[This article which was passed by the Reviewing Committee was originally printed in Star of the West, vol. 23, no. 3, June 1932 at the request of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States and Canada. It was noted that it presents a very complete treatment of the economic plight in which the world finds itself as of 1932, and describes the perfect solution as found in The Order of Baha'u'llah.] [For a brief biography about Alfred Lunt please visit Baha'i Heroes and Heroines]
The Primal Necessities
God has created hunger and thirst, the need of warmth and shelter as essentials of the very existence of the human race, and deposited within man an ever present consciousness of these needs. Throughout the countless ages of man's occupation of the earth, these necessities have, to an over- whelming degree, been his taskmasters, the seat of his ambitions, the source of his joys and sorrows. Since food, drink and housing are vital needs of his physical existence, and have never been attainable except through individual effort -- these primitive needs have wielded an enormous influence in the history, progress and destiny of our race. In the hope of gold, men have yielded life. For the power of money to purchase necessities, men have frequently laid aside honor, and have not fallen short of commission of detestable crimes. The dethronement of God, in the human consciousness and the enthronement of gold as a idol, is not a mere play upon words in the past and present history of the race.
The Unbalanced Distribution of Necessities
As the individuals of society, because this primitive urge, identified happiness with the possession of the goods of this world, and tasted of the power that comes the attainment of property in excess of their actual needs, the distribution of means gradually becomes unbalanced. This unbalanced distribution, however, is by no means a modern phenomenon. The emergence of humanity from the patriarchal state marked the taking on of individual responsibility for livelihood, and was the signal for a steady encroachment upon property by the more capable, more ambitious, or more unscrupulous members of society. We must remember that up to comparatively recent times, huge masses of humanity were either slaves, possessing no right to property of any kind; serfs, with an inchoate right at best to a meager ownership; or feudatories, holding their fiefs, lands or properties conditioned strictly upon an oath of unrestricted service to their lord or baron. As a consequence, the favored classes held all property in their sway, and vied with each other, often by private war or foray, to attain larger and larger possessions. Many of the medieval wars had their rise in these inordinate contentions of barons and princes, in which the hapless serf or feudatory bore the brunt of the fighting.
The Emergence of Innate Differences in Economic Capacity
With the successive destruction of feudalism, serfage and slavery, the struggle for existence devolved upon all men. Theoretically each man had his chance. But, here, the innate differences in the character and capacities of men became disclosed in a universal sense and for the first time. Initiative, education, ability, ambition for fame and power, cunning, cruelty, greed found abundant contrast with sloth, timidity, incapacity, ignorance and resignation. These innate differences, excellencies and defects, being part of the natural order, appeared insurmountable, and opened the way for a kind of economic slavery. Money being a seed for the reproduction of itself, tended to multiply in the hands of its possessor. Monopolies became the order of the day. In monarchical countries, the nobility held tightly to their landed estates, and wielded power over the commoner. In the republics the wealthy classes, fortified by the laws of inheritance, and tending to accumulate ever larger ratios of the available wealth and to control it, have gradually consolidated their position, to the weakening of the agricultural element, the office worker and the day laborer.
Although the universal, public school system of the West unquestionably fits the average boy and girl for a higher level of social living, and has greatly diminished the illiterate percentage, the levels above have, at the same time, proportionately advanced in wealth and power, so that the grades and degrees of society have not materially changed. The average graduate of the public schools finds his or her economic level as a mechanic, a factory worker, a clerk, a farmer, or as proprietor of a small business. While this represents a striking improvement over the condition of the poorer classes of past centuries, it is, nevertheless, a fact that the vast majority of the inhabitants, even in the western countries of the globe, are not economically secure, beyond the weekly receipt of their pay envelopes, and when confronted with disaster, sickness or unemployment soon deplete their small reserves.
This is strikingly illustrated in the current wave of economic collapse and its consequent unemployment which has numbed the financial nerves of every country. The normal unemployment ratio has swelled to a three or four-fold extent, and hardships and anxieties multiply. Self-respecting family heads discharged from employment and unable, after urgent quest, to find remunerative jobs, reluctantly turn to the charitable agencies. The City of Boston alone, is disbursing $24,000 daily to an ever increasing number of destitute families. This is but an instance of what is taking place in hundreds of American cities and communities. Doles and public aid in other countries have brought great nations to the verge of national bankruptcy. The overproduction of commodities which followed and had its source in the feverish war period, has failed to adjust itself to the requirements of peace, and the demand for goods, seriously impaired by the diminished payrolls, gives no promise of restoring the economic balance of the past decade and returning the workers to the factories in the numbers and with the earnings to which they had become accustomed since 1914.
The Old Order Changeth, But Mankind Remains Its Prisoner
In the face of these conditions, industrial leaders and statesmen have proved themselves largely impotent. The old order, developed from the feudal system, enchains and blinds those who are at once its beneficiaries and its victims. While it would be idle to say that no recovery can be expected from the present economic crisis, since the economic law of supply and demand ultimately reestablishes a balance, it is, notwithstanding, equally true that such a system, susceptible, as history proves, to these repeated debacles in our economic life, is far from perfect. The prime, devastating element that at present dominates the economic life of the nations is their supine and abject surrender to the natural law of the survival of the fittest. The claws of nature are unyielding and essentially cruel. The vegetable and animal world are its truest exponents. But is humanity likewise condemned to the cruelties of this soulless law of the lower levels of the creation? This point we shall endeavor to unfold.
The Tyranny of Natural Law
"I am not my brother's keeper," by which Cain sought to escape the questioning of the Supreme Judge, has been adopted and made a part of man's daily life. Granted that countless exceptions exist among us, the fact remains that in the economic relationships, this purely natural law has full sway. We salve our conscience with various forms of charitable aid and poor-relief, but this is but an evasion of the issue. A fundamental malady in the human body can be lastingly healed only by ascertaining the real cause of the malady, then by a prescription that meets the exact conditions. May it not be that definite human rights are being ignored, that divine relationships exist which, recognized and applied, contain the solution?
Organic Disease and Health
We know that any undue separation of functions in an organism, any impairment of the reciprocal relations between its parts, is a certain cause of disease. This is equivalent to disorder and discord, and may be termed the operation of the law of decomposition in the organism. Its course, unless interrupted, is ever towards the dissolution and death of the organism. On the other hand, the unity and health of the organism is synonymous with the perfect reciprocity of its parts, their full cooperation each to each. Happiness, welfare and efficiency, according to the creative plan under which the organism came into existence is thereby bestowed. Under these conditions, the beneficent law of composition pours its blessings of life and health upon the creature. These primordial laws of composition and decomposition are rooted in the creation and are not inherently controllable by man. They bestow life and death, and constitute the inevitable fate of all created life in a world of "becoming" and contingency.
Decomposition, the Unerring Agency of destiny
But although these basic laws of destiny are inviolable in their sphere of action, they are powerless to operate except under the exact conditions that call them forth. They are compulsory and selective but neither voluntary nor fickle. Like the arrow to the mark, they obey only the law of attraction, and unerringly choose the habitations of their affinities. And by this I mean it is impossible for the law of decomposition to operate in a healthy body. Like maggots or fruit flies arising in a basket of decayed fruit or a heap of animal refuse, spontaneously appearing within rather than from without their host, decomposition enters an organism only because it is attracted by the disordered condition that exists therein. In other words, disorder, disunity, discord – the three d's of a dismal triad -- invite decay. As Baha'u'llah said -- "Like seeks like and has affinity with its own kind."
The body of man represents and is the highest organism we know. Logically, and by corollary, the body of humanity, homo sapiens as a race, is likewise entitled to this distinction, in the collective or racial sense.
Nature’s Dualities – Life and Death
The picture we have endeavored to paint but dimly and faintly depicts the vast cosmic forces that proceed from the inmost recesses of Nature, governing, limiting, expanding and controlling every material atom in the universe. Whether composition or decomposition, fire or humidity, sour or sweet, ebb or flow, or any of the great natural dualities, these colossal forces are, in a word, the unyielding arms, the adamantine jaws, the very claws of Nature, and at the same time -- since the duality persists and its other aspect must be translated into terms of human consciousness -- they are the tireless servants of humanity, furnishing heat and moisture, cooling water to parched lips, life and movement to the blue ocean, and delectable fruits and grains to the taste. Are these forces friends or foes? Shall we fear and shun them, content with a palsied ignorance of their true origin and function, -- or shall we approach closely and examine them with faith and assurance, conscious of a certain oneness with them, mindful that the Lord of all Being is our common Author? And more important, shall we submit utterly to their dominion, or shall we examine carefully the reality of these forces? Perchance, we may possess weapons by which to conquer and subdue them.
Man, More Ferocious Than Nature
If we treat Nature as we have been accustomed to treat our foreign nations of various colors and origins, with fear and poorly concealed detestation, it is certain she will, in her time, turn and rend us, or at least will have the last word. This is because only by studying her changing moods, born of the duality, in a sympathetic and dauntless spirit, can we adapt these forces to the upbuilding of civilization. As we cannot control or change the inherent properties of the laws of life and death, as was previously stated, so we cannot change natural elements such as fire into moisture, or water, per se, into something lacking humidity. But we can, and have, converted the action of fire into grateful warmth, and diverted it from turning into a destructive conflagration; we have transformed certain chemical elements into a humane, soothing anesthetic, and we, also, have, shameful to say, utilized other natural elements and cunningly and cold-heartedly converted them into deadly and devastating vapors today threatening, with the menace of potential war, millions of living men, women and children. Man has done this. And it is a fair question to ask, whether Nature, workshop of the mysteries of creation as she is, hurler of the thunderbolt and the twisting tornado, is to be feared as are those men to be feared who consciously and deliberately in the name of an abandoned, rejected and false patriotism, hideous in their ferocity and cruelty, today forge the implements which, should war come again, will break the heart of mankind?
