the spirit as well as the letter of the Teachings."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, June 4, 1939)


"Regarding your question about military service, the Guardian sees no reason why the Bahá'í in question should not bring a test case, and press the matter. It is now, since he has become a follower of Bahá'u'lláh, against his conscience to kill his fellow-men; and he should have the right to explain his position and ask to be exempted from combatant service. During the hearing of such cases, the Bahá'ís should make it absolutely clear that we do not fear being placed in danger, and are not asking to be given a safe berth in hours of national crisis--quite the contrary--any dangerous service that Bahá'ís can render their fellow-men during the agonies of war, they should be anxious to accept."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, February 25, 1951, in Lights of Guidance, no. 1359)


One aspect which complicates things a little I think is that, as indicated in the document Turning Point For All Nations, one should view the evolution of international institutions in the totality of existing institutions (e.g., I suppose regional alliances):

The United Nations has co-evolved with other great institutions of the late twentieth century. It is in the aggregate that these institutions will define -- and themselves be shaped by -- the evolution of the international order. Therefore, the mission, role, operating principles and even activities of the United Nations should be examined only in the light of how they fit within the broader objective of the international order.

(Turning Point for all Nations, at http://info.bahai.org/article-1-7-5-1.html#II )


I think this evolutionary aspect is very important for Baha'is to keep in mind to avoid siding against positive national or regional trends which seek to intervene in certain well-justified situations, even if there is not yet the complete and more incorruptibly disinterested international institutions yet in place to which Baha'is can give their unqualified support, especially when they are not under world-wide representative institutions. I think it is also important for Baha'is to know of the shortcomings of the U.N. system as pointed out in the Turning Point For All Nations document (such as excluding the worst rights violators for membership) which other people who object to the U.N. are legitimately concerned about.

And although the book from the Baha'i World Centre, the "Century of Light" heralded the first Iraq war resolution (which had not dissenting votes) in opposing an aggressor nation, there has been no long-standing International Force established by which national forces are truly melded into international ones with the sole aim of policing conflicts; in the absence of a global security pact as Baha'u'llah called for and envisaged, there is still the potential for national forces to be used for self-interested aims.

Of course it would be great to see such a meeting which made such a pact on a more solid ground, endorsed by national legislatures, etc., rather than being ad hoc solutions. Again, see Turning Point for all Nations for recommendations on how such an evolution of the U.N. might lead to such a more permanent International Force in the future.

Best wishes,
Brett

(also note that I am posting this without much sleep, so please alert me to any glaring faults of wording...)

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Re: Fighting for Justice

Postby brettz9 » Wed Aug 31, 2011 7:23 am

anonyM wrote:You have provided quotes that describe a number of scenarios in which force may be justified including:

i. Maintenance of law and order
ii. Uniting a divided state and repelling some invaders (not the "praiseworthy" type presumably) and tyrants
iii. Involvement in praiseworthy conquests
iv. Possibly in the war against narcotics
v. When safeguarding the organic unity of a future commonwealth

If individual Baha'is are not permitted to judge which regimes are just, when conquest and defense is justified and when it is essential to carry arms who is it that makes such judgements? Is it the Universal House of Justice? Are their any precedents apart from the first Iraq war? Further, in the case of the first Iraq war, was involvement by Baha'is permitted?


A few reactions, very importantly, as far as iii., I would not list that as a separate category without qualification. The specific examples give by 'Abdu'l-Baha after making reference to "praiseworthy conquest" are those example in ii., so I think it could really mislead people to indicate iii. by itself. Baha'u'llah wrote in no uncertain terms that "the law of holy war hath been blotted out from the Book." and emphasized in countless Tablets this need for a lack of engagement by Baha'is in any conflicts and that the need to defend the Faith was only in terms to words.

'Abdu'l-Baha always emphasizes defensive actions only; the only action some might not see as defensive, is preemptive action, though this is to be done by a world authority after a global arms reduction pact has been made, and as far as uniting a divided state, "divided state" here is certainly not encouraging unilateral action as far as disputed borders: that is something which the Baha'i Writings and documents (see esp. Turning Point For All nations) urge should be resolved by an increasing role of the U.N. I hesitate to give any current examples where the uniting of a divided state might exist, but perhaps 'Abdu'l-Baha's statement could have applied to states where control was in the hands of fighting warlords with no internationally recognized authority arbitrating, where it was already extremely chaotic and violent, etc.

My comment about Baha'is carrying arms where essential was not to suggest Baha'is could definitely participate, even in such an action to unify a truly divided state, especially since even the context there was 'Abdu'l-Baha indicating this being done by a sovereign. I was just juxtaposing that statement there for thought, perhaps unwisely so, given the wrong impression it could give. It was simply to also observe that individual Baha'is could bear arms in some places where there is no functioning central authority, a condition perhaps similar to a divided state--certainly not to say that Baha'is would ever get involved in such. Also, there are I think only a handful of such places left in the world, and the decision about whether individuals could carry arms to protect themselves would be by the Universal House of Justice.

Also, in ii., I'm not sure what you mean by "not the "praiseworthy" type presumably". Why wouldn't it be praiseworthy?

If individual Baha'is are not permitted to judge which regimes are just, when conquest and defense is justified and when it is essential to carry arms who is it that makes such judgements? Is it the Universal House of Justice? Are their any precedents apart from the first Iraq war? Further, in the case of the first Iraq war, was involvement by Baha'is permitted?


As far as the Universal House of Justice deciding these things, Baha'is are forbidden from trying to usurp any authority from any government. So, these issues of when defense is justified, etc., is determined by the actual authorities of the land, not by Baha'is, and Baha'is do not get involved in this. If a majority of the people of a country accepted the Faith and reformed their Constitution voluntarily, perhaps there would be an increasing role for making some decisions on these things, but that would be by the Universal House of Justice. However, this stage is envisioned as being in the farther future, once the "Lesser Peace" has already been established--when the governments of the world, without Baha'i intervention, will have already been forced by circumstances (not by any Baha'i intervention) such as overbearing war taxes, to engage in a global security pact, and enforce mutual defense as per the quotations you supplied.

By obeying a "just government", the Baha'i Writings clarify this refers to duly constituted governments. It just means obeying an actual government with authority. That's all.

As far as when it is essential to carry arms, this would be decided by the Universal House of Justice, or maybe the National Spiritual Assembly if allowed to make that decision by the House, but it would NOT be in contravention to the prohibitive laws of the country (i.e., if a country forbade arms, Baha'i institutions would certainly not permit them!), though they can prohibit Baha'is more than the law. For example, in the U.S., Baha'is are not to carry arms unless they are police officers or such.

As far as the first Iraq war, please note that that was cited as an example in a list of other historic events given a good number of years after the fact. As far as Baha'i involvement, as mentioned, Baha'is would not get involved because there is no standing international Force to join. The first Gulf War was one action taken by national governments, albeit with international approval, and cited as an example milestone toward a world government (similar to how Shoghi Effendi marked the vote of the League of Nations against the aggression of Italy toward Ethiopia as historic). It still does not negate the fact that those participating in that global police action were national militaries, and without a clear mandate in the world prohibiting national militaries from engaging in international conflicts without international approval, there would be a risk that Baha'is joining such militaries would become used for other purposes.

Best wishes,
Brett

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Re: Fighting for Justice

Postby brettz9 » Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:38 pm

anonyM wrote:More food for thought. Thank you.

One thing troubles me though is that you appear to be writing with some authority.


No, I certainly didn't mean to give that impression. No individual Baha'i has any special authority of their own. If I was a little emphatic in my comments, it was only because I felt it important to qualify statements for the sake of readers, including those in different countries, who may have little knowledge of the Baha'i Faith, and its overwhelming emphasis on peace and moral development and its inculcation of obedience to government.

It's particularly important, I think, given how certain religious movements have not distanced themselves from or have even endorsed violence--which the Baha'i Faith in no uncertain terms rejects. I thought it would be safer to err on the side of being too cautious rather than too casual, but I certainly didn't mean to sound as I were speaking myself with authority! In some cases, I may have also been referencing a quotation without citing my source, so please feel free to ask me to justify any claims for which I have not given sources and which interest you.

Best wishes,
Brett

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Re: Fighting for Justice

Postby BruceDLimber » Thu Sep 01, 2011 10:00 am

anonyM wrote:So you have no authority? You have not be asked by Jonah or anyone else to frequent this site and ensure that everyone else develops an understanding of the Baha'i Faith similar or in accordance with yours? These are your personal views based on your study of the Baha'i Faith and your understanding is necessarily incomplete, flawed and entirely open to question?

That's true of ANY Baha'i, which is why we always endeavor to provides quotes (ideally with citations) to back up our points!

Peace,

Bruce

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Re: Fighting for Justice

Postby Jonah » Thu Sep 01, 2011 2:38 pm

Thanks to everyone for this fascinating discussion. I appreciate how contributors to this forum are consistently respectful and polite, even in the case of disagreements or, here, simple misunderstandings.

