Is World Peace Actually Possible?

 warMy posts usually end with a spiritual quote. This time, the quote will dominate the post…

The words are from a man who spent 40 years as a prisoner of the Ottoman Empire. He was considered one of the most spiritual men of his time. He devoted his freedom, when once he gained it, to traveling Europe and America, carrying a Message charged with the power of the inevitable peace that humanity would win…

Inevitable?

“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.”

Many, if not most, of humanity seem to think that people have an innate, in-born tendency toward fighting. Peace, in part of the world, for part of the time, then a reversion to war…

“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.”

This man’s spirituality was very great and he proved it in action. It was said of him, “…he treads the mystic way with practical feet”. He was also known for his extreme rationality as well as his unending positive vision.

“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.”

Easy and practicable with ceaseless endeavor  and indomitable determination.

“Why should this most great and lofty Cause—the daystar 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?”

Why should it be regarded as impossible? If a person lacks faith in humanity; if a person is buried in materialism and can’t lift their vision higher than what’s happening in front of them; if a person is filled with hate and intolerance; if a person is beaten by circumstances and hollowed-out by compromise; if attitudes like this hold sway in a person’s life, of course world peace would seem impossible…

“Surely the day will come when its beauteous light shall shed illumination upon the assemblage of man.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 66
~~~~~~~~~

He passed away on November 28, 1921, in what is now called Israel.

“In the land that we know as the Holy Land, in all its turbulent history of the last two thousand years, there had never been an event which could unite all its inhabitants of diverse faiths and origins and purposes, in a single expression of thought and feeling, as did the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Jews and Christians and Muslims and Druzes, of all persuasions and denominations; Arabs and Turks and Kurds and Armenians and other ethnic groups were united in mourning His passing, in being aware of a great loss they had suffered.
H.M. Balyuzi, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá—The Centre of the Covenant, p. 453

For a detailed analysis of why our age holds the hope that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá believed in, consult The Promise of World Peace

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Gaza, Israel, and Justice

You can read all our Gaza posts heregaza_israel_justice

Aaron and Julia at the Café


A: You’re totally mad !

J: Why, thank you, sir. It’s been said that to be crazy in an insane world is healthy…

A: The world sure is acting insane but a world government? Let’s just make the elite class even stronger and all become slaves.

J: I’m not talking about a dictatorial government; more like one that the whole human family elects. Just look at Gaza and Israel and the United States and Egypt and a few others. All those people in all those governments talking about justice and the citizens still suffer. The balance of world powers is off and trying to regain equilibrium by violence or embargoes or political fiat won’t ever make the scales come even.

A: Big dreams sweetie but nobody will ever be ethical enough to run a world government and the people won’t ever be smart enough to participate in a global election process.