Nature Yields to Science Certain Aspects of Her Sovereignty
To resume. The purpose of this apparent diversion from the subject is to provide the basis upon which to certify to two outstanding verities. First, that man can adapt the blind, unintelligent forces of nature to purposes apparently contrary to their normal uses, as, for instance, sending his body under and beneath the sea in a submarine containing oxygen, which defeats the natural law that has for ages barred the body of man from the ocean depths; or imprisoning within a storage battery or confining to wires, the rampant force of electricity whose nature, undisturbed, is to be elusive, free, cosmic and unrestrained. In a word,-man possessed of a power unknown to Nature, superior to Nature and transcending Nature even as the mind, transcends the mere instinct, -- bends the natural forces to his own ends.
A New and Greater Conquest Now Required
And, second, that while we cannot change or re-create the inherent properties of the natural elements, such as converting water into aridity, we can, -- to a degree not yet wholly understood and determined as to its scope, --formulate and prepare the conditions in a particular device, or (and this is the all important issue), within our (man's) own organism, both individually and racially, which will attract the beneficent, kindly, life-giving forces of nature, rather than those containing the elements of destruction. And this is but the first step. For behind these beneficent and kindly forces, the Sun of Truth which is the Word of God pours forth a love and a knowledge compared to which the greatest light of Nature is but a guttering candle. It is these divine powers that are our ultimate goal. A point of receptivity for these reposes in the breast of man. But the fortifications of Nature must first be stormed.
The Equilibrium of Heath and Law of Decomposition
It may, here, be objected that we are confusing the disease itself with the process or law of decomposition, or attributing to every disease two major causations. That the disease sets up its own pathology and no force enters from without in the sense of an all-embracing law. Furthermore, that all diseases are self-communicatory and do not, and cannot, per se, constitute an affinity which attracts anything whatsoever.
We submit, however, that the equilibrium of the elements within an organism is the point from which all deviations from the normal must depart. As we conceive this abstruse problem, and take as the most perfect example, the body of man, it is plain, for example, that if, in such a body, the prime elements of organic iron, calcium or manganese, or any of these, are either in excess of the normal or abnormally diminished in volume, in the blood stream, a departure from the health equilibrium is thereby instanced which sooner or later must produce a disordered functioning. This is the first step toward what we call disease. The resistant factors within the body do their utmost to combat and neutralize the poisons that are automatically created by the disturbance, but if the conditions setting it in motion are not drastically changed, through a dietary and regime adapted to the need, and then only in case the organic functions are not too greatly impaired, the disorder is progressive and death intervenes. Because of this basic law of life and health, 'Abdu’l-Baha, in an illuminating and profound Tablet at one time stated that when materia medica had advanced on scientific lines sufficiently to become competent to analyze a drop of blood, to the extent of disclosing the presence and ratio of every essential element there present, each to each, medical science would at that moment have within its hands the key to health. Once knowing the degree of the departure or deviation from the normal of the elements requisite to health, and comparing this with the known proportions which each element should occupy in the blood flowing through a healthy body, the restoration of health was to be found in the assimilation of those organic aliments necessary to restore the equilibrium, or, conversely, in the reduction of intake of those aliments which had been found to be in excess in the blood of the patient.
There remains to be proved the part played by the natural disintegrating force at the focal point of the disease we have instanced. This force ever seeks to break down and destroy any composed organism. It is antithetical to that which draws together and composes the essential particles that, as units, we know as living beings. It is separative, disorganizing and ever tends to resolve the combination of elements back into their original, unrelated, and independent status. Thus, the decomposition of water releases the molecules of hydrogen and oxygen, hitherto held together by the sanction of composition, -- into their original loneliness. The affinity that drew them together as moisture, is shattered. Similarly, the more complex organisms, such as the animal, in death yield up their elements which had been conjoined during the life of the animal. The moving force in this process is this natural law of change and death. Other demonstrations exist of which lack of space prevents the details, but the essential process has become clear.
The Forces of Decomposition Within Our Economic Life are Powerless, Unless Man Opens the Door to Their Visitation
But, in all this, the application of our thesis is primarily that a departure from the equilibrium of health and composition must exist before the destructive element can assert its power and accelerate the progress of the disease through the inflow of the separative impulse. Without this departure, the organism is immune. Secondly, that an intelligent organism, as is man, may, through this knowledge, and the power of self-analysis, become cognizant of three things: (1) The existence of a diseased state within his collective or racial body, in its economic relationships; (2) His recognition of a power which he innately possesses to change voluntarily, and in accordance with these basic, universal laws, the disorder within himself for which he, alone, is responsible; and (3) By thus applying the eternal axiom "Physician, heal thyself," employing those economic remedies that are the true "aliments" for the restoration of economic equilibrium, he will rout the enemy of his wellbeing by depriving it of the nutrition it must have for the accomplishment of its fell purpose. The situation calls for a radical adaptation of the story of Hercules and the earth-giant Antaeus. The giant's strength became atrophied and impotent when deprived of the vitalizing forces of his earth mother. May humanity shake off the tentacles of this strangling power by summoning its God-given resolution, drinking deep of the Cup of Knowledge which God has extended to this storm-tossed planet in this New Day, and with the divine weapons of heart and soul destroy forever the selfish and egotistic veils that have made him lose hope in successfully changing what he calls "human nature," which is in reality but a base surrender to the natural law that holds him in its grip. The being who has succeeded in harnessing the fire and the lightnings of Nature, will not fall short in subduing the more interior and subtle natural force that has so long tyrannized over the use and distribution of the vital necessities of his life, such as food and drink, shelter and comfort. He, man, will not, must not fail in this greatest of all conquests even though, to thus finally assert his divinely bestowed spiritual sovereignty over the power of Nature, he must pay the full price, by sacrificing and yielding up the doubtful guerdon of living unto himself alone. The New Age calls him to this greater happiness; the law of unity, deposited by the Ancient of Days in every infinitely small and infinitely great created being, calls him to establish now his own unity; to put aside the playthings of the past and lay hold of the strong rope that God has revealed in this dawn of human maturity; to place himself under a law greater than Nature, a law emanating from Him who created Nature and all her works through His Wisdom and Power. Why should mankind, possessing attributes and powers directly derived from Divinity Itself, and never possessed by Nature, the intelligence and will to conquer Nature's cosmic forces, be content to subject himself any longer to her domination over his most precious material relationships? The instillation of love for his fellow-men, the assertion of his divinely given Will are invincible forces, that no merely natural power can withstand. The Way is open. Shall we walk therein, or continue to wander in the gloomy morasses of self-delusion?
Our thesis, then, is -- that since humanity, through its noble and gifted inventors and scientific discoverers, has proved its God-given right to invade the darksome cavern which is Nature's fastness and stronghold, bringing forth therefrom, bound and captive, the titanic forces which he, mankind, has proceeded to adapt to his material service upon the earth, -- it is certain, that through a spiritual Power he even now possesses, he will apply this same process, on a higher plane, to release and free millions of his own race, made in the temple and image of Almighty God, and still held fast within the claws of Nature, from the economic shackles that, today, deprive them of inherent and innate rights, withhold from their outreached hands the little comforts they crave, confine them to factory, office building and mine unnecessarily long hours, and deny them that vital interest in the great businesses they have assisted to up-build, to which, under the law of God, they are entitled. To remedy these diseases that, in this century, have brought low the industrial and commercial structure over well nigh the whole earth, is the task and duty of every soul informed of the divinely spiritual basis upon which the economic relationships rest; of every far-seeing business man who has realized even a trace of the organic unity of mankind; and of every labor leader whose vision is big enough to see beyond the ranks of his own group and to identify their true interests with those of every other basic element of the industrial fabric.
The reason for this is because "the fundamentals of the entire economic condition are divine in nature and are associated with the world of the heart and spirit." ['Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i Scriptures, p. 441] Without knowledge of the principles contemplated in this preceding quotation, no improvement in the economic state can be realized.
Nature is powerless to confer upon men the knowledge of how to achieve this new economic freedom. Nay, rather, the mind and heart of mankind, derived from a Source that is supernatural, even from God, possess those keys that will unlock the treasuries of knowledge that have been prepared against this very use in this New Age. But let not man suppose he can, in this, ignore or forget the power of Nature which has for so long defeated and enslaved him. He must watch her even as the cat watches the mouse, or, more accurately, the mouse watches the cat. Up to now, the cat has toyed with the mouse almost as it willed, in the great economic kitchen of humanity. Man, unwittingly or urged on by greed, has left wide open the door through which the similitude of Nature delights to stalk. This door is no other than human covetousness, ignorance, strife and discord, the cutting off, by violent and harsh means, of the essential relationship that exists within the Kingdom of Man and between its component parts (individual men). This essential relationship is that which, in the Divine Mind, has made of humanity, as a whole, an organism of sacred and highest destiny. Put in another way, every human being, white or colored, it matters not, is a cell within this vast organism and entitled by divine right to the cooperation and reciprocal aid of every other cell, without exception or possibility of error; even as he in turn contributes of his full strength and function to the welfare of the whole. Who is so blind, after consideration of this strictly accurate and dynamically scientific fact, as to deny its truth?
We have previously demonstrated the unanswerable truth that the human body is the archetype of all organisms. Can the aggregate of human beings, fortified as they are by the possession of mind and soul, be less organically one than is a single cell of this great collective racial entity?
Applying these sacred and basic truths, and emphasizing again the deadly accuracy of that spiritual science that informs man of this divine reality of his own essential oneness, we would now apply it as the sole and inevitable formula for the healing of our economic life. Wise men of all nations will grasp this formula, even as the sore athirst seizes the cup of cool water. From countless sources, today, men of vision are recorded in expressions that prove their awakening to the penetrating power of this truly divine remedy. Even as "My people perish for lack of knowledge," equally it may be said-"My people are revivified and made whole by accepting and applying the advices of Him who is the Knower, the Generous."
