Colombian Baha’is release open letter for peace

September 25, 2016

CALI, Colombia — The Baha’i community of Colombia has released an open letter appealing to all Colombians to seize an “historic opportunity” and work for the cause of peace. The letter comes in advance of the signing of a peace deal between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) on 26 September.

The agreement is a major milestone on the path to peace in Colombia, which has suffered more than fifty years of violence in the world’s longest continuous armed conflict.

The Baha’i community’s letter celebrates the achievements of the peace negotiations while acknowledging that the hard work of building a just and harmonious society lies ahead.

“The eyes of the world are on Colombia,” says the statement. “May we arise to provide a model that will inspire and edify the hearts of our fellow human beings across the planet.”

The open letter represents a recognition of the opportunity now opened to Colombians to forge new patterns of interaction and habits of thought.

Over decades, the Colombian Baha’i community has been promoting a culture of peaceful and purposeful existence in many regions of the country through educational processes that seek to empower children, youth, and adults to promote the well-being and unity of their communities.

“We have seen that small, voluntary acts of service can produce profound and lasting changes in families, children, and their neighborhoods," explained Ximena Osorio, a representative of the Colombian Baha’i community. "Each individual has the potential to become an active agent of social change and contribute to building a peaceful society.”

4 images
Classes for the moral and intellectual development of youth have been a feature of the Baha’i community’s contribution to well-being and peace in Colombian society.

The open letter also presents a caution: “Our peace is, in a word, fragile. It demands a level of integrity to rise above polarized debate, to revert to higher principles to which all societies aspire, to that common ground that is the foundation of consensus.”

“But beyond words,” it continues, “participation may perhaps find its most powerful expression in deeds—in the flowering of countless acts of voluntary service across the country that imbue our society with a new spirit of hope for the future of Colombia.”

The statement, which was published in Spanish, can be found here in English.