The Promulgation of Universal Peace
6 November 1912
Talk at Universalist Church
Thirteenth and L Streets, NW, Washington, D.C.
Notes by Joseph H. Hannen
Praise be to God! The standard of liberty is held aloft in this land.
You enjoy political liberty; you enjoy liberty of thought and
speech, religious liberty, racial and personal liberty. Surely this is
worthy of appreciation and thanksgiving. In this connection let me
mention the freedom, hospitality and universal welcome extended
to me during my recent travels throughout America. I wish also to
reciprocate fully and completely the warm greeting and friendly
attitude of the reverend doctor, pastor of this church, whose loving
and quickened susceptibilities especially command acknowledgment.
Surely men who are leaders of thought must conform to the
example of his kindliness and goodwill. Liberalism is essential in
this day--justness and equity toward all nations and people.
Human attitudes must not be limited; for God is unlimited, and
whosoever is the servant of the threshold of God must, likewise, be
free from limitations. The world of existence is an emanation of the
merciful attribute of God. God has shone forth upon the
phenomena of being through His effulgence of mercy, and He is
clement and kind to all His creation. Therefore, the world of humanity
must ever be the recipient of bounties from His majesty, the
eternal Lord, even as Christ has declared, "Be ye therefore perfect,
even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." For His
bounties, like the light and heat of the sun in the material heavens,
descend alike upon all mankind. Consequently, man must learn the
lesson of kindness and beneficence from God Himself. Just as God
is kind to all humanity, man also must be kind to his fellow creatures.
If his attitude is just and loving toward his fellowmen,
toward all creation, then indeed is he worthy of being pronounced
the image and likeness of God.
Brotherhood, or fraternity, is of different kinds. It may be family
association, the intimate relationship of the household. This is
limited and subject to change and disruption. How often it happens
that in a family love and agreement are changed into enmity and
antagonism. Another form of fraternity is manifest in patriotism.
Man loves his fellowmen because they belong to the same native
land. This is also limited and subject to change and disintegration
as, for instance, when sons of the same fatherland are opposed to
each other in war, bloodshed and battle. Still another brotherhood,
or fraternity, is that which arises from racial unity, the oneness of
racial origin, producing ties of affinity and association. This,
likewise, has its limitation and liability to change, for often war
and deadly strife have been witnessed between people and nations
of the same racial lineage. There is a fourth kind of brotherhood,
the attitude of man toward humanity itself, the altruistic love of
humankind and recognition of the fundamental human bond. Although
this is unlimited, it is, nevertheless, susceptible to change
and destruction. Even from this universal fraternal bond the
looked-for result does not appear. What is the looked-for result?
Loving-kindness among all human creatures and a firm, indestructible
brotherhood which includes all the divine possibilities and
significances in humanity. Therefore, it is evident that fraternity,
love and kindness based upon family, native land, race or an attitude
of altruism are neither sufficient nor permanent since all of
them are limited, restricted and liable to change and disruption.
For in the family there is discord and alienation; among sons of the
same fatherland, strife and internecine warfare are witnessed; between
those of a given race, hostility and hatred are frequent; and
even among the altruists, varying aspects of opinion and lack of
unselfish devotion give little promise of permanent and indestructible
unity among mankind.
Therefore, the Lord of mankind has caused His holy, divine
Manifestations to come into the world. He has revealed His
heavenly Books in order to establish spiritual brotherhood and
through the power of the Holy Spirit has made it practicable for
perfect fraternity to be realized among mankind. And when
through the breaths of the Holy Spirit this perfect fraternity and
agreement are established amongst men--this brotherhood and
love being spiritual in character, this loving-kindness being
heavenly, these constraining bonds being divine--a unity appears
which is indissoluble, unchanging and never subject to transformation.
It is ever the same and will forever remain the same. For
example, consider the foundation of the brotherhood laid by
Christ. Observe how that fraternity was conducive to unity and accord
and how it brought various souls to a plane of uniform attainment
where they were willing to sacrifice their lives for each other.