In this demonstration, we are not yet done with old Mother Nature. Her law of decomposition is not so easily overpowered as are some of her lesser children, such as fire and electricity. This is because that death dealing law is associated with the ultimate destinies. There are strict limits to which mankind can guide its operations; although even in its more terrifying aspects it is, in reality, as are all natural laws, the symbol of Divine Providence, and the pathway to His Nearness and Good Pleasure.
Man’s Supreme Affliction
Since the decompositional phenomena invariably appear, as has been mentioned in detail, within an organism which has consciously or ignorantly, allowed its original functions to become disordered, we must, in fairness, admit that these reappearing economic upheavals, this present state of suffering and slow starvation in which millions of human beings today find themselves, comprise unerring evidence that the economic life of humanity has become the prey of the destructive, obdurate, negative power of nature, the sinister element of its duality. What can humanity do to stem this tide, which engulfs not only our industrial life, but is also the prime cause of every war that history records? Must the race perish for lack of knowledge?
The answer is plain. The causes contributing to the disease that has sapped our industrial strength must be uncovered and the remedy administered. Without attempting to enumerate every pathological lesion in our economic system, it will suffice to point out some of the major elements that, at present, operate to attract the destructive forces which have assailed the world.
The Constructive Remedy
Let us begin with the greatest constructive remedy, in a general sense, -- following this with an enumeration of the existing maladjustments that are opposed to economic health:
Fellowship and Unity
The inculcation of love and of unity between all men is a mighty restoring agency for all these ills. This must be realized. It is, in reality, the essence of the divine elixir, which has been prescribed by the Divine Physician of this Age. The oneness of mankind, our essential brotherhood, is the hope and promise of every one of the great, universal Teachers and Prophets. This century marks the fulfillment and practical expression of this great truth in the life of humanity. This is the reality of man. Every strife and discord in our common life together arises from the conflict of personalities. But the realities of the souls are in accord. The leaders of the business world must investigate this resplendent reality, and apply this unity in the business life of the world. On this point, 'Abdu'l-Baha says-- "Science cannot cure the illness of the body politic. Science cannot create unity and fellowship in human hearts. Neither can patriotism or racial prejudice effect a remedy. It can be accomplished solely through the Divine bounties and the spiritual bestowals which have descended from God in this Day for that very purpose."
The Principle of Trusteeship
1. Failure to recognize and apply the trust relationship essentially existing between the poor and rich, the fortunate and the unfortunate. Since in every trust there must be a trustee, a trust fund, and a beneficiary, no room is left under this arrangement for further continuance of the laissez faire policy by which man contemplates his fellow man as a creature apart, admitting no responsibility towards him. Pauperism, wretchedness and misery cannot exist in the same world with this trust principle, for this is based upon the right of every member of the human family to the necessities of life, provided he, in turn, contributes his part as a worker in the world. This basic remedy will, further on, be elaborated, as will certain of the other headings of this section.
2. Almost entire ignorance of the divine and basic law governing the tithe or income tax.
Organic Relationship Between Labor and Capital
3. The barrier which has been built up between labor and capital, employee and employer. This is, in effect, a lack of unity and understanding among the leaders of both classes of their real organic relationship. (See headings 6 and 9.)
4. A system of taxation which ignores the true principle upon which contributions to the state or government should be based.
Strikes and Profit-Sharing
5. Strikes and lock-outs in industry are a symptom, merely, of the faulty relations of worker and employer. The bargaining power of the great trades unions is based upon the collective influence of multitudes of workers whose only protection against injustice has been conceived to lie in the creation of a class bound together by a community of interest. But this community of interest is wrongly placed. It should be with the employer whose success and profit depends upon the worker's faithfulness and efficiency. Classes are an indication of separation in the business organism, and this has attracted the destructive forces of which strikes and labor troubles are but an inevitable result. The conflicting elements, therefore, must be bound together in unity through a common interest. This interest is attained through true profit-sharing which contemplates a type of partnership or ownership in the business, on the part of the worker. This means, rightly worked out, a new and hitherto unknown peace will come to the industrial ranks, which no outside force can break. Besides this, the principle of wages sufficient to assure the workmen of an adequate support should be supplemented by the adoption of a method of pensions to be accorded to faithful workers who have become feeble and helpless. The purpose in all this is to confer a sense of security upon the worker who comprises the vast majority of all men. This is brotherhood illumined by the light of justice. Wages, alone, fall short of justice to the man or woman whose hands, skilled or unskilled have become calloused and hardened by countless hours and successive years of faithful service to his or her employer, firm or corporation.
The Class Theory in Industry, an Organic Disease
Without this toil, the wheels of industry cannot turn; without this daily grind of human tissues and energies, no profits will appear. These workers are a component and essential part of the business organism with which they have allied themselves and are entitled to their part in its ownership. Only a blind and unsound reasoning can justify the continuance of the class theory, in industry. To do so is to descend to the level of inorganic life, the lowest mineral state. No, -- man, and his economic relationships with his fellow man, is organic, inter-related, cohered. The lowly functions of the nails, hair and skin in the human body are essentials to bodily health and efficiency. The finer organs of the brain and heart, the eye and the ear all contribute instant succor and unfailing cooperation to those lowlier parts, which, in turn, protect and round out the perfection of the whole. No neglect appears in a true organism for any of its parts. The welfare of each is the vital concern of all. And, conversely, the affliction or impairment of any is a menace to the health of the whole body. It takes but little acumen to apply this example of a universal solvent of industrial harmony to the present confused, uncoordinated industrial picture.
The Upliftment and Security of Agriculture
6. At the present time, the economic status of the farmer has suffered owing, in part, to over-production in a world wide sense, and the lessened demand which characterizes the present impoverishment of the general population. Agriculture is of first importance in the modern state. Plans of a cooperative nature must be laid to strengthen and fortify the producer through the application of the new principles of trust relationship, mutual aid and taxation, to the agricultural communities. Encouragement and assistance must be extended to the large mass of our urban floating populations, now economically insecure, to return to the land, where many of the necessities of life may be provided through scientific farming. The present unbalanced artificial and highly abnormal life of the cities is, at best, a symptom of immoderation, and has built up false standards of living for millions who are thereby deprived of the blessings of that normal existence which is synonymous with a country life. Moderation, without which the truly balanced life is impossible, is a vital feature of the civilization now dawning upon humanity.
Labor Saving Machinery Should Be in Part an Asset to Labor
7. The failure of employers, generally, to grant the workers any part of the savings in the cost of operation of a business effected by the enormous increase in the use of labor saving machinery, and 9, a corollary of 8, the retention of schedules of working-hours which are a survival of conditions existing before the advent of the machine age.
Injustice to Workers No Longer Young
8. Servile and selfish submission of the world to the unchecked operation of the natural law of the survival of the fittest which is cruelly and unwittingly applied to the elimination from industry of workers who have passed a certain age, regardless of their ability or physical fitness.
Provision for Work – Its Spiritual and Real Significance
9. The present faulty system of provision for work, due, in part, to the maladjustment now existing between the urban and the agricultural occupations. In this New Age, arts, sciences and all crafts are as worship, when undertaken in the right spirit. The basis for this is that all effort and exertion put forth by man from the fullness of his heart is worship, if prompted by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity. Since all men are commanded to work and engage themselves in some one occupation, the avenues of permanent occupation must be opened through suitable enactments and provisions. Baha’u'’llah tells us – “We have made this -- your occupation -- identical with the worship of God, the True One." This will release the fields of production and wealth vast numbers of persons at present occupying, economically speaking, a purely parasitic status.
10. Brief mention has been made of the tariff barriers that separate the nations. This subject is of baffling complexity unless touchstone presented in this thesis is courageously, unflinchingly and universally applied. Granted that every tariff, other than nominal, constitutes a barrier between the nations who are, from this point of view, interdependent cells or functions of the grand organic body of the race, it is clear that such unnatural and purely provincial enactments must, inevitably, set up a pathology quite outside and contrary to the fundamental and divine proposition that humanity is essentially one family. The reprisals visited by other countries upon an inordinately high tariff made into law by a particular country, the resentments that are set up, and, more practically speaking, the boomerang-like effect upon the particular country in the impairment of its foreign trade as a consequence of the inability of foreign nations to pay their commodity debts in goods because of the high premiums exacted by the tariff impositions, is an evidence of this truth. This fact is well known, and is a material contribution to the present international economic catastrophe. There is a growing realization of this which the rapid rapprochement of nations together, in recent years, has engendered. The old order justified itself in its tariff policy because it was founded upon the conception of nations as independent entities, supremely sufficient unto themselves. Other nations were foreign, untrustworthy, or, at best, precariously inimical to the fatherland. Racially they were of a different order, according to this view, ever hatching sinister designs against the fatherland, and in some strange way less human than ourselves. The strange and unknown is ever synonymous in the human mind with fear and distrust. But the new world order instituted by Baha’u’llah knows neither strangeness nor foreignness. Under its dynamic impulse, nations are being drawn together, while in the process the scales of superstition and fear fall from the eyes of the different peoples, as the snow into flake melts and vanishes under the warm sun. This is because of the universal action of the Sun of Truth whose powerful rays are penetrating the densest veils.
The liquidation of the tariff question will necessarily be a gradual process; paralleling the attainment of homogenesis by the nations. The strongest bulwark of the tariff is its appeal for the preservation of the standards of living in a country fortunate enough to enable its people to utilize a larger degree of comforts and luxuries than is possessed by less favored nations. Only as the sharing of benefits is applied, only as the consciousness of the organic oneness of the whole race is implanted, only to the degree that the entire body of mankind becomes sensitized to the needs of its weaker members, will the appeal of the argument for the sustainment of a specialized and strictly localized standard of living lose its force. But since this fundamental spiritual precept is an essential element of the new world order, that transforming power is certain, in the coming days, to eliminate every outworn element, even as the mighty surges of ocean cast upon the shore every impurity.
The Unconscionable Levies of War
11. The demands and exactions of national governments for military and naval expenditures, which consume the major part of all governmental income, based upon both direct and indirect taxation of the people, and are a moving cause of tariff walls between countries, enacted for the purpose of revenue production.
