Building Peace And Justice - Wendi Momen


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Power point slide of Dr.Wendi Momen presentation in New Zealand - December 2009 (Auckland).

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Building Peace And Justice - Wendi Momen

  1. 1. Building Peace in Pursuit of Justice A Bahá’í Approach Parliament of World Religions Melbourne December 2009
  2. 2. <ul><li>The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbour. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behoveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving‑kindness. Set it then before thine eyes. </li></ul>
  3. 3. What is justice? OED definitions <ul><li>the judicial administration of law or equity </li></ul><ul><li>the quality of being just </li></ul><ul><li>an administrator of justice </li></ul>
  4. 4. The judicial administration of law or equity <ul><li>‘ the maintenance of legal, social, or moral principles by the exercise of authority or power; assignment of deserved reward or punishment; giving of due deserts’ </li></ul>
  5. 5. The quality of being just <ul><li>‘ quality or fact of being just; </li></ul><ul><li>(the principle of) just dealing or conduct; </li></ul><ul><li>integrity, impartiality, fairness’. </li></ul><ul><li>theological definition: ‘the state of being righteous, righteousness’ </li></ul><ul><li>and ‘conformity (of an action or thing) to moral right or to reason, truth, or fact’. </li></ul>
  6. 6. An administrator of justice <ul><li>People, e.g. judges, magistrates </li></ul>
  7. 7. The judicial administration of law or equity <ul><li>Bahá'u'lláh refers to the maintenance of social order through justice: </li></ul><ul><li>‘ O people of God! That which traineth the world is Justice, for it is upheld by two pillars, reward and punishment. These two pillars are the sources of life to the world.’ </li></ul>
  8. 8. Responsibility of governments to maintain order through justice <ul><li>‘ God hath committed into your hands the reins of the government of the people, that ye may rule with justice over them, safeguard the rights of the down‑trodden, and punish the wrong‑doers. If ye neglect the duty prescribed unto you by God in His Book, your names shall be numbered with those of the unjust in His sight.’ </li></ul>
  9. 9. Justice as giving of due deserts <ul><li>‘ . . . bounty is giving without desert, and justice is giving what is deserved.’ </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>‘ . . . for the God of love is also a God of justice and each man must inevitably reap what he sows.’ </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>‘ . . . to give every one his due is justice.’ </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>
  10. 10. The quality of being just: fairness <ul><li>‘ Equity is the most fundamental among human virtues. The evaluation of all things must needs depend upon it.’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Observe equity in your judgement, ye men of understanding heart! He that is unjust in his judgement is destitute of the characteristics that distinguish man's station.’ </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>
  11. 11. An administrator of justice <ul><li>‘ Had they acted [according to what they knew] they would not have been heedless of the light of the Sun of Justice.’ </li></ul>
  12. 12. Manifestation: manifestation of divine justice, personification of God's justice in the world <ul><li>‘ . . . the Manifestations of Divine justice, the Day Springs of heavenly grace, have . . . appeared amongst men . . .’ </li></ul>
  13. 13. Justice and the individual : Nature of the human being <ul><li>‘ human reality stands . . . between the world of the animal and the world of Divinity ’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Therefore, we say that man is a reality which stands between light and darkness. From this standpoint his nature is threefold: animal, human and divine. The animal nature is darkness; the heavenly is light in light.’ </li></ul>
  14. 14. True station of the individual <ul><li>‘ . . . the station conferred upon their own inmost being, the station of the knowledge of their own selves.’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Say: no man can attain his true station except through his justice.’ </li></ul>
  15. 15. How to be just <ul><li>‘ Whoso cleaveth to justice, can, under no circumstances, transgress the limits of moderation. He discerneth the truth in all things, through the guidance of Him Who is the All‑Seeing.’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ The essence of all that We have revealed for thee is Justice, is for man to free himself from idle fancy and imitation, discern with the eye of oneness His glorious handiwork, and look into all things with a searching eye.’   </li></ul>
  16. 16. Justice is a spiritual quality to be developed <ul><li>The development of such qualities is both a prerequisite of peace within oneself and the result of such peacefulness. </li></ul><ul><li>Bahá'u'lláh calls us to ‘the heights of self‑sacrifice’, to a ‘breadth of vision’, to ‘confident hope’, ‘creative joy’, ‘uncompromising integrity’, ‘exemplary discipline’ and ‘inward peace’. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Achieving such qualities <ul><li>‘ detach himself from all who are in the heavens and on the earth’, and ‘renounce all save God’. </li></ul><ul><li>‘ when he hath inscribed upon his soul that which We have vouchsafed unto him of the quintessence of inner meaning and explanation, he will fathom all the secrets’ and </li></ul><ul><li>‘ God shall bestow upon his heart a divine tranquillity and cause him to be of them that are at peace with themselves.’ </li></ul>
