Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.”
Will peace ever become a reality? Baha’i’s believe the answer is yes! “The Promise of World Peace,” a Baha’i statement on the destiny of the human race, explains how humanity can, and will, choose a course leading ultimately to international unity, better means of justice and peace upheld by a collective security of all nations.
The Peace Statement explains that the current world confusion and calamitous condition in human affairs is a natural phase in an organic process of change leading ultimately to the unification of the entire human race: “The human race…has passed through evolutionary stages analogous to the stages of infancy and childhood and is now in the culminating period of its turbulent adolescence approaching its long-awaited coming of age.”
One of the hopeful signs of this maturation is an emerging sense of global consciousness. We are awakening to the truth of our common humanity and the reality of our global citizenship. The oneness of mankind, our inherent equality, is gradually being accepted as a universal truth.
However, misconceptions, prejudice and social injustice continue to hold us back. Examples include racism, extremes of wealth and poverty, unbridled nationalism, religious strife, inequality for women and inadequate access to education for millions around the world.
“Racism,” as the Peace Statement explains, “retards the unfoldment of the boundless potentialities of its victims, corrupts its perpetrators and blights human progress.”
The inordinate disparity between rich and poor is a source of intense suffering and societal instability. In regards to this widening disparity, the Peace Statement offers this advice: “A fresh look at the problem is required, entailing consultation with experts from a wide spectrum of disciplines, devoid of economic and ideological polemics, and involving the people directly affected in the decisions that must urgently be made.”
To progress towards international peace, unbridled nationalism must give way to a wider loyalty, to the love of humanity as a whole. The concept of world citizenship is advancing as a direct result of technological advances that have contracted the world into a single neighborhood. It is becoming clear that each part in a world society is best served by promoting the advantage of the whole.
Religious strife has been a major cause of war and bloodshed throughout human history. The Peace Statement declares a truth that is becoming obvious to people of all faiths and of no faith: religion must be the cause of unity between people, otherwise, the world is better without it.
Religious fanaticism in particular must be addressed, as it is potentially a “world-devouring fire.” A collective willingness must emerge to face its underlying causes. The Peace Statement calls upon religious leaders, in particular, to work for the advancement of human understanding and peace.
Yes, that “bright day-break of peace” spoken of by King and many others will come. We can all help hasten that day by addressing the barriers to peace through positive words and deeds.
In my next column, we’ll examine inequality and injustice towards women and why resolving this imbalance is crucial to establishing a lasting peace.