Thoughts of War and Peace—an Anniversary Observed

Thoughts of War and Peace—an Anniversary Observed

Bahram Nadimi

Tides of change are sweeping the earth, and we all feel helpless to withstand its powerful force. Every day there is fresh and depressing news of terrorism, famine, war, deep economic disorders and the like. Shoghi Effendi, the head of the Baha’i faith from 1921-1957 has stated:

 “A tempest, unprecedented in its violence, unpredictable in its course, catastrophic in its immediate effects, unimaginably glorious in its ultimate consequences, is at present sweeping the face of the earth. Its driving power is remorselessly gaining in range and momentum. … Humanity, gripped in the clutches of its devastating power, is smitten by the evidences of its resistless fury. It can neither perceive its origin, nor probe its significance, nor discern its outcome. Bewildered, agonized and helpless, it watches this great and mighty wind of God invading the remotest and fairest regions of the earth…[1]”

The question is: how can we mitigate the negative and channel the positive effects of these powerful forces of change?  Where do we start?  How can we overcome the paralysis of will that is preventing people and leaders of good will to come together for the sake of unity, to solve the pressing issues of the day?

We have to start with our thoughts; our thoughts are our reality.

Abdu’l-Bahá (son of the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith) has stated:

“I charge you all that each one of you concentrate all the thoughts of your heart on love and unity. When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love. Thoughts of war bring destruction to all harmony, well-being, restfulness and content.[2]”

 I cannot but recall a wonderful song by DePeche Mode called “People Are People”, here it is including the lyrics:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dvu5EpWnngE

In this song, this band expresses its frustration with hate and disunity in this world and how it is just a matter of time before the thoughts of hate will translate to violence and destruction.

Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds

Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds

Two-thousand-five-hundred years ago we were urged to follow the three pillars of the Zoroastrian religion: “Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds”.

While this statement is timeless—and illustrates the powerful and positive effect of the Word of God through different Prophets at different times—we need more detail at present to expand on these themes. The governing body of the Bahá’ís of the United States released a statement on world peace roughly a decade ago. This amazing document delineates the steps needed for a lasting peace.  Here it talks about thoughts as a potent reality:

 “The courage, the resolution, the pure motive, the selfless love of one people for another — all the spiritual and moral qualities required for effecting this momentous step towards peace are focused on the will to act. And it is towards arousing the necessary volition that earnest consideration must be given to the reality of man, namely, his thought. To understand the relevance of this potent reality is also to appreciate the social necessity of actualizing its unique value through candid, dispassionate and cordial consultation, and of acting upon the results of this process. Bahá’u’lláh insistently drew attention to the virtues and indispensability of consultation for ordering human affairs. He said: “Consultation bestows greater awareness and transmutes conjecture into certitude. It is a shining light which, in a dark world, leads the way and guides… The very attempt to achieve peace through the consultative action he proposed can release such a salutary spirit among the peoples of the earth that no power could resist the final, triumphal outcome [3]”

It goes on to say that a mighty convocation of leaders is needed that “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.[3]”.

There is no other way; world leaders need to sacrifice a little bit of their national sovereignty for the sake of world unity. The pain and suffering will increase until it forces change. We can mitigate this pain, though, by acting with foresight.

 Recent Events in Norway and an important Hundredth Anniversary this Month

It is hard not to be affected by the horrible events—events fueled by hate and racism—that have occurred in Norway. We see similar events all over the world. Can we counter these thoughts of destruction with stronger thoughts of peace and unity as the writings of  the Bahá’í Faith suggest?

As it happens, 104 years ago a historic congress on race unity and anti-racism was held in Europe, at the University of London, July 26-29 1911. See my blog on this congress:

http://www.commongroundgroup.net/2011/01/18/twentieth-century-renaissance-and-race-unity/

This hundredth anniversary has passed virtually unnoticed even in academic circles.  Would it not have been wonderful to have had this bold and noble gathering—at which people of capacity exchanged views on race, culture and religion—publicized?

Norway priminister said after the shootings: ‘We’re going to answer hatred with love’ ; he is right, in order for peace to conquer war, we need thoughts—and deeds—of love to overcome thoughts of hate.

========================= References ==============================

[1] Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, p. 3
[2] Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 29
[3] The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Oct, The Promise of World Peace, p. 4

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6 thoughts on “Thoughts of War and Peace—an Anniversary Observed

  1. Love can be helpful in some situations, but it can’t soften the heart of a total psychopath, a person with no conscience, no compassion, who just takes advantage of people who show him love. Like before WWII, at the Munich conference in 1938, British prime minister Chamberlain and the French negotiator Daladier, both showed plenty of love to Hitler, so much love they gave him all of Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia, without even contacting the Czechoslovak government, with which France had a defense treaty. They betrayed Czechoslovakia by showing love to Hitler. So he promised them not to have any further territorial ambitions, and one can read history to see how that loving promise turned out. Earlier, Finland had lovingly signed a non-aggression treaty with Stalin, but then in 1939, Stalin, after showing love to Hitler, by signing an agreement dividing eastern Europe between Hitler and Stalin, reciprocated Finland’s love by invading Finland. Then in 1941, Hitler reciprocated Stalin’s show of love by invading Stalin’s Soviet Union. Of course both Hitler and Stalin were psychopaths, did not really love anyone, but still could show love, without really meaning it. And in fact, millions of subordinates of Stalin showed their love and devotion to Stalin, yet Stalin still killed millions of them.
    Clearly countries need to defend themselves. And countries need to defend their friends against such psychopaths. So pacifism is a foolish doctrine. I was initially very attracted to the Baha’i faith, but when I learned they recommend conscientious objector status, I saw it cannot be the right faith.

