Oct. 24 is United Nations Day, the anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. United Nations Day was established to promote awareness of the interdependence of the world's nations and the need to find common solutions to the complex problems facing mankind, including human rights, population growth, environmental degradation, food supply and distribution, energy, nuclear proliferation and the maintenance of peace. The Baha'i Communities of Juneau, Douglas and Tee Harbor would like to call attention to this significant date and focus hearts and minds on the need to find global solutions to the world's problems. On this date 15 years ago, the world governing body of the Baha'i Faith released a challenging and hopeful statement entitled "The Promise of World Peace." What does this statement have to say about humanity's prospects for peace, at a time when violence is threatening to overwhelm peace negotiations in the Holy Land, and numerous other ethnic, religious and civil conflicts smolder around the world, provoking hatred and genocide?
The opening statement of "The Promise of World Peace" reads:
"To the Peoples of the World:
"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. For the first time in history it is possible for everyone to view the entire planet, with all its myriad diversified peoples, in one perspective. World peace is not only possible but inevitable."
The assurance of world peace and unity was given to humankind by Baha'u'llah, Founder of the Baha'i Faith, in the latter half of the 19th century. Baha'u'llah's message, and the fundamental belief of the Baha'i Faith, is that humanity is one family, created by God, Who is the common Source of all religions. The guiding principles of the Baha'i Faith include recognition of the oneness and equality of all the world's peoples, races, cultures and religions, equality of men and women, the harmony of religion and science, the need for universal education and a universal auxiliary language, and the establishment of peace upheld by world government. These principles provide solutions to the problems which continue to hinder the achievement of unity and peace in the world.
Baha'u'llah's message to the world called for the establishment of a world-governing body. He wrote, "The time must come when the imperative necessity for the holding of a vast, an all-embracing assemblage of men will be universally realized." Today, the Baha'i International Community has accredited consultative status with the United Nations as a non-governmental organization (NGO), and participates in meetings of U.N. agencies concerned with human rights, social development, the status of women, the environment, human settlement, food, science and technology, population, the law of the sea, crime prevention, substance abuse, youth, children, the family, disarmament and the United Nations University. Recognizing that the United Nations is not perfect, and has not yet become a universally effective governing body, the Baha'i International Community recently called upon world leaders to redefine and restructure the United Nations to better meet the challenges of the post-Cold War world.
Whether the inevitable state of peace among nations arrives as the aftermath of catastrophic social and environmental upheavals and great, widespread suffering, or as the slow fruition of deliberate efforts of all nations, cultures and classes to raise the condition of humankind, is up to us, individually and collectively. We must act with courage, resolution, pure motives and selfless love of one another, as all the great world religions have taught. Ultimately, true world peace is not a political, social or material condition, but a spiritual one. That promised state of humanity will reveal the "full measure of man's destiny on earth, the innate excellence of the reality of man." We must work in both the material and the spiritual planes to make it so.
Jan Conitz is a member of the Juneau Baha'i Community. Baha'is have no paid clergy, and are governed by local, national and international administrative bodies elected from their membership. To request a copy of "The Promise of World Peace" or any other information about the Baha'i Faith and the Juneau Baha'i Community, please call 789-0808.