Bahá'í Library Online
. . . .
.
>>   Unpublished Articles
Abstract:
World peace is a challenge facing mankind that must be clearly identified; remedies are put forth for possible solutions in vanquishing the barriers to peace; both secular and religious underpinnings are proposed to support a universal solution for peace
Notes:
Presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #81, Bosch Bahá'í School: Santa Cruz, CA (May 29 - June 1, 2008). Mirrored with permission from irfancolloquia.org/81/thomas_peace.

World Peace in a Piecemeal World:
An exposition on excerpts from the writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá

by James B. Thomas

2008

INTRODUCTION

The early years of the 21st century revealed an unsettled global society exacerbated by the clash of certain traditions in both secular and religious domains of human life. It is further strained by political extremes that are embroiled in idealistic conflicts, which are motivated by economic dislocations and militant religionists. Such a brief appraisal barely scratches the surface of discontent in the world with one group racing toward an uncertain materialistic nirvana and another resisting at every turn any form of progress however misguided. This is a scenario that must be challenged by all thinking individuals regardless of their points of view. The purpose here is to define a structured response to the lack of peace and tranquility in the world based on the analysis of certain salient points in the writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá. It is hoped that this will suggest a path for future study that, in the fullness of time, may hopefully contribute to a viable beginning toward universal peace as the 21st century unfolds. There is no time for dalliance. Indeed, a cavalier approach to problem solving is no longer tenable regarding peace because we are now irresistibly becoming a global society in which a decision at one place inevitably impacts others at another.

This paper is advanced in four steps: (1) A statement of the problem regarding world peace is presented in the form of a challenge facing mankind that must be clearly identified as the most critical before any strategy for achieving peace can be defined, (2) needs are identified and remedies put forth for possible solutions in vanquishing the barriers to peace, (3) Parameters for human endeavors are spelled out that will be essential for achieving a unified approach to world peace and, (4) a conclusion is drawn that embraces both secular and religious underpinnings that support a universal solution for peace in a diverse, complicated world.

I: THE CHALLENGE

We begin with a question: What is the most important goal in this day for mankind to pursue? There are some that readily come to mind depending upon one's professional expertise. For example, economists, financiers, marketing specialists and business managers generally consider economic stability to be the most important goal to be achieved in the modern world. On the other hand, statesmen, political scientists, leaders in governance and sociologists might consider diplomatic agreements as among the most crucial of goals to be met in an unsettled world. But, health specialists in medicine, nutrition and hygiene are deeply concerned about starvation on a grand scale and therefore would likely consider our greatest goal to be the feeding of the masses. Also, leaders in health care, education and law enforcement in a number of countries are deeply impacted by an excessive influx of foreigners "without portfolio" and would thus probably consider an equitable control of immigration to be our most urgent goal. Others such as psychologists, family counselors, neuroscientists and members of the governing bodies in the field of sports consider drug abuse to be of critical concern to society, especially youth. They would probably consider the elimination of drug traffic to be our greatest goal. These five examples are but typical among many but for the sake of this discussion a closer look at these may clarify their relative importance.

First, it is a fact that economic enterprise greatly influenced globalization by crossing the borders of practically every country on earth. The technology of the age has enabled people as well as products to move about the world with consummate ease while international communication has become almost instantaneous. Air cargo with huge bulk payloads and modern passenger planes provide overnight delivery to the far corners of the world. And computer science provides great flexibility in communication with the internet connecting people so closely from one point on the globe to others who are diametrically on the opposite extreme so that they seem to be like neighbors next door. More importantly, the ongoing operational interdependence in manufacturing lends permanency to the resulting bonds that are created between cultures. For example, automobiles sold in the U.S. have parts that are made in dozens of other countries. The same is true in the manufacture of electronic equipment of all kinds and the list is endless. But all this remains tenuous in a hostile world. The question remains, is it even possible with all the current uncertainties to have true economic stability without peace?