You have not be asked by Jonah or anyone else to frequent this site
No, I have not asked Brett to help with either Baha'i Library Online or this forum. He has offered his countless hours of editing, research, and feedback on his own initiative. And let me take the opportunity to say how invaluable his help has been these last ten years. He has done twenty times more editing and posting to the site than any other assistant; he's contributed more posts to this forum than anyone, and is one of the most careful researchers I've known.

But no, as Brett confirmed above, his answers hold no more authority than anyone else's. He always provides plenty of links and citations, follow them to see if you agree with his interpretations. :book:

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Re: Fighting for Justice

Postby brettz9 » Sat Sep 03, 2011 3:07 am

Hello anonyM,

You appear to be arguing that armed conflict in which people kill and are killed cannot be justified unless and until the Universal House of Justice explicitly permits. Such circumstances, if I understand you correctly, are likely to be rare indeed but may include the safeguarding of a future commonwealth, ?

Does that mean that, according to your interpretation of the Teachings of the Baha'i Faith, none of the wars fought let's say during the last century were just? If that is the case one would assume that this would also be true of the armed conflicts and blood shed occurring in this century?


Someone working in a bar might do some things which are praiseworthy; they may provide water or food, but they may also be called on to serve alcohol; it is not food service as a whole which is a problem, just the kind of establishment. The moral situation is similar, I think, with national militaries. Militaries may engage in a range of praiseworthy actions like preserving peace, opposing aggressors, proactively disabling would-be aggressors, etc. They engage in many activities which local police or national guards may perform, and the danger to themselves may be greater, and the situation they are trying to resolve, more desperate, so in that sense, they may be doing something which is not only justified but highly necessary and important.

So, I'd hesitate to say the Baha'i Writings do not consider these actions justified (and I think this is supported by the various quotations presented earlier). As mentioned, Baha'is are envisioned as participating in an international force of the future--which might, unlike a fully Baha'i system, come into being in the not distant future, but by still being in harmony with a global security pact, might therefore never engage in war, an eventuality which could open the way for Baha'is to participate nationally or internationally.

No doubt the Universal House of Justice would guide national communities about the appropriateness of joining such government forces, but before that time, it is not that the action of using force is inherently rejected, merely the fact that joining a national force, at this present time, is risking becoming involved in international conflicts not sanctioned by the international community (and even that is not to say that the current institutions are structured to be responsive enough to international conflicts either, so it is possible that some national intervention may itself be understandable, if not ideal, in the absence of a sufficiently just international order).

We as Baha'is do not engage in disputes about exactly when such situations are justified, as that would tend to involve us in politics and heated controversial issues, both of which we are to avoid. And that is why what we might see as a lesser version of war, partisan politics, is also something which Baha'is do not get involved in, however justified some of these parties' aims may be at certain times and in certain areas.

Such circumstances, if I understand you correctly, are likely to be rare indeed but may include the safeguarding of a future commonwealth, ?


Except perhaps for the opposition to tyrants and hopefully the uniting of a divided state (neither of which would, I would think, tend to occur in the democratic and spiritually-oriented systems of the future, and even these might be undertaken internationally), I would think all of those could be taken up by any Baha'i government of the future, as they are all necessary roles of governments, but Baha'is only envision a Baha'i State arising out of a long-term "supremely voluntary and democratic process".

Does that mean that, according to your interpretation of the Teachings of the Baha'i Faith, none of the wars fought let's say during the last century were just?


If someone engages in smoking, and then acquires lung cancer, is excising the tumor justified? Yes, no doubt, but it would have been better avoided in the first place (and that doesn't even speak to the proportionality of the response--e.g., whether the doctor was wise to remove the whole lung, when only a small piece might have sufficed). Shoghi Effendi wrote in 1938 to the believers in the U.S. and Canada of the imminent second World War:

"The world-shaking ordeal which Bahá'u'lláh, as quoted in the foregoing pages, has so graphically prophesied, may find it [the American nation] swept, to an unprecedented degree, into its vortex. Out of it it will probably emerge, unlike its reactions to the last world conflict, consciously determined to seize its opportunity, to bring the full weight of its influence to bear upon the gigantic problems that such an ordeal must leave in its wake, and to exorcise forever, in conjunction with its sister nations of both the East and the West, the greatest curse which, from time immemorial, has afflicted and degraded the human race."


This does not seem to me to be negative about America's participation, and indeed the prophesy began to be fulfilled as America played a pivotal role in the founding of the United Nations. Other places speak of the evils of racial prejudice and the need for self-defense and collective security.

None of the wars of the last century were necessary. Shoghi Effendi wrote of the influence on militarism which happened in the years following World War I, due to the unjust terms of the victors wishing to punish the vanquished powers. Had those nations been treated fairly, or had they embraced the security pact called for by Baha'u'llah, and first enunciated on the political scene to a good extent by President Wilson in his vision for a League of Nations but sadly rejected by the Senate of the time, we might have averted further wars. But again, as I mentioned earlier, Baha'u'llah does not support unilateral disarmament. Thankfully the victors of the Second World War, wisely focused on reconstruction, and saw the birth of the United Nations, the real beginnings of international economic institutions, etc. The Cold War soon eclipsed that, but that too could have been averted had the world heeded Baha'u'llah's counsels about economic justice and would not have led to the extreme experiments which 'Abdu'l-Baha predicted would fail.

If that is the case one would assume that this would also be true of the armed conflicts and blood shed occurring in this century?


Thankfully, the evolutionary process leading the world, including America, toward the global security pact of the future, seems to be well establishing the following needs:

1) The positive potential for some intervention in international peace-making and peace-keeping
2) The benefits, as far as avoiding shared costs, increasing public support (domestic as well as international), and finding military success for missions which are internationally supported and coordinated.

Despite the troubles associated with the Second Iraq War, despite its outcome based on its original public rationale, I believe that it was historic, whatever one's opinion about it, in raising the potential on the world stage for preemptive action to be taken against recalcitrant states, something which Baha'u'llah foreshadows, albeit under the auspices of the international community. I believe that world events are moving further in this direction and that we may yet see more action along these lines. Other supremely pivotal events of this century already involve bold proclamations of justice against sitting heads of state, international military assistance being given toward toppling the worst of even primarily internally-oriented tyrants, smarter use of sanctions to target the financiers of war, etc. Although these do not have the universal support one would like to see, I think governments and the public increasingly realize that the former extremes endorsed at various times by all prominent parties, of either isolationism or lack of engagement on the one hand or unilateral intervention on the other, etc., are all unjustifiable both from a practical point of view and in the face of such humanitarian horrors as the Rwandan genocide. And the primary factor which 'Abdu'l-Baha foretold would bring about peace, the burden of war taxes, seems from my point of view, to be increasingly felt, with even the degree of support for the formerly untouchable pillar of national defense being questioned in more circles.

Best wishes,
Brett

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Re: Fighting for Justice

Postby Jonah » Sat Sep 03, 2011 6:00 pm

Hi, please let me observe that answering such questions puts us in the realm of pure speculation. I think that might be unwise because there are so many unknowns.

For example, in recent decades many Baha'is believed in the literal "establishment of the Lesser Peace" by the year 2000, and guessed wildly about what that might look like (I did, too). But now in retrospect, I think Baha'is will either re-interpret "Lesser Peace" or they'll re-interpret its timing.

anonyM wrote:It appears to me that what you are saying, in summary, is that in your understanding force may be employed as the "servant of justice" domestically for the maintenance of order and internationally for the safeguarding of peace and security. At the moment, however, while domestically a policeman (e.g. a Baha'i policeman in the US) may carrying and use a gun in the line of duty and for the maintenance of law and order, internationally humanity has not evolved to a stage (i.e. the future commonwealth) where Baha'is could justify being actively engaged in armed conflict for the future commonwealth envisioned by Baha'u'llah does not yet exist. And, until it does, while some actions may in themselves be noteworthy as they may in some respects represent or signal steps in the right direction, Baha'is should not yet get involved as wars, both civil and international (including preemptive strikes) may be motivated by immature notions of what is in a nations best interest. If this is the case it seems to make some sense.

I do however have a few more questions:
i. Do you think this peace keeping force will consist of personnel and hardware (e.g. fighters, aircraft carriers etc) provided if and when needed by the constituent members of this future commonwealth?
ii. Will there also be an international police force? If so presumably they will be under the direction of an international body of some description and may at times be required to use force (euphemism for "to kill") for the means of maintaining law and order (e.g. prevention of international drugs trafficking)?
iii. Brettz, you say:
"By obeying a "just government", the Baha'i Writings clarify this refers to duly constituted governments. It just means obeying an actual government with authority. That's all."

Would you mind citing a source for this?
iv. Also, you mention that certain circumstances (i.e. "extremely dangerous territory without a duly constituted government") might necessitate Baha'is carrying arms. Such a scenario, however, though conceivable would require explicit permission from the Universal House of Justice or the National Assembly. Would you provide the source for this too please?
v. Is perhaps the European Union (EU) an example of a model whereby a degree of state sovereignty must be abandoned so that integration may take place and challenges (at present predominantly financial) may be tackled?
vi. Is there any other model that is better able (than the EU model that is) to establish the machinery that can best incarnate the oneness of human relationships? Or do you think Shoghi Effendi was referring to the World Order of Baha'u'llah here? I think the answer to these questions may be found in the title of the book from whence this quote was derived but, considering the need for humanity to grow gradually toward that eventual goal, I shall let the question stand.


