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Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era

  • Author:
  • J. E. Esslemont

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980 edition
  • Pages:
  • 286
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Pages 140-141

Economic Problems

The Bahá’í teachings insist in the strongest terms on the need for reform in the economic relations of rich and poor. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says:—
The arrangements of the circumstances of the 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. We see among us men who are overburdened with riches on the one hand, and on the other those unfortunate ones who starve with nothing; those who possess several stately palaces, and those who have not where to lay their head. … This condition of affairs is wrong, and must be remedied. Now the remedy must be carefully undertaken. It cannot be done by bringing to pass absolute equality between men. Equality is a chimera! It is entirely impracticable. Even if equality could be achieved it could not continue; and 141 if its existence were possible, the whole order of the world would be destroyed. The Law of Order must always obtain in the world of humanity. Heaven has so decreed in the creation of man. … Humanity, like a great army, requires a general, captains, underofficers in their degree, and soldiers, each with their appointed duties. Degrees are absolutely necessary to ensure an orderly organization. An army could not be composed of generals alone, or of captains only, or of nothing but soldiers without anyone in authority.
Certainly, some being enormously rich and other lamentably poor, an organization is necessary to control and improve this state of affairs. It is important to limit riches, as it is also of importance to limit poverty. Either extreme is not good. … When we see poverty allowed to reach a 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 the misery of 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 necessaries of life.
There must be special laws made, dealing with these extremes of rich and want. … The government of the countries should conform to the Divine Law which gives equal justice to all. … Not until this is done will the Law of God be obeyed.