Money

money_world“There is no class so pitiably wretched as that which possesses money and nothing else.” ~ Andrew Carnegie

Carnegie is said to have amassed $298.3 billion in 2007 dollars.

He’s also quoted as saying: “I resolved to stop accumulating and begin the infinitely more serious and difficult task of wise distribution.”

Considering money in more general terms, there’s a wonderful and innovative four-part documentary on PBS called the Ascent of Money narrated by Niall Ferguson. Certainly not a dry documentary; more like a video novel…

The following Spiritual Quote  is a letter from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (a man poor in money yet vastly rich in spirit) written to Andrew Carnegie.

Spiritual Quote:

“O respected personage! I have read your work, The Gospel of Wealth [1], and noted therein truly apposite and sound recommendations for easing the lot of humankind.
[1] An article from Andrew Carnegie’s book The Gospel of Wealth  was published in England in the Pall Mall Budget  and called, also, The Gospel of Wealth, cf. Andrew Carnegie’s Autobiography 255n.

“To state the matter briefly, the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh advocate voluntary sharing, and this is a greater thing than the equalization of wealth. For equalization must be imposed from without, while sharing is a matter of free choice.

“Man reacheth perfection through good deeds, voluntarily performed, not through good deeds the doing of which was forced upon him. And sharing is a personally chosen righteous act: that is, the rich should extend assistance to the poor, they should expend their substance for the poor, but of their own free will, and not because the poor have gained this end by force. For the harvest of force is turmoil and the ruin of the social order. On the other hand voluntary sharing, the freely-chosen expending of one’s substance, leadeth to society’s comfort and peace. It lighteth up the world; it bestoweth honour upon humankind.

“I have seen the good effects of your own philanthropy in America, in various universities, peace gatherings, and associations for the promotion of learning, as I travelled from city to city. Wherefore do I pray on your behalf that you shall ever be encompassed by the bounties and blessings of heaven, and shall perform many philanthropic deeds in East and West. Thus may you gleam as a lighted taper in the Kingdom of God, may attain honour and everlasting life, and shine out as a bright star on the horizon of eternity.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 115

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Economic Compassion

moneyThe current global economic crisis is only one part of a set of crises including a climate crisis, a crisis of deprivation of women and children, a crisis of violent terror, a crisis of nationalistic overweening pride, and a crisis of moral apathy, to name a few.

All these crises are interwoven and no emergency, quick-fix solutions will abate the suffering of humanity. Actually, none of the currently popular “solutions” has much of a chance at stemming the tide of woe engulfing our human family. And, most sadly, the “experts” are clueless—have proven their inability to resolve anything and are wallowing in the trough of denial…

The Real Solution, to all  these crises, is embarrassingly simple and appallingly ignored: Recognizing the Oneness of Humanity…

I’m going to present two solutions to the economic crisis that offer extremely practical local and regional techniques for easing the current squeeze (as well as giving you a powerful motivation toward hope in the midst of crisis in the Spiritual Quote at the end of the post…).

The first site with solutions is Common Security Club. Check out their site and watch this supremely educational video:

The next site is yes! and their 31 Ways to Jump Start the Local Economy. Get together with a few friends and go over their list and I think you’ll be amazed at the results!

Spiritual Quote:

“The question has been asked: Will the spiritual progress of the world equal and keep pace with material progress in the future? In a living organism the full measure of its development is not known or realized at the time of its inception or birth. Development and progression imply gradual stages or degrees. For example, spiritual advancement may be likened to the light of the early dawn. Although this dawn light is dim and pale, a wise man who views the march of the sunrise at its very beginning can foretell the ascendancy of the sun in its full glory and effulgence. He knows for a certainty that it is the beginning of its manifestation and that later it will assume great power and potency. Again, for example, if he takes a seed and observes that it is sprouting, he will know assuredly that it will ultimately become a tree. Now is the beginning of the manifestation of the spiritual power, and inevitably the potency of its life forces will assume greater and greater proportions. Therefore, this twentieth century is the dawn, or beginning, of spiritual illumination, and it is evident that day by day it will advance. It will reach such a degree that spiritual effulgences will overcome the physical, so that divine susceptibilities will overpower material intelligence and the heavenly light dispel and banish earthly darkness. Divine healing shall purify all ills, and the cloud of mercy will pour down its rain. The Sun of Reality will shine, and all the earth shall put on its beautiful green carpet. 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 provisions and restrictions 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.

“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-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 132

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Sustainable Development

Sustainable_development

Ever had a theme song? You know, where a song just IS  a huge part of your attitude and you “adopt” it as Yours?

