Preparation for Life in Peace: The Role of Youth

Statement to the International Year of Peace Seminar for the Asia, Pacific and Western Asia Regions
Bangkok, Thailand

The Baha'i­ International Community would like to make a few comments on the significant ways in which youth, with its idealism and energy, can help fulfill the aim of the Charter of the United Nations to establish universal peace; and to suggest that the International Year of Peace Secretariat give special attention in its proposed programme for IYP to the ways in which young people can, through their creativity and drive, not only be seized with the vision of a world society incorporating the rich diversity of human characteristics and cultures, but also recognize their most valuable role in achieving world unity and world peace.

Drawing on the experience of Baha'i­ youth from over 2000 ethnic backgrounds in more than 160 independent countries, the Baha'i­ International Community suggests the following ways in which youth can hasten to bring about a lasting world peace and build a world civilization:

  1. By developing an understanding and conviction of the principle of the organic oneness of humanity, and by expressing this belief through action.
    Science and religion have taught us that we are one human race, living on one planet, and that each of us is an integral part of the body of humanity. If any part of this body is weak, ill, diseased, the whole will be affected: each of us, as an indivisible part, will then suffer or be destroyed.
  2. By working for a systematic eradication of all forms of prejudice and discrimination, whether based on race, religion, sex, nationality, or class.
    Failure to be aware of our prejudices, and to work consistently to rid ourselves of these divisive forces, will maim or destroy us, individually and collectively. Further, the chance of achieving unity through cooperation, and of bringing about peace, the result of this unity, will be impossible.
  3. By a commitment to education in its totality - spiritual, moral, intellectual, emotional and physical - education of the whole person. This can be done in two ways:
    1. First through the development of the highest moral and spiritual values taught in the Baha'i­ Writings and in the scriptures of earlier revealed religions: among them, qualities of love, compassion, justice, truthfulness, honesty, trustworthiness, and courtesy. These qualities, essential for the molding of character, must be internalized, and be expressed in daily action, whether in the context of family, community, country, or the world at large. This education must necessarily stem from acceptance of, and commitment to, the organic oneness of the human race, and the belief that all human beings are fundamentally spiritual in nature, and have the responsibility to express their love of God through service to their fellow beings.
    2. Second, through education and training in schools, to develop fully the individual's talents, abilities, potentials in such a way that young people are equipped to practice a trade or profession, and can, through gainful employment contribute to the development of their nation and of the world. Special emphasis must also be given, in the Baha'i­ view, to the often neglected education of female youth.
      Such an education must be provided for by the family and the community. Since work done in the spirit of service to humanity is, in the Baha'i­ view, considered worship, youth, men and women alike, must commit themselves to obtain education, so that they may make a unique contribution to life on this planet.

Further, in the experience of the Baha'i­ International Community, it is clear that the education and training of youth must be based on the essential agreement of science and religion since, as facets of one truth, they provide both the values and the knowledge that will transform this planet into a place of peace and harmony, through respect for the rich diversity of humanity and the nourishing of those cultural differences that bring us together, not tear us apart.

An acceptance of the common humanity we share - that we are all a divine creation, connected by indissoluble ties with the Creator of the universe - is, in the view of the Baha'i­ International Community, essentially what matters.

We offer the above comments and suggestions in the hope that the enthusiasm that youth worldwide is demonstrating during International Youth Year will be channeled fully, in cooperation with people of all ages, to make of International Year of Peace a milestone in the life of the United Nations and the planet earth.

The goal of world peace is more than a possibility. It is, we believe, inevitable; and the brilliant light at the end of the tunnel must be for youth a challenge to their devotion to build a better world - one as glimpsed, for instance, in the following view from the Baha'i­ Writings:

A world community in which all economic barriers will have been permanently demolished and the interdependence of Capital and Labor definitely recognized; in which the clamor of religious fanaticism and strife will have been forever stilled; in which the flame of racial animosity will have been finally extinguished; in which a single code of international law - the product of the considered judgment of the world's federated representatives - shall have as its sanction the instant and coercive intervention of the combined forces of the federated units; and finally will have been transmuted into an abiding consciousness of world citizenship - such indeed, appears, in its broadest outline, the Order anticipated by Bahá'u'lláh, an Order that shall come to be regarded as the fairest fruit of a slowly maturing age.