My point is not to change the topic, merely to show how awry speculation can be about such matters.

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Re: Fighting for Justice

Postby brettz9 » Sun Sep 04, 2011 12:26 pm

Hi anonyM,

(I'm including your amended quote--though, FYI, you are welcome to edit your prior posts to amend them, and for clarity for those who read the thread later, I would recommend it, unless it is a long time after the fact, in which case you could edit and annotate why you have edited it.)

It appears to me that what you are saying, in summary, is that in your understanding force may be employed as the "servant of justice" domestically for the maintenance of order and internationally for the safeguarding of peace and security. At the moment, however, while domestically a policeman (e.g. a Baha'i policeman in the US) may carrying and use a gun in the line of duty and for the maintenance of law and order, internationally humanity has not evolved to a stage (i.e. the future commonwealth) where Baha'is could justify being actively engaged in armed conflict for the future commonwealth envisioned by Baha'u'llah does not yet exist. And, until it does, while some actions may in themselves be noteworthy as they may in some respects represent or signal steps in the right direction, Baha'is should not yet get involved as wars, both civil and international (including preemptive strikes), may be motivated not by justice and a desire to safeguard the integrity of the commonwealth as envisioned but perhaps by self interest and immature notions of what is in a nations best interest. If this is the case it seems to make some sense.


Yes, exactly. And it is not just a wishy-washy idea that humanity is not mature enough in some abstract sense (as if it ever will be perfectly so)--it is institutional maturity too.

Just compare the U.N. to the U.S. government institutions, and see how powerless it is, and how therefore, there are no real checks in place to ensure that abuse by national governments would be systematically addressed (or compare the U.N. to the weak and ineffectual Articles of Confederation of the United States before its strengthened Constitution).

Imagine if say New York, California, Illinois, and Washington D.C. were able to veto any decision made by the Congress, without a real chance of an override. Imagine no obligatory requirement to respond in kind where one state was attacked by another.

Imagine if the Supreme Court could only take cases submitted by the states, and then only if both states agreed to it being involved!

Imagine if the Congress' decisions were not legally binding and relied on voluntary contributions for its revenue! Imagine if there were only a Senate, so that a very populous state like Florida or Texas had no additional representation in the Congress through the House of Representatives.

Imagine if slave-holding (read: majorly human-rights abusing) states were still allowed membership in the Union.

These are some of the flaws of the current U.N. system, so it is not a surprise that national governments are not willing to submit themselves to it, and for there to be the intertwined problem of the U.N. system, in turn, not being able to adequately maintain checks and balances on recalcitrant members--a point made in Turning Point for all Nations. Its role is increasing, but it is far from adequate.

i. Do you think this peace keeping force will consist of personnel and hardware (e.g. fighters, aircraft carriers etc) provided if and when needed by the constituent members of this future commonwealth?


In Turning Point For All Nations, there is a section of recommendations toward "Developing a Meaningful Executive Function" at the U.N., with the following subsection:

2. Institutionalizing ad hoc military arrangements

To support the peacekeeping operations of the United Nations, and to add credibility to resolutions of the Security Council, an International Force should be created. [22] Its loyalty to the UN and its independence from national considerations must be assured. The command and control of such a fully armed Force would reside with the Secretary-General under the authority of the Security Council. Its finances, however, would be determined by the General Assembly. In constructing such a force, the Secretary-General would seek to draw competent personnel from all regions of the world.

If properly implemented, this Force would also provide a sense of security that might encourage steps toward global disarmament, thereby making possible an outright ban on all weapons of mass destruction. [23] Furthermore, in line with the principle of collective security, it would become gradually understood that states need only maintain armaments sufficient for their own defense and the maintenance of internal order.

As an immediate step toward the establishment of this Force, the present system of ad hoc arrangements could be institutionalized to establish core regional forces for rapid deployment during a crisis.


So, although as pointed out by Jonah, we cannot speculate on all details for the future, in answer to your question, I think this would eventually even go beyond supply of resources "if and when needed by the constituent members of this future commonwealth" (which is already happening to some degree anyhow). The idea is that the International Force would eventually be strong enough and mature enough (just as the National Guard can be employed by the U.S. Executive for putting down any insurrection within its borders) to be solely responsible for putting out international conflicts or, I would presume, for cases where a national authority was not capable enough to respond on their own.

ii. Will there also be an international police force? If so presumably they will be under the direction of an international body of some description and may at times be required to use force (euphemism for "to kill") for the means of maintaining law and order (e.g. prevention of international drugs trafficking)?


Also from the Turning Point section on improving Executive function at the U.N.:

"Although originally conceived within the context of a threat of military aggression, the principle of collective security, some argue, may now be applied in an expansive manner to all threats which, although apparently local in nature, are actually the result of the complex breakdown of the present-day global order. These threats include but are not limited to international drug trafficking, food security, and the emergence of new global pandemics."


Currently, it seems Interpol coordinates some national efforts, but it seems the Baha'i International Community is arguing for an increased role of such efforts through the umbrella of the U.N. executive, which would make sense given the increasingly international role of much crime.

And under the section on strengthening the World Court:

"The World Court should act as an umbrella for existing and new thematic courts, that arbitrate and adjudicate international cases within specific thematic domains.

Early components of a unified system can already be found in the specialized courts for arbitration of such matters as commerce and transportation, and in the proposals for such bodies as an International Criminal Court and a Chamber for Environmental Matters. Other issue areas that might need to be addressed under such a system would include courts for international terrorism and drug trafficking."


iii. Brettz, you say:
By obeying a "just government", the Baha'i Writings clarify this refers to duly constituted governments. It just means obeying an actual government with authority. That's all.
Would you mind citing a source for this?


Gladly. Indeed none of us are authorities here, so we are all to welcome independent investigation, especially of the source which, along with scientific investigation, gives us our unity--I sometimes do not provide quotations as I am not sure whether the questioner is in fact interested in full details on the source, but should be always happy to provide.

"The attitude of the Bahá'ís must be two-fold, complete obedience to the government of the country they reside in, and no interference whatsoever in political matters or questions. What the Master's statement really means is obedience to a duly constituted government, whatever that government may be in form. We are not the ones, as individual Bahá'ís, to judge our government as just or unjust--for each believer would be sure to hold a different viewpoint, and within our own Bahá'í fold a hotbed of dissension would spring up and destroy our unity. We must build up our own Bahá'í system, and leave the faulty systems of the world to go their way. We cannot change them through becoming involved in them; on the contrary, they will destroy us."

(Directives from the Guardian, p. 56)


You may also be interested in this compilation: http://bahai-library.com/khan_political ... _obedience

iv. Also, you mention that certain circumstances (i.e. "extremely dangerous territory without a duly constituted government") might necessitate Baha'is carrying arms. Such a scenario, however, though conceivable would require explicit permission from the Universal House of Justice or the National Assembly. Would you provide the source for this too please?


Gladly:

"Bahá'u'lláh confirms an injunction contained in the Bayán which makes it unlawful to carry arms, unless it is necessary to do so. With regard to circumstances under which the bearing of arms might be "essential" for an individual, 'Abdu'l-Bahá gives permission to a believer for self-protection in a dangerous environment. Shoghi Effendi in a letter written on his behalf has also indicated that, in an emergency, when there is no legal force at hand to appeal to, a Bahá'í is justified in defending his life. There are a number of other situations in which weapons are needed and can be legitimately used; for instance, in countries where people hunt for their food and clothing, and in such sports as archery, marksmanship, and fencing."

(Notes to the Kitab-i-Aqdas, no. 173)


"From the texts you already have available it is clear that Bahá'u'lláh has stated that it is preferable to be killed in the path of God's good-pleasure than to kill, and that organized religious attack against Bahá'ís should never turn into any kind of warfare, as this is strictly prohibited in our Writings.

"The House of Justice does not wish at the present time to go beyond the guidelines given in the above-mentioned statements. The question is basically a matter of conscience, and in each case the Bahá'í involved must use his judgment in determining when to stop in self-defense lest his action deteriorate into retaliation.

"Of course the above principles apply also in cases when a Bahá'í finds himself involved in situations of civil disorder. We have, however, advised the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States that under the present circumstances in that country it is preferable that Bahá'ís do not buy nor own arms for their protection or the protection of their families."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, May 26, 1969: Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, p. 26, in Lights of Guidance, no. 399)


"We have your letter of March 2, 1972 asking if ... a pioneer couple living in a remote area lacking police protection may have a weapon in their possession for defending themselves as thieves have broken into their house twice and robbed them.

