Justice: The Prosperity of Humankind

Justice is the one power that can translate the dawning consciousness of humanity’s oneness into a collective will through which the necessary structures of global community life can be confidently erected. An age that sees the people of the world increasingly gaining access to information of every kind and to a diversity of ideas will find justice asserting itself as the ruling principle of successful social organization. With ever greater frequency, proposals aiming at the development of the planet will have to submit to the candid light of the standards it requires.

At the individual level, justice is that faculty of the human soul that enables each person to distinguish truth from falsehood. In the sight of God, Bahá’u’lláh avers, justice is “the best beloved of all things” since it permits each individual to see with his own eyes rather than the eyes of others, to know through his own knowledge rather than the knowledge of his neighbor or his group. It calls for fair-mindedness in one’s judgments, for equity in one’s treatment of others, and is thus a constant if demanding companion in the daily occasions of life.

At the group level, a concern for justice is the indispensable compass in collective decision making, because it is the only means by which unity of thought and action can be achieved. Far from encouraging the punitive spirit that has often masqueraded under its name in past ages, justice is the practical expression of awareness that, in the achievement of human progress, the interests of the individual and those of society are inextricably linked. To the extent that justice becomes a guiding concern of human interaction, a consultative climate is encouraged that permits options to be examined dispassionately and appropriate courses of action selected. In such a climate the perennial tendencies toward manipulation and partisanship are far less likely to deflect the decision-making process.

~ The Prosperity of Humankind — http://www.bahai.org/r/369717846

The Question of Economics

The question of economics must commence with the farmer and then be extended to the other classes inasmuch as the number of farmers is far greater than all other classes. Therefore, it is fitting to begin with the farmer in matters related to economics for the farmer is the first active agent in human society. In brief, from among the wise men in every village a board should be set up and the affairs of that village should be under the control of that board. Likewise a general storehouse should be founded with the appointment of a secretary. At the time of the harvest, under the direction of that board, a certain percentage of the entire harvest should be appropriated for the storehouse.

The storehouse has seven revenues: Tithes, taxes on animals, property without an heir, all lost objects found whose owners cannot be traced, one third of all treasure-trove, one third of the produce of all mines, and voluntary contributions.

This storehouse also has seven expenditures:

  1. General running expenses of the storehouse, such as the salary of the secretary and the administration of public health.
  2. Tithes to the government.
  3. Taxes on animals to the government.
  4. Costs of running an orphanage.
  5. Costs of running a home for the incapacitated.
  6. Costs of running a school.
  7. Payment of subsidies to provide needed support of the poor.

The first revenue is the tithe. It should be collected as follows: If, for instance, the income of a person is five hundred dollars and his necessary expenses are the same, no tithes will be collected from him. If another’s expenses are five hundred dollars while his income is one thousand dollars, one tenth will be taken from him, for he hath more than his needs; if he giveth one tenth of the surplus, his livelihood will not be adversely affected. If another’s expenses are one thousand dollars, and his income is five thousand dollars, as he hath four thousand dollars surplus he will be required to give one and a half tenths. If another person hath necessary expenses of one thousand dollars, but his income is ten thousand dollars, from him two tenths will be required for his surplus represents a large sum. But if the necessary expenses of another person are four or five thousand dollars, and his income one hundred thousand, one fourth will be required from him. On the other hand, should a person’s income be two hundred, but his needs absolutely essential for his livelihood be five hundred dollars, and provided he hath not been remiss in his work or his farm hath not been blessed with a harvest, such a one must receive help from the general storehouse so that he may not remain in need and may live in comfort.

A certain amount must be put aside from the general storehouse for the orphans of the village and a certain sum for the incapacitated. A certain amount must be provided from this storehouse for those who are needy and incapable of earning a livelihood, and a certain amount for the village’s system of education. And, a certain amount must be set aside for the administration of public health. If anything is left in the storehouse, that must be transferred to the general treasury of the nation for national expenditures.

