Are Baha’is pacifists?

There is much controversy in the world today about a country’s right to make war on another. Despite the fact that it is a novel idea that mankind would even begin to question this reality, some might assume that Baha’is are pacifists under every circumstance. This is not true. Baha’is walk a balance between the rights of the individual and the needs of civilization to maintain order and to enforce justice. As the Universal House of Justice has written, “Extreme pacifists are thus very close to the anarchists, in the sense that both of these groups lay an undue emphasis on the rights and merits of the individual. The Baha’i conception of social life is essentially based on the subordination of the individual will to that of society. It neither suppresses the individual nor does it exalt him to the point of making him an anti-social creature, a menace to society. As in everything, it follows the ‘golden mean’. The only way that society can function is for the minority to follow the will of the majority.” (UHJ, LG, p. 407)

The reality is that Baha’is do not believe that world peace means that there will be no more war. Baha’is know that humanity will always be in danger of falling into war. The kind of world that Baha’is work for is one where the vast majority of the countries of the world will unite under one global federal system. In this system, the countries of the world will all contribute to their collective security, and will be willing and capable of working together to protect that security. Baha’is believe that we are all global citizens, and that we all have a responsibility to ensure the peace and security of everyone. Therefore, Baha’is do believe in the concept of a ‘just war.’ This means that countries—acting together as a collective world body—are obligated to defend each other and to protect others from oppression. As Baha’u’llah wrote, “Should any king take up arms against another, all should unitedly arise and prevent him.” (PB, p. 114)

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