"A hitherto untranslated Tablet from Abdu'l-Bahá points out that in the case of attack by robbers and highwaymen, a Bahá'í should not surrender himself, but should try, as far as circumstances permit, to defend himself, and later on lodge a complaint with the government authorities. A statement in a letter written on behalf of the Guardian indicates that in an emergency when there is no legal force at hand to appeal to a Bahá'í is justified in defending his life. Although we have advised certain National Assemblies in countries facing increasing civil disorder that it is preferable that Bahá'ís do not buy or own arms for their protection or the protection of their families, we feel that in the circumstances you have outlined in your letter it would be permissible for the pioneer family to keep a weapon in the house, provided the law permits."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Honduras, March 20, 1972, in Lights of Guidance, no. 400)

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Re: Fighting for Justice

Postby onepence » Tue Sep 06, 2011 10:06 pm

America

Q: For Baha'is , is it permissible for Baha'is to advocate amending the The United States Constitution ?

For instance, consider the actions leading up to the following event

Amendment 18 - Liquor Abolished. Ratified 1/16/1919.

this of course was later Repealed by Amendment 21, 12/5/1933.

so ... i am a little unclear to our Baha'i participation in the amendment 18 process.

Did we, as Baha'is have an official or unofficial dialogue with our duly elected officials and/or our fellow citizens about Amendment 18

and/or

What about Amendment 21 ... what was our response then ... ???

It is interesting to note that in current time, 2011, we are called upon by our National Assembly to support H. Res. 134 ~ Condemning the Government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of its Baha'i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Right

so .... ????

What would happen to an individual Baha'i that openly and publicly taught that we must assuredly one day amend The United States Constitution to reflect a position of servitude to the World Order of Baha'u'llah ?

Is it permissible for an individual to encourage one and all to amend The United States Constitution to reflect a position of servitude to the World Order of Baha'u'llah ?




:down: or :thumbs:






Aid ye your Lord, the God of Mercy, with the sword of understanding. Keener indeed is it, and more finely tempered, than the sword of utterance, were ye but to reflect upon the words of your Lord.



--The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p 23






oneness
dh


btw ... in furtherance to thought

... it is interesting to note Abdu'l Baha came specifically to America and walked through our Land





... the question is not

.... .... ... would have could have should have ... ... ...


changed



... the question is how do we change ..... ???


be re-born or perish



... and ... if we change , then what do we change into ... ???

one would think that advocating an amendment is not a political event,
one would think that it would be a social event,
because political implies poles, ie opposite extremes,
while amending implies mending , that is to bring together

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Re: Fighting for Justice

Postby BruceDLimber » Wed Sep 07, 2011 7:22 am

onepence wrote:What would happen to an individual Baha'i that openly and publicly taught that we must assuredly one day amend The United States Constitution to reflect a position of servitude to the World Order of Baha'u'llah ?

Is it permissible for an individual to encourage one and all to amend The United States Constitution to reflect a position of servitude to the World Order of Baha'u'llah ?


Ever hear of the First Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights?

Specifically (emphasis added):

"Congress shall make NO LAW respecting the establishment of religion. . . ."

Perhaps remembering this will make clearer for you why Baha'is are forbidden to engage in partisan politics.

Bruce

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Re: Fighting for Justice

Postby onepence » Wed Sep 07, 2011 8:01 am

BruceDLimber wrote:Specifically (emphasis added):



"Congress shall make NO LAW respecting the establishment of religion. . . ."



Bruce[/size]



surely there is a difference between law and amendments,

this is clearly seen by how law is created and how amendments are created

Article Five of the United States Constitution allows for
" ... a Convention for proposing Amendments ... "

it is my understanding that any individual may petition the government,
but it does take an individual, just one individual, to start the petition,

now whether or not any person would chose to start a petition that requests a Convention for proposing Amendments will ever arise remains unclear, in fact, it is rather dubious that any individual would arise, ...

... unless ...

oneness
dh

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Re: Fighting for Justice

Postby BruceDLimber » Thu Sep 08, 2011 7:30 am

onepence wrote:[S]urely there is a difference between law and amendments....


Not in their effect once passed, no!

And you're missing my point about Baha'is' being forbidden to engage in partsan politics, the key word here being "partisan."

The sort of proposal you made would clearly be partisan.

Bruce

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Re: Fighting for Justice

Postby onepence » Thu Sep 08, 2011 11:02 pm

...
...
...


Wow ... we certainly do have a lot to think about in this thread.


....
...
....



I certainly do think it is possible for a Baha'i to ask a Local Spiritual Assembly to give credence to an idea that individuals may petition their own host government on any number of subjects, including, but not limited to, calling for a National Convention to add an amendment to a constitution.

I think it is possible that this could happen in any country, say France, England, Germany, etc. etc etc.
Any place that has a constitutional form of government.

I think theoretically it is possible.

For instance , in America, a Baha'i is allowed to file criminal reports and to me that is a form of petition to a host government.

Now, i admit I could be thoroughly wrong.

It maybe a Baha'i is not allowed to petition the government, however, a Baha'i can certainly petition a Local Spiritual Assembly about any manner. If the matter is a national concern ,The Local Spiritual Assembly may feel it necessary to petition the National Spiritual Assembly ; however, given the current emphasis upon local grass roots call for action , it certainly would be understandable if a LSA did give approval to an individual to start a petition locally that calls for a National Convention to amend the constitution.

As we all know, there are individual rights and freedoms. And it would seem that one such freedom is that any individual has the freedom to petition the government.


There could also be different proposals for different amendments in different countries.

The wording of each amendment might be entirely different, but the underlying theme would be the promotion of peace.

For instance , in America, we might want to say something like

Article 28


We the people of the United States will promote peace by rejoicing with the Oneness of mankind


///end\\\

the above could be and should be consulted upon and perhaps even edited , scrapped or given in part, partial or in entirety and whole to another host government.

oneness
dh

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Re: Fighting for Justice

Postby brettz9 » Sat Sep 10, 2011 11:05 am

How would you understand:
Nation-building has come to an end. The anarchy inherent in state sovereignty is moving towards a climax. A world, growing to maturity, must abandon this fetish, recognize the oneness and wholeness of human relationships, and establish once for all the machinery that can best incarnate this fundamental principle of its life.

(Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh)


Just as the states of the United States were unprepared to form a lasting union until they were adequately (though not too strongly) centralized, and just as the South itself most likely lost the American Civil War as a result of its own inability to impose taxes, so too is the United Nations suffering from an inability to consistently take decisive action:

In addition, the United Nations General Assembly has been a target of attack for its ineffectiveness. Although some of the accusations hurled against it are unfounded, there are at least two shortcomings that hamper the ability of the General Assembly to have impact.

First, the current arrangement gives undue weight to state sovereignty, resulting in a curious mix of anarchy and conservatism. In a reformed United Nations, the legislative branch and its voting structure will need to represent more accurately the people of the world as well as nation-states. [13]

Second, General Assembly resolutions are not binding unless they are separately ratified as a treaty by each member state. If the current system, which places state sovereignty above all other concerns, is to give way to a system which can address the interests of a single and interdependent humanity, the resolutions of the General Assembly -- within a limited domain of issues -- must gradually come to possess the force of law with provisions for both enforcement and sanctions.

These two shortcomings are closely linked inasmuch as the majority of the world's people, suspicious and fearful of world government, are unlikely to submit to an international institution unless it is itself more genuinely representative.

(Turning Point for All Nations, sec. III.A)


As other examples, "Century of Light" cites the placement of leading Nazis on international trial as demonstrating "for the first time, that the fetish of "national sovereignty" has recognizable and enforceable limits." (p. 73)

The fetish of state sovereignty can relate to any misguided notion or argument that individual states have the right to be wholly immune from outside interference. The mistaken idea that cultural relativity can allow women to be abused, that persecution of minorities is a purely local problem, that religious differences among nations should prevent defense of universal human rights, that aggression, arms build-ups, or border disputes between one nation and another is no one else's business, that banks or trading or environmental practices should have no international oversight, are just some examples.

i. Is perhaps the European Union (EU) an example of a model whereby a degree of state sovereignty must be abandoned so that integration may take place and challenges (at present predominantly financial) may be tackled?


I don't know whether the Baha'i Writings have spoken to this, though European Baha'is might be more familiar with the topic. I know of this observation, from the Baha'i International Community:

The foundation for any system of governance is the rule of law and the primary institution for promulgating law is the legislature. While the authority of local and national legislatures is generally respected, regional and international legislative bodies have been the subject of fear and suspicion.

(Turning Point for All Nations)


...and the Baha'i Writings are generally in favor of integration, as long as it is adequately respectful of diversity, so I would personally yes that the European Union is a very good example of this.

However, there is a concern for over-centralization in the Baha'i Writings, and around World War I, 'Abdu'l-Baha is recorded to have said:

"In reality it is not just that vast countries should be governed from a single center, for no matter how great the ability and wisdom of the statesmen of that center, or how developed their sense of justice, they will still not be fully informed of the needs of every town and village and cannot exert themselves justly for the betterment of their surrounding dependencies. For example, all parts of Germany concentrate their efforts to serve a single center, namely Berlin; and the whole of France is to serve Paris. Similarly, each of the colonial countries serves to adorn one great capital. But your government has a good system."

