Path Toward Peace – Step Three

economic disparity

Preventing Economic Disparity


A few extremely rich and so many poor… It’s criminal! Greed and corruption must be banished, the vast majority of human beings must be given a fighting chance to make their place in the world, children should not starve to death for lack of food while other children are world-weary with affluent lust.

From The Economic Times: Global financial crisis: The Story so far

From Principled Profit: Ethics Could Have Avoided The Collapse of Lehman, Merrill Lynch

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Articles of Faith: Ethical lessons to draw from economic crisis

As I’d mentioned a few posts ago, this series on Path Toward Peace is a major challenge for me, spiritually and emotionally. This morning, as I was pondering how to write today’s post, I decided to take a break (always good when the creative juices feel stopped-up) and stroll down to the Java Street Café. The owner, Sam, was not too busy and I thought I’d bring up what I was pondering for my blog post—I mean he is a good business man and highly attuned to financial concerns. I wasn’t sure what he’d say about economic disparity and was amazed at what he did say.

He brought up a concept that dealt with providing a fixed income to each citizen, not socialism but a humane method of lifting the burden of economic distress from human endeavor—not social security but social insurance, proactive at that.

Here was a man, focused on profit and loss, talking about altruistic business and government—a way to ensure that each human being had the means of a basic existence—pure justice and equity. This is a far cry from the existing situation in today’s ruinous economic game plan. We touched on the idea of the owners of businesses providing profit-sharing to employees. And Sam crowned this inspiring discussion with a statement about the necessity of being aware that the wealthy exist on the labor of the common person.

The next post in this series will deal with the spiritual and emotional transformations necessary for humane economic activity. Nevertheless, we must be willing to act, in whatever capacity we can handle, to instill fairness into our economic activities.

Spiritual Quotes:

“The inordinate disparity between rich and poor, a source of acute suffering, keeps the world in a state of instability, virtually on the brink of war.”
Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 551

“A financier with colossal wealth should not exist whilst near him is a poor man in dire necessity. 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 the 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.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 153

Please leave your thoughts and feelings in the Comments.
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16 thoughts on “Path Toward Peace – Step Three

  1. Sounds as though you had a good chat with Sam Alex..
    Good questions and very good answers from Sam, yes how true..
    What the Mind can Conceive & Believe, it can achieve..
    Be not afraid of going slowly, be afraid of standing still.!

  2. I was watching a documentary the other day about a major governmental election a few years back. One party, portrayed as the champions of social justice, proposed raising taxes slightly in order to balance the extremes of wealth and poverty. Their arguments were quite compelling, and in opinion polls prior to the election it looked like they would win easily.

    Lo and behold, election day arrives and the other party wins. When the swing voters were asked why they went the other way on election day, it came down to “doing what seems right” vs “serving personal interests” and they chose the second option.

    The question is, how do we reach a state in society where people will willingly sacrifice some personal comfort for the good of the whole? Is this going to happen or do we give up and say human nature is inherently selfish? I believe it will happen eventually – but we will certainly require a strengthening of our own moral convictions, whether as individuals or as institutions. This is the critical role that true religion must play.

    Look forward to your coming pieces… there are indeed many dimensions to this theme!

  3. Nadim,

    “The question is, how do we reach a state in society where people will willingly sacrifice some personal comfort for the good of the whole?”

    My feeling is that there will have to be tremendous suffering (even more than is happening) worldwide to bring people to the feeling necessary to live beyond their egos…

  4. Dear Alex,
    Thanks for this thought-provoking article.
    Profit and greed so often fuel capitalism and run this country.
    I believe in capitalism but I also believe we are our brother’s keeper.
    This coffee shop owner is a rare breed.
    Sounds like he has his priorities straight.
    As the Bible says: The love of money is the root of all evil.
    Not money itself, but the inordinate love of money that elevates it above our concern for others.
    Care,
    Jlo

  5. judi,

    Very perceptive comment, Judi !

    I was raised by two Christian ministers–mom and dad–and that bit of Scripture–“The love of money is the root of all evil.”–was one of the first I learned, as well as learning how people would consistently mis-quote it !!

  6. Pingback: On the Path towards Peace: Steps along the way | Baha'i Views

  7. The talking sounds nice…yet is there any chance to impact the current injustice factually?
    I …don’t want to think about what the rich should do, or how should look the behavior of the poor, because THAT not unites us and enlightens the path of the peace but deepens the abyss between the neighbors. The musing about what OTHERS should do for WE could enjoy the peace looks like …a musing. Just think. Who are the rich? Are they not we ourselves in the concrete? And who are the poor? They are we again. …
    While buying a cup of coffee to my disabled friend, I don’t sacrifice a penny, but buy great pleasure to myself – that not the altruism but my natural right to enjoy a sip of fresh air. By helping other I participate in sharing of the love that warms my own heart too. Meanwhile while talking about what others should do I just DIVIDE the humanity into poor me and the rich wrongdoers… I think it’s obvious where such politic can lead.
    WHEN WE RECOGNIZE OURSELVES IN OTHER – when we accept the spiritual realm not by words but by our whole life honor God – we ourselves become worthy respect. So when mother cares for her baby, she don’t think about any profit for self … and we too try to help if our brother or sister is lacking without doing any politics or business plans. Unfortunately our society hold on the idea of profit… selfishness may be decorated nicely yet such beauty cant change the truth. We either love and share our love or reason about the need to love and thus inadvertently contribute to the threatening mess of today but not participate in the fabulous flight of peace that don’t need any words but the heart – we need nothing to invent but open our own hearts to God and be faithful…
    Am I such?
    I greatly appreciate your post. Thank you for the help to group my thoughts for to leave a comment and thus …all the above humbled me – silenced my wish to complain for my helplessness
    Prior coming here I put a picture on my blog (it is connected with other on other blog) Please have a look by clicking on a link http://dayfly.wordpress.com/2008/09/23/benefits-of-pain/

  8. Tomas,

    So glad you responded at such length and very happy your writing helped you clarify your feelings!

    You clearly anticipated the topic of the very next post !!

    Also, the link to your picture is very welcome in this blog. I want everyone to become familiar with your spiritually aesthetic art !!!

  9. Pingback: Path Toward Peace ~Prologue « RAVENSCAWL

  10. Money is not everything, but everything needs money. This is the sad state where the world is now. I would rather ponder on how much is enough? When we are still indulged with “sky is the limit”, none of us are going anywhere.

  11. Yes, Aasha, we all need to reconsider the economic issues–how much is “enough”, how much to “share”, how much is spiritually “correct”…

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