Second, Diplomatic agreements may produce the illusion of peace but history shows that a great many diplomatic agreements of the past have not stood the test of time. Even within the confines of a large modern democracy like the United States a long series of treaties with American Indians were repeatedly broken to satisfy the desires of special interests long after the last Indian war ceased. Without exception, the treaties of previous centuries were concocted with the singular purpose of creating military-political advantage for one power over another. A prime example of this from an early time was the Treaty of Verdun:

(August 843), treaty partitioning the Carolingian empire among the three surviving sons of the emperor Louis I the Pious. The treaty was the first stage in the dissolution of the empire of Charlemagne and foreshadowed the formation of the modern countries of Western Europe. Louis I had carefully planned his three elder sons' inheritances; but from 829 onward his attempts to allocate substantial territory to the future Charles II the Bald, his young son by a second wife, led to revolts by Charles's half brothers. After Louis's death (840) open warfare broke out; Louis's third son, Louis the German, allied with Charles in attacking the eldest son, the emperor Lothair I. Defeated at Fontenoy, in present Belgium (June 841), and driven from Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen, Ger., 842), Lothair sued for peace. At Verdun (in present northeastern France) the following year, Lothair was confirmed in possession of the imperial title and received Francia Media, a long central strip of territory including parts of modern Belgium, The Netherlands, western Germany, eastern France, Switzerland, and much of Italy. Louis the German received Francia Orientalis, the land east of the Rhine River. Charles received Francia Occidentalis, the remainder of modern France.1

Obviously, the idea of universal peace was not in the minds of the framers of this treaty. The whole process was utterly tainted by interfamily squabbles and deceit leaving in its wake a legacy of sedition and acrimony that plagued Europe for the next eleven centuries. On a more sophisticated level this sad legacy was revealed in more recent times with the Treaty of Versailles.

When the German government asked U.S. President Woodrow Wilson to arrange a general armistice in October 1918, it declared that it accepted the Fourteen Points he had formulated as the basis for a just peace. However, the Allies demanded "compensation by Germany for all damage done to the civilian population of the Allies and their property by the aggression of Germany by land, by sea and from the air." Further, the nine points covering new territorial consignments were complicated by the secret treaties that England, France, and Italy had made with Greece, Romania, and each other during the last years of the war.2

The self serving actions of the primary parties caused this well intentioned treaty to place impossible conditions on Germany that made conditions fertile for a megalomaniac to rise to power in the person of Adolph Hitler.

Many historians claim that the combination of a harsh treaty and subsequent lax enforcement of its provisions paved the way for the upsurge of German militarism in the 1930s. The huge German reparations and the war guilt clause fostered deep resentment of the settlement in Germany, and when Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland in 1936 (a violation of the treaty), the Allies did nothing to stop him, thus encouraging future German aggression.3

All this emphasizes the reality that treaties alone can't bring peace simply because they reflect the exclusive needs and purposes of governments which change over time. In other words, diplomacy is unable to establish permanent peace because it can not prevent political schism. Yet Woodrow Wilson, the initiator of the Treaty of Versailles did achieve a remarkable milestone that, though deterred by his own countrymen, would be recognized as the beginning step toward Bahá'u'lláh's grand scheme of a world assemblage. With reference to the United States the following comment was made.

To her President, the immortal Woodrow Wilson, must be ascribed the unique honor, among the statesmen of any nation, whether of the East or of the West, of having voiced sentiments so akin to the principles animating the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh, and of having more than any other world leader, contributed to the creation of the League of Nations -- achievements which the pen of the Center of God's Covenant acclaimed as signalizing the dawn of the Most Great Peace, whose sun, according to that same pen, must needs arise as the direct consequence of the enforcement of the laws of the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh. (COF 36)