~~~~~~~~~
Aaron and Julia talked for another hour and didn’t come to an agreement…
~~~~~~~~~

Outside my imaginary café people are saying very similar things and it’s fairly obvious the balance of global power is off-kilter and the citizens of many countries are steaming mad.

Consider the following news items:

From Al Jazeera: Fear and trauma in Gaza’s schools – An article about the adjustments in Gaza’s youthful population

From Bloomberg: Americans Sympathetic Toward Israel on Gaza in Poll – Opinion from the other side of the Big Pond

From The New York Times: The Bullets in My In-Box – A reporter discusses how he tries to maintain a balance within a highly polarized situation

The Gaza Conflict is just the latest in what seems to be an upward spiral of violent conflict and contention. It seems clear to me that the current systems of governance are not bringing us closer to global, or even local, peace.

What if there could  be an organization of human affairs that included all, enslaved none, and truly set the human spirit free?

The Bahá’ís say they’re working toward that dream and that their Universal House of Justice (which happens to be in the country of Israel) is the most important human step yet taken to lead to global peace.

By way of introduction to my Spiritual Quote for this post, I’ll let a Bahá’í poet have her say:

Look to Haifa, all Israel;
~~Look to Israel, Haifa, from Mount Carmel.

Look to Israel, all people;
~~Look to all people, Israel, from The Universal House of Justice on the holy mountain.

Look to the House of Justice, all lands and earth;
~~Look, lands homeless, hopeless, to the hope of justice in the house of man.

Susan Marie Le Mar, PsalmSpeak

Spiritual Quote:

“The physical unification of the planet in our time and the awakening aspirations of the mass of its inhabitants have at last produced the conditions that permit achievement of the ideal, although in a manner far different from that imagined by imperial dreamers of the past. To this effort the governments of the world have contributed the founding of the United Nations Organization, with all its great blessings, all its regrettable shortcomings.

“Somewhere ahead lie the further great changes that will eventually impel acceptance of the principle of world government itself. The United Nations does not possess such a mandate, nor is there anything in the current discourse of political leaders that seriously envisions so radical a restructuring of the administration of the affairs of the planet. That it will come about in due course Bahá’u’lláh has made unmistakably clear. That yet greater suffering and disillusionment will be required to impel humanity to this great leap forward appears, alas, equally clear. Its establishment will require national governments and other centres of power to surrender to international determination, unconditionally and irreversibly, the full measure of overriding authority implicit in the word ‘government’.

“This is the context in which Bahá’ís must strive to appreciate the unique victory that the Cause won in 1963, and which has consolidated itself over the years since then. A full understanding of its meaning is beyond the reach of the present and perhaps of the next several generations of believers. To the extent that a Bahá’í does grasp it, he or she will hold nothing back in a determination to serve its unfolding purpose.

“The process leading to the election of the Universal House of Justice—made possible by the successful completion of the three initial stages of the Master’s Divine Plan under the leadership of Shoghi Effendi—very likely constituted history’s first global democratic election. Each of the successive elections since then has been carried out by an ever broader and more diverse body of the community’s chosen delegates, a development that has now reached the point that it incontestably represents the will of a cross-section of the entire human race. There is nothing in existence—nothing indeed envisioned by any group of people—that in any way resembles this achievement.

“When one considers, further, the spiritual atmosphere that pervades Bahá’í elections and the principled conduct called for in even their simplest operations, one is humbled by a much greater awareness. In the raising up of the supreme governing institution of our Faith, one is witnessing a striving to the utmost of human capacity to win the good pleasure of God, a united and ardent determination that nothing whatever, in either cultural conditioning or the promptings of personal desire, should be allowed to stain the purity of this ultimate collective act.”
Commissioned by The Universal House of Justice, Century of Light, p. 92

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Hate, Love, and Religion

More posts on the Gaza situation here…
religion_hate_love

Jill & Olivia at the Café
after two months of not seeing each other


J: So, you signed-up, eh?

O: I became a member, yes…

J: It’s a real religion?

O: Yeah, a world religion.

J: I can’t imagine you in some organization that tells you what you can and can’t do.

O: Well, there are  spiritual laws but there’s nothing that isn’t just good common sense—well, common sense without a materialistic focus—maybe, good spiritual common sense…

J: hmmm… What’s the hardest thing about following all those laws?

O: Funny you should ask; well, not funny for you but just yesterday I had my first real spiritual test…

J: Do tell!

O: Well… it was about the situation in Gaza. I was talking to an Israeli and a Palestinian and they both kept referring to each other as monsters and terrorists and I got pretty worked up and almost started an argument but I remembered that I should treat everyone with kindness so I asked them if they thought any  Palestinians and Israelis were good people…

J: Yeah… So?

O: They both got real quiet and then got up and walked off.

J: How was that a test?

O: ‘Cause, while they were ranting about how evil the Palestinians and Israelis were, I was getting pretty mad and when I remembered a quote from the Scripture, “…should they be unjust toward you show justice towards them…”, I calmed right down and asked about the possiblity of good Palestinians and Israelis.

J: I still don’t understand the test part…

O: I wanted to slap them for what they’d been saying, pretty war-like for me, but I decided to be fair to them, benefit of the doubt and all, and asked about the possibility of good people on both sides. If I’d slapped them, even with my words, we would have been “at war”; but, maybe what I said will make them think and be more fair to each other…

~~~~~~~~~
Jill and Olivia talked for two more hours and explored some of Olivia’s new Scripture…

Here’s what they talked about:

Spiritual Quote:

