Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Welcome to this site! Let's jump right into the purpose of the blog...
Conceptual framework for the blog
The motivation behind this blog finds its basis in its attempt to investigate the implications of emerging understandings of a need to redefine human nature/relationships/decisions in the context of economic exchange. It is increasingly obvious that current economic models have not been able to address the inordinate disparity between rich and poor, let alone the frustration of many who are forced into work that does not correspond to the higher calling of human beings. In an attempt to redefine common assumptions of economic agents, this blog will draw from assumptions inspired by the Bahá’í writings, which state that individuals should “at all times concern themselves with doing a kindly thing for one of their fellows, offering to someone love, consideration, thoughtful help. Let them see no one as their enemy, or as wishing them ill, but think of all humankind as their friends; regarding the alien as an intimate, the stranger as a companion, staying free of prejudice, drawing no lines.”
This conception of the individual has implications on community and institutional interactions which are at the core of a budding synergy between material and Divine civilization. The combination of these two civilizing forces results in the desired outcome of “the felicity of mankind,” the overarching question of the discourse in economics. To this extent, Abdu’l-Bahá, a central figure of the Bahá’í Faith exclaims “Manifest true economics to the people. Show what love is, what kindness is, what true severance is and generosity.”
So… what does this all mean? The implications of these ideas on common economic concepts such as competition (“let them see no one as their enemy”), the nature of markets (“concern themselves with doing a kindly thing for one of their fellows”) and human choices/decision making is obvious. The resulting challenge, however, is to look for examples of the “combined application of spiritual, moral and practical approaches… entailing consultation with experts from a wide spectrum of disciplines, devoid of economic and ideological polemics, and involving the people directly affected in the decisions that must urgently be made.” This blog is an initial attempt to bring together spiritual, moral and practical approaches towards economic development that have been adopted in various communities, professions, circles of thought, etc.
It is not assumed that this is a simple task, or even a task which has a specific direction or distinct vision that is guiding it. This begs the question… how will the blog entries be guided/directed?
Blog entries will be multi-faceted. Many entries will consist of the thoughts of the writers (in light of the blog’s conceptual framework, which itself will be fluid and constantly updated) as responses to literature, experience, and other elements related to this discourse. From time to time, the more relevant of these thoughts will be converged into a “So What?” piece, which will seek to create a more coherent vision of how these thoughts contribute towards economic reality in light of the conceptual framework.
The quality of the blog will depend heavily on the quality and thoughtfulness of the comments provided by its readers and collaborators. In this light, the methodology of the blog will attempt to borrow from the principles of consultation. Meaningful insights will be incorporated into the “So What?” entries in an effort to elevate our understanding on this topic. People of all backgrounds are encouraged to contribute. The more diverse, the better.
 Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablet to the Central Organization for a Durable Peace, The Hague
 Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pg. 239
 Universal House of Justice, October 1985, To the Peoples of the World
 Bahá’u’lláh: “The maturity of the gift of understanding is made manifest through consultation.”