During our time in the Netherlands we visited the Peace Palace. There is so much history that took place at the Peace Palace before any governments established a court there or any governments fought a war of worldwide implications. At the beginning of the first great war, 30 delegates from many different countries met at the De Witte Brug Hotel in Scheveningen as the “Central Organisation for a Durable Peace.” These meetings would continue and flourished and by the end of the war many prominent people, groups, and religious organizations with 250 members from 40 countries assisted the body.
The news of this body of prominent men seeking universal peace spread far and wide. In fact, Baha’is in Tehran heard the news and wrote a letter to The Organisation for a Durable Peace explaining the Baha’i faith and its principles on peace and advised the members that the son of the prophet Bah’u’llah, Abdul Baha was in Haifa and that they should contact him. The body did, in fact, contact him. They wrote Abdul three times. The first two letters did not make it to him, although the last letter did. Abdul immediately wrote a letter to the organisation that is now displayed at the Peace Palace. The letter is written as the “Question of Universal Peace: The Tablet to The Hague.”
As a Baha’i I wish I had known about this display. I learned about the tablet from a Baha’i friend who works at the International Criminal Court as a translator. We met in Amsterdam and went shopping for cheese and chocolate. For a gift, he brought me a copy of the tablet. The original tablet was hand delivered by two Baha’is. For me these international organizations are sacred. The Baha’i faith also considers flowers to be sacred and often the early fathers of the faith would describe race relations in terms of a garden with many diverse and beautiful flowers.
Symbolically, while at the Peace Palace I was disheartened that the flowers had not bloomed outside the Peace Palace. The Peace Palace has a beautiful garden of roses and other flowers, but they were not yet in bloom. I can’t help but feel that this is symbolic for world peace. The ground has been tilled and the flowers have been planted but world peace has not yet been realized.
Substantively, Abdul Baha wrote that there were certain prerequisites to peace that will need to be accomplished in order for peace to be established. He wrote the letter July 17th 1920 at the end of the first great war. He starts the letter with this quote, “In the future yet another war is bound to break out, even fiercer than the last one. There is no doubt about this whatsoever. What can the organization in the Hague do about this? The fundamental principles relating to world peace as set out by Bah’u’llah will become more widespread every day.”
He goes on to write that certain principles must be established such as unity of the minds and men and conscience. People of different nations, religions, and sects must come together and bring with them their teachings of peace. Mankind must be universally educated and must be free to investigate reality independently. If religion is the cause of enmity then humankind should disregard religions altogether. Religion must be in conformity with science.
Religious, racial, political, economic, and patriotic prejudices should be disregarded as well because as long as they prevail humanity will not have rest. If the prejudice of religion, consider that religion should be a cause of fellowship. If the prejudice be of nationality or patriotism, consider that the whole earth is but one native land. Regarding economic prejudice, consider that when ties between countries strengthen then the acceleration of goods follows making both nations richer.
Eventually, the world must establish a universal language among humanity so that misunderstandings are less. Until then, learned men should strive to learn and study the different languages and make linguistic ties in order to establish better communication among people.
One of the most important prerequisites is that humanity must treat women and men equally and afforded the same privileges in society. He explains that women and men are two wings of one bird and if one wing remains weak then flight is impossible so both wings must be fully developed.
Humanity also must progress to a level of empathy whereby a person considers others before themselves. This creates a fiduciary duty toward all humanity for every person. Humanity must also be free before the world can establish a lasting peace because the struggle for existence is a great calamity for man and the supreme affliction.
Society must make education available and compulsory for every child. Universal education is necessary for a lasting peace. Also, a worldwide supreme tribunal consisting of elected representatives of the various member states must be established. All the countries must support the tribunal. A limited body such as the League of Nations cannot bring about the peace desired by men and women of conscience. Instead, the tribunal would govern over all international matters and have the power and might to carry out its decree.