“We Want a Wilson Peace”: 1919-2012 1
ONE MONTH AFTER THE war ended, the USS George Washington, escorted by a flotilla of ten American battleships and twenty-eight destroyers, approached the coast of Brittany in northwestern France. It carried the American delegation to the Paris Peace Conference led by President Woodrow Wilson. …
The meeting in Paris, which ran from January to June, 1919, appeared to be very much like the global conference ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, following his father’s lead, had argued for almost forty-five years earlier. In 1875, shortly after the end of the Franco-Prussian War, which had slaughtered 600,000 men and led directly to the World War, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá castigated the European states who had permitted such a catastrophe to break out on their so-called civilized continent. “Is it right and proper that peoples among whom, diametrically opposed to the most desirable human behavior, such horrors take place, should dare lay claim to a real and adequate civilization?” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá asked. “No, by the Lord God! Even a child can see the evil of it.”
“True civilization will unfurl its banner in the midmost heart of the world,” he wrote in The Secret of Divine Civilization, “whenever a certain number of its distinguished and high-minded sovereigns — the shining exemplars of devotion and determination — shall, for the good and happiness of all mankind, arise, with firm resolve and clear vision, to establish the Cause of Universal Peace. They must make the Cause of Peace the object of general consultation, and seek by every means in their power to establish a Union of the nations of the world.” …
The core of Woodrow Wilson’s peace proposal seemed to be just that: a new, permanent international governance organization called the “League of Nations.”…
In the end, even the watered-down League of Nations — no coercive power, its hands tied by the requirement of unanimous agreement — could not pass the Republican-controlled United States Senate. …
The legacy of the Paris Peace Conference, both the triumphant and the tragic, continues to this day.
Final Days in America: New York City 2
On November 26 the New York Tribune reported:
“Mrs. Mary Stokes MacNutt, President of Minerva, and Mr. MacNutt were a happy pair yesterday, for they got Abdul Baha, of Persia, to speak at the club’s annual luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria.
“… he came … looking as if he had on the same white turban and the same long gown that he wore when he landed here from Persia last April. His face was just as peaceful as it was then, too … and he didn’t seem the least but touched by his seven months in America. …”
Tuesday, November 26, 1912 3
In the morning, after revealing Tablets and granting interviews, the Master joined the gathering of the friends with these words:
“I always derive great pleasure from being with you. I shall always remember these gatherings. I shall never forget them. If I cannot see each one of you individually every day that should not undermine our real love. See how much work I have to do! It is more than a week since I received this letter from my sister, the Greatest Holy Leaf [Bahíyyih Khánum], and other members of the household, but I have not had the opportunity to open it yet. I was looking for another letter when I came upon this unopened letter. Then I heard that you were waiting here and I came downstairs to see you because I have no time to see you individually. In spite of this, if anyone has an urgent matter I will see them privately, even if only for a few minutes. Had I time I would always be with you. My happiness lies in seeing you, for in your faces are apparent the glad tidings of the Abhá Kingdom and in your hearts heavenly love and attraction. If outwardly we fail to meet, it does not weaken our real love. God willing, you shall all be assisted and immersed in the sea of bounty and the favor of Bahá’u’lláh.”
In the afternoon at a meeting of the friends, the Master turned towards Mrs [Grace] Krug and said:
“A believer in Bahá’u’lláh is he who is firm in the Covenant. He who is firm in the divine Covenant is a believer, a servant of the believers, a seeker of Bahá’í harmony and unity and a promoter of fellowship and amity among the friends of God. Is it possible that one can accept a book and refuse to accept him who teaches it? Is it possible to accept the sun and to reject its rays? He who rejects the rays is a rejector of the sun, too.
“Furthermore, many say, ‘We have no need of divine Manifestations; we ourselves have direct communication with God.’ They do not know that the divine Manifestations are the bright rays of the Sun of Truth and a means of educating the realities of man. Therefore, he who rejects the bounty of the Sun of Truth and thinks himself not in need of it is like the one who says he is not in need of God and rejects both God and reality, in spite of the fact that all creation is receiving incessant bounty from God and is dependent on Him, as the body is dependent upon the soul.”
In the evening the Master spoke to the gathering on man’s ability to understand the reality of certain things using his intelligence because man’s intelligence is the discoverer of reality. For instance, through the process of reasoning, intelligence can comprehend the existence of God and understand that this magnificent universe cannot exist without a Creator. These works are not without a Maker and this garden of creation cannot exist without a Gardener.
23 November 1912, Talk at Banquet, Great Northern Hotel, 118 West Fifty-seventh Street, New York 4
The effect of such an assembly as this is conducive to divine fellowship and strengthening of the bond which cements and unifies hearts. This is the indestructible bond of spirit which conjoins the East and West. By it the very foundations of race prejudice are uprooted and destroyed, the banner of spiritual democracy is hoisted aloft, the world of religion is purified from superannuated beliefs and hereditary imitations of forms, and the oneness of the reality underlying all religions is revealed and disclosed.
’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to Its Spiritual Destiny
“My happiness lies in seeing you, for in your faces are apparent the glad tidings of the Abha Kingdom …”
Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America
Curated by Anne Perry
- Menon, Jonathan. “‘We Want a Wilson Peace’: 1919-2012.” 239 Days in America, 26 Nov. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/11/26/we-want-a-wilson-peace-1919-2012/. ↩
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 188-189. ↩
- ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=9#section248 ↩
- ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 447-448. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/32#955162073 ↩