A Universal Language
12. The reinforcement of industry in the international relations by concentration, without further delay, upon the selection of a universal language, through which improved communication and understanding with foreign business houses and industries will result, is an important remedy to the existing confusion and misunderstandings witnessed in international business dealings.
The Need of an Aqua Fortis
Let us now elaborate, somewhat, certain of these major headings that are of special importance in the readjustment aimed at. It must not be supposed that a deep-seated disease, which has baffled the best economic specialists by its stubborn and frequently violent symptoms, a disease that is so chronic that those whom it has made ill have, indeed, confused its manifestations with those of normality, can be cured with mere bread and water, or sugar, pills. Nay, the patient, in this case, is so near dissolution that a strong and bitter remedy must be administered, an aqua fortis, as it were, and the reactions may be, at first, convulsive, and akin to the agonies of resuscitation.
Headings 2, 3, 5 and 11 are closely allied. These constitute the point of adjustment, or moderation, between the crystallized theories of extreme capitalism and its polar opposite, socialism. This balance, in the midst of unbalance, is one of the greatest contributions in economic thought to be unfolded by Baha’u’llah. Fundamentally stated by Baha’u’llah, its teaching was extended and applied practically by 'Abdu'l-Baha. Many, perhaps most, of 'Abdu'l-Baha's most profound discourses on the economic phase of life, were declared on American and Canadian platforms, and in western pulpits.
Capitalism and Socialism
The sternest and most unrelenting objection to the adoption of the maxims of socialism has been and is its supposed assault upon the right to hold private property, and its feared interference with the vested right of individual initiative. In western countries this threat to an ancient inheritance of individual rights has produced a determined resistance that has successfully curbed any noteworthy political advance of the socialist state. No socialist political party, even in the brief days of power it may have attained in a few instances, has applied to the government of the state the full impact of socialism. This is because of this inherent, somewhat unaccountable urge within the human breast, which instinctively opposes any undue limitation of its alleged right to self-expression and self-advancement. Russia alone has succeeded, through the terrorism of revolution and regicide, in implanting a new theory of government, pseudo-socialistic in its nature, but only by the institution of a new ruling class deriving its power from a minority of the population. The differentiation of class is not, per se, a basic doctrine of true socialism, which contemplates, rather, an average levelling of all society, and the ultimate elimination of economic class distinction.
The Prime Defect of Capitalism
The Baha'i Economic Plan supplies the remedy for two major defects in the capitalistic and socialistic conceptions. As stated above, it is the moderating force that ever seeks the equilibrium of the two extremities or opposing polarities. The defect of capitalism has been its unwillingness to apply the doctrine of human unity in its relationship with the working class; its failure to recognize its interdependence, which calls for sharing and cooperation, with the other integral elements of the business organism. Regardless of the increase of profits in favorable times, notwithstanding the lowering of the cost of operation and production through the wholesale discharge of workers occasioned by new labor-saving machinery, the capitalistic idea has, in the main, been to absorb for itself, its owners and stockholders, every dollar of net profit.
The true theory is that the benefits derived from new inventions be distributed, in a reasonable and just way, to those directly affected, in this case employer and employee. Independent of the profit-sharing plan, elsewhere treated, this blow to labor may be at least in part redressed by new and diminished schedules of working hours, thus making unnecessary the discharge of workers, while at the same time preserving wage schedules so far as possible. Such action would have an intensely stabilizing effect. Very recently, one of the largest industrial corporation in America has announced its intention to place its workers on a six hour basis, while simultaneously increasing its working forces to correspond with the new conditions
The Fundamental Defect of Socialism
The inherent defect in the socialistic philosophy, on the other hand, is its refusal to recognize the innate and created differences in human capacity and attainment. Any departure from the conception of humanity as an organism, merely confuses the issue. The organic relationships are synonymous with the differences in capacities; and each proves the existence of the other. This being true, no dead level can be successfully brought about in human society. The function of the heart can never be imposed upon the function of the liver, or the finger nails. To attempt this is only to repeat the dubious experiment of Lycurgus, King of Sparta, who divided all the property of the kingdom equally, and assigned to each man his place. After Lycurgus left the kingdom, believing it to be permanently established in accordance with his plan, these innate differences of capacity among his former subjects speedily reasserted themselves, and the old order was reestablished.
Reciprocal and Organic Cooperation Essential to Human Happiness
The problem, therefore, is to build, in accordance with the new order of this century, the true reciprocal cooperation between all the human cells of this vast organism, in closest mutual service. This is the true law of being; this is the condition basically essential to the happiness and welfare of humanity. Under such a condition, there will be no extreme poverty, no man without the necessities of life. Nor will it be possible for a wealthy man, possessed of means far beyond his needs, to live in happiness side by side with one who is starving and wretched. The trust principle as applied to the economic world is inclusive of the rights of all; it is protective of the rights of private property and initiative, and at the same time destroys pauperism and insures the necessities of life, as a right rather than a dole, to every willing worker and to every unfortunate one who without fault on his part is the victim of economic disaster. This truly divine law is the point of reconciliation between the contending forces of capitalism and socialism. It destroys fear and will draw men together in the solution of their common problems. It is a solvent of the present incongruous economic chemistry that has arrayed its elements against each other in fear and distrust, leaving itself wide open to the influx of the destructive forces.
The Ingredients of the Divine Remedy
Let us turn at this point to the utterances of Baha’u’llah and of 'Abdu'l-Baha, and see of what this remedy of the Divine Physician is composed. We are painfully aware of the disease, and the only question is whether we have suffered enough to awaken us to acceptance of a real remedy, rather to continue to imbibe mere nostrums and sedatives.
We have hitherto refrained from excessive quotation from these Words of Life and Guidance, realizing that this matter must be capable of expression in its practical applications, by a simple layman who may be assumed to represent, to some degree at least, the viewpoint of students of this world wide problem. But any inspiration we have received is due to the power and justice of these Words about to be quoted:
In the Hidden Words, Baha’u’llah says:
"O ye rich ones upon the earth! The poor in your midst are My Trust. Therefore guard My Trust and be not intent only on your own ease."
"O Children of Dust! Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor, lest heedlessness may lead them (the rich) into the path of destruction; and deprive them of the tree of wealth. To give and to be generous are attributes of Mine; well is it with him that adorned himself with My Virtues."
"O son of Man! Bestow My wealth upon My poor, that in heaven thou mayest draw from stores of unfading splendor and treasures of imperishable glory."
"O Son of Spirit! Vaunt not thyself over the poor, for I lead him on his way and behold thee in thy evil plight and confound thee forevermore."
"O Son of Man! Thou dost wish for gold, and I desire thy freedom therefrom. Thou thinkest thyself rich in its possession, and I recognize thy wealth in thy sanctity therefrom. By My Life! This is My Knowledge, and that is thy fancy; how can My Way accord with thine?"
"O Son of Being! If poverty overtake thee, be not sad; for in time, the Lord of wealth shall visit thee. Fear not abasement, for glory shall one day rest upon thee.”
"O Son of Man! Should prosperity befall thee, rejoice not; and should abasement come upon thee, grieve not; for both shall pass away and be no more."
"O Quintessence of Passion! Put away all covetousness and seek contentment; for the covetous hath ever been deprived, and the contented hath ever been loved and praised."
"O My servants! Ye are the trees of My garden, ye must give forth goodly and wondrous fruits, that ye, yourselves, and others, may profit therefrom. Thus it is incumbent upon everyone to engage in crafts and professions, for therein lies the secret of wealth.
“O men of understanding! For results depend upon means, and the Grace of God shall be all-sufficient unto you. Trees that yield no fruit have been and will ever be fit for the fire."
"O My servant! The best of men are they that earn a livelihood by their calling, and spend upon themselves and upon their kindred, for the love of God, the Lord of all the Worlds."
"O Oppressors on Earth! Withdraw your hands from tyranny, for I have pledged Myself not to forgive any man's injustice. This is My covenant which I have irrevocably decreed in the preserved tablet and sealed it with My seal of glory."
"O Children of Negligence! Set not your affections on mortal sovereignty and rejoice not therein. Ye are even as the unwary bird that with full confidence warbleth upon the bough; till of a sudden the fowler Death throws it upon the dust, and the melody, the form and the colour are gone leaving not a trace. Wherefore take heed, O bondslaves of desire!"
Baha'u'llah, from Baha’i Scriptures, PP. 82. -- The Twelfth Glad Tidings: "It is incumbent upon everyone of you to engage in some one occupation, such as arts, trades and the like. We have made this -- your occupation -- identical with the worship of God, the True One. Reflect, O people, upon the Mercy of God and upon His Favors, then thank Him at dawn and at dusk."
Baha’u’llah, "Hidden Words." -- "O Children of Men! Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created. Since We have created you all from one same substance, it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest. Such is My counsel to you, O concourse of light! Heed ye this cousel that ye may obtain the fruit of holiness from the tree of wondrous glory."
'Abdu'l-Baha, Tablet to the Hague –“Through the Ideal Power he (man) should be emancipated and free from the captivity of the world of nature – as the struggle for existence is one of the exigencies of the world of nature. This matter of the struggle for existence is the fountain-bed of all calamities and is the supreme affliction.”
‘Abdu'l-Baha, "Promulgation of Universal Peace," --"Religion is the outer expression of the divine reality. Therefore, it must be living, vitalized, moving and progressive. If it be without motion and non-progressive, it is without the divine Life; it is dead. The divine institutes are continuously active and evolutionary; therefore the revelation of them must be progressive and continuous. All things are subject to reformation. This is a century of life and renewal. Sciences and arts, industry and invention have been reformed. Law and ethics have been reconstituted and reorganized. The world of thought has been regenerated. Sciences of former ages and philosophies of the past are useless today. Present exigencies demand new methods of solution; world problems are without precedent. Old ideas and modes of thought are fast becoming obsolete. Ancient laws and archaic ethical systems will not meet the requirements of modern conditions, for this is clearly the century of a new life, the century of the revelation of the reality, and, therefore, the greatest of all centuries."
