Our present economic system, sick and dying, cannot meet the needs of humanity.

The gap between rich and poor continues to grow wider and wider, which has increased the suffering of the masses. The solutions that can heal that suffering have been largely ignored.

The time has come to re-examine the fundamental assumptions that this system was built on and replace them with humane and moral ones. There is a great need to build an economic system fit to help humanity achieve its goal of an ever-advancing civilization, a world free of economic injustice, where people have all the necessities of life so they can live peaceful and fulfilling lives.

To accomplish all this, we need a shift in thinking. The Baha’i Teachings provide insights and suggestions to lay the foundation for a better economic future. We have the solutions and the technology to build a new system; all we need is the resolve and the will. Everyone has an inherent power to contribute and participate in this wonderful process. The time for action is upon us:

The welfare of any segment of humanity is inextricably bound up with the welfare of the whole. Humanity’s collective life suffers when any one group thinks of its own well-being in isolation from that of its neighbours’ or pursues economic gain without regard for how the natural environment, which provides sustenance for all, is affected. A stubborn obstruction, then, stands in the way of meaningful social progress: time and again, avarice and self-interest prevail at the expense of the common good. Unconscionable quantities of wealth are being amassed, and the instability this creates is made worse by how income and opportunity are spread so unevenly both between nations and within nations. But it need not be so. The Universal House of Justice, 1 March 2017.

Unfortunately, today money is the yardstick we use to measure failure and success. This yardstick has derailed humanity from its spiritual path. Baha’is all around the world work towards a day when we will grow and expand our horizons, and will adopt a more spiritual yardstick for human achievements.

Do-we-worship-money

Money cannot and should not be the only means of measuring our lives. But now we are far from that future, and need to remember that a new economic system will occur when the spiritual transformation of humanity and society has been accomplished, and with it man’s awareness of his spiritual station and his destiny.

In that future state of society, we will have subordinated our lower nature, and will therefore behave less selfishly. Yes, at this time it is almost impossible to imagine such a society. But by introducing more of the spiritual qualities in our individual lives, we are laying the foundation for such a society and such an economic system. This goal may seem idealistic—but we are all dreaming of a better world, and with it a new economic system. First let us try to understand economics from the Baha’i point of view:

The secrets of the whole economic question are Divine in nature, and are concerned with the world of the heart and spirit. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Baha’i World, Volume IV, p. 448.

We can empower ourselves to accelerate this fundamental change by being aware of things we can do in order to reach the goal of a better economic system. If we find an answer to the important questions in life –“who am I,” “what is the purpose of my life” and “how much is enough,” we may then choose to live a simple life and determine to resist the consumer mentality and the tendency to buy the latest models when the old ones still function.

If we approach work as a form of worship, and spend as much energy in being contented and detached from material possessions as we spend getting them, we will transform ourselves into happier beings. Using honesty as our yardstick, we can avoid following society’s shortcuts with regards to taxation, insurance and expense claims. As business owners we can practice contentment with a reasonable margin of profit and charge just interest rates, provide medical coverage, pay fair wages and share the profits we make with our employees. We can be honest about our products and in filling out tenders and contracts, also look for opportunities to help employees, co-workers and even competitors. We can use good quality material with no wastage and no environmentally harmful ingredients.

As consumers, we can be knowledgeable about the lure of advertising and be honest in job interviews. We can report when we have been undercharged. We can replace competition with co-operation. If we truly follow a moral path in all our dealings, we will find ways to change the status quo by voluntarily contributing to charities and funds that will help bridge the gap between the rich and the poor.

Small changes in our attitude will change our daily economic activities, and that will eventually lead us to a new economic system based on humanity and not greed. We have an amazing power as individuals to transform society and raise the standards for economic interactions. We owe it to all the poor and underprivileged people of the world who have been ignored by our present economic system. Their suffering is our failure to make a change.

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.