  18. 18. Peace & justice in the individual <ul><li>The person at peace within himself or herself is in the best position to appreciate the complexities of society and ensure that justice prevails in his life and in the environment around him. </li></ul><ul><li>She who acts with justice in her life and who seeks to establish justice in her environment is most likely to be at peace with herself. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Purpose of personal justice <ul><li>that people ‘may be fair, and may strive to provide for the comfort of all, that each member of humanity may pass his life in the utmost comfort and welfare. Then this material world will become the very paradise of the Kingdom, this elemental earth will be in a heavenly state and all the servants of God will live in the utmost joy, happiness and gladness. We must all strive and concentrate all our thoughts in order that such happiness may accrue to the world of humanity.’ </li></ul>
  20. 20. Linking personal justice and inner peace with global justice and international peace <ul><li>‘ Consort with all the peoples, kindreds and religions of the world with the utmost truthfulness, uprightness, faithfulness, kindliness, good‑will and friendliness . . . should they be unjust toward you show justice towards them, should they keep aloof from you attract them to yourselves, should they show their enmity be friendly towards them, should they poison your lives, sweeten their souls, should they inflict a wound upon you, be a salve to their sores.’ </li></ul>
  21. 21. Justice as the organising principle of society <ul><li>‘ Justice, then, is the practical expression of awareness that, in the achievement of human progress, the interests of the individual and those of society are inextricably linked. ’ </li></ul>
  22. 22. Justice and Equality <ul><li>Bahá'í texts suggest that while everyone is a person and is therefore equal and should therefore be dealt/treated in an even-handed - equal - way, the outcome of such equal treatment will not be the same for each person, as otherwise there would be no justice. Justice requires that one person does not receive the same reward for doing nothing as another person receives for doing something. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Justice and the evolving world society <ul><li>The world is presently engaged in a struggle to emancipate itself from practices, attitudes and behaviours developed in an earlier period of its maturity, when its social relations were dramatically different from today and when social interaction for most was at the level of the family, village or town. </li></ul>
  24. 24. The emerging global society <ul><li>Many of the current political issues facing humanity reflect the conflict between an emerging globalized society and those who wish to control that emergence in particular ways. Some have called this a clash of civilizations but it is just as true to call it a clash within civilizations. Bahá’ís see this as ‘the death‑pangs of the old order and the birth‑pangs of the new’, the emergence of a new civilization based on divine teachings. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Justice as the organising principle of society : the oneness of humanity and world citizenship <ul><li>‘ The fundamental spiritual truth of our age is the oneness of humanity. Universal acceptance of this principle ‑‑ with its implications for social and economic justice, universal participation in non‑adversarial decision‑making, peace and collective security, equality of the sexes, and universal education ‑ will make possible the reorganization and administration of the world as one country, the home of humankind.’ </li></ul>
  26. 26. Justice, peace and unity <ul><li>‘ Justice is the one power that can translate the dawning consciousness of humanity's oneness into a collective will through which the necessary structures of global community life can be confidently erected.’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ The purpose of justice is the appearance of unity among men.’ </li></ul>
  27. 27. The concept of world citizenship <ul><li>‘ encompasses the principles of social and economic justice, both within and between nations; non‑adversarial decision‑making at all levels of society; equality of the sexes; racial, ethnic, national and religious harmony; and the willingness to sacrifice for the common good. Other facets of world citizenship . . .promote human honour and dignity, understanding, amity, cooperation, trustworthiness, compassion and a desire to serve.’ </li></ul>
  28. 28. Global Governance and World Government <ul><li>Four aspects of the world superstate that Bahá'ís believe `must needs be evolved' to ensure a peaceful and just `world community in which the fury of a capricious and militant nationalism will have been transmuted into an abiding consciousness of world citizenship' </li></ul>
  29. 29. Institutions needed for the governance of a peaceful world <ul><li>an international executive </li></ul><ul><li>a world parliament </li></ul><ul><li>a supreme tribunal </li></ul><ul><li>an international police force </li></ul><ul><li>‘ force is made the servant of justice’ </li></ul>
  30. 30.   Justice and the relations among governments <ul><li>Disarmament: ‘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.’ </li></ul>
  31. 31. Just relations among governments <ul><li>Collective security </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Should any one among you [rulers] take up arms against another, rise ye all against him, for this is naught but manifest justice.’ </li></ul>
  32. 32. Relations among governments <ul><li>Just war </li></ul><ul><li>‘ A conquest can be a praiseworthy thing, and there are times when war becomes the powerful basis of peace . . . If, for example, a high‑minded sovereign marshals his troops to block the onset of the insurgent and the aggressor, or . . .takes the field and distinguishes himself in a struggle to unify a divided state and people, if, in brief, he is waging war for a righteous purpose, then this seeming wrath is mercy itself, and this apparent tyranny the very substance of justice and this warfare the cornerstone of peace.’ </li></ul>
