Dublin, NH, day 21 of 23; economics and related issues
Mahmud writes: "All the friends had been informed that the Master would soon leave Dublin for Green Acre in Eliot, Maine, and that time was running out. They asked Him to speak on economics and to correct certain false ideas of the socialists. His explanations were so impressive that after He left they
implored Him to reveal a Tablet on this subject and send it through Mrs Parsons so that it might remove doubts from the minds of the people. The following is a transcription of that Tablet:
Dublin: To the maidservant of God, Mrs Parsons.
Upon her be Bahá'u'lláhu'l-Abhá.
He is God.
O thou, my spiritual daughter,
I am on a train on my way to San Francisco. I recalled your praiseworthy qualities and the dear face of little Master Jeffrey, so I wanted to write this letter. Know that my greatest pleasure will be when I shall see you, my dear daughter, enraptured and completely charmed by the paradise of Abhá, and aflame with the fire of the love of God. May my dear daughter burn and melt like a candle to enlighten all people. It is my hope that thou mayest be so.
Regarding the question of economics according to the new teachings, as this caused some difficulty for you because the report you received did not reflect what I said, I shall outline the essence of this matter so that it will be clearly proven that there is no complete solution for the economic question apart from that offered in the new teachings. It is absolutely impossible to resolve the problem by other means.
In solving this problem we must start with the farmer and end with other trades, because there are twice as many farmers, if not more, as there are people engaged in other trades. Thus it is right that we begin with them. The farmer is the primary factor in society.
In every village a council of wise men of the village should be established and the whole village should be placed under its jurisdiction. In addition, a public treasury should be established with its own administrator. At harvest time a specific quantity of the general produce of the village should be appropriated for the treasury. This treasury will have seven sources of income, namely: tithes, taxes on livestock, unclaimed inheritance, property that has been found but that has no owner, buried treasure (if found, one third of it should be paid to the council), mines (one-third of the natural resources taken should be levied by the council) and donations. Likewise, there are to be seven categories of expenditure: first, moderate public expenditures such as the expenses of the council and maintenance of public health; second, payment of government taxes; third, payment of taxes on livestock to the government; fourth, care of orphans; fifth, providing for the disabled; sixth, management of schools; and seventh, providing the necessary means of livelihood for the poor.
The first means of income is the tithe, which must be administered as follows: If a person's average income is $500 and his necessary expenses amount to the same sum, no tithe will be collected from him. If another person has an income of $1,000 and his necessary expenses amount to $500, he will be able to pay the tithe because he will have more than he needs. If he pays the tithe there will be no decline in his standard of living. Another has an income of $5,000 and his expenses are only $1,000, so he will have to pay one and one-half times the tithe because he has an even greater amount than he needs. Another has an income of $10,000 and his necessary expenses amount to $1,000; therefore he will have to pay two times the tithe because his surplus is larger. Another person has an income of $100,000 and expenses amounting to $4,000 or $5,000; he will have to pay one-fourth of his income. Another has an income of $200 but the expenses he requires to live at subsistence level amount to $500. He spares no pains in working and laboring for his livelihood but the fruit of his labor is inadequate. He must be helped from the treasury so that he may not be in want and may live in comfort.
In every village a certain amount should be allocated for the orphans there. The disabled must be provided for. The treasury must also provide for the needy who are unable to work. The council will also allocate a certain amount for the department of education and for public health. If there is a surplus, it will be transferred to the national treasury for general expenses. If it be thus arranged, every individual in society will live comfortably and pass his days happily.
Differences in station will also remain and no breach will occur in this respect. Gradations of rank are without doubt one of the essentials of society. Society is like an army. An army requires field marshals, generals, colonels, captains and privates. It is utterly impossible for all professions to be equal. Preservation of rank is necessary. But each individual in the army must live in perfect peace and comfort. Likewise, a town requires a mayor, judges, merchants, men of means, craftsmen and farmers. Of course, these ranks must be observed, otherwise the general order would be disrupted.
Convey my heartfelt love to Mr Parsons. I shall never forget him. If possible, have this letter published in one of the newspapers, as others are proclaiming these principles in their own names. Convey wondrous Abhá greetings to Qudsíyyih [the first Persian woman to travel in the United States].
Upon you be Bahá-u'l-Abhá.
It is very interesting that He would convey such specifics in a letter to an individual and suggest that the letter be published!
Agnes on this day describes various people visiting and the fact that there was a hotel bill to pay—so apparently `Abdu'l-Bahá was moving out of the hotel. Then she describes the lunch guests. “The luncheon was very pleasant, after which `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke in a particularly interesting way of certain pagan customs which crept into the Christian Church worship. They said their servants were all at the Church on Sunday and that the cook particularly wanted to know if she might come near after the luncheon and listen to `Abdu'l-Bahá. After the rest which He took directly after luncheon, we went on the terrace where, hidden by a tree, the cook sat. A little later He asked for the servants to come that He might speak to them, which He did very beautifully, shaking hands with all four of them.
Joe’s play was an extravaganza which coming late, we could not follow. [Joseph Linden Smith had constructed an outdoor stage near his house, called “Teatro Bambino,” where this play was performed.”] `Abdu'l-Baháwas given a seat and I was offered one, but after a little time He withdrew to the side near some trees, saying it was hot. It was thought He did not like the play, but He was very courteous in all He said about it. He told Joe he was a genius.
Miss Caldwell took `Abdu'l-Bahá, Dr. Fareed and me around the lake and to our house in time for the ¼ to 6 meeting. This day there was a large number of young people. . . . After this meeting, Mirza Ali Akbar, Ali Kuli Khan’s secretary, arrived.
At about 9:30 we all walked down to Day-Spring where we had a Persian dinner with `Abdu'l-Bahá. It was simple. He had pillau [Persian rice], and a dessert also of rice—also ice cream.
After dinner, which was served by Sayyad Assad Ulla, a descendant of Muhammed, `Abdu'l-Bahá took Jeffrey and me, with Dr. Fareed, to His room where we had a beautiful talk together. Jeffrey spoke frankly about his religious feelings, in a way that I think he has never spoken to any one before. `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke most wonderfully about sincerity—saying there are degrees, that one person’s conception of it must not be judged by another who may be capable of expressing a higher degree of this quality. As we were leaving our house for His, He said: ‘Where is Mr. Jeffrey?’ When told: ‘Asleep,” He said, it seemed reluctantly, ‘Very good.’ If I had only known he was expected!
Jeffey Boy said recently, ‘I wish `Abdu'l-Bahá would drive once in the cart. The horses have had all the honor, and I want Max to have some honor!’ `Abdu'l-Bahá would have done so, but there has seemed no time.”
How we can relate to such wishes of people—to have `Abdu'l-Bahá fulfill a personal wish and be there for us. But in a larger sense, He is so very present for us. . . .
To the right--publicity about `Abdu'l-Bahá's pending arrival at Green Acre. I think you can magnify it to read it?