Gregory Dahl, “Economic Life: Reflections on the House of Justice Message of 1 March 2017”
Sunday, April 22, 2018
In their message to the Bahá’ís of the World of 1 March 2017, the Universal House of Justice calls on us to “examine the implications of the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh for economic life” and to exert “strenuous effort… to put His teachings into effect today.” (emphasis added) This Web talk will examine different aspects of this call in the context of concepts introduced by the House of Justice in earlier messages, such as the central role of community-building, the need for all—individuals, communities and institutions—to participate in the process, the importance of everyone acquiring knowledge and participating in its creation through action and reflection, and the need to ensure that the spiritual and material aspects of our lives are coherent.
These concepts are radical and dramatically different from the usual concepts of development and social change. There is no mention in the 1 March 2017 message of economic theories or experts, nor of top-down initiatives or political movements. Although the realization of the Bahá’í World Commonwealth of the future will require new economic systems to ensure economic justice, the House of Justice indicates that its “eventual emergence” will depend on the efforts we make now. The call is for Bahá’ís to increasingly contribute to economic justice and social progress in their own lives and communities “using the opportunities their circumstances offer them”. This Web talk will explore some of the ways we might be able to respond to this call, drawing on a range of Bahá’í principles that appear relevant.
Gregory Dahl is author of One World, One People: How Globalization is Shaping Our Future (Bahá’í Publishing 2007), which is listed as recommended reading in the “What Bahá’ís Believe” section of bahai.org, as well as numerous articles. After studying economics at Harvard, he pursued a 27-year career as an economist and senior official of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), working with top-level government officials in different areas of the globe to try to resolve economic problems and promote development. He served as the resident representative of the IMF in Haïti, Sierra Leone, Bulgaria and Madagascar for a total of 10 years. His IMF position gave him first-hand experience with the practical dilemmas faced by leaders as well as their human and often moral shortcomings in dealing with those dilemmas. He is a second generation Bahá’í and has traveled and visited Bahá’í communities in over 100 countries. He served on the National Spiritual Assembly of Bulgaria for 10 years and as its secretary for 5 years, and has been a Deputy Trustee of Ḥuqúqu’lláh since 2008. He currently lives in the Czech Republic with his family.