My current theme song is below the links I’ll offer in this post that relate to various aspects of Sustainable Development. It just happens to be from my last post and I wish I could put it in every post… Have everyone singing it, all the time… Make it the Spirit  of the stupendous effort  we all must make to turn greedy and immoral world-wide practices into a sustainable way of life… for our Whole Human Family…

~~~~~~~~~

Bahá’ís Participate In U.N. Sustainable Development Session

Smaller But Stronger

Global Economic Crisis: Time for a Cultural Shift?

Trento Festival of Economics

Wikipedia  Article On Sustainable Development

Sustainable Development on Global Issues WebSite

And, to show that, even with all the information laid on the table, planners and government players still have a long distance to travel before they’re also playing the Sustainable Development Game, here’s an article from 2002:

Baha’is to stress spiritual values at World Summit on Sustainable Development

~~~~~~~~~

And, Now , what I hope will be Your  Theme Song, too !!!

Spiritual Quote:

“Unity is essential if diverse peoples are to work toward a common future. The Earth Charter might well identify those aspects of unity which are prerequisites for the achievement of sustainable development. In the Bahá’í view, ‘The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established’.

“The unrestrained exploitation of natural resources is merely a symptom of an overall sickness of the human spirit. Any solutions to the environment/development crisis must, therefore, be rooted in an approach which fosters spiritual balance and harmony within the individual, between individuals, and with the environment as a whole. Material development must serve not only the body, but the mind and spirit as well.

“The changes required to reorient the world toward a sustainable future imply degrees of sacrifice, social integration, selfless action, and unity of purpose rarely achieved in human history. These qualities have reached their highest degree of development through the power of religion. Therefore, the world’s religious communities have a major role to play in inspiring these qualities in their members, releasing latent capacities of the human spirit and empowering individuals to act on behalf of the planet, its peoples, and future generations.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1992 June 06, Earth Charter

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Business Ethics ?

Breaking News !

business_ethicsIf a business owner falls behind on their rent because of the lousy economic climate, yet creates a new business model that successfully meets the crisis, should the landlord evict them before they can recoup losses and pay the rent?

Back on the 18th of March, I posted the story of Sam Lippert and the Java Street Café, in Kettering, Ohio—Cafe owner thrives with no-pricing policy. That was in the midst of the first media blitz because of Sam’s creative commitment to taking all the prices off his menu and letting the customer determine their own fair price. Here’s the link to the live CNN interview with Sam from that post.

That seemingly crazy idea worked, very well!  Sam’s sales quickly increased. Before he implemented the no-price policy, he was tracking last year’s sales dead-even. Since implementing it, his sales are 13% higher than last year. Comparing March to January and February, his sales are up 32%. And, if that’s not enough proof, a food supplier informed Sam that, due to his good example, 15 restaurants in Michigan have adopted the no-price policy…

So…

On the 31st of March, the landlord called and said an eviction notice would be sent the week of April 6th.

Admittedly, the landlord is within their legal rights yet, in this business climate, why would they be willing to kick Java Street Café out when they’re clearly showing their ability to weather the economic storm and thrive in spite of it? Do they feel they can quickly fill the space with another business in this economic downturn? Do they care? Is it possible they don’t give a ____ about Sam’s ability to thrive and pay his debt because they can write it all off and “balance” their books with not a thought about what ethics in business means?

Speaking of business ethics, Sam, in the midst of crushing economic circumstances, made a commitment to a business model that put the customer in the driver’s seat—gave the customer a chance to afford that cup of coffee or sandwich they may have been otherwise unable to justify purchasing.

Take a look at Sam’s latest Press Release

By the way, Sam is open to offering Franchise Opportunities – Call him at: 937-294-5280

My final question:

Who wins if the landlord kicks Sam out?

Spiritual Quote:

“He feels you should both consider the competent running of your business not only a moral obligation to any creditors outstanding, but also the wise and proper thing to do.”
from a letter written on behalf of Shoghí Effendí: 6 June 1954, Compilation on Trustworthiness

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Bugs In Our Moral Code

cheating

Cheating At Life

Many could care less about moral codes as long as they feel they’re getting ahead in life. Thing is, getting ahead means nothing if you then fall far behind.

The current economic crisis is a good example—many people cheating and others looking the other way—all to get ahead—an example of institutionalized cheating that blossoms into international crime.

It’s easy to find studies and articles about cheating, from ways to stop it to ways to regulate it to the whys of its happening.

What’s very hard is finding ways to implement possible solutions to the obvious fact of wide-spread cheating…

An important consideration in any exploration of cheating or moral action is to be clear about why we even have such codes or laws in society.

Consider:

The word cheat comes from roots that mean to “fall away” and moral comes from “character” and “good”.

There’s a strong emphasis in those words on the group or social unit. There’s also an interesting perspective from which to discuss the social value of unbridled independent action. But that’s a subject for a future post…

The following video is a fascinating exploration of cheating, morals, and economic crime by a behavioral economist. Quite informative and also entertaining:

Spiritual Quote:

“The endowments which distinguish the human race from all other forms of life are summed up in what is known as the human spirit; the mind is its essential quality. These endowments have enabled humanity to build civilizations and to prosper materially. But such accomplishments alone have never satisfied the human spirit, whose mysterious nature inclines it towards transcendence, a reaching towards an invisible realm, towards the ultimate reality, that unknowable essence of essences called God….No doubt some observers would disagree, observing that religion has sometimes retarded, instead of advanced, social progress. In our view, such cases represent a distortion of religion.

