Global poverty, at long last, is being recognized as a priority on the international agenda. This is commendable progress. However, to make a significant contribution towards the elimination of poverty, there is still need for concerted effort and convincing programmes.
As we observe the ‘International Day for the Eradication of Poverty’ on 17th October, let us look at the importance of unity and justice in eradicating poverty.
Poverty is a condition that arises from injustices in society, including discrimination against women and girls, xenophobia, and racism.
It is the Bahá’í view that, for justice to become the organizing principle in our communities, there is need for spiritual and moral transformation, and for belief in and practice of the principle of oneness of humanity: “nations must be assisted and held accountable for their efforts vis-à-vis the poor; at the same time, the underlying values must take root on a personal level so that behaviour is ultimately guided by a sense of responsibility towards other human beings”.
The acceptance of the oneness of human family implies that social and economic justice should be observed for everyone and implemented both within and between nations. It implies racial, ethnic, national, and religious harmony. It also implies that woman and men should be given equal rights, opportunities, and privileges.
According to the Bahá’í International Community: “A new economic order can be founded only on an unshakable conviction of the oneness of mankind. Discussions aimed at solving problems related to extreme poverty based on the premise that we are one human family rapidly expand beyond the current vocabulary of economics. They demand a wider context, one which anticipates the emergence of a global system of relationships resting on the principles of equity and justice “.
To eradicate global poverty will require combined application of spiritual, moral, and practical approaches, the elimination of the extremes of wealth and poverty, and a process of consultation that involves those directly affected in the decisions that are being made.
It requires a global ethic based on the acceptance of oneness of human family, that results in social and economic justice, both within and between nations.
The Universal House of Justice, the governing council of the Bahá’í international community states: “The inordinate disparity between rich and poor, a source of acute suffering, keeps the world in a state of instability, virtually on the brink of war. Few societies have dealt effectively with this situation. The solution calls for the combined application of spiritual, moral and practical approaches. A fresh look at the problem is required, entailing consultation with experts from a wide spectrum of disciplines, … and involving the people directly affected in the decisions that must urgently be made”.
Efforts to address poverty eradication, therefore, will only succeed when moral and spiritual values, such as global justice and unity – achievable through the acceptance of the oneness of the humanity– are made an essential part of the solution.
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