~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, from a Tablet — translated from the Persian

‘..lift the yoke of oppression..’

The House of Justice is deeply concerned at the plight of so many of the indigenous and aboriginal peoples in various parts of the world who have been denied their rights as a consequence of actions by oppressive majorities. Such inequities and injustices are to be found in many countries. The purpose of the coming of Bahá’u’lláh is to lift the yoke of oppression from His loved ones, to liberate all the people of the world, and to provide the means for their abiding happiness.

The Bahá’í approach to resolution of the manifold problems affecting human society rests upon the assertion by Bahá’u’lláh that these ills are but various symptoms and side effects of the basic disease, which the Divine Physician has diagnosed to be disunity. Bahá’u’lláh has made it abundantly clear that the first step essential for the health and harmony of the whole of mankind is its unification. He says, “The well-being of mankind, its peace and security are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established” (The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 203). By contrast, the approach of most people is the exact opposite: their concentration is on attempts to remedy the multitude of ills besetting mankind, with the expectation that the resolution of these problems will lead ultimately to unity.

This unity can only be achieved through the spreading of the Faith and the building up of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh. Bahá’u’lláh states in Gleanings, Section 120:

“That which the Lord hath ordained as the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of all the world is the union of all its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith. This can in no wise be achieved except through the power of a skilled, an all-powerful and inspired Physician. This, verily, is the truth, and all else naught but error.”

‘light is born’

“One day on the streets of Paris in the early spring, I saw a little lame boy on a crutch holding a pussy-willow, his face lighted with rapture.  I stood and gazed at him and he lifted his eyes to mine and our souls seemed to meet in mutual love and understanding in that moment of beauty.  I told my great and learned teacher whom the Master sent to me, Mírzá Abul-Fazl, of this slight but touching incident and he said that out of such moments light is born, that out of that momentary contact of the spirit would unfold in the worlds beyond a whole life of meaning and purpose.  The traces appear on this earth but the fruition is beyond, the seed of a loving deed, a warm and tender contact, a word of love and hope.  A little service, a small sacrifice are but the traces here which like the seed will grow to mighty trees and bear imperishable fruits hereafter.”

~ May Maxwell in a letter to friends, quoted in Violette Nakhjavani, The Maxwells of Montreal volume 1 (Oxford:  George Ronald), pp. 137-138

The Creator of all is One God.

From this same God all creation sprang into existence, and He is the one goal, towards which everything in nature yearns. This conception was embodied in the words of Christ, when He said, ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end’. Man is the sum of Creation, and the Perfect Man is the expression of the complete thought of the Creator—the Word of God.

Consider the world of created beings, how varied and diverse they are in species, yet with one sole origin. All the differences that appear are those of outward form and colour. This diversity of type is apparent throughout the whole of nature.

Behold a beautiful garden full of flowers, shrubs, and trees. Each flower has a different charm, a peculiar beauty, its own delicious perfume and beautiful colour. The trees too, how varied are they in size, in growth, in foliage—and what different fruits they bear! Yet all these flowers, shrubs and trees spring from the self-same earth, the same sun shines upon them and the same clouds give them rain.

So it is with humanity. It is made up of many races, and its peoples are of different colour, white, black, yellow, brown and red—but they all come from the same God, and all are servants to Him. This diversity among the children of men has unhappily not the same effect as it has among the vegetable creation, where the spirit shown is more harmonious. Among men exists the diversity of animosity, and it is this that causes war and hatred among the different nations of the world.

Differences which are only those of blood also cause them to destroy and kill one another. Alas! that this should still be so. Let us look rather at the beauty in diversity, the beauty of harmony, and learn a lesson from the vegetable creation. If you beheld a garden in which all the plants were the same as to form, colour and perfume, it would not seem beautiful to you at all, but, rather, monotonous and dull. The garden which is pleasing to the eye and which makes the heart glad, is the garden in which are growing side by side flowers of every hue, form and perfume, and the joyous contrast of colour is what makes for charm and beauty. So is it with trees. An orchard full of fruit trees is a delight; so is a plantation planted with many species of shrubs. It is just the diversity and variety that constitutes its charm; each flower, each tree, each fruit, beside being beautiful in itself, brings out by contrast the qualities of the others, and shows to advantage the special loveliness of each and all.