“We would strongly suggest that this and any discussion of social policy give recognition to the role of spiritual principle in the functioning of society and indeed of government. Neither in theory nor in practice, should we separate material and moral affairs in a dichotomous way. The moral capacities and strengths of a nation — and of the global community — may be regarded as its ultimate form of wealth. Deficiencies in this form or wealth too easily lead to material effects as, for example, an unfair distribution of resources or, in the case of war, the near or total destruction of the physical infrastructure.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1987 Sept 09, Social Progress

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Bubbles, Bailouts, and Stimulus Plans

global_economic_bubblesSo much of the shouting about this economic “downturn” centers on the United States of America. I’m no economist (thank, God!), but it seems to make sense that the epicenter of the econoquake is the USA.

Still . . .

What about other countries? Like:

China, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Taiwan (ROC), Philippines, Romania, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Brazil, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Iceland, and Australia.

One of my constant companions on the Internet Journey is Global Voices. In a recent article, they rely on their global network of bloggers to identify these issues:

“…Jamaica’s dollar-earning bauxite industry has shed hundreds of jobs already because of the downturn in US car production.”

In Bangladesh, the housing bubble is tied to remittances sent by Bangladeshis working in other countries; but, mass layoffs in the US and Europe is ending their property boom.

“Cambodia is also experiencing a property bubble. South Koreans are Cambodia’s biggest investors. Since South Korean businesses have been badly hit by the financial crisis, many of them have already pulled off their real estate investments in Cambodia.”

The Caribbean financial crisis originated, partly, from drops in methanol and real estate prices.

The Brazilian government was claiming the global crisis was having a minimal impact on their economy. But, recent reports show Brazil as the second “most affected” country.

“Bank nationalization schemes have been enforced in some countries like Iceland and Kazakhstan. Trinidad and Tobago banks were rescued not just by their government but also by governments from neighboring countries.”

Hungary is going to implement a tax reform.

“Hiring street sweepers is part of the Philippine stimulus plan.”

There are many more details on the Global Voices site…

Spiritual Quote:

“Central to the task of reconceptualizing the organization of human affairs is arriving at a proper understanding of the role of economics. The failure to place economics into the broader context of humanity’s social and spiritual existence has led to a corrosive materialism in the world’s more economically advantaged regions, and persistent conditions of deprivation among the masses of the world’s peoples. Economics should serve people’s needs; societies should not be expected to reformulate themselves to fit economic models. The ultimate function of economic systems should be to equip the peoples and institutions of the world with the means to achieve the real purpose of development: that is, the cultivation of the limitless potentialities latent in human consciousness.

“Society must develop new economic models shaped by insights that arise from a sympathetic understanding of shared experience, from viewing human beings in relation one to another, and from a recognition of the central role that family and community play in social and spiritual well-being. Within institutions and organizations, priorities must be reassessed. Resources must be directed away from those agencies and programs that are damaging to the individual, societies and the environment, and directed toward those most germane to furthering a dynamic, just and thriving social order. Such economic systems will be strongly altruistic and cooperative in nature; they will provide meaningful employment and will help to eradicate poverty in the world.”
Bahá’í International Community: 1998 Feb 18, Valuing Spirituality in Development

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Are You Hungry ?

gluttonFrom OneWorld.net: “The $700 billion bailout package for Wall Street recently passed by the U.S. government to mitigate the financial crisis ‘could have wiped out the last traces of poverty, hunger, malnutrition and squalor from the face of the Earth,’ said food and trade policy analyst Devinder Sharma.

So, the financiers who caused the crisis (and made the gap between affluent and squalid wider) are to be preferred over millions of other members of our Human Family?

Where is the justice in this situation?

How long will this assault on virtue and morality continue?

How the hell do the perpetrators of such vile imbalances sleep at night?

It’s become fairly obvious that purely economic or political solutions to global crises don’t work.

From Inter Press Service: Poverty, fuel and other crises all interconnected

From AFP: World finance chiefs grasp for solutions in firestorm

From MarketWatch: Despite Market Rebound, Food Crisis to Follow, Experts Say

From The Financial Times: Global bailouts “second-worst solution” to global crisis

It’s time to realize why these “experts” in global business can’t end our world’s problems.

Spiritual Quotes:

“As the rich man enjoys his life surrounded by ease and luxuries, so the poor man must likewise have a home and be provided with sustenance and comforts commensurate with his needs. This readjustment of the social economic is of the greatest importance inasmuch as it insures the stability of the world of humanity; and until it is effected, happiness and prosperity are impossible.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith, p. 240

“The fundamentals of the whole economic condition are divine in nature and are associated with the world of the heart and spirit…. 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 these 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.

“Strive, therefore, to create love in the hearts in order that they may become glowing and radiant. When that love is shining, it will permeate other hearts even as this electric light illumines its surroundings. When the love of God is established, everything else will be realized. This is the true foundation of all economics. Reflect upon it.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 238

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