What the Baha'i Faith says about modern slavery



Someone re-tweeted a link to this video on Twitter, and I decided to include it in this post. My thanks to the person who originally posted it and the one who sent it out on Twitter. I wouldn't have known about this song otherwise. I know very little about the group Radiohead except that my kids like their music. But I like this song. The situation with slavery in this age is one that REALLY makes me want to go HULK SMASH crazy. But even though part of me says yeah, I would feel better if I could destroy all of those slavery operations all over the world, I know that it's silly, a primordial impulse based on my very strong emotions concerning the issue. It's definitely not the answer. However, I believe that these instructions, even though it will take a very long time for humanity to realize, accept and implement them, ARE the answer:

No Industrial Slavery

In the Book of Aqdas Bahá'u'lláh forbids slavery, and
Abdu'l-Bahá has explained that not only chattel slavery, but
also industrial slavery, is contrary to the law of God. When in
the United States in 1912, He said to the American people: --

Between 1860 and 1865 you did a wonderful thing;
you abolished chattel slavery; but today you must do a
much more wonderful thing: you must abolish industrial
slavery. ...
The solution of economic questions will not be brought
about by array of capital against labor, and labor against 
capital, in strife and conflict, but by the voluntary attitude
of goodwill on both sides. Then a real and lasting justness
of conditions will be secured. ...
Among the Bahá'ís there are no extortionate, mercenary
and unjust practices, no rebellious demands, no revolutionary
uprisings against existing governments. ...
It will not be possible in the future for men to amass
great fortunes by the labors of others. The rich will
willingly divide. They will come to this gradually, naturally,
by their own volition. It will never be accomplished
by war and bloodshed.

It is by friendly consultation and cooperation, by just copartnership
and profit-sharing, that the interests of both capital
and labor will be best served. The harsh weapons of the strike
and lockout are injurious, not only to the trades immediately
affected, but to the community as a whole. It is, therefore, the
business of the governments to devise means for preventing
recourse to such barbarous methods of settling disputes.

Abdu'l-Bahá said at Dublin, New Hampshire, in 1912: --

Now I want to tell you about the law of God. According
to the divine law, employees should not be paid merely
by wages. Nay, rather they should be partners in every
work. The question of socialization is very difficult. It
will not be solved by strikes for wages. All the governments
of the world must be united, and organize an assembly,
the members of which shall be elected from the
parliaments and the noble ones of the nations. These must
plan with wisdom and power, so that neither the capitalists
suffer enormous losses, nor the laborers become
needy. In the utmost moderation they should make the
law, then announce to the public that the rights of the
working people are to be effectively preserved; also the
rights of the capitalists are to be protected. When such a
general law is adopted, by the will of both sides, should a
strike occur, all the governments of the world should collectively
resist it. Otherwise the work will lead to much
destruction, especially in Europe. Terrible things will take
place.

One of the several causes of a universal European war
will be this question. The owners of properties, mines and
factories, should share their incomes with their employees,
and give a fairly certain percentage of their profits to
their workingmen, in order that the employees should receive,
besides their wages, some of the general income of
the factory, so that the employee may strive with his soul
in the work.

In the current state of society, children face a cruel fate. Millions and millions in country after country are dislocated socially. Children find themselves alienated by parents and other adults whether they live in conditions of wealth or poverty. This alienation has its roots in a selfishness that is born of materialism that is at the core of the godlessness seizing the hearts of people everywhere. The social dislocation of children in our time is a sure mark of a society in decline; this condition is not, however, confined to any race, class, nation or economic condition -- it cuts across them all. It grieves our hearts to realize that in so many parts of the world children are employed as soldiers, exploited as labourers, sold into virtual slavery, forced into prostitution, made the objects of pornography, abandoned by parents centred on their own desires, and subjected to other forms of victimization too numerous to mention. Many such horrors are inflicted by the parents themselves upon their own children. The spiritual and psychological damage defies estimation. Our worldwide community cannot escape the consequences of these conditions. This realization should spur us all to urgent and sustained effort in the interests of children and the future.

(The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 157, 2000, p. 7)


How much of the energy employed in the business world of
today is expended simply in canceling and neutralizing the
efforts of other people -- in useless strife and competition! And
how much in ways that are still more injurious! Were all to
work, and were all work, whether of brain or hand, of a nature
profitable to mankind, as Bahá'u'lláh commands, then the supplies
of everything necessary for a healthy, comfortable and
noble life would amply suffice for all. There need be no slums,
no starvation, no destitution, no industrial slavery, no health-destroying
drudgery.

(Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Baha'u'llah and the New Era, p. 143)


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