‘Abdu'l-Baha "Promulgation of Universal Peace," -- "The essence of the matter is that divine justice will become manifest in human conditions and affairs and all mankind will find comfort and enjoyment in life. It is not meant that all will be equal, for inequality in degree and capacity is a property of nature. Necessarily there will be rich people and also those who will be in want of their livelihood, but in the aggregate community there will be equalization and readjustment of values and interests. In the future there will be no very rich nor extremely poor. There will be an equilibrium of interests, and a condition will be established which will make both rich and poor comfortable and content. This will be an eternal and blessed outcome of the glorious twentieth century which will be realized universally. The significance of it is that the glad-tidings of great joy revealed in the promises of the holy books will be fulfilled. Await ye this consummation."
'Abdu'l-Baha, "Baha'i Scriptures -- "The disease which afflicts the body politic is a lack of love and absence of altruism. In the hearts of men no real love is found, and the condition is such that unless their susceptibilities are quickened by some power so that unity, love and accord develops within them, there can be no healing, no relief among mankind. Love and unity are the needs of the body politic today. Without these no progress, nor prosperity can be attained. Therefore, the friends of God must adhere to that Power which will create this love and unity in the hearts of the sons of men."
“This is an exigency of the times, and the divine remedy has been provided. The spiritual Teachings of the Religion of God alone can create this love, unity and accord in human hearts. Therefore, hold to these heavenly agencies which God has provided so that through the love of God this soul-bond may be established, this heart-attachment realized and the light of the reality of unity be reflected from you throughout the universes.
“The secrets of the whole economic question are divine in nature, and are concerned with the world of the heart and spirit. In the Baha'i Teachings this is most completely explained, and without the consideration of the Baha'i Teachings it is impossible to bring about a better state."
From The Promulgation of Universal Peace --, P. “Among the results of the manifestation of spiritual forces will be that the human world will adapt itself to a new social form, the justice of God will become manifest throughout human affairs and human equality will be universally established. The poor will receive a great bestowal and the rich attain eternal happiness. For although at the present time the rich enjoy the greatest luxury and comfort, they are nevertheless deprived of eternal happiness; for eternal happiness is contingent upon giving and the poor are everywhere in the state of abject need. Through the manifestation of God's great equity the poor of the world will be rewarded and assisted fully and there will be a readjustment in the economic conditions of mankind so that in the future there will not be the abnormally rich nor the abject poor. The rich will enjoy the privilege of this new economic condition as well as the poor, for owing to certain provision and restriction they will not be able to accumulate so much as to be burdened by its management, while the poor will be relieved from the stress of want and misery. The rich will enjoy his palace and the poor will have his comfortable cottage."
From Star of the West, Address of 'Abdu'l-Baha in Montreal, Canada in 1912, Vol, 13, No. 9 -- "The mystery of this phenomenon (that man cannot live to himself alone) the cause thereof is this, that mankind has been created from one single origin, has branched off from one family. Thus in reality all mankind represents one family. God has not created any difference. He has created all as one that thus this family might live in perfect happiness and wellbeing."
"Regarding reciprocity and cooperation: each member of the body politic should live in the utmost comfort and welfare because each individual member of humanity is a member of the body politic and if one member of the members be in distress or be afflicted with some disease all the other members must necessarily suffer. For example, a member of the human organism is the eye.
The Sympathetic Nervous System of the Body of Mankind
If the eye should be affected that affliction would affect the whole nervous system. Hence, if a member of the body politic becomes afflicted, in reality from the standpoint of sympathetic connection, all will share that affliction since this (one afflicted) is a member of the group of members, a part of the whole. Is it possible for one member of part to be in distress and the other members be at ease? It is impossible! Hence God has desired that in the body politic of humanity each one shall enjoy perfect welfare and comfort."
A Disordered Household
"Although the body politic is one family yet because of lack of harmonious relations some members are comfortable and some in direst misery, some members are satisfied and some are hungry, some members are clothed in most costly garments and some families are in need of food and shelter. Why? Because this family lacks the necessary reciprocity and symmetry. This household is not well arranged. This household is nor living under a perfect law. All the laws which are legislated do not ensure happiness. They do not provide comfort. Therefore, a law must be given to this family by means of which all the members of this family will enjoy equal well-being and happiness."
"Is it possible for one member of a family to be subjected to the utmost misery and to abject poverty and for the rest of the family to be comfortable? It is impossible unless those members of the family be senseless, atrophied, inhospitable, unkind. Then they would say, 'Though these members do belong to our family -- let them alone. Let us look after ourselves. Let them die. So long as I am comfortable, I am honored, I am happy -- this my brother --let him die. If he be in misery let him remain in misery, so long as I am comfortable. If he is hungry let him remain so; I am satisfied. If he is without clothes, so long as I am clothed, let him remain as he is. If he is shelterless, homeless, so long as I have a home, let him remain in the wilderness.'
"Such utter indifference in the human family is due to lack of control, to lack of a working of the law, to lack of kindness in its midst. If kindness had been shown to the members of this family surely all the members thereof would have enjoyed comfort and happiness."
"God is nor partial and is no respecter of persons. He has made provision for all. The harvest comes forth for everyone. The rain showers upon everybody and the heat of the sun is destined to warm everyone. Therefore, there should be for all humanity the utmost happiness, the utmost comfort, the utmost well-being."
"But if conditions are such that some are happy and comfortable and some in misery; some are accumulating exorbitant wealth and others are in dire want-under such a system it is impossible for man to be happy and impossible for him to win the good pleasure of God. God is kind to all. The good pleasure of God consists in the welfare of all the individual members of mankind."
"The purport is this, that we are all inhabiting one globe of earth. In reality we are one family and each one of us is a member of this family. We must all be in the greatest happiness and comfort under a just rule and regulation which is according to the good pleasure of God, thus causing us to be happy, for this life is fleeting."
The Selfish Man Lower Than the Animal
"The man who thinks only of himself and is thoughtless of others is undoubtedly inferior to the animal because the animal is not possessed of the reasoning faculty. The animal is excused; but in man there is reason, the faculty of justice, the faculty of mercifulness. Possessing all these faculties he must not leave them unused. He who is so hard-hearted as to think only of his own comfort, such a one will not be called a man."
"We ask God to endow human souls with justice so that they 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."
From "Light of the World:' P. 45 -- "The solution begins with the village, and when the village is reconstructed, then the cities will be also. The idea is this, that in each village will be erected a storehouse. In the language of Religion it is called the House of Finance. That is a universal storehouse which is commenced in the village. Its administration is through a committee of the wise ones of the community, and with the approval of that committee all the affairs are directed."
The Storehouse and the Trust Fund. Its Receipts and Expenditures
"First, whatever contributions are necessary, they obtain from the bank at interest. For instance, they borrow from the hank at three per cent and loan to the public at four per cent. Any farmer who is in need of implements, they supply and give him all his necessities. When the crop is harvested, it will be the first income of the storehouse. The first revenue is this. But this revenue is not equally distributed. For instance, a person may have a crop of one thousand kilos and this is only sufficient for his wants and living. From him nothing will be taken because he needs it all. If something is taken from him, he will remain hungry. But again, there may be one whose needs require one thousand kilos and his income is two thousand kilos. From him one-tenth is taken. Again, one needs two thousand kilos, but his income is ten thousand kilos. From his two-tenths will be taken. He needs two thousand kilos. If two thousand are taken from him he still has six thousand remaining."
"One has fifty thousand kilos, from him one-third is taken. One may have ten thousand kilos expenses, but has one hundred thousand kilos income. One half is taken. The greater the income, the greater is the ratio of taxation."
"Second: It is also the same with the cattle. They take proportionately the revenue from the cattle. For example, if a man has two cows necessary for his wants, nothing is taken from him. The more he has, the more is taken from him. This is the second revenue."
“The third revenue of the storehouse comes from one who dies without heirs."
“The fourth revenue comes from mines. If a mine is found upon the land of a person, one third of it belongs to him and the remainder to the storehouse."
"The fifth revenue is hidden treasure. If a person finds a hidden treasure in the earth he takes half of it, and the other half goes to the storehouse."
"The sixth revenue. If it (treasure) is found on the way, also half of it belongs to the storehouse."
"The seventh revenue is voluntary contributions to the storehouse. Of their own free will and with utmost willingness, the people will give."
"These are the seven revenues, but then are seven fixed expenditures."
"The firs expenditure: The storehouse ought to give one-tenth to the Government, to the public treasury for the public expense."
"The second expenditure is for the poor. The poor who are in need, those who are exempt, not those who are idle. For instance, if a person's crop is burned or he has a loss in his business, and for this reason has become poor, these poor people are to be taken care of."
"Third, the infirm, who come to want and cannot work."
"Fourth: The orphans. To them also help must be given."
"Fifth: The schools. The schools must be organized for the education of the children."
"Sixth: For the deaf and blind."
"Seventh: Public health. Whatever is necessary for the public health must be arranged. Swamps should be filled in, water should be brought in; whatever is necessary for the public health."
"If there is something left over (after these expenditures), it should be given to the Great House of Justice. And thus there will be no want in the village. The people will not remain hungry, they will not remain naked. All will be in the utmost welfare and comfort."
From "The Wisdom of 'Abdu'l-Baha”, Pages 140-143 --"One of the most important principles of the Teaching of Baha’u’llah is:
"The right of every human being to the daily bread whereby they exist, of the equalization of the means of livelihood."
"The arrangements of the circumstances of people must be such that poverty shall disappear, that everyone, as far as possible, according to his rank and position, shall share in comfort and well-being."
"A financier with a colossal wealth should not exist whilst near him is a poor man in dire necessity. When we see poverty allowed to reach the condition of starvation, it is a sure sign that somewhere we shall find tyranny. Men must bestir themselves in this matter, and no longer delay in altering conditions which bring misery or grinding poverty to a very large number of people. The rich must give of their abundance, they must soften their hearts and cultivate a compassionate intelligence, taking thought for those sad ones who are suffering from lack of the very necessities of life."