(Mahmud's Diary, June 3, 1912)


and Shoghi Effendi wrote:

"Let there be no misgivings as to the animating purpose of the world-wide Law of Bahá'u'lláh. Far from aiming at the subversion of the existing foundations of society, it seeks to broaden its basis, to remold its institutions in a manner consonant with the needs of an ever-changing world. It can conflict with no legitimate allegiances, nor can it undermine essential loyalties. Its purpose is neither to stifle the flame of a sane and intelligent patriotism in men's hearts, nor to abolish the system of national autonomy so essential if the evils of excessive centralization are to be avoided. It does not ignore, nor does it attempt to suppress, the diversity of ethnical origins, of climate, of history, of language and tradition, of thought and habit, that differentiate the peoples and nations of the world. It calls for a wider loyalty, for a larger aspiration than any that has animated the human race. It insists upon the subordination of national impulses and interests to the imperative claims of a unified world. It repudiates excessive centralization on one hand, and disclaims all attempts at uniformity on the other. Its watchword is unity in diversity..."

(World Order of Baha'u'llah, pp. 41-42)


and the Baha'i International Community wrote:

Some fear that international political institutions inevitably evolve toward excessive centralization and constitute an unwarranted layer of bureaucracy. It needs to be explicitly and forcefully stated that any new structures for global governance must, as a matter of both principle and practicality, ensure that the responsibility for decision-making remains at appropriate levels. [8]

Striking the right balance may not always be easy. On the one hand, genuine development and real progress can be achieved only by people themselves, acting individually and collectively, in response to the specific concerns and needs of their time and place. It can be argued that the decentralization of governance is the sine qua non of development. [9] On the other hand, the international order clearly requires a degree of global direction and coordination.

Therefore, in accordance with the principles of decentralization outlined above, international institutions should be given the authority to act only on issues of international concern where states cannot act on their own or to intervene for the preservation of the rights of peoples and member states. All other matters should be relegated to national and local institutions. [10]

...

Extraordinary care must be taken in designing the architecture of the international order so that it does not over time degenerate into any form of despotism, of oligarchy, or of demagogy corrupting the life and machinery of the constituent political institutions.

(Turning Point for All Nations)


But certainly the process of integration as a whole is generally welcomed.

And though I hesitate to offer yet more unauthoritative pilgrim's notes, I find this one interesting:

The Most Great Peace implies the political association of the United States with Europe. Has hopes that the United States will take the initiative after the coming war of establishing the true League of Nations. Any Baha'i that thinks America will help the world by staying out of European affairs is acting contrary to the Spirit of the teachings on the subject. (See Master's words to a member of Congress on the subject in : "Goal of a New World Order.")


ii. Is there any other model that is better able (than the EU model that is) to establish the machinery that can best incarnate the oneness of human relationships? Or do you think Shoghi Effendi was referring to the World Order of Baha'u'llah here? I think the answer to these questions may be found in the title of the book from whence this quote was derived but, considering the need for humanity to grow gradually toward that eventual goal, I shall let the question stand.


Again, from Turning Point for All Nations (I told you you should read it! :) ):

Furthermore, in devising a specific framework for the future international order, leaders should survey a broad range of approaches to governance. Rather than being modeled after any single one of the recognized systems of government, the solution may embody, reconcile and assimilate within its framework such wholesome elements as are to be found in each one of them.

For example, one of the time-tested models of governance that may accommodate the world's diversity within a unified framework is the federal system. Federalism has proved effective in decentralizing authority and decision-making in large, complex, and heterogeneous states, while maintaining a degree of overall unity and stability. Another model worth examining is the commonwealth, which at the global level would place the interest of the whole ahead of the interest of any individual nation.


and from Shoghi Effendi citing 'Abdu'l-Baha Himself:

You can best serve your country, was `Abdu'l-Bahá's rejoinder to a high official in the service of the federal government of the United States of America, who had questioned Him as to the best manner in which he could promote the interests of his government and people, if you strive, in your capacity as a citizen of the world, to assist in the eventual application of the principle of federalism underlying the government of your own country to the relationships now existing between the peoples and nations of the world.

(World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 37)


Best wishes,
Brett

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Re: Fighting for Justice

Postby onepence » Sat Sep 10, 2011 11:57 am

very interesting and enjoyable discussion ...

it nicely parallels the delicate balances
we all think about and try to achieve within our own individual lives

It has been stated that the capital of reason is Athens
and the capital of emotions is Jerusalem

somewhere between these two extremes is a balance

oneness
dh

onepence
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Re: Fighting for Justice

Postby onepence » Fri Sep 16, 2011 10:26 am

A couple of questions:

1. Let's call where we are today 'A' and some time in the future when such a commonwealth has been established 'B'. Are we saying that it is possible for humanity to get from A to B without having to engage in armed conflict and employing lethal force?
2. How will we know when we have arrived at B?



Any sane and rational person would readily agree that The Universal House of Justice has been established by constitutional means approved of and inspired by The Kitab-I-Aqdas of Baha'u'llah; thus , Prophesy has been fulfilled and B {world peace} has been established and maintained without having to engage in armed conflict and employing lethal force.

... of special note ... people of the commonwealth {defined as people living in a region that claims rule by divine authority such as by Kings an example of which would be England, etc} and people of a federated state (such as USA, etc) were able to, and still to this Day, establish and elect representatives to a Supreme Body without having to engage in armed conflict and employing lethal force

If one wanted to, one could meditate and pray to have a more fulfilling experience in living in state "B" which for practical purposes is being defined as World Peace governed by Universal Law. Every citizen, whether of the federated states or of the commonwealth has been called upon by not only by The Universal House of Justice but by Baha'u'llah Himself to "consult" with each other on the methods and means of "His World Order"








Whether peace is to be reached only after unimaginable horrors precipitated by humanity's stubborn clinging to old patterns of behaviour, or is to be embraced now by an act of consultative will, is the choice before all who inhabit the earth.










:thumbs:








As far as can be discerned, every individual will have a unique and different experience when consciously choosing "B" that is consciously choosing peace .... consciously choosing world peace ... ... at first blush it appears scary, impossible, just mad men, crazy people talking amognst themselves, .. ... ... but upon examination, one will find healthy and sane people having very fulfilling experience in living in state "B" , that is living in world peace ... ...

now a different set of questions, might want to be asked ... such as what of those who deny "b" ... to answer such questions would require a more lengthy answer, that , perhaps, is best left unsaid ... yet ... it is known that there are enemies of The State and that both friends and enemies are readily visible and each are known for certain types of deeds ...


...
...






"Know ye that to be killed in the path of His good pleasure is better for you than to kill."








...
...


it has always been and always will remain up to the individual to define his own state of being while actively engaging and participating in the world wide sovereignty of Bahá’u’lláh

...
...

...
....













....http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/se/WOB/wob-9.html ...

I strongly feel the urge to elucidate certain facts, which would at once reveal to every fair-minded observer the unique character of that Divine Civilization the foundations of which the unerring hand of Bahá’u’lláh has laid, and the essential elements of which the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has disclosed. I consider it my duty to warn every beginner in the Faith that the promised glories of the Sovereignty which the Bahá’í teachings foreshadow, can be revealed only in the fullness of time, that the implications of the Aqdas and the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, as the twin repositories of the constituent elements of that Sovereignty, are too far-reaching for this generation to grasp and fully appreciate. I cannot refrain from appealing to them who stand identified with the Faith to disregard the prevailing notions and the fleeting fashions of the day, and to realize as never before that the exploded theories and the tottering institutions of present-day civilization must needs appear in sharp contrast with those God-given institutions which are destined to arise upon their ruin. I pray that they may realize with all their heart and soul the ineffable glory of their calling, the overwhelming responsibility of their mission, and the astounding immensity of their task.



For let every earnest upholder of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh realize that the storms which this struggling Faith of God must needs encounter, as the process of the disintegration of society advances, shall be fiercer than any which it has already experienced. Let him be aware that so soon as the full measure of the stupendous claim of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh comes to be recognized by those time-honored and powerful strongholds of orthodoxy, whose deliberate aim is to maintain their stranglehold over the thoughts and consciences of men, this infant Faith will have to contend with enemies more powerful and more insidious than the cruellest torture-mongers and the most fanatical clerics who have afflicted it in the past ...








...
...
...





oneness
dh

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Re: Fighting for Justice

Postby brettz9 » Sat Sep 17, 2011 4:08 pm

Hello Onepence, Bruce, and all,

I will reply to both of you at once, as I think your points overlap.

As far as individuals petitioning governments, they are free to do so in their capacity as citizens when not pertaining explicitly to the Faith, but external affairs (typically work in the wider public eye explicitly associated with the Baha'i Faith) is to be handled by the institutions at the appropriate level, unless they are soliciting help from individual believers, and even the institutions are to be very careful:

The House of Justice has noted that as a result of the dissemination of "The Promise of World Peace", a Senator has agreed to submit a "proposed" resolution in the Washington State Legislature and that, as you say, the "whole situation here with state resolutions and the need for citizens to write in support of them is getting out of hand". While the Baha'i community should welcome spontaneous actions on the part of legislators to respond to the urgent call issued in the Peace Statement, the friends should be very wise in determining their actions under such circumstances. They should consult their Spiritual Assemblies, Local and, if necessary, National, for this is an area of activities in which personal judgement is not sufficient.