17 Comments

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  • Robert Searle
    Apr 06, 2017
    Thank you for your response. I am afraid Transfinancial Economics is a huge subject..and there is no need to read the entire project ofcourse. Anyway, thank you for your interest, and hope all goes well with the Bahai Movement.
  • Robert Searle
    Apr 04, 2017
    Toward Super Economics ? See the following http://www.p2pfoundation.net/Transfinancial_Economics
    • Badi Shams
      Apr 04, 2017
      Dear Robert,
      Thanks for sharing your project. I had a chance at it and will read more later.
      It is wonderful to see how many good efforts are in the world working towards creating a better economic future for humanity.
  • Melanie Black
    Apr 03, 2017
    Badi, I liked your very informative article. I live on a very small amount of money - Social Security Disability. I wasn't raised learning about money so all my life, managing money was always a problem for me. Thanks to the Baha'i Faith I just about live within my means, so I'm always learning something new. Lately I saw some interesting concepts on the news and on documentaries about the brain. To be brief they are: to teach children from the age of 3 about money and to say no almost all of the time when children demand products when ...you (the parent) is out and about with them. These two main concepts teach children money management and detachment. Both good things. I wish I had learned them back then.
    Read more...
    • Badi Shams
      Apr 04, 2017
      Dear Melanie,
      I agree that parents have to teach their children about the value and the use of money, but I think the education system has a role in it too. One my ex-students who visited me after my retirement told me that she felt cheated of years of her life by the education system since they did not even teach her how to manage money. I had to agree with her.
      Managing and understanding what money can do- good and bad- is one of the most important life skills that the education system most of the time fails to ...teach.
      Read more...
  • Apr 03, 2017
    Badi, this is wonderful and most timely for me. I am taking the Wilmette Institute course "Economics and the Baha'i Faith". I am also preparing to teach an OLLI course (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute" on sustainable economics, which is scheduled for June at Casper College.
    • Badi Shams
      Apr 03, 2017
      That is wonderful Daniel. It really pleases me to see how the Writings can help us when we need them. Glad to be of a little service. Wish you success in your educational plans. You may want to check the book "Economics of the Future Begins Today".
  • Apr 03, 2017
    Badi, Excellent summary article of where we're heading and where we are, in pockets, everywhere. Corruption is despised and being fought, and corrupt leaders condemned and jailed, for example. Business, due to rules and regulations, is and must be open and honest, and in the U.S. and elsewhere a written or email receipt, at least offered, is mandatory. And on and on. We're getting there, and I llove how your article describes where that 'where' is headed.
    • Badi Shams
      Apr 03, 2017
      Dear Rodney,
      Thanks for your kind words. Yes we have come a long way and we have a long way to go. The exciting part for me is that we are learning what is not working and that awareness can lead us to find the things that will work. My vision of the future is clear but also I know it will not be easy and that is why each one of us has an important role to play.
  • Max Mahabat
    Apr 02, 2017
    I am retired and live on a farm where I have planted numerous fruit trees and have the vegetable garden. There is nothing better than eating fruit and vegetables ripened on the tree/plant. It is heavenly. You enjoy the true taste and get the best nourishment. However, I do have one problem and a big one too - the birds - who eat and destroy a lot of the fruit even before they are ripe
    • Badi Shams
      Apr 03, 2017
      Dear Max,
      I agree it is heavenly. We are lucky to have a huge cherry tree taller than two story house which has lots of cherries for the birds to eat and leave our mulberry, black cherry, grapes and fig alone. They do not bother to come lower, to our delight. I am sure you have tried netting.
  • Badi Shams
    Apr 02, 2017
    Dear Patrick,
    Don't get me started with the situation with food industry. The food we eat is not healthy and I believe if we want to make a change we better start with agriculture and the farmers. The greed and shortcuts in production of meat, grains, fruit and the rest are creating serious health issues for mankind.
  • Regina Rodriguez
    Apr 02, 2017
    A very good article, thank you ! I agree that being honest in all our dealings and detached (not let money control us) are very important aspects of helping to lay a good foundation for a better economy and more just world.We might challenge ourselves to go even deeper than that. I am thinking of the following quote: "Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge... Be a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. ..."(had to shorten quote as too many characters) .Not so easy to do, but also an important step out of our comfort zones to help create a better world
    Read more...
    • Badi Shams
      Apr 02, 2017
      Dear Regina,
      I love that quotation. It really conveys the spirit in which we have to act if we want to see a change. Thanks for sharing it.
  • John Clarke
    Apr 02, 2017
    Badi Shams - Thank you for the intro to your thinking. In terms of a business model, how well do you consider the Mondragon cooperative model fits with the Baha'i faith?
    • Badi Shams
      Apr 02, 2017
      Dear John,
      From my personal view I like the spirit behind the whole movement and so far it looks like they have strongly stood by their beliefs and have not lost sight of their goals. The key for survival of all good movements is protecting it from the forces of politics. I just have a soft spot in my heart for the word "Co-operation".
  • Patrick Collins
    Apr 02, 2017
    I believe that one of the most important things we can do is take care of our health starting with food that has nothing in it besides what God has put in