They were content to renounce possessions and ready to forfeit
joyously life itself. They lived together in such love and fellowship
that even Galen, the famous Greek philosopher who was not a
Christian, in his work entitled "The Progress of the Nations" said
that religious beliefs are greatly conducive to the foundation of real
civilization. As a proof thereof he said, "A certain number of
people contemporaneous with us are known as Christians. These
enjoy the superlative degree of moral civilization. Each one of
them is as a great philosopher because they live together in the utmost
love and good fellowship. They sacrifice life for each other.
They offer worldly possessions for each other. You can say of the
Christian people that they are as one person. There is a bond
amongst them that is indissoluble in character."
It is evident, therefore, that the foundation of real brotherhood,
the cause of loving cooperation and reciprocity and the source of
real kindness and unselfish devotion is none other than the breaths
of the Holy Spirit. Without this influence and animus it is impossible.
We may be able to realize some degrees of fraternity through
other motives, but these are limited associations and subject to
change. When human brotherhood is founded upon the Holy
Spirit, it is eternal, changeless, unlimited.
In various parts of the Orient there was a time when brotherhood,
loving-kindness and all the praiseworthy qualities of mankind
seemed to have disappeared. There was no evidence of patriotic,
religious or racial fraternity; but conditions of bigotry,
hatred and prejudice prevailed instead. The adherents of each religion
were violent enemies of the others, filled with the spirit of
hostility and eager for shedding of blood. The present war in the
Balkans furnishes a parallel of these conditions. Consider the
bloodshed, ferocity and oppression manifested there even in this
enlightened century--all of it based fundamentally upon religious
prejudice and disagreement. For the nations involved belong to the
same races and native lands; nevertheless, they are savage and
merciless toward each other. Similar deplorable conditions prevailed
in Persia in the nineteenth century. Darkness and ignorant
fanaticism were widespread; no trace of fellowship or brotherhood
existed amongst the races. On the contrary, human hearts were
filled with rage and hatred; darkness and gloom were manifest in
human lives and conditions everywhere. At such a time as this
Bahá'u'lláh appeared upon the divine horizon, even as the glory of
the sun, and in that gross darkness and hopelessness of the human
world there shone a great light. He founded the oneness of the
world of humanity, declaring that all mankind are as sheep and that
God is the real and true Shepherd. The Shepherd is one, and all
people are of His flock.
The world of humanity is one, and God is equally kind to all.
What, then, is the source of unkindness and hatred in the human
world? This real Shepherd loves all His sheep. He leads them in
green pastures. He rears and protects them. What, then, is the
source of enmity and alienation among humankind? Whence this
conflict and strife? The real underlying cause is lack of religious
unity and association, for in each of the great religions we find
superstition, blind imitation of creeds, and theological formulas
adhered to instead of the divine fundamentals, causing difference
and divergence among mankind instead of agreement and fellowship.
Consequently, strife, hatred and warfare have arisen, based
upon this divergence and separation. If we investigate the foundations
of the divine religions, we find them to be one, absolutely
changeless and never subject to transformation. For example, each
of the divine religions contains two kinds of laws or ordinances.
One division concerns the world of morality and ethical institutions.
These are the essential ordinances. They instill and awaken
the knowledge and love of God, love for humanity, the virtues of
the world of mankind, the attributes of the divine Kingdom, rebirth
and resurrection from the kingdom of nature. These constitute one
kind of divine law which is common to all and never subject to
change. From the dawn of the Adamic cycle to the present day this
fundamental law of God has continued changeless. This is the
foundation of divine religion.
The second division comprises laws and institutions which
provide for human needs and conditions according to exigencies of
time and place. These are accidental, of no essential importance
and should never have been made the cause and source of human
contention. For example, during the time of Moses--upon Him be
peace!--according to the exigencies of that period, divorce was
permissible. During the cycle of Christ, inasmuch as divorce was
not in conformity with the time and conditions, Jesus Christ abrogated
it. In the cycle of Moses plurality of wives was permissible.