“O ye beloved of the Lord! In this sacred Dispensation, conflict and contention are in no wise permitted. Every aggressor deprives himself of God’s grace. It is incumbent upon everyone to show the utmost love, rectitude of conduct, straightforwardness and sincere kindliness unto all the peoples and kindreds of the world, be they friends or strangers. So intense must be the spirit of love and loving kindness, that the stranger may find himself a friend, the enemy a true brother, no difference whatsoever existing between them. For universality is of God and all limitations earthly. Thus man must strive that his reality may manifest virtues and perfections, the light whereof may shine upon everyone. The light of the sun shineth upon all the world and the merciful showers of Divine Providence fall upon all peoples. The vivifying breeze reviveth every living creature and all beings endued with life obtain their share and portion at His heavenly board. In like manner, the affections and loving kindness of the servants of the One True God must be bountifully and universally extended to all mankind. Regarding this, restrictions and limitations are in no wise permitted.

“Wherefore, O my loving friends! Consort with all the peoples, kindreds and religions of the world with the utmost truthfulness, uprightness, faithfulness, kindliness, good-will and friendliness, that all the world of being may be filled with the holy ecstasy of the grace of Baha [Light, Splendor], that ignorance, enmity, hate and rancor may vanish from the world and the darkness of estrangement amidst the peoples and kindreds of the world may give way to the Light of Unity. Should other peoples and nations be unfaithful to you show your fidelity unto them, should they be unjust toward you show justice towards them, should they keep aloof from you attract them to yourselves, should they show their enmity be friendly towards them, should they poison your lives, sweeten their souls, should they inflict a wound upon you, be a salve to their sores. Such are the attributes of the sincere! Such are the attributes of the truthful.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Will and Testament, p. 14

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Gaza and Its Civilians

Read All Our Gaza Posts Here
discussion_gaza_civilians

Miriam, Hamid, and Rebecca at the Park

Rebecca: O.K., we all have our quotes, let’s sit down and see if we have enough for the report.

They walk to the pavilion and get out their papers and books.

Rebecca: You start, Hamid.

Hamid: Well, I chose an article from the New York Times called, Many Civilian Targets, but One Core Question Among Gazans: Why?. Here are the three I ended up with:

“They hit my future with a rocket,” said Muhammad Baroud, one of the students at the Islamic University in Gaza City. “This is a university. What does it have to do with war?”

For Mr. Baroud and his friends, the bombing of the science lab building, which happened in the early days of the Israeli offensive, was a frontal attack on their future. The university is prestigious, and they said they worked hard to get there. It is one of the best medical schools in the region, and Israel recognizes its degrees.

“Are we going to study in a tent?” asked Mr. Baroud’s friend, Ahmed.

And,

The issue, in part, is about the very nature of Hamas. Gazans say that there is a range of relationships people have with the group, starting with sympathizer and ending with rocket launcher or suicide bomber. Just because someone likes Hamas does not mean that that person is necessarily working for the group, Gazans say.

Rebecca: Are there quotes in the article from the Israelis?

Hamid: Yes, do you think we need some of those?

Miriam: I  think so…

Rebecca: Yes.

Hamid: Will do.

Rebecca: Miriam, what do you have?

Miriam: I chose an article from the BBC News called, Gazans confront shattered lives, and I chose different segments from the article woven into one quote:

…for some Gazans even attempting to return home is virtually unimaginable. Amira al-Girim, 15, lies in a hospital bed with her leg in traction. She was found alone, bleeding in a house, about four days after she saw her father killed by an Israeli tank shell in front of her. Her brother and sister died – she thinks in an air strike – as they ran to get help….By the time she was found – she is not sure if it was three or four days later – she hardly knew her own name. But she remembers details…. She says she slept in the street for two days, but then found her way into another house. She had struggled some 500m with a badly broken, bleeding leg, in search of shelter as fighting raged nearby. ABC producer Sami Ziyara, who found Amira with his colleague Imad, said doctors told him she had only a few hours left to live at the point they found her in Imad’s house.

Miriam: That’s it…

Hamid: Powerful…

Rebecca: I think you found something we really need in the report. Is there a picture of her?

Miriam: Yes, here…

gaza_girl_suffering

Hamid: Poor, poor girl………

Miriam: Rebecca, what do you have?

