"For thousands of years, good people around the world have been searching for peace", said Keith Hermann, during a recent seminar at Centennial Hall, entitled "The Promise of World Peace". "Despite the current trend towards war", he continued, "a lasting global peace is finally within reach. Not only is peace possible, it is inevitable, and the signs are all around us."
People from around Juneau gathered October 27 to hear Hermann talk about waging peace, and to participate in a discussion of "The Promise of World Peace" which he facilitated.
Hermann, a fourth generation Juneau resident, is currently a member of the Juneau Human Rights Commission, and a member of the Juneau Spiritual Assembly. He has been an active supporter of peace and human rights since he was in elementary school.
Born during the war in Vietnam, and raised during the cold war, he grew up believing the world would end in destruction. This certainty led him to become a peace activist. "Actually, I've never thought of myself as an activist. But I'm always trying to change the world around me for the better. As a member of the Bahai Faith, this seems very normal to me."
"When America goes to war, we use all our resources: military, industrial, intelligence, diplomatic, and economic." In high school, Hermann would talk to his friends about waging peace. "Imagine the impact if we used all these same resources to transform a third-world country." He talked about how America could pour its resources into providing school systems, healthcare services, clean water, electricity and other infrastructure development. Less than 5% of the world's people live in the United States, but we control almost half of all the resources of the planet. "A world in which billions of people live on less than $2 a day isn't just or stable. Maybe we need to take 'Liberty and justice for all' a little more seriously." This is the concept of waging peace.
"The Promise of World Peace", a document prepared by the Universal House of Justice, based in Haifa, Israel, addresses various barriers and prerequisites for world peace, and outlines some of the steps that world leaders need to take to ensure a lasting peace. The Bahai community worldwide has already presented this document to heads of state and leaders of thought in over 160 countries. Many of the ideas presented are already being implemented throughout the world.
The opening paragraph of this document declares that: "World peace is not only possible but inevitable and is the next stage in the evolution of this planet."
The scientific and technological advances of today have created a great surge forward in our civilization. They provide the means by which the practical problems of humanity may be solved, and the tools needed for the administration of a complex life of a united world.
The Bahai Faith teaches that the primary problems needing to be addressed in the world today are racism, the inordinate disparity between rich and poor, unbridled nationalism, and religious strife. We need to provide for the emancipation of women in those countries where women's rights are not upheld. Education needs to be available and compulsory for all children. All of these issues would be more easily addressed and resolved if an international auxiliary language were adopted. The resolution of these problems is becoming urgent. This will take courage, pure motives, and a selfless love for all people. This will all depend on the will to act.
"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."
Charlotte Siverly, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 463-4668