9. A Spiritual Solution to the Economic Problem

The Tenth Basic Baha’i Principle is:
A Spiritual Solution to the Economic Problems of the World.

The tenth foundation stone, the Chrysoprasus, is like opaque Chrysolyte, a clear green which embodies truthfulness, justice, sincerity and purity, and these are the requisites necessary for the solution of all economic problems– the Golden Rule–“Do unto others as Ye would have that they do unto you.” – ‘Abdu’l-Baha

There is no cut and dried system of economics. Bahá’u’lláh establishes certain principles and leaves it to us to build the structure. There is a danger of the popular term “new world order” conjuring up a picture of something for nothing, of state supported individuals enjoying all the advantages of prosperity without any adequate contribution of hard work or service. Bahá’u’lláh requires every-one to work, no idle rich and no idle poor.

The most despised of men before God is he who sits and begs. … The best 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 worlds.” – Baha’u’llah

The tragic story of modern waste is now common place. Fruit rotting on the trees and vines, sugar falling from wharves into the sea, wheat being burned. Millions underfed and in need of these things. Railways and ships being left idle. Producers anxious to sell and workers eager to gather and dispatch. But the destruction of food, and starvation, face each other across the world, even across the very same c country! Thus in spite of the fact that ‘laissez faire’ and unrestricted competition give way to socialization and cooperation, the basis of prosperity is still individual effort, hard work and independence.

… it is incumbent on everyone to engage in crafts and professions, for therein lies the secret of wealth to men of understanding! ” ” Trees that yield no fruit have been and will ever be for the fire.” – Baha’u’llah

The weird and wonderful devices advocated to stimulate buying power brings wealth only back onto the wealthy. Future generations looking back at this period, must be forever amazed at a generation which could capture a beam from Arcturus to light the opening of the World’s Fair and at the same time tolerate the poverty and misery of millions in the midst of an overwhelming plenty, a generation which spends a huge proportion of its wealth on war.

“The fundamentals of the whole economic structure are Divine in nature and are associated with the world of the heart and spirit.”

Although, the body politic is one family, yet because of lack of harmonious relations some members are comfortable and some in direct misery, some members are satisfied and some members are hungry, some members are clothed in most costly garments and some families in need of food and shelter. Why? Because this family (of mankind) lacks the necessary reciprocity and symmetry . This household is not well arranged. This household is not living under a perfect law. All the laws which are legislated do not insure happiness. They do not provide comfort. Therefore a law must be given to this family by means of which all the members will enjoy well being and happiness.” – ‘Abdu’l-Baha

Reciprocity and symmetry, these are the needs of the new social order. Cooperation must replace unbridled competition and planned economic system must take the place of the present muddle. This is the real economic problem, that in an age when cooperation is needed in human affairs, principles which served mankind successfully during the age of competition, are still upheld and regarded as inviolate. They are lamentably effete as shown by results.

Tariffs, currency manipulation, monopoly of raw materials, low wages, these are the great saboteurs of world prosperity. But they are only agents, the real monster is economic self-sufficiency. Nearly every nation, or groups of nations, has tried to practice this, and has gloried in what it believed to be its ability to be self-supporting. At the same time every effort has been made to keep up “foreign” trade, that is to sell the other man something without buying anything in return.

Economic self-sufficiency is born of fear and selfishness and leads straight to war. In this modern world all people are in need of each other, can supply each others’ wants, and by the reciprocal action of buying and selling, contribute to an increasing standard of living. This is provided of course that the results of labor are equitably shared, and not concentrated in the hands of a minority. And the basis of equity must be universal, otherwise some nations will undersell all the others by using cheaper labor, and that will start the same old round again of nations will undersell all the others by labor, and that will start the same old tariffs, and etc…..

The economic problem, like every major difficulty facing us today, is insoluble except on a world scale. We can not have poverty in one country and prosperity in the rest, the Atlantic Charter recognizes this. Neither can we cure poverty and unemployment in one country alone, it is a world problem.

A spiritually united body can solve the economic problem once given the authority to set the world’s standards. It can remove the barriers to international trade which result from the attempts of nations to be self-sufficient. It can liberate the energies now devoted to war for service to the arts of peace, and it can provide the necessary machinery for an easier and greater interchange of goods and services. Such things as a world currency, a world bank, a single system of weights and measures would come within its Charter. It must maintain free access to the raw materials of the planet, and protect the rights of all peoples. Maintain a universal minimum standard of living, and limit the economic power of individuals.

God is not partial and is no respecter of persons. He has made provisions 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.” – ‘Abdu’l-Baha