This morning I came across this curious statement made by a prominent contemporary politician speaking with regards to the global financial crisis: ‘we must compete our way to prosperity’. This sparked a personal investigation into the idea of ‘prosperity’, not simply of “material” prosperity but also of spiritual prosperity—of prosperity in the fullest sense of the term. In a recent statement on the prosperity of humankind, the Bahá’í International Community states that the beneficiaries of prosperity ‘must be all of the planet’s inhabitants, without distinction, without the imposition of conditions unrelated to the fundamental goals of such a reorganization of human affairs’. In short, it is not competition but, rather, cooperation, consultation, and unified collective action that will bring humanity closer to this vision of prosperity.
This perspective echoes a statement made by Abdu’l-Bahá during his visit to London in 1911. At the express wish of the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Thomas B. Crosby, a private reception was held with Abdu’l-Bahá early on the morning of September 9 at Mansion House, the home of the Lord Mayor. As conversation turned to the social conditions of great cities, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá proclaimed:
‘There is great spiritual light in London. The effort made for justice is real and in this country the law is the same for the poor as for the rich’. Abdu’l-Bahá was full of praise for the city of London, claiming that London was ‘the best regulated city he had seen’, and spoke of ‘the land being happy where the magistrates are as fathers to the people’.
Abdu’l-Bahá, Abdu’l-Bahá in London, 1982 reprint, p.109–110
Bahá’í International Community (BIC), The Prosperity of Humankind, 1995, http://bic.org/statements-and-reports/statements/the-prosperity-of-humankind