It is not advisable for Baha'i institutions or individuals to initiate actions designed to prod government leaders to urge their governments or the leaders of other governments to convene the world conference called for by Baha'u'llah and echoed in "Promise of World Peace". Two points should be borne in mind in this regard 1) Because of the political gravity of the decisions implied by this call and the differing political attitudes which it evokes, such actions on the part of the Baha'i community would embroil the friends in partisan politics. There is quite a difference between identifying, as does the Peace Statement, the need for a convocation of world leaders and initiating the political processes towards its realization. 2) In the writings of the Faith (e. g., the closing passages of "The Promised Day is Come"), it is clear that the establishment of the Lesser Peace, of which the conference of leaders will be a related event, will come about independently of any direct Baha'i plan or action.

(On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, at http://bahai-library.com/uhj/peace.activities.html )


We're even to contact our national representatives before contacting celebrities, to avoid barraging them with Baha'i materials from people who assume they would be interested.

I see your edited post, Onepence, now refers only to the "oneness of humankind" which might be something more conceivable than the reference to Baha'u'llah which I think Bruce was reacting to.

I'm not sure that I would characterize this as "partisan" politics which implies selective support for parties, but it certainly would interfere with the "non-interference in politics" principle of the Baha'i Faith---at this time:

Shoghi Effendi believes that for the present the Movement, whether in the East or the West, should be dissociated entirely from politics. This was the explicit injunction of `Abdu'l-Baha... Eventually, however, as you have rightly conceived it, the Movement will, as soon as it is fully developed and recognized, embrace both religious and political issues. In fact Baha'u'llah clearly states that affairs of state as well as religious questions are to be referred to the House of Justice into which the Assemblies of the Baha'is will eventually evolve.

(30 November 1930, at http://bahai-library.com/uhj/theocracy.html )


The above quotation brings into this, however, that eventually, we do envision the Baha'i Faith coming to take on political affairs, albeit in a "supremely voluntary and democratic process":

In answer to those who raise objections to this vision of a worldwide commonwealth inspired by a Divine Revelation, fearing for the freedom of minority groups or of the individual under such a system, we can explain the Baha'i principle of upholding the rights of minorities and fostering their interests. We can also point to the fact that no person is ever compelled to accept the Faith of Baha'u'llah and moreover, unlike the situation in certain other religions, each person has complete freedom to withdraw from the Faith if he decides that he no longer believes in its Founder or accepts His Teachings. In light of these facts alone it is evident that the growth of the Baha'i communities to the size where a non-Baha'i state would adopt the Faith as the State Religion, let alone to the point at which the State would accept the Law of God as its own law and the National House of Justice as its legislature, must be a supremely voluntary and democratic process.

(at http://bahai-library.com/uhj/theocracy.html )


Note that a State Religion is not something which is part of rigid theocratic systems. It can be within secular political systems (e.g., England, Sweden, etc.) which have simply noted the association of the government, representing the will of the majority of their people in doing so.

"Not only will the present-day Spiritual Assemblies be styled differently in future, but they will be enabled also to add to their present functions those powers, duties, and prerogatives necessitated by the recognition of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, not merely as one of the recognized religious systems of the world, but as the State Religion of an independent and Sovereign Power. And as the Bahá'í Faith permeates the masses of the peoples of East and West, and its truth is embraced by the majority of the peoples of a number of the Sovereign States of the world, will the Universal House of Justice attain the plenitude of its power, and exercise, as the supreme organ of the Bahá'í Commonwealth, all the rights, the duties, and responsibilities incumbent upon the world's future super-state."

(Shoghi Effendi World Order of Baha'u'llah, pp. 6-7)


Note that the above paragraph not only accepts that there will eventually be a State Religion, but after that, a theocracy. It will certainly not be in the vein of known theocracies, coming through a "supremely voluntary and democratic process", with the duty of organized Baha'i communities to "nurture, encourage, and safeguard every minority belonging to any faith, race, class, or nation", but it is in fact envisioned as eventually becoming the reality (as prophesied in Isaiah with the government on His shoulders).

"He thinks your question is well put: what the Guardian was referring to was the theocratic systems, such as the Catholic Church and the Caliphate, which are not divinely given as systems, but man-made, and yet, being partly derived from the teachings of Christ and Muhammad are in a sense theocracies. The Baha'i theocracy, on the contrary, is both divinely ordained as a system and, of course, based on the teachings of the Prophet Himself."

(On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, at http://bahai-library.com/uhj/theocracy.html )


"The Baha'is will be called upon to assume the reins of government when they will come to constitute the majority of the population in a given country, and even then their participation in political affairs is bound to be limited in scope unless they obtain a similar majority in some other countries as well."

(On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 19 November 1939 at http://bahai-library.com/uhj/theocracy.html)


"The Baha'is must remain non-partisan in all political affairs. In the distant future, however, when the majority of a country have become Baha'is then it will lead to the establishment of a Baha'i State."

(On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 19 April 1941 at http://bahai-library.com/uhj/theocracy.html )


So I think from the above, we can see that although Baha'i individuals nor even institutions are seeking to push this process, eventually when the Baha'is come to make up a majority, it is conceivable that national constitutions would be amended, including the U.S. Constitution. I even see a pilgrims note which says just that: "He believes we are quite wrong in being afraid to adopt [adapt?] the Constitution of the United States"! There is also this:

"The Bahá'ís must realize that they belong to a world-wide Order, and not an American civilization."

(From a letter dated 23 May 1954 written on behalf of the Shoghi Effendi to the Green Acre Program Committee of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)


This is not to suggest it will at all conflict with "legitimate allegiances, nor can it undermine essential loyalties. Its purpose is neither to stifle the flame of a sane and intelligent patriotism in men's hearts" (World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 41).

Also critically to this discussion, I think, there is also this:

"As for the statement made by Shoghi Effendi in his letter of 21 March 1932, the well-established principles of the Faith concerning the relationship of the Baha'i institutions to those of the country in which the Baha'is reside make it unthinkable that they would ever purpose to violate a country's constitution or so to meddle in its political machinery as to attempt to take over the powers of government. This is an integral element of the Baha'i principle of abstention from involvement in politics. However, this does not by any means imply that the country itself may not, by constitutional means, decide to adopt Baha'i laws and practices and modify its constitution or method of government accordingly."

(On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, at http://bahai-library.com/uhj/theocracy.html )


For the present day, while the approach is moderate, avoiding interference in partisan politics as well as avoiding attempts to initiate political processes in its favor. Carefully* attempting to shape public opinion, as individuals or institutions, is, however, a different matter, and permissible, as also mentioned in the letter on peace activities referenced above), there is still the possibility that Baha'is might highlight the potential benefits, as individuals or institutions, for administrative structures which are more accord with the oneness of humanity. The Baha'i International Community has already advocated, via its Office of Public Information, in a document meant for the wider public as well as Baha'is, that present-day systems consider adopting certain non-partisan practices:

"...Clearly, such principles can operate only within a culture that is essentially democratic in spirit and method. To say this, however, is not to endorse the ideology of partisanship that has everywhere boldly assumed democracy's name and which, despite impressive contributions to human progress in the past, today finds itself mired in the cynicism, apathy, and corruption to which it has given rise. In selecting those who are to take collective decisions on its behalf, society does not need and is not well served by the political theater of nominations, candidature, electioneering, and solicitation. It lies within the capacity of all people, as they become progressively educated and convinced that their real development interests are being served by programs proposed to them, to adopt electoral procedures that will gradually refine the selection of their decision-making bodies."

(Prosperity of Humankind, par. 59)


Best wishes,
Brett

*
Touching the publication of articles and pamphlets bearing on the controversial and political issues of the day, I desire to remind my dearly-beloved fellow-workers that at the present stage when the Cause is still in its infancy, any minute and detailed analysis by the Friends of subjects that are in the forefront of general discussion would often be misconstrued in certain quarters and give rise to suspicions and misunderstandings that would react unfavourably on the Cause. They would tend to create a misconception of the real object, the true mission, and the fundamental character of the Bahá'í Faith. We should, while endeavoring to uphold loyally and expound conscientiously our social and moral principles in all their essence and purity, in all their bearings upon the divers phases of human society, insure that no direct reference or particular criticism in our exposition of the fundamentals of the Faith would tend to antagonize any existing institution, or help to identify a purely spiritual movement with the base clamourings and contentions of warring sects, factions, and nations. We should strive in all our utterances to combine the discretion and noble reticence of the wise with the frankness and passionate loyalty of the ardent advocate of an inspiring Faith. While refusing to utter the word that would needlessly alienate or estrange any individual, government, or people, we should fearlessly and unhesitatingly uphold and assert in their entirety such truths the knowledge of which we believe is vitally and urgently needed for the good and betterment of mankind.

(Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Baha'i Administration, pp. 32-33)


Concerning the general letter ['The Goal of a New World Order', 28 November 1931 (in 'The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh'. PP. 29-51)] he has sent lately to the Western friends, to which you refer in your letter: Shoghi Effendi thinks that the friends should spread the message it conveys to the public. It should undoubtedly be done in a very judicious way lest the people think that we have entered the arena of politics with rather drastic program of reform. But we should at the same time show the lead that the teachings take towards the realization of the international ideal. The primary importance of the Cause among the existing religions of the world is that, whereas the others have no coherent program upon which they are united, the Movement is rich with the very spirit and teachings the world needs for solving its present international problems. It is a wonderful chance for the Cause to absorb the interest of the intelligent elements in the public.

(On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 14 January 1932, to an individual believer, quoted in the compilation “Studying the Writings of Shoghi Effendi” on-line at http://bahai-library.org/compilations/w ... rdian.html )


"There is, however, one case in which one can criticize the present social and political order without being necessarily forced to side with or oppose any existing regime. And this is the method adopted by the Guardian in his `Goal of a New World Order'. His criticisms of the world conditions beside being very general in character are abstract; that is, instead of condemning existing institutional organizations it goes deeper and analyzes the basic ideas and conceptions which have been responsible for their establishment. This being a mere intellectual and philosophical approach to the problem of world political crisis, there is no objection if you wish to try such a method, which immediately carries you from the field of practical politics to that of political theory. But in view of the fact that no clear-cut line can be drawn between theory and practice you should be extremely careful not to make too free a use of such a method."

(On behalf of the Guardian, Lights of Guidance, p. 452)

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Re: Fighting for Justice

Postby brettz9 » Sat Sep 17, 2011 4:50 pm

Hi all,

To respond now to subsequent posts...

Onepence, I should also thank anonyM for posting interesting questions, and I appreciate your quotation on Athens/Jerusalem very much.

onepence wrote:...people of the commonwealth {defined as people living in a region that claims rule by divine authority such as by Kings an example of which would be England, etc}


I don't think it is accurate to define a commonwealth in this way. A commonwealth merely means for the welfare of all, or as the Baha'i International Community puts it, placing "the interest of the whole ahead of the interest of any individual nation." Before the Baha'i World Commonwealth, it is not inconceivable that a secular world government might choose such a model without any necessary reference to divine authority.

I think the quotation you cited is quite apt (though I really urge you to provide citations, so people know you are offering a quotation):

"Whether peace is to be reached only after unimaginable horrors precipitated by humanity's stubborn clinging to old patterns of behaviour, or is to be embraced now by an act of consultative will, is the choice before all who inhabit the earth."

(Universal House of Justice, The Promise of World Peace)


1. Let's call where we are today 'A' and some time in the future when such a commonwealth has been established 'B'. Are we saying that it is possible for humanity to get from A to B without having to engage in armed conflict and employing lethal force?


While I think the quotation cited by Onepence answers this, I think we ought to note that the Baha'i Writings state, "men of ill-will have been and will always continue to be in this world, unless mankind reaches a state of complete and absolute perfection--a condition which is not only improbable but actually impossible to attain" so we are not under any delusion (as indicated in the earlier quotations about Baha'is not being absolute pacifists) that there will always need to be some form of force needed in the protection of the community. But the difference, again, relates to how long it will take humanity to embrace the strong foundation for peace and security, a federated world government (including our own efforts to promote it). This will be the Lesser Peace, and even this is seen as a "process".

Again from the document on peace activities, there are specific actions we can take as Baha'is to promote such peace, even though we are foreseen as not being involved directly in the future political realization of a global security meeting/pact:

Concerning your specific questions, the details of your current activities to promote peace should be taken up with your National Spiritual Assembly and its guidance followed. The grassroots effort of the Baha'is should prepare the ground for the transition from the present system of national sovereignty to a system of world government. This it can do by concentrating on wide and continual dissemination of the Peace Statement whose contents should be known by the generality of humanity, on engaging people from all walks of life in discussions on peace, and on instilling and encouraging a sense of personal commitment to the prerequisites of peace. In a word, what is needed now is a world-wide consciousness of not only the requirements but also the possibility, and inevitability, of peace. Therefore, our immediate and inescapable task as Baha'is is to imbue the populations with such hope.

(On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, at http://bahai-library.com/uhj/peace.activities.html )


Other documents which indicate how Baha'is, by our own work, are, or should be, contributing to these processes, are mentioned at http://bahai-library.com/uhj_messages_1 ... ull#s151.1 and http://bahai-library.com/published.uhj/ ... l.html#113 .

2. How will we know when we have arrived at B?


The Lesser Peace, is described as a process, though there may be some pivotal global convocation and security pact established fixing borders and ensuring violations will be addressed. I recommend reading the document, "Attainment of the Unity of Nations and the Lesser Peace", a few passages of which I cite here:

The progressive development of the Lesser Peace, including its consolidation, is clarified by the statement of the Guardian, in his letter of Ridván BE 105 to the friends in the East, concerning the duration of the Formative Age:

Its duration is unknown and lies concealed within the treasury of God's knowledge. Its termination will coincide with the establishment of this most perfect, this most mighty Order throughout the East and the West, the resplendent emergence of organic unity among the component parts of human society, and the consolidation of the foundations of the Lesser Peace among the governments and nations of the world.

Further elaboration was provided by the House of Justice when requested by an individual believer to clarify the following passage from the 1996 Ridván message:

However short the path to peace, it will be tortuous; however promising the anticipated event that will set its course, it must mature through a long period of evolution, with its attendant tests, setbacks and conflicts, towards the moment when it will have emerged, under the direct influences of God's Faith, as the Most Great Peace.


In the letter of 29 July 1996 sent on its behalf in reply to that individual, the House of Justice wrote:

Clearly, the emergence of the Lesser Peace will be a gradual process and its various stages will no doubt witness tests and setbacks, as well as great advances. It will certainly include, however, a development of historic importance: that point at which the majority of the world's nation-states formally commit themselves to a global order comprising institutions and laws, and equipped with the means by which collective decisions can be enforced. While we cannot at present foresee the precise form that this development will take, much less the point at which it will occur, we recognize that it is a feature of the process of the Lesser Peace.


However, the same document points out that a global convocation and security treaty is indeed envisioned, apparently as a distinct event, though I don't think we can conclude there won't be multiple stages, just as there have been discrete but successive events toward the current United Nations system (e.g., the League of Nations, etc.).

Best wishes,
Brett

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Re: Fighting for Justice

Postby onepence » Sun Sep 18, 2011 11:16 pm

"For example, one of the time-tested models of governance that may accommodate the world's diversity within a unified framework is the federal system. Federalism has proved effective in decentralizing authority and decision-making in large, complex, and heterogeneous states, while maintaining a degree of overall unity and stability. Another model worth examining is the commonwealth, which at the global level would place the interest of the whole ahead of the interest of any individual nation."

..... .....
..... .....
.....


It would be interesting to have further thought and commentary comparing and contrasting federal governance and the commonwealth.

It would appear there would be no way to adequately define "the interest of the whole" yet, it is conceivable that none would object to The Ancient of Days being remembered as the final Authority in all matters of State whether private or public.


It is also conceivable that The Ancient of Days may need and want a federal system that does not explicitly mention nor have any interest in any sort of commonwealth.

In fact, future historians may find us, the faithful adherents to our Universal House of Justice and our Guardian Our True Brother Mr. Effendi as being the noblest of all creatures ever to grace the pages of His Lesser Peace.

Viva La Unité
ما هو مكتوب
così sarà


oneness
dh

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Re: Fighting for Justice

Postby onepence » Fri Sep 23, 2011 1:44 pm

"If the whole world should arise to deny this cause, we must not fight."

~ Abdu'l-Baha on Divine Philosophy

Christ suffered in order to teach kindness. "O Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Thus he pardoned his murderers. How merciful he was!

~ Abdu'l-Baha on Divine Philosophy

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Re: Fighting for Justice

Postby brettz9 » Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:26 pm

Hi Onepence,

Why do you say, "it is conceivable that none would object to The Ancient of Days being remembered as the final Authority in all matters of State whether private or public."? You are talking about the far future, right? There is no requirement for a commonwealth to have unanimity of its members, just the explicit recognition that their welfare is tied to the others.

onepence wrote:It is also conceivable that The Ancient of Days may need and want a federal system that does not explicitly mention nor have any interest in any sort of commonwealth.


Why wouldn't He want one for His own "Baha'i World Commonwealth" ("The final establishment of this seat of the future Bahá'í World Commonwealth will signalize at once the proclamation of the sovereignty of the Founder of our Faith and the advent of the Kingdom of the Father repeatedly lauded and promised by Jesus Christ." (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha'i World, p. 75)? Or are you talking about a transitional step? If a transitional step, why would the Baha'i International Community have recommended its consideration?