But during the time of Christ the exigency which had sanctioned it
did not exist; therefore, it was forbidden. Moses lived in the
wilderness and desert of Sinai; therefore, His ordinances and
commandments were in conformity with those conditions. The
penalty for theft was to cut off a man's hand. An ordinance of this
kind was in keeping with desert life but is not compatible with conditions
of the present day. Such ordinances, therefore, constitute
the second or nonessential division of the divine religions and are
not of importance, for they deal with human transactions which are
ever changing according to the requirements of time and place.
Therefore, the intrinsic foundations of the divine religions are one.
As this is true, why should hostility and strife exist among them?
Why should this hatred and warfare, ferocity and bloodshed continue?
Is this allowable and justified? God forbid!
An essential principle of Bahá'u'lláh's teaching is that religion
must be the cause of unity and love amongst men; that it is the supreme
effulgence of Divinity, the stimulus of life, the source of
honor and productive of eternal existence. Religion is not intended
to arouse enmity and hatred nor to become the source of tyranny
and injustice. Should it prove to be the cause of hostility, discord
and the alienation of mankind, assuredly the absence of religion
would be preferable. Religious teachings are like a course of
treatment having for its purpose the cure and healing of mankind.
If the only outcome of a course of treatment should be mere diagnosis
and fruitless discussion of symptoms, it would be better to
abandon and abolish it. In this sense the absence of religion would
be at least some progress toward unity.
Furthermore, religion must conform to reason and be in accord
with the conclusions of science. For religion, reason and science
are realities; therefore, these three, being realities, must conform
and be reconciled. A question or principle which is religious in its
nature must be sanctioned by science. Science must declare it to
be valid, and reason must confirm it in order that it may inspire
confidence. If religious teaching, however, be at variance with science
and reason, it is unquestionably superstition. The Lord of
mankind has bestowed upon us the faculty of reason whereby we
may discern the realities of things. How then can man rightfully
accept any proposition which is not in conformity with the processes
of reason and the principles of science? Assuredly such a
course cannot inspire man with confidence and real belief.
The teachings of Bahá'u'lláh embody many principles; I am
giving you only a synopsis. One of these principles concerns
equality between men and women. He declared that as all are
created in the image and likeness of the one God, there is no distinction
as to sex in the estimation of God. He who is purest in
heart, whose knowledge exceeds and who excels in kindness to the
servants of God, is nearest and dearest to the Lord, our Creator,
irrespective of sex. In the lower kingdoms, the animal and vegetable,
we find sex differentiation in function and organism. All
plants, trees and animals are subject to that differentiation by creation,
but among themselves there is absolute equality without
further distinction as to sex. Why, then, should mankind make a
distinction which the lower creatures do not regard? Especially so
when we realize that all are of the same kingdom and kindred; that
all are the leaves of one tree, the waves of one sea? The only reasonable
explanation is that woman has not been afforded the same
educational facilities as man. For if she had received the same
opportunities for training and development as man has enjoyed,
undoubtedly she would have attained the same station and level. In
the estimate of God no distinction exists; both are as one and possess
equal degrees of capacity. Therefore, through opportunity and
development woman will merit and attain the same prerogatives.
When Jesus Christ died upon the cross, the disciples who witnessed
His crucifixion were disturbed and shaken. Even Peter, one
of the greatest of His followers, denied Him thrice. Mary Magdalene
brought them together and confirmed their faith, saying,
"Why are ye doubting? Why have ye feared? O thou Peter! Why
didst thou deny Him? For Christ was not crucified. The reality of
Christ is ever-living, everlasting, eternal. For that divine reality
there is no beginning, no ending, and, therefore, there can be no
death. At most, only the body of Jesus has suffered death." In
brief, this woman, singly and alone, was instrumental in transforming
the disciples and making them steadfast. This is an evidence
of extraordinary power and supreme attributes, a proof that
woman is the equivalent and complement of man. The one who is
better trained and educated, whose aptitude is greater and whose
ideals are higher is most distinguished and worthy--whether man
Through the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh the horizon of the East
was made radiant and glorious. Souls who have hearkened to His
words and accepted His message live together today in complete
fellowship and love. They even offer their lives for each other.
They forego and renounce worldly possessions for one another,
each preferring the other to himself. This has been due to the declaration
and foundation of the oneness of the world of humanity.