Third, to consider world health as the most critical goal for humankind we must address present conditions that simply do not permit delivery of medical aid where it is most needed. The tragic spread of AIDS in Africa, China, Russia and elsewhere is a prime example of inadequacy due in large part to denial on the part of certain governments as well as a lack of preventive education. As beneficent and honorable as the goal of world health may be, it is utterly dependent on the more basic goal of universal peace in order to succeed. For example, starvation on a grand scale has plagued humanity for the better part of a century. Early on in the twentieth Century it was India with unnumbered people falling by the wayside daily and as many as ten million persons dying from hunger each year in China. Now whole regions in Sub Sahara Africa have suffered this blight. Heroic efforts to deliver food en mass have been defeated by contending parties with volunteers killed in the process. The goal of feeding large numbers of human beings may be as important as any other mentioned so far but how can masses of humanity be fed while internecine war continues?

Fourth, excessive immigration has consistently disrupted the prevailing order often resulting in hostile abuses by the host population. Resentment of the immigrant is countermanded by exploitation of his or her vulnerability in the form of cheap labor without minimal benefits. Peace is pushed farther into the shadows for repression of one kind or another that only helps to exacerbate the problem resulting in a social cancer of hatred between contending parties.

Fifth, drug traffic proliferates incessantly in spite of a myriad of laws to prevent it. As long as a sick society remains in the torpor of addiction there can be no solution that is based entirely on materialistic means. The anti drug war in Columbia has not reduced the abuses of drug use in America or elsewhere. Concurrently the impact of Columbian drug lord activities has severely damaged the infrastructure and its governance. This means that permanent peace simply hasn't got a chance in the absence of a spiritual foundation. A motivation of higher aims is necessary for the human psyche to become animated, to seek internal balance, to be free of dependence on foreign substance or to fulfill personal destiny.

From these few typical examples of critical goals it is apparent that they are, at best, secondary to the much greater challenge of achieving universal peace and it remains that a secular approach alone remains limited, even impotent.

But if achieving universal peace is our greatest challenge, then one may ask, "just what is real peace?" Educators and experts in the field of semantics generally reduce the meanings of words to abstract concepts devoid of emotional subtleties. For example, the dictionary defines peace to be a pact to end hostilities. However, as mentioned before, history shows that truces and treaties may be short lived. Peace is also described as being a state of quietness? But there is no assurance that "quietness" may be no more than a lull before the next storm as in the years between, the "Great War to end all wars"(WWI) and the far greater conflagration of WWII. It is also described as freedom from civil disturbance. But that leaves another question, what kind of repression would be required to curb civil disturbance? Would it be fair? Peace is also considered to be harmony in personal relations but does such a harmony depend on loving kindness or exploitation? Again, peace is described as mutual concord but would that be exclusive between limited partners at the expense of others?

These issues are integral to what Bahá'u'lláh described as the first of two stages toward universal peace. First the Lesser Peace will be achieved essentially at a political level. This would require that all nations acknowledge the absurdity of war. The second stage, the Most Great Peace would follow that will be long lived and founded on spiritual principles. (PT 123) To address the aforementioned elements of challenge to peace, we must now clearly identify the needs associated with that challenge so that we may become enabled of solution.

II: NEEDS AND REMEDIES

Let's put the question: Why has peace been so elusive? Some reasons are obvious such as tribal jealousy. A most horrendous example was the civil war in Rwanda a few years ago that pitted the Tutsi and the Hutu tribes in merciless combat with the reported loss exceeding eight hundred thousand men women and children. Another cause for lack of peace is the cancer of racism as horrendously exemplified by Nazi Germany. Also, vestiges of warrior mentality are a hindrance to peace even among sophisticated nations such as Japan motivated by Samurai philosophy prior to WWII. And there are primitive instincts driven by revenge of one group toward another that are mutually perpetuated. Looming large is the lust for power that undermines governance as well as religious institutions. Most divisive may be Religious fundamentalism, dogmatism and confrontation between belief systems. All the above that are combined with essentially materialistic goals provide a recipe for conflict. One by one these negative obstructions to unity must be addressed through an educational process that would involve a trans-disciplinary program, that is, one that relates spiritual values with materialistic needs. Openness and trust must first be established if the hearts and minds of peacemakers are to connect to the many resolutions to these difficult barriers to peace and unity. `Abdu'l-Bahá succinctly defines this process:

