Are humans naturally violent? Judging from the aggression and conflict that has plagued humanity’s past, many have succumbed to the view that such behavior is intrinsic to human nature. Uncritical acceptance of the view, however, leads to negativity, apathy and inaction.
On the contrary, violence is a distortion of our natural desire for harmony and inter-connection with others. A healthy, well-adjusted person desires peace for themselves, for their families and for everyone. People want to live in a world free from war, terrorism and violence.
The Baha’i writings teach that international peace is not only possible, but inevitable. It is not a vain and pious hope, but the next stage of our collective social evolution.
Humans have progressed from tribes, to city-states, to nations. World civilization is simply the next step. Prior to modern technologies, human civilizations were divided by vast distances and natural barriers. But no longer. The Earth is one homeland for all people. As the founder of the Baha’i Faith, Baha’u’llah stated, “The Earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.”
“Let your vision be world embracing,” he said.
The necessary steps to peace, from a Baha’i viewpoint, have been summarized in a statement called “The Promise of World Peace”:
“The Great Peace towards which people of good will throughout the centuries have inclined their hearts, of which seers and poets for countless generations have expressed their vision, and for which from age to age the sacred scriptures of mankind have constantly held the promise, is now at long last within the reach of the nations….”
According to the peace statement, humanity is now at a critical juncture: “Whether peace is to be reached only after unimaginable horrors precipitated by humanity’s stubborn clinging to old patterns of behavior, or is to be embraced now by an act of consultative will, is the choice before all who inhabit the Earth. At this critical juncture when the intractable problems confronting nations have been fused into one common concern for the whole world, failure to stem the tide of conflict and disorder would be unconscionably irresponsible.”
The old patterns of behavior to overcome include racism, an inordinate disparity between rich and poor, the inequality of women, religious fanaticism and unbridled nationalism. These are but signs of human immaturity that can, and will, be overcome.
In the final two articles of this series we will look at that process of overcoming these examples of social injustice from a Baha’i perspective.