    1. There’s a huge difference between the mental illness of a psychopath, sociopath or megalomaniac and someone who is merely misguided or unpleasant or even mired in garden variety hate.

      But consider this: if the people around Adolf Hitler, or Pol Pot or whatever mad dictator you wish to cite, were spiritually aware of their humanity and practicing the tenets of any faith, they would have recognized his madness and would never have allowed him to become powerful. Because some saw him as a rescuer of their own and Germany’s fortunes, because they had no spiritual goals or awareness, they were gradually pulled into his influence.

      There will always be people who are mentally disordered, but in a society that recognizes the symptoms of that disorder for what it is rather than considering them a sign of personal power, those people will be aided to recover and hopefully live stable, productive or at least happy lives.

      I also need to correct you false assumption that Bahá’ís are pacifists. We are not. We are encouraged to defend others as well as ourselves when it becomes necessary to do so. What we are bidden not to do is to try to meet religious prejudice with force. And we are to request support, non-combatant status if drafted or recruited into a military organization. That might mean serving as a medic, instructor, programmer, draftsman, interpreter or air reconnaissance expert, to name a few such positions.

      What Bahá’ís are asked to do is to recognize the oneness of mankind and do to whatever is necessary to serve and aid others. Sometimes that requires the use of force to protect one group or individual from others. But in the same way that Muhammad forbade Muslims from being the aggressors in a battle, Bahá’u’lláh has forbidden Bahá’ís to engage in aggression.

      1. Maya, it is historically inaccurate to say Nazis didn’t practice any faith? Positive Christiantiy and Volkisch Movements were extremely popular throughout Germany. Nordic Racial Paganism is another example of a Neo Volkisch Movement, but more modern and popular among Neo Nazis rather than traditional WWII era Nazis. Nazi Mysticism and Nazi Occultism are also things that were big among SS members especially, but all Nazis in general to a lesser extent. National Catholicism was a simmilar thing in places like Italy and Spain to Positive Christianity, but Positive Christianity in Germany was more Protestant while National Cathlicism was Catholic.

        Hitler said that the conquering Arabs, because of their racial inferiority, would in the long run have been unable to contend with the harsher climate and conditions of the country. They could not have kept down the more vigorous natives, so that ultimately not Arabs but Islamized Germans could have stood at the head of this Mohammedan Empire. “Had Charles Martel not been victorious at Poitiers, then we should in all probability have been converted to Mohammedanism, that cult which glorifies the heroism and which opens up the seventh Heaven to the bold warrior alone. Then the Germanic races would have conquered the world.” Adolf Hitler. He also expressed simmilar positive feelings towards religions like Confucianism and Shinto. This is probably due to their association with the Imperial Japanese.

  2. Hi Tom,
    I just have time for a quick comment, but when I read your coment about Baha’is seeking conscientious objector status I thought I should make a quick reply. First of all, Baha’is do not support pacifism, and as far as I know, Baha’is do not seek conscientious objector status. Rather, if drafted into the military I think that current guidance is that they should request “noncombative” status, that is, they may serve in many capacities, including as medics under combat conditions. Perhaps someone else can expand onm this. In addition, I would suggest you investigate Baha’u’llah’s teachings regarding collective security, ideas which clearly prescribe military response, if necessary, to stop aggressors. This is a very inadequate reply but hopefully someone with a bit more time on their hands can add to it.

    1. OK, I was wrong a little when I said Baha’is are told to seek conscientious objector status, the truth is they are told to seek non-combatant status. Like you say, serving as a medic, or as Maya says above, serving as an instructor, programmer, draftsman, interpreter, air reconnaissance expert, etc. Of course most people would prefer non-combatant status, but the armed forces need most more people who are willing to fight. So if a large percentage of population in some country were to be Baha’is, that would put the country at a big disadvantage. So sad that at least so far the Baha’i faith forbids fighting in wars. I know they say if we have one day a worldwide government, then you can fight, but not now.

  3. Hi John

    You are correct that we should request “noncombative” status if at all possible and we are not conscientious objectors.

    Here is an excerpt of a Tablet Bahá’u’lláh wrote to Queen Victoria:

    “Be reconciled among yourselves, that ye may need no more armaments save in a measure to safeguard your territories and dominions… Be united, O kings of the earth, for thereby will the tempest of discord be stilled amongst you, and your peoples find rest, if ye be of them that comprehend. Should any one among you take up arms against another, rise ye all against him, for this is naught but manifest justice.”

    My understanding is that through “pain and heartache” powerful world leaders will be forced to come up with covenants and agreements to alleviate suffering caused by international crisis of some sort (say a global economic collapse), perhaps in our life time. It well might be by the leadership of the G20.

    This will not be sufficient since there will not be any means of enforcement.

    Bahá’u’lláh envisions a convocation of world leaders that will get together to create covenants and agreements to end war but with means of enforcement such as a international military force as well as various institutions. It will likely be done through the UN. Basically the UN will have the mandate to enforce any collective agreement.

    Also I read somewhere in the Baha’i writings that using force to get rid of the selling of drugs,( cannot find a quotation to support that yet)

    To summarize, Baha’is believe in the use of force but a system that:

    “… in which Force is made the servant of Justice”

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