Bigotry and dogmatic adherence to ancient beliefs have become the central and fundamental source of animosity among men, the obstacle to human progress, the cause of warfare and strife, the destroyer of peace, composure and welfare in the world (FWU 10)

Until all these barriers erected by prejudice are swept away, it is not possible for humanity to be at peace. (PT 146)

Above all, there is an urgency to reconcile and heal the intensive rift that has evolved between the world's great religions over an expanse of time. This is truly ironic in light of the common foundations of these long standing faiths.

There is one God; mankind is one; the foundations of religion are one. Let us worship Him, and give praise for all His great Prophets and Messengers who have manifested His brightness and glory. (ABL 19)

Religions historically become corrupted by their leaders within a few centuries. It is evident that man-made inventions in faith are cumulative and contrary to their original tenants so much so that they become barely recognizable. In fact Bahá'u'lláh abolished the priesthood to protect His Faith from those with a lust for vainglory or for power. But He also declared that modern man has reached a point of maturity that enables people to independently seek truth and to take responsibility for their own spiritual destinies. Thus, the priesthood is no longer a necessary component for the advancement of civilization.

For humanity to understand the diminutive nature of this corruptive process He further enunciates the principle of progressive revelation and the cyclic characteristics of belief systems since the days of Adam. (PDC v) As society advances, a deeper understanding of our spiritual nature is required. Thus, a new Prophet comes with a new revelation to cleanse the corruptive influences that have crept into faith, to reveal a deeper understanding of one's spiritual identity and to guide man through the tests and difficulties that he faces at his particular time in history. A familiar example is the dispensation of Moses. Though He did not choose the role assigned to Him, after severe trials He fully embraced the enormous responsibility of being a Divine Prophet Who would introduce spiritual and social laws that would impact civilization for over three millennia. Then He made a promise: "The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;" 4

When this prophecy of Moses regarding a coming Messiah was fulfilled after thirteen centuries with the birth of Jesus Christ the religious authorities completely rejected His claim and the Roman authorities would collude with them to end His earthly life after three short years of ministry. But within three centuries his Faith would conquer the mighty Roman Empire with the declaration by Constantine in 315 C.E. to make Christianity the official religion of the realm. Christ had prophesied about the coming of another that His followers refer to as the "Second Coming" as inferred in Hebrews 9:28. "And unto them that look for Him, shall He appear the second time…" 5 He did indeed appear a second time after the crucifixion in the famous meeting where Mary Magdalene inspired the apostles to see His presence with their inner eyes, that is to say through their spiritual vision.6 But Jesus had actually spoken in the third person with respect to His future return:

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. 7

Not only did Jesus refer to One other than Himself, He was also to come with a new name!

Him that over cometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.8

Isaiah, over eight centuries earlier, when prophesying about a future world redeemer, made a similar remark.

And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name. 9

The promise was fulfilled by Bahá'u'lláh but, as with all previous Divine Messengers, He was utterly rejected by the religious leaders in the cradle of the Faith, in this case Persia, while the Shah's cruel and unremitting persecution was imposed on His followers that continue to this day. As to the "new name", Isaiah himself revealed it in a way that has not been recognized until this period in history:

And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.10

Translated into English the name Bahá'u'lláh literally means "Glory of the Lord."