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Re: Fighting for Justice

Postby onepence » Fri Sep 23, 2011 4:04 pm

brettz9,

sometimes i speak just to try and balance out the equations,

that is to say, sometimes i write to seek a balance between two opposing forces ...

in one sense ... two opposing forces can be seen as light and shadow ...

federalism, commonwealth
jews, christian
apostles,guardians

all, to varying degrees, offer rewards and punishments
all, to varying degrees, offer various forms of cosmology

as it is said a man is a jew because his mother is a jew

As American i might say i agree to amend the constitution,
however, God help the person whom would ever try to destroy our Constitution,
don't you know Abdu'l Baha walked talked, eat, slept, perhaps even was allowed to dance
all across America whose very platform and foundation is it's Constitution.

God Bless the U.S.A.

We will say it again

God Bless the U.S.A.

now ... to what degree do you think it is possible to change America ... ??


... do you think it is possible that instead of using fighter jets, America might use instead royal falcons ... ???

... what will America change into ... will it cease to exist ... will it learn to live peacefully with her neighbors ... and ... talking about neighbors ... what are her neighbors and how do the neighbors define themselves ...

thus ... we find ourselves in the dilemma ... federalism ... commonwealth ...

and ... even if we seek only to define ourselves by The Kitab-I-Aqdas , we still have Abdu'l Baha using the term America and her various states over and over and over again ... i.e. the Divine Plan et all ....

so ... yes ... i have a very distinct vision of what i see for the future ...

yes ... i do see a blending of federalism and commonwealth ....
personally i have no problems with having Our True Brother, Our Guardian, Mr. Effendi with The Universal House of Justice governing our actions and reactions within all things, especially in helping us define and understand

The House of The Báb and The House of Bahá’u’lláh

thus , achieving if you will, unity in diversity

thus, all people can enjoy knowing that persia and america are in essence one,
even if they reside only in our imagination,
even if they are separated by oceans , cultures, and continents.

still in essence we are one

dh

ps ... more later ... i would like to encourage all people to openly discuss their ideas and visions about the topic of fighting for justice ... or ... private message me if you like ... thanks

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Re: Fighting for Justice

Postby onepence » Sat Sep 24, 2011 10:16 pm

http://bahai-library.com/abdulbaha_divi ... &chapter=2

"BAHA'O'LLAH'S solution of the social question provides for new laws, but the different social classes are preserved. An artisan remains an artisan; a merchant, a merchant; a banker, a banker; a ruler, a ruler; the different degrees must persist, so that each can render service to the community. Nevertheless, every one has

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the right to a happy, comfortable life. Work is to be provided for all and there will be no needy ones to be seen in the streets. The vocational labor adjustment provided by BAHA'O'LLAH precludes there being people too poor to have the necessaries of life on the one hand, nor the idle rich on the other. In which sacred book do you find this provided for? Show me!

"In order to facilitate complete understanding between all people, a universal auxiliary language will be adopted and in the schools of the future two languages will be taught — the mother tongue and this international auxiliary tongue which will be either one of the existing languages, or a new language made up of words from all the languages — the matter to be determined by a confederation met for the purpose which shall represent all tribes and nations. This international tongue will be used in the work of the parliament of man — a supreme tribunal of the world which will be permanently established in order to arbitrate international questions. The members of this arbitral court of justice will be representatives of all the countries. It is incumbent upon the nations to obey the commands of this tribunal, for such a tribunal will be under the power of God and for the protection of all men. In all the sacred books where do you find such a statement?

"The purpose of these new laws is to destroy antagonism by finding a point of agreement. We cannot induce men to lay down their arms by

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fighting with them. If two individuals dispute about religion both are wrong. The Protestants and Catholics, the Mohammedans and Christians war over religion. The Nestorians claim that Christ was merely a slave, a man like the rest, but God put his spirit upon him. The Catholics say that he was one of the persons of the trinity. Both are wrong."

These precepts were proclaimed by BAHA'O'LLAH many years ago. He was the first to create them in the hearts as moral laws. Alone and unaided he spread them. Writing to the sovereigns of the world he summoned them to universal brotherhood proclaiming that the hour for unity had struck — unity between countries, unity between religions.

In this period of its evolution the world of humanity is in danger. Every war is against the good pleasure of the Lord of mankind, for man is the edifice of God and war destroys the divine edifice. If an active, actual peace is brought about, the human world will attain to the utmost serenity and composure; wolves will be transformed into lambs, devils into angels, and terrors into divine splendors in less than a twinkling of an eye.

BAHA'O'LLAH is the divine physician who diagnoses the world's malady; for the whole planet is ill and needs the power of a great specialist.

BAHA'O'LLAH'S teachings are the health of the world. They represent the spirit of this age,

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the light of this age, the well-being of this age, the soul of this cycle. The world will be at rest when they are put into practice, for they are reality.

Praise be to God, the doors of divine knowledge are flung wide, the infinite light is shining, and to such as believe and obey the divine mysteries are revealed.


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brettz9
Posts: 1358
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Re: Fighting for Justice

Postby brettz9 » Sun Sep 25, 2011 9:55 am

onepence wrote:brettz9,

sometimes i speak just to try and balance out the equations,

that is to say, sometimes i write to seek a balance between two opposing forces ...

in one sense ... two opposing forces can be seen as light and shadow ...

federalism, commonwealth


How are these opposing forces? Federalism is not about extreme decentralization, and a commonwealth is not about extreme centralization. I think it is more a question of emphasis.

onepence wrote:jews, christian


These are not opposing except in the sense that Christians ought to be more accepting of those who do not accept Christ (or welcome those of Jewish ethnicity), and Jews ought to admit and take pride in the Divinity of Jesus Christ. There is certainly no inherent tension, as the earlier supporters of Christ were Jewish.

onepence wrote:apostles,guardians


I don't understand this juxtaposition.

onepence wrote:all, to varying degrees, offer rewards and punishments
all, to varying degrees, offer various forms of cosmology


Huh? Onepence, respectfully, you sometimes speak as though you are getting lost in your own contemplations, but not leaving things clear for those who are not following you. Do you review what you are saying before posting so that you can confirm it makes sense for others? How can Jews/Christians "offer reward/punishments"? Makes no sense to me, at least no obvious sense, so would appreciate if you could try to anticipate this and make explicit your connections for others...

onepence wrote:As American i might say i agree to amend the constitution,
however, God help the person whom would ever try to destroy our Constitution,
don't you know Abdu'l Baha walked talked, eat, slept, perhaps even was allowed to dance
all across America whose very platform and foundation is it's Constitution.


Who is challenging this?

brettz9 wrote:now ... to what degree do you think it is possible to change America ... ??

... do you think it is possible that instead of using fighter jets, America might use instead royal falcons ... ???


I'd be careful with such statements. In the absence of a global security pact, fighter jets may be necessary for a nation, and even if not necessary, we don't want to single out America. As mentioned in this thread already, force can be used for good, so the issue is not one for America alone to resolve, as another quote stated unilateral disarmament is not possible.

onepence wrote:... what will America change into ... will it cease to exist ... will it learn to live peacefully with her neighbors ... and ... talking about neighbors ...


Again, this is sounding potentially inflammatory, though I know you don't mean that. "Cease to exist" makes it sound like you are talking about violent destruction; I presume you mean the question of whether nations retail their identity as you discuss below. And "Learn to live peacefully" seems to imply you are blaming America (and America alone) for not living peacefully with others.

onepence wrote:what are her neighbors and how do the neighbors define themselves ...

thus ... we find ourselves in the dilemma ... federalism ... commonwealth ...

and ... even if we seek only to define ourselves by The Kitab-I-Aqdas , we still have Abdu'l Baha using the term America and her various states over and over and over again ... i.e. the Divine Plan et all ....

so ... yes ... i have a very distinct vision of what i see for the future ...

yes ... i do see a blending of federalism and commonwealth ....


If I understand you, you seem to be questioning whether nations will retail their identity in a commonwealth. No doubt things will change, but since Shoghi Effendi refers to over-centralization if an "evil", and since 'Abdu'l-Baha Himself defined the election and operation of "Secondary Houses of Justice" (i.e., National Spiritual Assemblies), I don't think there is any reason this would change in any fundamental way.

Certainly though, I think people will increasingly start to see references such as "We are all Americans" or "We are all French", "We are all Iranians", etc. to be limiting if not obnoxious, in an integrating world. One may still be a Chicagoan, and Illinoisan, while being a U.S. citizen. But it would be a rare and provincial Chicagoan who implies that only Chicagoans have any morals, by saying things like "Chicagoan values preclude violence" when it would be just as well to say "American values preclude violence", and even better, "World citizenship precludes violence" (or "We Chicagoans, as citizens of the world, abhor all violence") as that is embracing the universal and recognizing that what is good and pure is not limited to a nation, but rather to those who uphold spiritual virtue, or at least, universal democratic principles.

onepence wrote:personally i have no problems with having Our True Brother, Our Guardian, Mr. Effendi with The Universal House of Justice governing our actions and reactions within all things, especially in helping us define and understand

The House of The Báb and The House of Bahá’u’lláh


Why are you speaking of these pilgrimage sites? I don't see the relevance. Are you talking about adhering to their laws? This language may be suited for poetry, but I personally find it hard to follow when we are trying to ensure we are respectfully considering and responding to your ideas.

Best wishes,
Brett


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