‘Abdu’l-Bahá on Peace
Prophet of the Bahá’ís Addresses Notable and Cosmopolitan Gathering in New York
New York, May 14 — Many worshippers came to hear ‘Abdu’l-Bahá yesterday afternoon, at the Hotel Astor. There was not even standing room an hour before his entrance was expected. The woman’s social committee of the New York Peace Society had sent the invitations. The crowd was very cosmopolitan. There were many of the members of the cult of the Bahá’í, followers of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, waiting for the coming of their leader. All rose to their feet with one accord when the prophet appeared. Rabbi Stephen S. Wise presided over the ceremonies, which included an address by one woman, Mrs. Anna Garlin Spencer, and by Dr. Percy Stickney Grant, Consul General Topakyan of Persia and Professor William Jackson of Columbia University. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke last, his interpreter reciting each sentence after him.
Although I feel weary and ill this afternoon, because I attach great importance to this meeting and because I have been longing to see your faces, here am I. I am most grateful for the expressions of kind feelings on the part of my interlocutors, and I am thankful for the susceptibility of your hearts, for I discover that the greatest susceptibility of all of you is for international peace. Truly, there is no greater glory for man than the service of most great peace.
Peace is light; war is darkness. Peace is life; war is death. Peace is guidance; war is misguidance. Peace is founded on good; war is a satanic institute. Peace is conducive to illumination; war is destructive of light. Peace and amity are factors of existence; war is decomposition, or lack of existence. Wherever the banner of peace is raised it is conducive to the welfare of the world. Consider the essential oneness of humanity. His holiness Adam was the parent of all. He was the trunk of the tree. You are all leaves of the tree. You must be united and consort with one another in perfect amity and accord. No doubt this revered democracy will be the foremost among nations to champion the cause of peace. The banner of international peace will be unfurled here. Thus will the sun shine on the East and the West. The clouds will pass away. Your thoughts shall take an upward flight.
Rabbi Wise spoke of the meeting as a “miniature religious congress” because so many creeds were met together and “not in a spirit of tolerance only, but of fellowship.” “Tolerance is insult,” he quoted from Goethe.
“The term religious war,” he continued, “is a misnomer, because there can be no war where religion is. We still have war in the world because we have no religion. All we have is a hollow sham, a pretense. When once, we have real religion war will cease.”
Mrs. Spencer was greeted with applause when she said no one people could declare themselves the children of God and the others only step-children. “Our honored friend,” she said, “comes to us with the same message proclaimed by our own Emerson that there are as many roads to the Infinite as there are travellers upward.”