Today in Persia there are meetings and assemblages wherein souls
who have become illumined by the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh--
representative Muslims, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Buddhists
and of the various denominations of each--mingle and conjoin
in perfect fellowship and absolute agreement. A wonderful
brotherhood and love is established among them, and all are united
in spirit and service for international peace. More than twenty
thousand Bahá'ís have given their lives in martyrdom for the Cause
of God. The governments of the East arose against them, bent upon
their extermination. They were killed relentlessly, but day by day
their numbers have increased, day by day they have multiplied in
strength and become more eloquent. They have been strengthened
through the efficacy of a wonderful spiritual power. How savage
and fearful the ferocity of man against his fellowman! Consider
what is taking place now in the Balkans, what blood is being shed.
Even the wild beasts and ferocious animals do not commit such
acts. The most ferocious wolf kills but one sheep a day, and even
that for his food. But now in the Balkans one man destroys ten fellow
beings. The commanders of armies glory in having killed ten
thousand men, not for food, nay, rather, for military control, territorial
greed, fame and possession of the dust of the earth. They
kill for national aggrandizement, notwithstanding this terrestrial
globe is but a dark world of grossest matter. It is a world of sorrow
and grief, a world of disappointment and unhappiness, a world of
death. For after all, the earth is but the everlasting graveyard, the
vast, universal cemetery of all mankind. Yet men fight to possess
this graveyard, waging war and battle, killing each other. What
ignorance! How spacious the earth is with room in plenty for all!
How thoughtful the providence which has so allotted that every
man may derive his sustenance from it! The Lord, our Creator,
does not ordain that anyone should starve or live in want. All are
intended to participate in the blessed and abundant bestowals of
our God. Fundamentally, all warfare and bloodshed in the human
world are due to the lack of unity between the religions, which
through superstitions and adherence to theological dogmas have
obscured the one reality which is the source and basis of them all.
As to the American people: This noble nation, intelligent,
thoughtful, reflective, is not impelled by motives of territorial
aggrandizement and lust for dominion. Its boundaries are insular and
geographically separated from the other nations. Here we find a
oneness of interest and unity of national policy. These are, indeed,
United States. Therefore, this nation possesses the capacity and
capability for holding aloft the banner of international peace. May
this noble people be the cause of unifying humanity. May they
spread broadcast the heavenly civilization and illumination, become
the cause of the diffusion of the love of God, proclaim the
solidarity of mankind and be the cause of the guidance of the
human race. Therefore, I ask that you will give this all-important
question your most serious consideration and efforts. May the
world of humanity find peace and composure and this dark earth
be transformed into a realm of radiance. May the East and West
clasp hands together. May the oneness of God become reflected
and fully revealed in the hearts of humanity and all mankind prove
to be the manifestations of the favors of God.
Necessarily there will be some who are defective amongst men,
but it is our duty to enable them by kind methods of guidance and
teaching to become perfected. Some will be found who are morally
sick; they should be treated in order that they may be healed.
Others are immature and like children; they must be trained and
educated so that they may become wise and mature. Those who are
asleep must be awakened; the indifferent must become mindful
and attentive. But all this must be accomplished in the spirit of
kindness and love and not by strife, antagonism nor in a spirit of
hostility and hatred, for this is contrary to the good pleasure of
God. That which is acceptable in the sight of God is love. Love is,
in reality, the first effulgence of Divinity and the greatest splendor
O Thou compassionate Lord, Thou Who art generous and able!
We are servants of Thine sheltered beneath Thy providence. Cast
Thy glance of favor upon us. Give light to our eyes, hearing to our
ears, and understanding and love to our hearts. Render our souls
joyous and happy through Thy glad tidings. O Lord! Point out to us
the pathway of Thy kingdom and resuscitate all of us through the
breaths of the Holy Spirit. Bestow upon us life everlasting and
confer upon us never-ending honor. Unify mankind and illumine
the world of humanity. May we all follow Thy pathway, long for
Thy good pleasure and seek the mysteries of Thy kingdom. O God!
Unite us and connect our hearts with Thine indissoluble bond.
Verily, Thou art the Giver, Thou art the Kind One and Thou art the