"The Promulgation of Universal Peace," Pages 211, 212 -- "Baha’u’llah has revealed principles and laws which will accomplish the adjustment of varying human capacities. He has said that whatsoever is possible of accomplishment in human government will be effected through these principles. When the laws he has instituted ace carried out there will be no millionaires possible in the community and likewise no extremely poor. This will be effected and regulated by adjusting the different degrees of human capacity. The fundamental basis of the community is agriculture, tillage of the soil. All must be producers."
The Principle of Tax Exemption
"Baha’i Scriptures:' Pages 141-342 -- "But here is the real solution. The rich should be merciful to the poor, but with their free-will, not with force. Should it be with force it would be useless. It should be according to law and not by violence, so chat through a general law every one might know his duty. For example, a rich person has a large income and a poor person a small home. To put it in a more explicit way: a rich person has ten thousand kilos of products, and a poor person has ten kilos. Now is it fair to tax them equally? Nay, rather the poor person in this case must be exempt from taxes. If the poor person gives one-tenth of his income and the rich person one-tenth of his income, it will be unjust. Thus in this way a law should be made that the poor person who has only ten kilos and needs them all for his necessary food, be exempt from paying taxes. But if the rich person, who has tan thousand kilos pays one-tenth or two-tenths taxes on his products, it will not be a hardship to him. For example, if he gives two thousand kilos, he will still have eight thousand kilos. If a person has fifty thousand kilos, even though he gives ten thousand kilos he will still have forty thousand kilos. Therefore, laws must be made in this way. These laws must do away with the present system of wages and earnings. If today the owners of factories increase the wages of their employees, after a month or a year, they will again cry and strike and ask for more increase. This work has no end."
The Farm Community
"For example, the farmers plant near a village. They get products from their cultivation. They take one-tenth from the rich and the poor according to their income. A general store may be built in that village for all the incomes and products to be brought therein. Then it will be considered who is rich and who is poor. The farmers whose incomes are sufficient only for their food and expenses must be free from paying taxes. All products and incomes gathered and collected must be put in the general store. If there is a helpless one in that village his, daily needs must be given to him. On the other hand a rich person who needs only fifty kilos of products and still has five hundred kios, after all his expenses are paid, should be taxed two-tenths and at the end of the year whatever remains in the store should be distributed for the general expenses."
'Abdu’l-Baha, "Star of the West," Vol. 22, No. 1--One of the Baha'i principles "suggests a plan whereby all the individual members of society may enjoy the utmost comfort and welfare. The degrees of society must be preserved. The farmer will continue to till the soil, the artist pursue his art, the banker to finance the nations. An army has need of its general, captain, and private soldiers. The degrees varying with the pursuits are essential. But in this Baha'i plan there is no class hatred. Each is to be-protected and each individual member of the body politic is to live in the greatest comfort and happiness. Work is to be provided for all and there will be no needy ones seen in the streets."
'Abdu’l-Baha' from Address in New York City, Dec. 2, 1912 -- "No religious books of the past Prophets speak of the economic question, while the economic problem has been thoroughly solved in the teachings of Baha’u’llah"
'Abdu'l-Baha, Philadelphia, June 9, 1912 -- ''Among the teachings of Baha'u'llah are principles which concern the readjustment of livelihood, that is to say, certain regulations are revealed which insure the welfare and well being of all humanity. Just as the rich man enjoys his rest and his pleasures surrounded by luxuries, the poor man must likewise have a home, be provided with sustenance, and not be in want. In order that all human kind may be at ease, the readjustment of the economical situation is necessary and of utmost importance; until this is effected happiness is impossible."
Voluntary Service by the Wealthy the True Equality
'Abdu’l-Baha, Tablet to O. Schwarz, Stuttgart, Germany, Feb., 1920 -- "In the Divine Teachings equality is brought about through a ready willingness to share. It is commanded as regards wealth that the rich among the people, and the aristocrats should, by their own free will and for the sake of their happiness, concern themselves with the care of the poor. This equality is the result of the lofty characteristics and noble attributes of mankind."
'Abdu'l-Baha, Star of the West, Vol. 3, No. 2 -- "Among the most important principles of the Teachings of Baha’u’llah is the equalization of the means of existence. There are in the world at present numerous cases of men who are either too poor or too rich. While some live in palaces, others have nowhere to lay their head; some have many courses to their meals, while others scarcely have enough bread to keep them alive. This state of affairs is wrong and must be remedied."
Equality in Capacity Impossible
"The remedy, however, cannot consist in the bringing to pass of equality, absolute equality among men; this would be impossible. There is needed some organization which will bring about an order in this disorder. Equality is a mere dream and absolutely impracticable. If equality existed the whole order of the world would be destroyed. In mankind there is always a difference in degree. Since creation men have never been the same. Some have superior intelligence, others are more ordinary and some are devoid of intellect. How can there ever exist equality between those who are clever and those who are not? Humanity is like an army. An army must have a general, captains and soldiers, each with their appointed duties; it cannot consist of generals, only, or captains or soldiers only – there must be degrees in the organization."
The Tyranny of Starvation
"Some are too rich, some are too poor, some have millions and some have nothing. As organization is necessary to control this state of affairs, it is necessary to limit riches or it is necessary to limit poverty. Either extreme is wrong. There should be a medium state. If it is right for a capitalist to possess a great fortune, then it is also just that a workman should have the means of existence. If poverty is allowed to reach a condition of starvation, it proves that there is tyranny. Men must see that this does not happen in any case. There must be special laws. The rich must give of their plenty. If they have more than they need, they must think of those who are in want."
"The government of a country should make laws which conform to the Divine Law. The Law of God exacts that there should be neither excessive wealth nor excessive poverty."
Excessive Wealth and Excessive Poverty Alike Forbidden
'Abdu’l-Baha, "Star of the West," Vol. 3, No. 6 - -"There is need of an equalization so that all may have an apportionment in the comforts of life. For example, the wealthy man, whose table is adorned with all kinds of delicacies, must allow the poor to have at least his necessities. It is not right that one should have all the delicacies and all foods on his table when another is in want of the necessities of life. The rich must be merciful to the poor and out of their own willing hearts should they uplift them, they should not be forced. There must be a readjustment and legislation which shall equalize conditions until humankind may have composure and rest with utmost ease."
'Abdu’l-Baha from the Tablet "To Guide the Guides."--"O people of wealth and riches! If you see a poor man suffering from any calamity, do not run away from him, but sit with him and ask him about the things heaped upon him from the seas of determination and predestination."
'Abdu’l-Baha "Promulgation of Universal Peace," Vol. 2, P. 233 -- "The Baha'i Cause covers all economic and social questions under the heading and ruling of its laws. The essence of the Baha'i spirit is that in order to establish a better social and economic condition, there must be allegiance to the laws and principles of government. Under the laws which are to govern the world, the socialists may justly demand human rights but without resorts to force and violence. The governments will enact these laws, establishing just legislation and economic policies in order that all humanity may enjoy a full measure of welfare and privilege; but this will always be according to legal protection and procedure. Without legislative administration, rights and demands fail and the welfare of the commonwealth cannot be realized. Today the method of demand is the strike and resort to force which is manifestly wrong and destructive of human foundations. Rightful privilege and demand must be set forth in laws and regulations."
The Cementing of the Hearts Through Love
"While thousands are considering these questions, we have more essential purposes. The fundamentals of the whole economic condition are divine in nature and are associated with the world of the heart and spirit. This is fully explained in the Baha'i teaching, and without knowledge of its principles no improvement in the economic state can be realized. The Baha'is will bring about this improvement and betterment but not through sedition and appeal to physical force; not through warfare, but welfare. Hearts must be so cemented together, love must become so dominant that the rich shall most willingly extend assistance to the poor and take steps to establish those economic adjustments permanently. If it is accomplished in this way, it will be most praiseworthy because then it will be for the sake of God and in the pathway of His service. For example, it will be as if the rich inhabitants of a city should say 'It is neither just nor lawful that we should possess great wealth while there is abject poverty in this community,' and then willingly give their wealth to the poor, retaining only as much as will enable them to live comfortably."
Baha’u’llah, "Baha'i Scriptures," P. 92 -- "Man should know his own self, and understand those things which lead to loftiness or to abasement, to shame or to honor, to affluence or to poverty. After man has realized his own being, and become mature, then (material) means are required. If wealth is acquired through a craft or profession, it is approvable and praiseworthy for men of wisdom, especially for those who arise to train the world and beautify the souls of the nations. These are the cup bearers of the Kawthar of Knowledge, and the guides of the ideal path. They direct the people of the whole world to the right path, and instruct them in that which is conducive to the elevation and progress of being."
Wages and a Share of the Profits to Employees
'Abdu'l-Baha' "Some Answered Questions," P. 313 -- "For instance, the manufacturers and the industrials heap up a treasure each day, and the poor artisans do not gain their daily sustenance: that is the height of iniquity, and no just man can accept it. Therefore, laws and regulations should be established which would permit the workmen to receive from the factory owner their wages and a share in the fourth or the fifth part of the profits, according to the wants of the factory: or in some other way the body of the workmen and the manufacturers should share equitably the profits and advantages. Indeed, the direction and administration of affairs come from the owner of the factory, and the work and labour, from the body of the workmen. In other words, the workmen should receive wages which assure them an adequate support, and when they cease work, becoming feeble and helpless, they should receive from the owner of the factory a sufficient pension. The wages should be high enough to satisfy the workmen with the amount they receive, so that they may be able to put a little aside for days of want and helplessness."
"Good God! is it possible that, seeing one of his fellow-creatures starving, destitute of everything, a man can rest and live comfortably in his luxurious mansion? He who meets another in the greatest misery, can he enjoy his fortune? That is why, in the Religion of God, it is prescribed and established that wealthy men each year give over a certain portion of their fortune for the maintenance of the poor and unfortunate. That is the foundation of the Religion of God, and the most essential of the Commandments."