Progressive Revelation, a historical phenomenon so obvious when observed with an objective eye, provides a cornerstone of understanding for religious leaders to come together. It would be desirable for institutions of learning to encourage studies in the origins of religions that go beyond the utterances of generations of divines. For instance, the cobwebs of tradition in various faiths should be drawn aside in order to focus on the original messages of their respective founders. Corollary to this is the priority of developing an understanding of the nature of unity between the hearts of humankind and with it a sense of respect among all peoples. This involves the ennoblement of all ethnic or racial groups. `Abdu'I-Bahá said, "Bonds of affection should not be destroyed, rather they should be strengthened." Such ennoblement is essential on the path to peace for it will support another point made by his father Bahá'u'lláh with an oft quoted comment made when He was interviewed by the esteemed Orientalist, Edward Granville Brown:

And so it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away and the most great peace shall come. Is not this that which Christ foretold? Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind. (DP 10)

"The remedy is universal peace," wrote `Abdu'I-Bahá in a letter to Martha Root. This did not mean local peace or colloquial unity. Rather, it is a peace that must be organized on a global basis that is currently in the domain of the United Nations. Inept as it may seem at times, the UN remains the one viable agency for brokering peace on a global - political level between contending parties in an unbiased way. What is missing so far is the spiritual component without which peace will remain transitory. As tricky as this may seem, the vision of Bahá'u'lláh as expressed by `Abdu'l-Bahá regarding a world assemblage could be animated with a global panel under the auspices of the World Body that would function on a permanent basis for the purpose of consultation among representatives of all the great religions of the world with the support of respected academia. This might be initiated through the Non Governmental Organization arm (NGO) of the Administrative Center of the Bahá'í Faith itself. A simple format with the purpose of reflecting on commonalities and avoidance of inflammatory dialogue would be an ideal beginning. Modern interfaith groups are proving that this can be done.

The solution for peace would depend upon how well consultation could resolve specific issues. "Secular views and spiritual views must be brought into concord," said `Abdu'l-Bahá. (ATN 84) Bahá'í inspired techniques have been developed to deal with conflict resolution and these may be readily effective in dealing with religious issues that impact civil law. But regardless of technique, it must be repetitively emphasized that there is a distinct difference between material progress and spiritual progress, and that they inherently influence each other. (PT 107)

Another priority for education is to develop an understanding of the value of knowledge not only in matters of religious faith but also in matters of scientific inquiry according to `Abdu'l-Bahá. Such knowledge must be used for the benefit of others, for this, combined with high ideals, will be a basis upon which peace may be raised. (PT 43) For example, if each person would look deep into the message of their respective Prophet and while doing so, cut away the corruptive misinterpretations by legends of self proclaimed spiritual experts, then their efforts in pursuing scientific truths could be applied in beneficent service to humanity. (PT 107)

How will peace come about once such a basis is established? We are advised about the coming of peace when a questioner asked `Abdu'I-Bahá "By what process will this peace on earth be established? Will it come at once after a universal declaration of the Truth?" He answered, "No, it will come about gradually. A plant that grows too quickly lasts but a short time." (ABL 106) A descriptive note was given regarding an address he gave in London:

You are my family and he looked about with a smile, my new children! If a family lives in unison, great results are obtained. Widen the circle; when a city lives in intimate accord greater results will follow, and a continent that is fully united will likewise unite all other continents. Then will be the time of the greatest results, for all the inhabitants of the earth belong to one native land. (ABL 106)

Underlying the methods of gaining peace through the use of spiritual and material knowledge constitutes the basic purpose that is essential in achieving the goal of universal peace. That purpose is that all men and women become endued with an understanding of right living according to divine law, a state sometimes referred to as righteousness of a selfless nature in direct contrast to the self-righteousness of human invention.

Real patience will be required of representatives for the world's great religions as they pursue commonality. Fortunately, spiritual laws do not change. We do however gain deeper understanding of their essence with the coming of a Divine Prophet from age to age. Social laws do change and it is in this area that diplomacy will be required. So, in this period of globalization, universal peace is the only viable option if mankind is to ever experience any semblance of tranquility. (GWB 205) This sense of universality is expressed in a famous quote from Bahá'u'lláh:

It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens. (GWB 248)

So far, the attempt has been to define certain aspects of peace that are essential to its arrival but there is another condition that is crucial and that is the condition of unity that would embrace all the peoples of the world. One might assume that all conflicts must be resolved before unity can be established but, in fact, the very opposite is true for unity is concerned with common purpose and commitment without which societal problems could not be resolved. And that purpose and commitment remains hidden until we search with open heart the utterances of divine origin found in the body of writings offered by the latest Revelator in the spiritual life of man.