  33. 33. Justice and governance <ul><li>Statesmanship </li></ul><ul><li>God Himself committed into the hands of kings and rulers ‘the reins of the government of the people, that ye may rule with justice over them, safeguard the rights of the down‑trodden, and punish the wrong‑doers’. </li></ul>
  34. 34. Justice and peace: the role of government <ul><li>‘ one of the duties and functions of government’ is to ‘insure freedom of conscience and tranquillity of heart and soul’ </li></ul><ul><li>to do so ‘is in all ages the cause of progress in development’ and </li></ul><ul><li>‘ justice and equal dealing towards all peoples on the face of the earth are the means whereby progress is effected’. </li></ul>
  35. 35. Personal responsibility of a ruler to be just <ul><li>‘ It behoveth every ruler to weigh his own being every day in the balance of equity and justice and then to judge between men and counsel them to do that which would direct their steps unto the path of wisdom and understanding. ’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Beware lest thou be led to connive at injustice. Set thy heart firmly upon justice . . . Follow not, under any condition, the promptings of thine evil desires. Keep thou the law of God, thy Lord, the Beneficent, the Ancient of Days.’ </li></ul>
  36. 36. Actions of a just ruler <ul><li>Chooses just, honest ministers </li></ul><ul><li>Oversteps not the bounds of moderation </li></ul><ul><li>Deals justly with those that serve him </li></ul><ul><li>Does not overpay them </li></ul><ul><li>Rules with equity </li></ul><ul><li>Is alert to the needs of the poor </li></ul>
  37. 37. Justice, peace and human rights <ul><li>‘ Bahá'u'lláh teaches that an equal standard of human rights must be recognized and adopted. In the estimation of God all men are equal; there is no distinction or preferment for any soul in the dominion of His justice and equity.’ </li></ul><ul><li>The ‘general lack of awareness of human rights, particularly among those entrusted with administering justice at the local level’, is a major obstacle to humanity's progress and to peace. </li></ul>
  38. 38. Social justice : Economic justice <ul><li>Example of the person of ‘Abdu’l-Baha </li></ul><ul><li>‘ the repartition of excessive fortunes amongst a small number of individuals, while the masses are in misery, is an iniquity and an injustice’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ absolute equality would be an obstacle to life, to welfare, to order and to the peace of humanity’. A ‘just medium is preferable’. </li></ul>
  39. 39. Creating economic justice <ul><li>redistribution and regulation of some of the world's wealth </li></ul><ul><li>income tax a fair, equitable means </li></ul><ul><li>voluntary sharing of wealth ‑‑ both at an individual and an institutional level </li></ul><ul><li>equal opportunities for economic advancement and progress to be woven into the fabric of society </li></ul><ul><li>most important is the moral regulation that begins in the hearts and minds of people </li></ul>
  40. 40. Extremes of wealth and poverty <ul><li>‘ Until the actions of humankind promote justice above the satisfaction of greed and readjusts the world's economies accordingly, the gap between the rich and the poor will continue to widen, and the dream of sustainable economic growth, peace, and prosperity must remain elusive.’ </li></ul>
  41. 41. Gender justice and peac e <ul><li>‘ Beliefs and practices that contribute to the oppression of women must be reexamined in the light of justice. When properly understood, the principle of the fundamental equality of men and women will eventually transform all social relations, allowing each person to develop his or her unique gifts and talents.’   </li></ul>
  42. 42. Gender justice a prerequisite of peace <ul><li>When ‘properly understood in the context of the oneness of humanity, equality of the sexes must be embraced not only as a requirement of justice but as a prerequisite for peace and prosperity’. </li></ul>
  43. 43. Justice and the Environment <ul><li>The Bahá’í writings envisage that the protection, exploration, and exploitation of the earth’s ‘unimaginably vast resources’ must, inevitably, in the long term, come under the jurisdiction of a ‘world federal system’. Such a system, based on recognition of the ‘unity of the human race’, will ensure economic and social justice. </li></ul>
  44. 44. Social justice, peace and spiritual fulfilment <ul><li>‘ Until both the material and the spiritual needs and aspirations of individuals are acknowledged, development efforts will largely continue to fail. Human happiness, security and well‑being, social cohesion, and economic justice are not mere by‑products of material success. Rather, they emerge from a complex and dynamic interplay between the satisfaction of material and social needs and the spiritual fulfilment of the individual.’ </li></ul>
  45. 45. The Bahá'í Administration and Houses of Justice <ul><li>The organisational structure of the Bahá'í community itself is around the establishment of local and national ‘houses of justice’ and the Universal House of Justice. Presently styled ‘Local’ and ‘National’ Spiritual Assemblies, these bodies will in due course not only guide the Bahá’í communities in their care but will be centres for disseminating divine justice. </li></ul>
  46. 46. Conclusion <ul><li>Bahá’u’lláh teaches that the chief instrument for the transformation of individuals, of society and the achievement of world unity and world peace is the establishment of justice for all humanity. </li></ul><ul><li>The establishment of justice is the responsibility of both individuals and the social structures that govern them. </li></ul>