"As now man is not forced nor obliged by the Government, if by the natural tendency of his good heart, with the greatest spirituality, he goes to this expense for the poor, this will be a thing very much praised, approved and pleasing. Such is the meaning of the good works in the Divine Books and Tablets."
An International Assembly Should Concur in a Wise and Moderate Law for the Protection of Both Employers and Employees
Baha'i Scriptures, P. 669 -- "Now I want to tell you about the law of God. According to the Divine law, employees should not be paid merely by wages. Nay, rather they should be partners in every work. The question of socialization is very difficult. It will not be solved by strikes for wages. All the governments of the world must be united, and organize an assembly, the members of which shall be elected from the parliaments and the noble ones of the nations. These must plan with wisdom and power, so that neither the capitalists suffer enormous losses, nor the laborers become needy. In the utmost moderation they should make the law, then announce to the public that the rights of the working people are to be effectively preserved; also the rights of the capitalists are to be protected. When such a general law is adopted, by the will of both sides, should a strike occur, all the governments of the world should collectively resist it. Otherwise the work will lead to much destruction, especially in Europe. Terrible things will take place."
How to Procure Sincerity and Efficiency Among the Workers
"One of the causes of a universal European war will be this question. The owners of properties, mines and factories, should share their incomes with their employees, and give a fairly certain percentage of their profits to their working-men, in order that the employees should receive, besides their wages, some of the general income of the factory, so that each employee may strive with his soul in the work."
"No more trusts will remain in the future. The question of the trusts will be wiped away entirely. Also, every factory that has ten thousand shares, will give two thousand of these ten thousand to its employees, and will write them in their names so that they may have them, and the rest will belong to the capitalists. Then at the end of the month, or year, whatever they may earn, after the expenses and wages are paid, according to the number of shares, should be divided among both. In reality, so far great injustice has befallen the common people. Laws must be made because it is impossible for laborers to be satisfied with the present system. They will strike every month and every year. Finally, the capitalists will lose. In the ancient times a strike occurred among the Turkish soldiers. They said to the Government: 'Our wages are very small and they should be increased.' The Government was forced to give them their demands. Shortly afterwards they struck again. Finally all the incomes went to the pockets of the soldiers, to the extent that they killed the king, saying: 'Why didst thou not increase the income so that we might have received more?' "
Social Peace and Unity
The above quotations are but a few of those that might be adduced from the writings and discourses of Baha’u’llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha if space permitted, directly applicable to this intimate study of human relationships. We have, however, had to rest content with these basic extracts from a source whose every utterance is a call to humanity's inmost reality; a message of love, peace, and unity for the race; a universal diagnosis and prescription. The true Physician penetrates the veil of symptoms into the field of causation. Likewise, when he finds the body overcome with a complication of diseases, he is not concerned with one disordered function only, but seeks the remote cause that has also affected or infected the other organs. The dawn of its maturity has come upon the race. The playthings and crass ignorance of childhood days have been set aside. The newly understood unity of science and religion calls for the adaptation of scientific principles to our economic life. These principles being essentially divine, cannot conflict with the fundamental religious foundation which is the love of God and of mankind (which Christ defined as both "the law and the prophets"), and the knowledge of God, the eternal search for which is the revealer of science and heavenly mysteries. It is the lack of this love, and ignorance of this knowledge that the Wise Physician has declared to be the primary cause of man's present turmoil and ravaging illness.
A New Economic Axiom
The introduction of the trust principle, i.e., that the poor are a divine trust, possessing certain rights as contrasted with mere charity, establishes a new economic axiom: That every human being, who is willing to work, is entitled, as of right, to the necessities of life. Since the Creator has made sufficient provision for all, and has deposited in the earth the elements essential to the production of food and shelter, it is no longer allowable that any man should starve or be without the means of existence. Man, generically speaking, is a beneficiary of the bountiful trust confided to nature by the Lord of men. If a beneficiary, he is entitled to a share in the proceeds of this trust endowment. In his turn, he must contribute to the general enrichment through his labor, art or calling, and be not found wanting in this.
War Expenditures Doomed by the New World Order
The governments and communities must make work available when ordinary means fail. Relieved of the enormous burden of war expenditures, which will surely come to pass, the internal adjustments of a people will be subjected to a far deeper scrutiny than has yet been possible, and the surplus wealth of governments and general cooperative contributions alike devoted to the constructive upbuilding of the New Order.
A New Emphasis Upon the Evolvement of Individual Destinies
Poor houses, and pauperism, would be erased from the picture. The millions of underfed and under developed, now deprived of normal development both of body and soul, will find transformation through attaining to their destined place in the organic life. The innate qualities of growing children will be lovingly and carefully studied by a new type of teacher, so that the God-given talents may be early ascertained, and the divers capacities encouraged and led to their special goal of service. New knowledge and new scientific means of determining the innate capacity of a soul will be uncovered. Poor bankers will no longer be made out of good mechanics; and boys and girls who love the soil and the sweet tang of country air will not, for lack of this knowledge, find themselves in a clerical position. The inner realities of human beings will tend to a greater revealment for the abundance they attract.
The Right to Necessities of Life
The second important change in our social structure is the principle of mutual assistance. This has already been referred to as the right to necessities. A farmer whose crop is ruined by forces beyond his control, a widow with young children, a cripple unable to work, a worker ill and without means, an orphan lacking kind relatives, an unemployed, though willing and self-respecting worker or artisan, all these and a hundred other types of misfortune that are daily encountered, are protected under this plan from the loss of self-respect, or from sinking into criminality, or from the humiliation of poor-relief and the cognomen of pauper. These possess a right to share in the abundance of their common mother, earth. God does not withhold from such His rain and sunshine. The children of men must not withhold from their neighbors and brothers of the race, these rights which the Mercy of God bestows, nor classify them as outcasts. Under this system, a man can, with head up and eyes unashamed, reveal to his village House of Justice his needs, his woes, his hopes, and be conscious that, in so doing, he is but receiving what is due him as a child of God. His need is usually but temporary, and let it not be supposed that the vast majority of mankind fall short in self-respect. He offers to work, and work is given, but his crushing temporary burden of debt and anxiety has been lifted, and he breathes a prayer of thanksgiving for this evidence of Divine Providence among his fellow men. A year hence he may be contributing to the funds of the common storehouse. The new consciousness that will be built through experiences like these will enrich humanity -- for the bars of individual and isolated selfishness have been rent asunder; the sharp claws of nature have been clipped.
Two sweeping changes appear. One is limitation upon the taxing power; and, by the same token, an expansion of that power. In the first case, the power of the community or government to tax would come into being only when the income of the citizen exceeds his actual necessary expenses. Up to that point, he is exempt, since to tax him would be an act of tyranny, in that it would automatically deprive him of at least a portion of his necessities, thus defeating the essential purpose. This is a new principle in taxation.
The expansion of the tax power, however, as it would apply to the incomes in the higher levels, is not a new principle, at least in certain western countries. The graduated income tax has become almost a tradition. The tithe, moreover, has a most ancient inheritance, even to the days of Melchizedek, King of Salem, to whom the patriarch and prophet Abraham rendered the tithe. Originally the rights of God,-- the tithe, through this new and merciful command, becomes the means of succor to the unfortunate, as well as the salvation of the state. In this plan, however, emphasis is laid upon the preservation of the right of individual initiative, capacity, and private ownership. Whatever expansion the taxing power achieves, it will always fall short, substantially short of confiscation. An abundant residue is retained by the wealthy man who has generously contributed to the welfare of the commonwealth, and his initiative is never deprived of its reward. Nevertheless, through his recognition of his innate relationship with the living organism of his community, he has furnished that cooperation and reciprocal help that the organic life requires for its health and well-being. For example, the brain demands and receives the largest volume of blood, in the entire circulation of the body. For this, it renders the most vital and commanding service. Similarly, those in the high places of the tower of humanity, must reciprocate.
Capitalists and Socialists Meet at the Balanced Point of Moderation
And, here, I believe, we will hear the "well done" of the socialist. Capital, so long entrenched, will, under this plan, step into its true place in the economic organism. It will have taken a long step toward the middle position, the path of moderation. Socialism, likewise, will advance toward that greatly to be desired equilibrium -- and the two contending theories of social and industrial life find union in their common sacrifices. The principle of individual ownership and initiative, the degrees of capacity and service have been maintained, and on the other hand, the recognition of a common humanity, organic cooperation, and the rights of all men, have been sub-served and instituted. Meditate upon this divinely practical and practically divine plan, ye who are at present full of fear of the future, and ye who have become almost disheartened and discouraged over the intractable abyss that has separated you from your brothers! Adopt this plan and invite the warming life-giving forces of composition, health and happiness, for this is one picture of human unity and mutuality.
