The Promise of Disarmament and Peace
"It is towards this goal -- the goal of a new World Order, Divine in origin, all-embracing in scope, equitable in principle, challenging in its features -- that a harassed humanity must strive." (From the Bahá'í Writings)
The Bahá'í International Community, a non-governmental organization in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), has the pleasure of submitting the following observations, and excerpts from the Bahá'í Writings, as a contribution to the important work of the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly Devoted to Disarmament.
In the view of the Bahá'í International Community, disarmament is essential for the abolition of war as a solution to human problems. It is a goal for both governments and peoples. We -- one interdependent human race -- live on one small planet, in an age of transition between nationalism and globalism, when the needs of one country and its people are still set above the needs of humanity as a whole.
General and complete disarmament by the nations of the world demands, then, that governments and peoples increase their awareness of the organic oneness of the human race: every person as a cell in the body of humanity, each nation an aggregate of cells in the body of the planet, all living in health and happiness only when the body itself is well.
Disarmament requires also the creation of a world federation, with the necessary organs to rule with justice on behalf of all governments and peoples. The health of both the nation-state and the world as a whole, in the Bahá'í view, will continue to suffer until all governments agree to establish such a supra-national body, an institution with power to control -- and gradually eliminate -- the disunity between nations.
Such a world body must have at its command enough arms and armed forces to prevent one nation from attacking another or, if this occurs, to put down the aggressor; and each nation will retain only sufficient arms to keep internal order. Only then will a devastating world war become impossible and limited wars be stopped promptly. Nations will join with one another to resolve not only the global problems of education, food, employment, etc., but also those crucial issues of international morality, law, and order, without which there can be no lasting peace.
The Bahá'í International Community recognizes that there is no easy road to world peace. National governments certainly bear a responsibility to prevent war, to seek ways to unite and disarm, reaching out to a political agreement -- the first stage of world peace:
"Today, the task befitting great rulers is to establish peace, for in this lies the freedom of all peoples." (Bahá'í Writings)
Ultimately, however, it is also the task of each person, through an awareness of his real nature as servant of one Creator and member of one human family, to fulfill the divine will of bringing all peoples into harmony and peace, freeing the planet from poverty and war. In this second stage -- of true world unity and peace -- individual and social well-being will be expressed in a civilization reflecting spiritual values of love, compassion, and justice.
For over a century, the Bahá'í International Community has been implementing the plan established by Bahá'u'lláh, Prophet-Founder of the Bahá'í Faith, for the creation of a world order based on justice and the unity of all peoples. Representing already a cross-section of humanity, with roots in more than 300 countries and territories, among persons who come from over 1,600 ethnic backgrounds, its members, who are loyal to the national governments under which they live, seek by constructive means to advance society toward that world consciousness that must underlie eventual peace and a world civilization.
From the Bahá'í Writings:
Disarmament, Peace, and True Civilization
Bahá'u'lláh....wrote to all the kings and rulers encouraging, advising and admonishing them in regard to the establishment of peace; making it evident by conclusive proofs that the happiness and glory of humanity can only be assured through disarmament and arbitration. : (Foundations of World Unity, p. 25)
By a general agreement all the governments of the world must disarm simultaneously. It will not do if one lays down its arms and the others refuse to do so. The nations of the world must concur with each other concerning this supremely important subject, so that they may abandon together the deadly weapons of human slaughter. As long as one nation increases her military and naval budget other nations will be forced into this crazed competition through their natural and supposed interests. (Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era, p. 169)
>How many thousands have given up their work in useful industries and are laboring day and night to produce new and deadlier weapons which would spill out the blood of the race more copiously than before....Each day they invent a new bomb or explosive and then the governments must abandon their obsolete arms and begin producing the new, since the old weapons cannot hold their own against the new....The staggering cost of it all must be borne by the hapless masses. (The Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 61-62 and 64-67)
The following words of Bahá'u'lláh are indeed significant as we pause to reflect upon the present state of a strangely disordered world: "How long will humanity persist in its waywardness? How long will injustice continue? How long is chaos and confusion to reign amongst men? How long will discord agitate the face of society? The winds of despair are, alas, blowing from every direction, and the strife that divides and afflicts the human race is daily increasing. The signs of impending convulsions and chaos can now be discerned, inasmuch as the prevailing order appears to be lamentably defective." (The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 32, 41, 42-43, and 40-41)
True civilization will unfurl its banner in the midmost heart of the world whenever a certain number of its distinguished and high-minded sovereigns -- the shining exemplars of devotion and determination -- shall, for the good and happiness of all mankind, arise, with firm resolve and clear vision, to establish the Cause of Universal Peace. They 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. They must conclude a binding treaty and establish a covenant, the provisions of which shall be sound, inviolable and definite. They must proclaim it to all the world and obtain for it the sanction of all the human race. This supreme and noble undertaking -- the real source of the peace and well-being of all the world -- should be regarded as sacred by all that dwell on earth. All the forces of humanity must be mobilized to ensure the stability and permanence of this Most Great Covenant. In this all-embracing Pact the limits and frontiers of each and every nation should be clearly fixed, the principles underlying the relations of governments towards one another definitely laid down, and all international agreements and obligations ascertained. In like manner, the size of the armaments of every government should be strictly limited, for if the preparations for war and the military forces of any nation should be allowed to increase, they will arouse the suspicion of others. The fundamental principle underlying this solemn Pact should be so fixed that if any government later violate any one of its provisions, all the governments on earth should arise to reduce it to utter submission, nay the human race as a whole should resolve, with every power at its disposal, to destroy that government. Should this greatest of all remedies be applied to the sick body of the world, it will assuredly recover from its ills and will remain eternally safe and secure.
