Once more the world is marking the International Day of Peace on 21 September; thus, the need to reflect on the progress made, and contemplate how we may achieve peace.
There is a growing desire for peace everywhere despite many challenges facing humanity. As members of one human family, we have become more and more interdependent. The technology of the age has enabled people to move about the world with great ease while international communication has become almost instantaneous. We now have more than ever before, conditions for the establishment of peace on earth. Despite all these, there are persistent barriers to peace. The most common barriers are prejudices, suspicions and self-interest.
It is the Bahá’í view that in order to achieve peace we need to accept that mankind is one species. World peace and “world order can be founded only on an unshakable consciousness of the oneness of mankind”, and when we have a clear realisation that, as Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í Faith, states “The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens”. We then will feel the urge and responsibility to work for the well-being of humanity, rather than merely for those of our own ethnic, religious or national backgrounds”.
Physical differences such as skin colour or hair texture are superficial and have nothing to do with any supposed superiority of one ethnic group or another. According to the Bahá’í Writings, we are like flowers in one garden, the fruits of one tree and the leaves of one branch. Although we differ from one another physically and emotionally and have different talents and capacities, we all belong to the same human family. The charm and the beauty of a garden lie in its diversity.
Religion has a limitless power to inspire change and long-term commitment in its followers, and a peaceful and prosperous global society cannot be built without directly and substantively involving religion. However, for religion to help in meeting the diverse challenges confronting the humanity today it must be free from fanaticism, prejudice and animosity.
The Bahá’í Writings prescribe: “Love ye all religions and all races with a love that is true and sincere and show that love through deeds and not through the tongue; for the latter hath no importance, as the majority of men are, in speech, well-wishers, while action is the best.”
Another prerequisite for peace is the equality of women and men. The Baha’i Writings state: “when women participate fully and equally in the affairs of the world … war will cease”.
Any new thinking about peace must begin with the belief in the oneness of humanity. It will also be necessary to have international institutions to regulate international affairs.
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