Rebecca: Well… You guys may think I’ve flipped but I chose a quote of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, from page 19 in a book called ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London. It was written in 1911. It’s a spiritual quotation but I think we can use it at the end of the report to drive our points home:

The gift of God to this enlightened age is the knowledge of the oneness of mankind and of the fundamental oneness of religion. War shall cease between nations, and by the will of God the Most Great Peace shall come; the world will be seen as a new world, and all men will live as brothers.

In the days of old an instinct for warfare was developed in the struggle with wild animals; this is no longer necessary; nay, rather, co-operation and mutual understanding are seen to produce the greatest welfare of mankind. Enmity is now the result of prejudice only.

They went to Miriam’s home, finished the report, and sent an email copy to their teacher…

They got an A…

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Greed, Violence, and Truth

dead_child_gaza

I’m going to do something that some may find insensitive or in poor taste.

As the Gaza conflict may, or may not, be winding down and as the American presidency transitions office-holders, I want to bring to sharp clarity that there are numerous political entities involved in a many wars that have killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians—possibly more than any time in human history.

As I see it, we are headed for an international transition from totally sovereign nations who can decide to initiate war to a global form of governance in which nations willingly agree to leave each other alone so their citizens can live fruitful lives. Naturally, this will only come after the violence against civilians reaches a possibly much higher level—severe pain teaching the rule of love…

Also, it’s fairly obvious that the world financial crisis came from materialistic agendas which have proven their falsity and that the greed behind such agendas is a strong inducer of violence.

Following are two videos. One being crushingly sad, the other seeming to be light comedy. I see the sad one as an unyielding Teacher and the comedy as a wise Professor—hot tears and stinging laughter being natural human responses to global disaster.

I don’t want to offend, I want to uncover the Truth…

Spiritual Quote:

“[This]…issue concerns the nature of the catastrophic events associated with this period in history. The general messages of the Guardian to the world-wide Bahá’í community make clear reference in several places to a ‘retributive calamity’ which will purify the human race and knit its components into a unified whole. One of the most detailed passages from the writings of the Guardian is the following:

‘The violent derangement of the world’s equilibrium; the trembling that will seize the limbs of mankind; the radical transformation of human society; the rolling up of the present-day Order; the fundamental changes affecting the structure of government; the weakening of the pillars of religion; the rise of dictatorships; the spread of tyranny; the fall of monarchies; the decline of ecclesiastical institutions; the increase of anarchy and chaos; the extension and consolidation of the Movement of the Left; the fanning into flame of the smouldering fire of racial strife; the development of infernal engines of war; the burning of cities; the contamination of the atmosphere of the earth—these stand out as the signs and portents that must either herald or accompany the retributive calamity which, as decreed by Him Who is the Judge and Redeemer of mankind, must, sooner or later, afflict a society which, for the most part, and for over a century, has turned a deaf ear to the Voice of God’s Messenger in this day—a calamity which must purge the human race of the dross of its age-long corruptions, and weld its component parts into a firmly-knit world-embracing Fellowship…’ (Taken from “Messages to the Bahá’í World 1950-1957″ by Shoghi Effendi, page 103)”
International Teaching Centre, 1984 Jul 01, Concerns about Retributive Calamity

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Unity >>> Peace

peace

Jim and Melissa at the café:

M: They should just continue bombing the hell out of them…

J: And that’s going to solve things?

M: It gets rid of the terrorists.

J: It’s also getting rid of innocent people.

M: There’s no other way to stop them.

J: What if you had a son and he was in Gaza and the bombs were falling on him?

M: I’d never let a son of mine be  in a situation like that.

J: So, there’s a beginning to a solution that doesn’t need violence—women taking charge and using love to fight war.