In the face of this system, the dole loses its appeal and fades away to nothingness. The plan, through which a nation, or state virtually chloroforms its unemployed into quiescence by opening its treasury to weekly unearned stipends, is both faulty and dangerous. It is only another symptom of social disorder. Ignoring the law of work and self-respect, the dole is an artificial political remedy with reactionary final results. Outside the law of compensation for services rendered, it cannot be regarded as a permanent or effective means of solving this all embracing problem. The principle involved differs widely from that herein set forth, which affirms the sacredness and essentiality of work, and provision for work. Although seemingly parallel to the Baha'i plan, in providing means from the public treasury to those in need or unfortunate, the parallelism fades because the basis upon which aid is given is, in the one case, based upon charity, and in the other, upon right. Moreover, the dole deals mainly with unemployment, while this plan covers the entire field of misfortune. The dole is the extended hand of the state to its unemployed, needy ones, but it does not confer employment. The hand of labor is nerveless, for lack of available work. No service appears, to balance the payment. More basically, the need and excuse for the dole is brought about by the existence of the very disorders in our general economic life, which are alone responsible for these terrific fluctuations in the demand and supply of labor, these recurring industrial depressions whose cure depends upon the administration of all the ingredients of the divine prescription, not one only. While the dole is a gesture along the line of least resistance, to quiet a threatened revolutionary impulse on the part of the hungry and destitute, it is admittedly ineffective in any permanent sense. That prosperity which in current parlance is always "just around the corner," if too long delayed, will come too late to preserve the financial integrity of a state weakened and emasculated by the employment of a purely artificial device as a substitute for employment. We readily admit that in the present state of the economic consciousness, some such method was inevitable. We are not criticizing those who invented the dole. No other avenue was at hand. We are, however, criticizing the hit or miss system which made it necessary. The new consciousness of man's real organic life, which sees the material and spiritual civilizations indissolubly joined, which rejects and denies the right of purely material interests to dominate any longer the destinies of mankind, will insist upon the establishment of the balance. Material and selfish interests have deprived this organic body of its soul, notwithstanding that the body without the soul is as a lamp lacking both oil and light. To join these once more together is as 'Abdu'l-Baha expressed it -- "light upon light." The day of overweening material dominion is swiftly passing. Love and brotherhood will attract and establish the spiritual elements of civilization side by side with our material necessities.
The Challenging Statistics of Depression
In the industrial depression of 1920-21, the wages of workers in the United States were cut approximately 23%, but dividends decreased but 3 %, while at the same time interest paid on investments increased $71,000,000. In this current depression, 1930-3 1, the aggregate wages paid in 1930 diminished to the extent of $9,600,000,000, while during the same period, astonishing to relate, interest payments and dividends rose from the 1929 figures of $7,500,000,000, to a total of $8,000,000,000. This is stated on the authority of a recent article in Collier's, by Mr. Owen P. White. These figures, if accurate, disclose the protection which employers in industry accord themselves in troublous times, and illustrate the fact that the worker, discharged or on half time, pays the real price of the depression, and is, in effect, its principal victim. It is fair to assume, as well, that the use of labor-saving machinery, without regard to the just interests of labor, has played a substantial part in this inequality of distribution of the earnings of industry. No more concrete example of the doctrine of living "unto oneself" need be adduced than these amazing statistics. This is the direct application of the theory of separation, and the denial of organic reciprocity. Can we longer doubt that our industrial life is attacked by the evil force of decomposition, when these prime elements of its attraction are thus disclosed? Mention has already been made, in detail, of the remedy for this particular form of class selfishness.
Now, in paying out these huge sums to stockholders and investors during depressed periods, it must be assumed that industry at least to some extent, drew upon corporate reserves accumulated in more prosperous years. The author of the article referred to cites several illuminating facts on this subject, and applies the existence of such reserve funds directly to the subject of unemployment reserve insurance. 'Abdu'l-Baha, in one of his discourses on the matter of profit-sharing, says that other means of alleviating the lack of work should also be employed. In good business years, this unemployment reserve plan has built up, in several major instances in America, a solvent fund which, in the present crisis, has operated to keep the unemployed workers from these factories from the bread lines. Three per cent of the payroll was set aside in this fund by the employers, 1 1/2 % by the employees, during the favorable years, and from this, during the existing depression, 30% of full time wages was paid each entitled worker. Were this system allowed to operate during a reasonably long term of favorable years, it would undoubtedly accumulate, through investment and interest, to a point enabling an even larger percentage of normal earnings to be paid in the time of need. But as Mr. White points out, this 30% has preserved the self-respect of these workers, and is the best argument against the dole, or even the charitable community chest.
Another large and well-known corporation, which put this system in operation in 1915, found the accumulation, this year, warranted a payment to its unemployed workers, with dependents, of 80% of their normal wage, and 60% to those without dependents. Numerous other examples are cited, in which large, foresighted corporations have installed this beneficent plan. These reserve funds must always remain solvent, and in case of unduly protracted periods of unemployment, the depletion of the fund would terminate its benefits until it again became solvent.
This constructive and humane plan is an example of what unemployment insurance can accomplish. Stabilization in industry is an attainable goal once the minds and hearts of employers are opened to the influx of the spirit of the Age. Every such measure will surely attract the divine confirmation.
The Love of God
In one of His Tablets ("Epistle to the Son of the Wolf," p. 22) Baha'u'llah says -- "The most important quality, in the education of man, is the love of God; blessed are they who possess it."
And on the same page and on p. 23 -- "Verily, I declare that the love of God is in itself a manifest protection, and a solid fortress for all the peoples of the earth. It is their supreme safeguard." . . . "While religion is weakly supported, ignorance, presumption and temerity thrive; verily, I assert that whatsoever is withheld from it becomes profit to the irresponsible, and the final result is anarchy." . . . "Uphold religion, for it will organize the world and diffuse harmony among the creatures."
These statements of reality penetrate to the innermost heart of our problem. In this sense, "religion" is used as identical with the divine foundations revealed by the Prophets in all ages, as contrasted with the religious systems later established by human agencies. "Religions (religious systems) are many but Religion is one" is a divine utterance furnishing the key.
Deeds Show Station of the Man
There is but one way a man can show his love for God, and that is the degree of his service to his fellow-men. As it is written -- "Deeds show the station of the man," for all are partners in mere words. It is the practical application of this truth in the field of industry and within the social structure of humanity, that will rout the decompositional process just now so firmly fastened upon us all. A deepening consciousness of man as the most sacred of all created organisms, and the destruction of the superstitious, imaginary, false belief that he is individually independent and inorganic, is essential. Herein, the educators of mankind must play a leading part. While true consciousness is the light of heart and soul, the education of the mind is a pathway thereto. The new education will guide and illumine this path, and will be a powerful aid to this end in the very near future.
Fear, One of Nature’s Most Satanic Forces, Is Powerless Before Love and Faith
The eradication of fear, which holds the most of humanity in a grip more relentless than death itself, and is, alas, only too well founded, in view of the unrestrained and selfish disregard of the rights of men by those who at present control the means of livelihood, -- can be accomplished only by the adoption of the balanced principle of moderation we have endeavored to set forth. By the eradication of fear, Baha’u’llah says -- "the very nature of man will be changed." Fear, an inheritance of the animal world, is, like darkness, a manifestation of the sinister, negative power of Nature. When hope and happiness arise side by side with it, it vanishes, even as darkness is found to be non-existent when the light shines. The economic gloom of today nourishes and vitalizes fear to the nth power.
What is this fear that blights the countenances of millions of men with its livid and ghastly infection? It is the fear of pauperized old age; of closed doors of opportunity while the wolf crouches upon the doorstep of the workman's cottage; of the widow with little ones wending her way disconsolately to the office of the Poor Relief; of the unemployed worker turned away again and again from the door of factory and shop; of the wounded and maimed returned from the wars; of the hard-toiling farmer whose crops Nature has blighted in a single night, or upon whose fields swarms of insects have descended, raised up perchance by this very disorder that flourishes in our social structure; of the cripple who looks forward only to a lifetime of dependency; of the 50 year old worker denied the right to give of his strength and experience; yes, of the business man oppressed with anxieties as his books reveal the red ink entries of deficit. Because of this fear, because of impending bankruptcies and the fancied loss of financial standing, how many suicides are recorded as the iron wheels of industry turn day by day? Visualize, if you may, the faces of countless thousands of the children of men, by which I mean men and women, endowed as are all humanity with heart, soul and mind, white and drawn, in whose lineaments the cruel knife of fear and anxiety has carved deep and ineradicable furrows. The juggernaut of a feverish and unrestrained industrial machine has turned these children of an all loving Father into unrecognizable shadows of their true humanity. The claws of Nature have sunk deep into their vitals, numbing the finer forces, preventing the achievement of the divine destinies they might have attained. In truth, have we surrendered to the natural law of the survival of the fittest, the "supreme affliction." Indifference worse than hate itself, the shame of Cain flaunting itself in the face of the Divine Command to keep and cherish his brother, selfish greed that seizes the results of toil, -- are these not the insignia of man's degradation, of the terrible forces of decomposition hovering ever nearer to the scene of final dissolution?
These agonies and this truly satanic condition are not of God, for they are blind, unintelligent, unloving, while He is the Seer, the Knower, the Loving. His Love has poured forth in this New Time, His favor to the poor and oppressed is evident. In the sight of God, man has no justification for longer living unto himself alone. Nor can he find excuse in pleading "human nature" in this light. For this disorder is not of human origin. Rather is it of a world lower than the animal. This is because man has been endowed with a power to know the Divine, while the animal does not possess that power. Man is responsible, the animal is not responsible, since it has no means of knowing God.
Humanity Bows Before a Usurping Sovereignty
Indeed, Nature, herself, is "uninformed of God, the Almighty." By surrendering, therefore, to the natural law, humanity has accepted the sovereignty of a blind and unintelligent force. Reflect, then, upon this word from the Hidden Words of Baha’u’llah (from the Arabic, no. 13) --
"O Son of Spirit! I created thee rich, why dost thou bring thyself down to poverty? Noble I made thee, wherewith dost thou abase thyself? Out of the essence of knowledge I gave thee being, why seekest thou enlightenment from anyone beside Me? Out of the clay of love I moulded thee, how dost thou busy thyself with another? Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self -subsisting." (Italics ours)
This moving appeal is directed to the slumbering spiritual consciousness of humanity, to that capacity within with which the world of nature has no part, to the human reality itself, a reality that transcends Nature, and is destined to achieve sovereignty over her, even as today she has been permitted to usurp sovereignty over a being superior to her both intrinsically and innately. Ignorance of this supreme fact has humbled and retarded the race. But the hour has arrived when this tyranny is to be conquered. Happy are they who awaken to the divine gifts of nobility, spiritual wealth, knowledge, and love that have been deposited within them, and gird up their loins to enlist in the army that is gathering to carry the last and strongest redoubt in Nature's dark citadel.
(The Baha’i World 1930-1932; Star of the West (The Baha’i Magazine) vol. 23, no. 1, April 1932)