Join the Middle Class. Have a life that’s good enough. This morning I was just sitting at my dining room table, playing Threes, when the concept of the Middle Class poked its elephant head in through a window and explained its radical nature. “I’m not just a pleasant compromise,” elephant-middle-class said, “I’m an essential foundation for a peaceful planet.”
It went on, “Think about it. You keep ranting to anyone who will listen that we need to move on towards post-scarcity thinking. Run on love and planning instead of fear and coping. People are already doing that, and we call them Middle Class.“
This elephant had a point.
I looked at the elephant, excited to talk with it but a little afraid it would grab me with its trunk and practice juggling.
Instead it used its trunk to pull a bundle of grass out of some kind of saddle bag on its back that had a red and yellow diamond pattern. I think it was made of wool.
It rested its head on the windowsill and munched.
“Wait, why are you telling me this?” I asked it, “Don’t you have important things to do? Don’t elephants have to eat, like 20 hours every day to avoid starving?”
It shrugged with its ears while its mouth kept working on the grass. Elephant eating involves a lot of chewing. I drank some coffee and looked down at Threes but wasn’t interested in my game for the moment.
It swallowed, licked its lips, and spoke up again, “Maybe it would help to call it something more than middle class.” Its dark eye blinked slowly. “For example, what is this place you live in?”
“A kitchen.” I looked around. “I mean a house.”
“Yes,” it nodded slowly. “And its spiritual significance? Isn’t it also a sacred environment where neighbors come to celebrate their companionship and have elevated discussions? And where children can develop and flourish as spiritual beings?”
“Yeah, it is — on a good day at least.” I looked around. It helped that the kitchen was in decent shape this morning because (just to brag a little) I did dishes last night.
“And all that is easier if the roof doesn’t leak and it doesn’t freeze indoors in the winter.”
The elephant — again — had a point. I offered it coffee and cantaloupe rinds (they still had some of the orange part on them) that I had gotten out for the guinea pigs. It took some cantaloupe and made quick work of it.
“The middle class is the same.” It lifted its head and ran its trunk along the window frame, then started to amble away.
“Hey,” I called after it. “Happy Declaration of the Báb!” I think it smiled.
In an earnest talk with the Rector of a Parish, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: “I find England awake; there is spiritual life here. But your poor are so very poor! This should not be. On the one hand you have wealth, and great luxury; on the other hand men and women are living in the extremities of hunger and want. This great contrast of life is one of the blots on the civilization of this enlightened age.
“You must turn attention more earnestly to the betterment of the conditions of the poor. Do not be satisfied until each one with whom you are concerned is to you as a member of your family. Regard each one either as a father, or as a brother, or as a sister, or as a mother, or as a child. If you can attain to this, your difficulties will vanish, you will know what to do. This is the teaching of Bahá’u’lláh.”‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, “Education”
“The supreme need of humanity is cooperation and reciprocity,” said ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. “The stronger the ties of fellowship and solidarity amongst men, the greater will be the power of constructiveness and accomplishment in all the planes of human activity.” In the same way that the human being is more than the sum of the individual cells which comprise its body, so too the powers of a unified community far exceed the combined powers of its individual members.Bahai.org, “The Community”
“A new life,” Bahá’u’lláh proclaims, “is, in this age, stirring within all the peoples of the earth; and yet none hath discovered its cause, or perceived its motive.” “O ye children of men,” He thus addresses His generation, “the fundamental purpose animating the Faith of God and His Religion is to safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race… This is the straight path, the fixed and immovable foundation. Whatsoever is raised on this foundation, the changes and chances of the world can never impair its strength, nor will the revolution of countless centuries undermine its structure.” “The well-being of mankind,” He declares, “its peace and security are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.” “So powerful is the light of unity,” is His further testimony, “that it can illuminate the whole earth. The one true God, He Who knoweth all things, Himself testifieth to the truth of these words… This goal excelleth every other goal, and this aspiration is the monarch of all aspirations.” “He Who is your Lord, the All-Merciful,” He, moreover, has written, “cherisheth in His heart the desire of beholding the entire human race as one soul and one body. Haste ye to win your share of God’s good grace and mercy in this Day that eclipseth all other created days.”Shoghi Effendi, “The Unfoldment of World Civilization”
“Wait, isn’t the Middle Class founded on unsustainable consumption that is eliminating natural environments and causing catastrophic climate change?” I called after its diminishing form.
It called back over its shoulder, “You’re pretty good engineers — I’m sure you can figure it out if you work together.”