By Sarah Haug
“The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.” Baha’u’llah wrote these words in the 19th century, calling for all peoples to put aside their perceived differences and recognize the essential oneness of humanity. The general consensus of the world has taken some time to catch up to that vision, but here in 2022, many people throughout the world—and I optimistically might even say most—recognize that someone living halfway around the globe is not only equal in essence, but genuinely connected in spirit.
Long before the creation of the League of Nations, much less the United Nations, the EU, or NATO, Baha’u’llah also called for “an all-embracing assemblage” that all the rulers of the earth must attend “and, participating in its deliberations, must consider such ways and means as will lay the foundations of the world’s Great Peace among men.”
Rather than turning the world into an homogenous whole, this assemblage was to create a sense of “unity in diversity” and, most importantly, establish peace as a central operating principle of the entire planet. Even then, however, the Baha’i Writings acknowledge that the road towards peace might be rocky—as we have witnessed since March with the invasion of the Ukraine—and provide a means to deal with such an occurrence. We are taught that if one ruler decides to take up arms against his neighbor, “all should unitedly arise and prevent him.”
Popping up in my Facebook feed since the invasion was a rerecording by Sting of his song, Russians, which came out in 1985 and everyone hoped would never become relevant again. The line that keeps coming back to me, day after day, goes, “What will save us, me and you, is that the Russians love their children too.”
Back in 1985, maybe we weren’t entirely sure the Russians did love their children. After forty years of the Cold War, we didn’t know enough about them. But that’s not the case anymore. And maybe that knowledge can be a source of hope moving forward.
Baha’u’llah writes further: “Compose your differences and reduce your armaments that the burden of your expenditures may be lightened, and that your minds and hearts may be tranquillized. Heal the dissensions that divide you, and ye will no longer be in need of any armaments except what the protection of your cities and territories demandeth. Fear ye God, and take heed not to outstrip the bounds of moderation, and be numbered among the extravagant.”
The Baha’i Writings don’t promise there will be no more war or won’t be failures. The assurance is that we have the means, and the responsibility, to always work towards peace.