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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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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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

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A Little Help Can Go A Long Way

Not much of my own comment in this particular post. I’ll let the news sources and websites inform you about this Wonderful concept. As always, though, there will be a spiritual quote at the end…

From OneWorld.Net: Microloans Pay Off for Planet, Investors
“Mohammed Yunus, an economics professor from Bangladesh, is considered the father of microfinance. In 1983, Yunus founded the Grameen Bank to make small loans to impoverished entrepreneurs. Grameen Bank now has over 7 million borrowers. Yunus and the Bank received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.”

From Wikipedia: Microcredit “Microcredit is the extension of very small loans (microloans) to the unemployed, to poor entrepreneurs and to others living in poverty who are not considered bankable….Microcredit is a part of microfinance, which is the provision of a wider range of financial services to the very poor.”

From Business Week: Micro Loans, Solid Returns “With about $200 of his own money and a $1,500 loan, Vahid Hujdur rented space in the old section of Sarajevo and started repairing, then reselling discarded industrial sewing machines. Eight years and several loans later, Hujdur now has 10 employees building, installing, and fixing industrial machinery.”

From the KIVA website: We Let You Loan to the Working Poor “Kiva is the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world. The people you see on Kiva’s site are real individuals in need of funding – not marketing material. When you browse entrepreneurs’ profiles on the site, choose someone to lend to, and then make a loan, you are helping a real person make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their family, and their community. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates and track repayments. Then, when you get your loan money back, you can relend to someone else in need.”

“The increasing disparity between the rich and the poor is a major destabilizing influence in the world. It produces or exacerbates regional and national conflicts, environmental degradation, crime and violence, and the increasing use of illicit drugs. These consequences of extreme poverty affect all individuals and nations. Increasingly we are becoming aware that we are all members of a single human family. In a family the suffering of any member is felt by all, and until that suffering is alleviated, no member of the family can be fully happy or at ease. Few are able to look at starvation and extreme poverty without feeling a sense of failure….

“A new economic order can be founded only on an unshakable conviction of the oneness of mankind. Discussions aimed at solving problems related to extreme poverty based on the premise that we are one human family rapidly expand beyond the current vocabulary of economics. They demand a wider context, one which anticipates the emergence of a global system of relationships resting on the principles of equity and justice.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1993 Feb 12, Human Rights And Extreme Poverty

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