The well-being of man, its peace and security, is unattainable unless and until unity is firmly established. This unity can never be achieved so long as the counsels which the Pen of the Most High hath revealed are suffered to pass unheeded. (GWB 286)

Preceding that glorious day when unity of man is established, we would have to address one final subject before universal peaces could be attained and that is peace within the individual. Here the spiritual aspect of life takes precedent with the Words of God as directly uttered by Bahá'u'lláh:

O Son of Spirit!
There is no peace for thee save by renouncing thyself and turning unto Me; for it behooveth thee to glory in My name, not in thine own; to put thy trust in Me and not in thyself, since I desire to be loved alone and above all that is. (AHW 8)

Embracing the above tenant is really an affair of the heart so one must follow on with a process of learning the practical aspects associated with universal peace. This involves certain commandments that are eternal, that is, they are based on spiritual laws to live by. Also, there are Ordinances that are basically social, temporal rules that may change as mankind advances over time. And there are admonitions that constitute advice for one's own good such as "to be fair." There are also decrees or utterances of God that are above question. Finally, there are virtues defining moral elements that combine to form a myriad of moral principles lying at the root of every human activity. To these must be added certain parameters for initiating a plan for peace.

III: PARAMETERS

Principles that identify moral conditions of spiritual importance will become the pillars capable of sustaining world peace. `Abdu'l-Bahá often referred to a number of these principles from the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh. One for example is the proposal for the gathering of religious leaders under the aegis of a world assemblage. Hopefully, the U.N. will provide such a forum where perhaps the participants may logically come to the realization that those who claim to worship one Creator God must be worshiping the same One but each in a different way. The initial goal of recognizing the commonality underlying the great religions of the world must be advanced gradually so that doors will remain open for dialogue among the many diverse adherents of faith. "If we set aside all superstitions and see the reality of the foundation we shall all agree, because religion is one and not multiple." (DP 26) Further, many of the present rituals and ceremonies often act as barriers to unity and must be recognized as such. Equally important is the recognition that humanity emerged from a single branch and that we must return to a concept of one human family by accepting others as brothers and sisters regardless of present day racial diversity. "There is unity in diversity. Each sets off and enhances the other's beauty." (DP 25)

For an international forum of religious leaders to come together, much less to agree on issues will require another parameter of a most delicate nature and that is the independent investigation of reality for all participants to whatever degree they may be able to accept it. "No man should follow blindly his ancestors and forefathers. Nay, each must see with his own eyes, hear with his own ears and investigate independently in order that he may find the truth." (DP 25) This will of course require extensive consultation that would have to be protected by a firm rule barring all inflammatory remarks.

The proposed forum must address another sensitive but essential change in our present male dominated society. It is the equality of women and men--a principle that has slowly and sporadically won acceptance in a number of countries but still has a long way to go. "Daughters and sons must follow the same form of study and acquire a uniform education. One course of education promotes unity among mankind." Generally, a broader expansion of this parameter may be expressed as elimination of all kinds of prejudice, whether economic, child to adult, racial, professional, religious and educational. "Religious hatred and rancor is a world-consuming fire,.." (DP 25) It is further referred to as calamity and a destroyer of human society. (PUP 107)

Critical too is the concept of universal compulsory education. Gatherings of religious leaders should foster open dialogue on this subject especially in the atmosphere of a world assemblage. Even if there is no agreement at first it is still important to make a beginning toward concord in the fullness of time. Corollary to this educational process is the need for an auxiliary universal language, preferably taught at an early age to young students around the world.

