The Italian attack on Tripoli, and human heartlessness

November 23, 1911: a talk given at Abdu’l-Baha’s lodgings in Paris during the war between Italy and Tripoli

A provisional translation from Khetabat-e Hazrat-e `Abdu’l-Baha dar safr-e-Europa (Talks of ‘Abdu’l-Baha in his European travels), Vol. 1 p. 204. I have not found the text in the Persian sections of Star of the West — pointers would be welcome! I have used the translation by Zia Bagdadi, printed in Star of the West Vol. 7 p. 106.

THEY say that a train fell in the Seine river and twenty five persons were drowned. Today on account of this tragedy there will be a detailed discussion in parliament. They have summoned the Minister of Railways for questioning.

There will be a huge dispute. It is a great upheaval. I was very much astonished that for twenty five persons who fell into the channel of a river and drowned, there has been such a strange upheaval in Parliament; but as regards Tripoli, where thousands are being killed in a day, they never say a word. Undoubtedly, thus far, five thousand persons have been killed. It never occurs to the parliament that these persons are human. It is as if they were stones. Why is Parliament so disturbed over twenty five persons and never says a word about the five thousand? The twenty five are human and the five thousand are human. All are children of Adam.

The reason is that the five thousand are not of the French race. Although they are cut in pieces, they are not interested. Behold, what bias, what imperviousness, what ignorance!
Although these helpless ones in Tripoli have father, mother, son, daughter and wife, they are cutting them into shreds. What harm have they done?

I read in the paper that even in Italy the cry and the wailing of the people is rising. Not only the Arabs but also the women of Italy are complaining and lamenting. The eyes of the mothers are filled with tears; the hearts of the fathers are drowning in blood; the weeping and crying of the children reach to the highest heaven.
See how bloodthirsty humans are! See, how perfidious man is, how heedless of God! Wouldn’t it be better if, instead of the blade and sword, and the bullet and gun, and the cannon, they were to devote themselves to fellowship and loving kindness, to feasting and other delightful things, to conviviality and enjoying themselves? If they got drunk on the wine of happiness in a riot of prosperity, if they linked their arms and sang together like angels, would it not be better? Which is better: to be like thankful birds and fly together, or to be like bloodthirsty wolves that circle one another, and fight and shed each other’s blood?
Why is man so heedless? It is because he does not know God. If men knew God they would certainly caress one another like brothers. If they had spiritual susceptibilities, they would have raised the banner of the great peace. If they had heard the exhortations of the prophets they would certainly be fair-minded. Therefore you should pray, weeping and beseeching God to guide them, that he may show them mercy, give them reasoning minds and give them spiritual susceptibilities. May these helpless human beings live in peace. The wise man weeps day and night over the condition of the human race. He cries and sighs that the sleepers may be awakened, the blind may see, the dead may be brought to life and the oppressors may learn to be fair. I pray, and you also should pray.

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