This is still a half-formed thought, and I need some help finishing it:
What is the connection between unemployment, economic productivity, fair distribution of wealth, and a spirit of service?
I’ve been thinking about it for a long, long time, and it’s still a bunch of ingredients that have yet to form a cohesive stew. Here are the ingredients; I’m pretty sure they go together to make something pretty good, but I’m not sure what it is:
- A spirit of service: being genuinely thrilled to do something useful to your fellow human beings—for example, as Shoghi Effendi writes, “… the exaltation of work, performed in the spirit of service, to the rank of worship.” Whether it’s for pay (for example, organizing the world’s information) or an act of charity (for example, teaching almost everything).
- Technology keeps making life easier: Fewer people are needed to see to everyone’s basic needs, which makes things cheaper but is also creating unemployment and “the failure … of society itself to harness the energy, intelligence, and enthusiasm of the next generation.“
- Fair distribution of resources: elimination of extremes of wealth and poverty. This doesn’t mean elimination of variation, but rather, if there is extreme wealth somewhere, ensuring that other people don’t have to grind away their lives in poverty. Further, that people should eat the fruit of their labor— and not see it all go to the man.
I can think of a few implications, but does anyone know of examples of these principles put into practice? What kind of society can we build after they stew for a while?
- If life is easy, what will motivate you to do difficult things? A spirit of service?
- Can you truly be unemployed if you are looking for ways to be of service (and not desperately poor)?
- What proportion of people take advantage of the system?
- Where can innovation come from, if everyone has access to information, reasonable resources, and if we celebrate service?