Viewpoint:  barriers to peace

29th January 2004

The following viewpoint is presented on behalf of the Bahá'í Community of Guyana.

As we read the newspaper or watch the international news we are constantly reminded by the desperate need for peace in this troubled world. We need to reflect on some of the barriers which are preventing us from realizing the vision which has been promised to us by all the great Messengers from God.

Racism is one of the major barriers to peace. The practice of racism is a violation of the nobility of man. Racism prevents the development of the potentialities of its victims, corrupts its perpetrators and retards the progress of humankind. Racism will only be overcome when we celebrate and champion the principle and practice of the oneness of mankind.

Another major barrier to peace is the huge disparity between rich and poor which is a source of acute suffering and which keeps the world in a state of instability, virtually on the brink of war. There are very few nations that have dealt effectively with this challenge.  

The solution requires action on the spiritual, moral and practical front. We need to revisit this challenge and throw off our blinkers of economic and ideological prejudices and look again at the issues.

Not only do we need to eliminate the extremes of wealth and poverty, but we need to infuse new spiritual values in mankind to move towards new universal attitudes.

Fanatical nationalism is a major barrier to peace. A new and wider loyalty needs to be nurtured. We need to translate the words, ‘the earth is but one country and mankind its citizens’ into concrete reality.

We live in a world of interdependence – no nation; no people can prosper on its own. We need to foster a concept of world citizenship in the minds and hearts of our children.

Another major barrier to peace throughout the ages has been religious strife. More wars have been waged in the name of religion than any other single cause. A new mindset is required of us all if we are to put the words ‘thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven’ into reality.

We need to reflect on the pitiful plight of humankind and see whether we have the wisdom, courage and humility to bury out theological differences in search of a unified vision for this world.

Moreover until we have the emancipation of women all these fine ideals cannot be realized. The denial of such equality is an injustice against half of the world’s population. Only when women have their rightful place in society will the climate be created in which international peace can emerge.

We were created to ‘carry forward an ever-advancing civilization’. As we read the newspaper and monitor the news we need to pause a while and reflect what role each of us is playing in creating a more peaceful and united planet. If the older generation is incapable of fostering that vision they should allow youth the opportunity to try.