Observe that if such a happy situation be forthcoming, no government would need continually to pile up the weapons of war, nor feel itself obliged to produce ever new military weapons with which to conquer the human race. A small force for the purposes of internal security, the correction of criminal and disorderly elements and the prevention of local disturbances, would be required -- no more. In this way the entire population would, first of all, be relieved of the crushing burden of expenditure currently imposed for military purposes, and secondly, great numbers of people would cease to devote their time to the continual devising of new weapons of destruction -- those testimonials of greed and bloodthirstiness, so inconsistent with the gift of life -- and would instead bend their efforts to the production of whatever will foster human existence and peace and well-being, and would become the cause of universal development and prosperity. Then every nation on earth will reign in honor, and every people will be cradled in tranquillity and content.
A few, unaware of the power latent in human endeavor, consider this matter as highly impracticable, nay even beyond the scope of man's utmost efforts. Such is not the case, however. On the contrary, thanks to the unfailing grace of God, the loving-kindness of His favored ones, the unrivaled endeavors of wise and capable souls, and the thoughts and ideas of the peerless leaders of this age, nothing whatsoever can be regarded as unattainable. Endeavor, ceaseless endeavor, is required. Nothing short of an indomitable determination can possibly achieve it. Many a cause which past ages have regarded as purely visionary, yet in this day has become most easy and practicable. Why should this most great and lofty Cause -- the day-star of the firmament of true civilization and the cause of the glory, the advancement, the well-being and the success of all humanity -- be regarded as impossible of achievement? Surely the day will come when its beauteous light shall shed illumination upon the assemblage of man. (The Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 61-62 and 64-67)
The Oneness of Mankind
"The Tabernacle of Unity," Bahá'u'lláh proclaims in His message to all mankind, "has been raised; regard ye not one another as strangers....Of one tree are all ye the fruit and of one bough the leaves....The world is but one country and mankind its citizens....Let not a man glory in that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind." (The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 32, 41, 42-43, and 40-41)
Let there be no mistake. The principle of the Oneness of Mankind -- the pivot round which all the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh revolve -- is no mere outburst of ignorant emotionalism or an expression of vague and pious hope. Its appeal is not to be merely identified with a reawakening of the spirit of brotherhood and good-will among men, nor does it aim solely at the fostering of harmonious co-operation among individual peoples and nations. Its implications are deeper, its claims greater than any which the Prophets of old were allowed to advance. Its message is applicable not only to the individual, but concerns itself primarily with the nature of those essential relationships that must bind all the states and nations as members of one human family. It does not constitute merely the enunciation of an ideal, but stands inseparably associated with an institution adequate to embody its truth, demonstrate its validity, and perpetuate its influence. It implies an organic change in the structure of present-day society, a change such as the world has not yet experienced. It constitutes a challenge, at once bold and universal, to outworn shibboleths of national creeds -- creeds that have had their day and which must, in the ordinary course of events as shaped and controlled by Providence, give way to a new gospel, fundamentally different from, and infinitely superior to, what the world has already conceived. It calls for no less than the reconstruction and the demilitarization of the whole civilized world -- a world organically unified in all the essential aspects of its life, its political machinery, its spiritual aspiration, its trade and finance, its script and language, and yet infinite in the diversity of the national characteristics of its federated units.
It represents the consummation of human evolution -- an evolution that has had its earliest beginnings in the birth of family life, its subsequent development in the achievement of tribal solidarity, leading in turn to the constitution of the city-state, and expanding later into the institution of independent and sovereign nations.
The principle of the Oneness of Mankind, as proclaimed by Bahá'u'lláh, carries with it no more and no less than a solemn assertion that attainment to this final stage in this stupendous evolution is not only necessary but inevitable, that its realization is fast approaching, and that nothing short of a power that is born of God can succeed in establishing it. (The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 32, 41, 42-43, and 40-41)
A World Super-State
Some form of a world Super-State must needs be evolved, in whose favor all the nations of the world will have willingly ceded every claim to make war, certain rights to impose taxation and all rights to maintain armaments, except for purposes of maintaining internal order within their respective dominions. Such a state will have to include within its orbit an International Executive adequate to enforce supreme and unchallengeable authority on every recalcitrant member of the commonwealth; a World Parliament whose members shall be elected by the people in their respective countries and whose election shall be confirmed by their respective governments; and a Supreme Tribunal whose judgment will have a binding effect even in such cases where the parties concerned did not voluntarily agree to submit their case to its consideration. 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 a world community in which the fury of a capricious and militant nationalism 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. (The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 32, 41, 42-43, and 40-41)