There is one parameter for consultation among the religious leaders of the world that should lend itself readily to become one of the pillars of world peace. Stated simply it is that we should apply spiritual solutions to the many economic problems around the globe. This could indeed become the lynchpin that will assure conciliatory cooperation between all religious representatives.

One of the most resistant barriers facing the goal of peace is the conflict between science and religion. It began with Copernicus when some five centuries ago, he presented a solution based on empirical evidence that the earth was not the center of the solar system. This was diametrically in opposition to Church dogma that directly threatened the lives of succeeding scientists. Ironically those early scientists were devout followers of the Christian Faith in Europe. But within a century modem scientists began to separate themselves from dogma and scholasticism in preference to empiricism. Whereas the church was concerned about why things happened the exponents of the new science didn't care why things happened in nature, they were only interested in how they happened.

The divide between belief systems widened to the extent that as science gained ground, the Church began to gradually lose influence on the hearts of people resulting in a secular, materialistic western society. Today however there are many who are once again asking "why" as well as "how" phenomena occur. The power of faith can and must heal the wounds of indifference if it be introduced free of dogma and superstition. That will require extensive consultation on the part of all parties in a spirit of respect and concord.

Finally, universal peace can only be upheld by a world federation. Today the closest thing to that is the United Nations. Its precursor was of course the League of Nations that was doomed to failure for a number of reasons mentioned earlier. On the other hand, the U.N., though weak can still function if it can somehow embrace a few universal spiritual principles in its mission statement. Miraculously, this could be accomplished by overseeing the agenda for the meeting of minds of religious leaders around the world. To reiterate, a proposal framed within the guidelines expressed by `Abdu'l-Bahá could be made on the floor of the U.N., to call representatives of the great religions of the world into consultation on the commonality existing among the various faiths. Avoidance of. differences would be paramount and a firm requirement that inflammatory invective not be permitted. Rather, prayers as expressed by representatives of the various religions would create a spiritual ambiance that would greatly enhance any dialogue to follow. Prayer is communion with God according to `Abdu'l-Bahá. It may be said that prayer engages the human spirit with the Holy Spirit Through the Spirit of Faith; it protects and guides one on a spiritual path, and it is always answered when expressed in a spirit of sincerity. An example pertaining to unity follows and could be used as invocation for meetings of religious representatives before the World Assemblage.

O my God! O my God! Unite the hearts of Thy servants, and reveal to them Thy great purpose. May they follow Thy commandments and abide in Thy law. Help them, O God, in their endeavor, and grant them strength to serve Thee. O God! Leave them not to themselves, but guide their steps by the light of Thy knowledge, and cheer their hearts by Thy love. Verily, Thou art their Helper and their Lord. (BP)

IV: CONCLUSION

In the beginning of this dissertation, we addressed the question regarding what the most important goal facing mankind might be. Such obvious activities or conditions as economic stability, diplomacy, world health, mass starvation, immigration, drug addiction or a myriad of others for all their importance, cannot be corrected until the goal of universal peace is attained. Indeed, according to `Abdu'l-Bahá, universal peace is the most important matter for mankind to consider. (DP 27) But to consider peace we really had to identify just what that is and found that two forms emerged as the most viable. Bahá'u'lláh described the first as a peace based on politico-economic expediency that is concerned with material needs and the futility of war. Following this will be the second form, the Most Great Peace founded on spiritual principles and institutions based on the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh. It will bring the Golden Age of the Bahá'í Faith; the Kingdom of God on Earth so long awaited and will embrace a condition of well being never seen before. Shoghi Effendi referred to it as "the consequence of the spiritualization of the world and the fusion of its races, creeds, classes and nations…" (WOB 162)

His statement indicates just how complex the process of achieving peace can be. So needs must be defined and remedies developed if peace is to be attained. In other words we first have to understand why peace has been so elusive before we can derive the remedy. Many items of conflict were discussed but `Abdu'l-Bahá narrowed them down to a basic few, namely bigotry and dogmatic adherence to ancient beliefs. (FWU 10) He further maintained that it is not possible to have peace until these prejudicial barriers are swept away. (PT 146) As to the remedy of this disease, he exclaims that it is a Universal Peace that must be organized on behalf of all the powers and nations in a Supreme Tribunal.11 But the solution for peace requires not only the application of this remedy; it must include divine ordinances for the benefit of people in every country. (TN 84) This means that we must come to understand the organic relationship between material and spiritual values because material progress must be in line with spiritual progress. (PT 107) In other words there must be a functioning relationship whereby material reality and spiritual reality come together in human life.