M: Hmmm… Never thought of it that way…

~~~~~~~~~

Just a story? Seem like a weak argument? Still think the bombs are the solution?

Try spending some time on Sixty Years, Sixty Voices, a site that chronicles the experience of 30 Palestinian and 30 Israeli women who’ve been involved in the conflicts and hold the conviction that focused female action can  stem the tide of violence…
 
“The foundations for lasting peace in the Middle East are embedded in the voices of these Israeli and Palestinian women. They know war and they know peace, they know weakness and strength and they know the human heart. In a torn land they find a common ground built out of wisdom, experience, and because they have walked the walk. Here they stand and speak out, if we listen there is hope.” – MARIANE PEARL

Just one of the many videos from the site:

Spiritual Quote :

“The highest of created beings fighting to obtain the lowest form of matter, earth! Land belongs not to one people, but to all people. This earth is not man’s home, but his tomb. It is for their tombs these men are fighting. There is nothing so horrible in this world as the tomb, the abode of the decaying bodies of men.

“However great the conqueror, however many countries he may reduce to slavery, he is unable to retain any part of these devastated lands but one tiny portion—his tomb! If more land is required for the improvement of the condition of the people, for the spread of civilization (for the substitution of just laws for brutal customs) — surely it would be possible to acquire peaceably the necessary extension of territory.

“But war is made for the satisfaction of men’s ambition; for the sake of worldly gain to the few, terrible misery is brought to numberless homes, breaking the hearts of hundreds of men and women!

“How many widows mourn their husbands, how many stories of savage cruelty do we hear! How many little orphaned children are crying for their dead fathers, how many women are weeping for their slain sons!

“There is nothing so heart-breaking and terrible as an outburst of human savagery!

“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.

“Thoughts of love are constructive of brotherhood, peace, friendship, and happiness.

“When soldiers of the world draw their swords to kill, soldiers of God clasp each other’s hands! So may all the savagery of man disappear by the Mercy of God, working through the pure in heart and the sincere of soul. Do not think the peace of the world an ideal impossible to attain!

“Nothing is impossible to the Divine Benevolence of God.

“If you desire with all your heart, friendship with every race on earth, your thought, spiritual and positive, will spread; it will become the desire of others, growing stronger and stronger, until it reaches the minds of all men.

“Do not despair! Work steadily. Sincerity and love will conquer hate. How many seemingly impossible events are coming to pass in these days! Set your faces steadily towards the Light of the World. Show love to all; ‘Love is the breath of the Holy Spirit in the heart of Man’. Take courage! God never forsakes His children who strive and work and pray! Let your hearts be filled with the strenuous desire that tranquillity and harmony may encircle all this warring world. So will success crown your efforts, and with the universal brotherhood will come the Kingdom of God in peace and goodwill.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 28

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International Law Being Broken ?

justice

Judy and Maria talking at the café:

J: So what the hell gives them the right?

M: They’re protecting their citizens from rockets.

J: While they kill other civilians with bombs and missiles and mortars and tank shells?

M: Yeah, doesn’t seem fair—out of proportion…

J: We need some kind of international  protection, to stop small terrorists’ violence and powerful countries’ insanities.

M: As far as I know there are  international laws; just not enough international responsibility . . .

Spiritual Quote :

“…we believe it is impossible to implement human ‘rights’ without a sense of collective responsibility. Indeed, if the whole of humanity is one interconnected body, then an injury to any member is an injury to the body as a whole. Thus it behooves every individual member of the human family to take action whenever and wherever human rights violations occur.

“Some links between human rights and responsibilities are already generally accepted. Legal rights guaranteed by the existing human rights instruments are implicitly balanced by responsibilities, and states are obligated to respect human rights under international law. Likewise, the notion of responsibility is widely acknowledged in its narrow criminal and tort law sense. Yet in the Bahá’í perspective, the concept of ‘responsibility’ in the context of human rights encompasses the responsibility devolving upon every person, as a divinely-created being, to recognize the essential oneness of the human race and to promote the human rights of others with this motivation.

“Thus, it seems to us essential to broaden the conceptual framework for addressing human rights problems from an adversarial paradigm—pitting the government against the individual citizen—to a cooperative one, where we consider relations among all human beings as members of one community. In this context, everyone has an essential role to play in implementing fundamental human rights. When individuals assume responsibility for ensuring each other’s human rights the foundation for unity will be firmly established.

“In addition, recognition of such a responsibility to promote human rights can empower ordinary people and give them a new sense of purpose and dignity. As stated in the Bahá’í writings:

“And the honour and distinction of the individual consist in this, that he among all the world’s multitudes should become a source of social good. Is any larger bounty conceivable than this, that an individual, looking within himself, should find that by the confirming grace of God he has become the cause of peace and well-being, of happiness and advantage to his fellow men? No, by the one true God, there is no greater bliss, no more complete delight.” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 2-3.)
Bahá’í International Community, 1993 Dec 03, Right and Responsibility to Promote Human Rights

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