Re: Self-Defense and Baha'i Morality

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Posted by Stuart Gilman ( on December 21, 2002 at 21:25:15:

In Reply to: Re: Self-Defense and Baha'i Morality posted by Rob on December 21, 2002 at 12:13:18:

Rob wrote: "Short of such self-defense, we usually have the time and means available to us for protection offered through the legal system."

I do not know which continent he inhabits, but certainly none on earth.

But the subject and his comments are very interesting, especially in the light of current misuse of words like pre-emptive strike, which I clearly understand is a way of speaking about national american self-defence.

If we have a right to self-defence under law, which we do, and this can by law include deadly force, and, further, we believe that, for example, in Iran our lives are in danger, then would it be possible to arm ourselves for the moment when we expose ourselves as Baha'is, knowing we shall be attacked and probably executed?

Or is there some sanctification of martyrdom that contradicts self-defence? For example, let us say that I am among people who will kill me if I declare I am a Baha‚i. Therefore, if I decide to declare and not defend myself, I am a wilful martyr. I do not know that this is the Spirit of Baha'i. Baha'u'llah fought with words and allies and politics to remain alive and in communication with his follwers. He did not lie down and die when he was arrested and felt that to fight for justice was the sacred duty of every human being.

Practically speaking, I was physically attacked when younger for being Jewish and defended myself, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. My wounds were bruises and cuts and emotional pain, but I always felt that I had a duty and right to fight back. I would never escalate from brawling to brandishing a weapon. But that was years ago. In our contemporary society, self-defence means weapons. Brawling is no longer an accepted form of settling differences and disputes.

A teenager takes out a weapon and points it at me; I knew it was going to happen because I was forewarned. Ths, I armed myself after all other alternatives were closed to me. I did not wish to die, for any reason, at the hands of a psychopath. Then follows a shootout. It is self-defence, should I prevail. Would I expect Baha'i support? From those I know, I would not expect any help at all.


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