If men followed the Holy Counsels and the Teachings of the Prophets, if Divine Light shone in all hearts and men were really religious, we should soon see peace on earth and the Kingdom of God among men. (PT 107)

With this, the importance of knowledge looms ever larger. We are advised to acquire knowledge throughout one's life, to study the sciences and to use such knowledge for the benefit of others. (PT 43)

Patience must accompany our progress for we are told that the coming of peace will come about gradually beginning with family unity. Through an educational process, unity must expand like a wide circle to embrace our cities then nations to continents until the continents themselves are of one mind and spirit in a unified world. That constitutes the critical condition for peace to exist for without unity there can be no universal peace. Through it all the underlying purpose of peace must be kept in the forefront as explicated by Bahá'u'lláh that "all men must be endued with righteousness and under standing so that peace and tranquility can be firmly established…" (GWB 205) And there is one further precept that peace within the individual must precede universal peace which can only be achieved by renouncing one's self and turning to God. (AHW 31) This requires obedience to the laws, commandments, ordinances and decrees as declared by the Supreme Being through His Divine Messenger. Lastly, prayer is essential for sustaining peace for it is communion with God when expressed in a spirit of sincerity. (KA 166)

Finally, despite the enormous achievements of modern man in the centuries following the Renaissance, nothing approaches the significance of the yet to be achieved--universal peace on our planet. We seem to have been so benumbed at times by the horrific consequences of repetitive cycles of war that we often lose any hope of peace or even a perception of what it really means as it fades like a mist of wishful thinking into a realm of long lost ideals. But we should not despair for this is a new day, one that is proclaimed by Bahá'u'lláh as the Day of God, a day not followed by night. (SLH 34) In that context the way to peace is clearly enunciated in His Revelation and expounded by the Center of His Covenant, `Abdu'l-Bahá. He has lain it so clearly before us that it only remains for humanity to carry forth with certitude.

WORKS CITED

`Abdu'l-Bahá, `Abdu'l-Bahá in London, Ocean Library v 218, Bahai-education.org.

`Abdu'I-Bahá, A Traveller's Narrative, Ocean Library v 218, Bahai-education.org.

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, Ocean Library v 218, Bahai-education.org.

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, Ocean Library v 218, Bahai-education.org.

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Letter to Martha Root, Ocean Library v 218, Bahai-education.org.

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, London, UK: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1972.

`Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1982.

Bahá'u'lláh, The Arabic Hidden Words,, Ocean Library v 218, bahai-education.org.

Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1982

Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Ocean Library, bahai-education.org.

Bahá'u'lláh, Bahá'í Prayers, Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 2002.

Bahá'u'lláh, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, Ocean Library, bahai-education.org.

Encyclopedia Britannica 2005 Deluxe CD-ROM

Holy Bible, King James version, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House

Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, Ocean Library, bahai-education.org.

Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1982.

Shoghi Effendi, World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1974.

REFERENCES

[1] Britannica, Treaty of Verdun

[2] Ibid, League of Nations

[3] Ibid

[4] Deuteronomy, 8:15

[5] Hebrews 9:28.

[6] John 20:16-29

[7] John 16:13

[8] Revelation 3:12

[9] Isaiah 62:2

[10] Isaiah 40:5

[11] Letter to Martha Root

Back to:   Unpublished Articles
Home Site Map Forum Links Copyright About Contact
 
.
. .