Thus should it be among the children of men! The diversity in the human family should be the cause of love and harmony, as it is in music where many different notes blend together in the making of a perfect chord. If you meet those of different race and colour from yourself, do not mistrust them and withdraw yourself into your shell of conventionality, but rather be glad and show them kindness. Think of them as different coloured roses growing in the beautiful garden of humanity, and rejoice to be among them.
Likewise, when you meet those whose opinions differ from your own, do not turn away your face from them. All are seeking truth, and there are many roads leading thereto. Truth has many aspects, but it remains always and forever one.

Do not allow difference of opinion, or diversity of thought to separate you from your fellow-men, or to be the cause of dispute, hatred and strife in your hearts.Rather, search diligently for the truth and make all men your friends.

Every edifice is made of many different stones, yet each depends on the other to such an extent that if one were displaced the whole building would suffer; if one is faulty the structure is imperfect.

Bahá’u’lláh has drawn the circle of unity, He has made a design for the uniting of all the peoples, and for the gathering of them all under the shelter of the tent of universal unity. This is the work of the Divine Bounty, and we must all strive with heart and soul until we have the reality of unity in our midst, and as we work, so will strength be given unto us. Leave all thought of self, and strive only to be obedient and submissive to the Will of God. In this way only shall we become citizens of the Kingdom of God, and attain unto life everlasting.

~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Ultimate State of Being

The more I cover myself with the world of dust,
The more I allow it to lure me,
The more I will remain its prisoner,
Bound by its rules,
Blinded by its darkness,
And hindered by its ways
The moment of withdrawal,
The moment of renewal,
That moment of letting go of this worldly cover,
the moment of letting God in,
That moment of being free of worldly rules,
and anticipation of rather Divine Rules,
Is the moment of true freedom…

The moment of wearing glasses of love,
And seeing the peaceful dove,
Visualizing the love in all,
In all souls, and sensing the love of the Lord
That moment is the moment of Serenity…

The moment of being armed
with the Sword of the tongue,
A weapon enamored with the wine of kindness,
Not the wine of callousness,
Otherwise the sword can be a knife filled with death rather than life
The moment when the fire of the tongue
is used to bring life…
That moment is the moment of strength…
The moment of amnesia,
Amnesia of self,
Forgetfulness of self,
And rather remembrance of God,
Of full orientation to His Will…
That moment is the moment of connectedness…
The moment of blood vessels
filled with warm blood,
Warm blood filling veins and arteries,
Filling up every cell,
Making the heart beat gracefully

The warm blood of Love of God
penetrating our being…
That moment is the moment of renunciation…
That moment is the moment of Purity,
That moment is the moment of Humility
That moment is a heavenly state of being…
That moment is the ultimate state of being…
That moment is the state of prayer.

By Nur KM

Teachable Moments

Baha'is Exploring Social Justice

By Carol Mansour

In The Advent of Divine Justice Shoghi Effendi declares, “… Every organized community enlisted under the banner of Bahá’u’lláh should feel it to be its first and inescapable obligation to nurture, encourage, and safeguard every minority belonging to any faith, race, class, or nation within it.”

There are several things that Black and Indigenous believers experience when we engage in conversations about race with those who have not made our nurturance, encouragement and safety a priority. These occur in person as well as on virtual platforms. It is not unusual for us to hear that we are overly sensitive, divisive, not patient enough, and/or ungrateful. The predictability is painful enough that many of us opt out of participating, or step away from the Faith. With heightened awareness of the racial divide in the nation, the conversations are happening with increasing frequency. Some discussions involve people new to…

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