Source: The Bahá'í magazine Star of the West, vol. 15, no. 7, October 1924, pp. 189-96
Transcribed and proofread by Ralph D. Wagner
See also Stanwood Cobb, "The Unity of Nations"
About us on every side we see airships traveling in regular courses--some carrying freight and some human passengers.
We look for dreadnaughts but none are to be seen. Instead an international police patrols the waters and preserves order among the merchant-marine that ply the ocean from coast to coast.
On land the trees are the first to catch our eye. They look different from the shade trees we are accustomed to seeing, for they are all heavily laden. None but fruit or nut-bearing trees are to be found.
The fields are verdant and delightfully productive. Large areas of well-kept farms radiate from and surround numerous small settlements.
Each settlement is marked by two outstanding structures. One of these buildings is plainly a wonderful public school, expressing in complete detail the dreams of the early century educators. The other structure, bearing the name "House of Justice," especially piques our curiosity.
We are told that this "House of Justice" is in reality a central store-house, established for the benefit of every member of the community.
There comes to our minds the memory of North Dakota farmers who long ago tried some sort of community plan. But this "House of Justice" we are informed is a success as a community benefactor, being supported by the community, which in turn supports it.
The store-house has seven definite revenues and seven definite expenditures:
1. Income tax.
2. Inheritance tax.
3. Tax on animals.
4. All things discovered whose owners cannot be found.
5. One-third of all treasures found in the earth (such as oil wells, buried cities, etc.).
6. One-third of the output of all mines.
7. Voluntary contributions.
1. General running expenses of the institution; salaries, administration of public safety, including a hygiene department.
2. Taxes to the general government.
3. Taxes to the state government.
4. Support of orphans.
5. Support of cripples and incurables.
6. Support of educational institutions.
7. Supplying deficiencies in the incomes of the poor.
The mention of "income tax" causes us to groan in memory; but the words "supplying deficiencies in the incomes of the poor" makes us wonder if by chance we have strayed within the "pearly gates," and we look about for St. Peter. But no such royal judge is in sight--only people, men and women, busy, busy, busy--and most mysteriously happy.
We simply must know about this tax system. It cannot be the one we have known or the people could not be so joyful. So we inquire from a venerable man who seems to take pleasure in being of service to others.
"The plan for the income tax," we are told, "is world wide. It has been established and is regulated by an International House of Justice, made up of representatives from the National House of Justice of each nation on earth. Its aim is to prevent either congestion or lack of capital in any part of the body-politic. It supplies the needs of the working man and at the same time protects the rights of the wealthy man."
We look at each other and shake our heads. "Impossible!" we think.
But the venerable gentleman goes on to explain. "The world is a great federation of peoples, each member of which realizes that his happiness, his individual well-being depends entirely on the happiness and well-being of all other members of the human race."
How such a spirit of altruism, how such an illumined self-interest can be a universal reality is beyond our comprehension. But we keep still and listen.
"This first revenue that is paid into the community fund," our informant goes on to say, "is based on a man's net income. If a farmer's expenses equal his necessary expenditures he is not taxed at all. If his income be $500.00 and his expenses $500.00 he is not required to pay anything into the community fund. If, however, his expenses be $500.00 and his income $1,000 he is taxed one-tenth of his net income, or $50.00--leaving a net saving of $450.00.
"If his expenses be $1,000.00 and his income $20,000.00 he will pay into the fund one-fourth of the net profit.
"Again, if his income be $100,000.00 and his expenses $5,000.00, he will pay one-third of his net profits as taxes into the common fund. Say he pays $3,500.00 in addition to the expenditure of $5,000.00 he still has left $60,000."
Again, if a man's expenses are $10,000.00 and his income $200,000.00, his income tax will be an even one-half of his net profits, which will still leave him $105,000.00, while his income tax will amount to $95,000.00."
This is too much for our self-centered minds to accept in silence, and one of us exclaims impatiently, "But that is not fair. That man had brains enough to earn $200,000.00. Why should he not keep what he has fairly earned? Does intelligence count for nothing!"
An expression of wonder looks out at us from the eyes of the wise old man, as he gently replies, "Yes, intelligence counts for everything in the year 2000. It is the intelligent men who are supporting, controlling, educating and illuminating the world of today. They are the pillars upon which this universal civilization stands.
"The intelligent man of today finds his greatest happiness in serving the world of humanity. He realizes the oneness and interdependence of mankind. He looks on all races--the red, the black, the white, the brown, the yellow--as so many flowers in the garden of creation. It is joy to that intelligent man to have a hand in developing the beauty and perfection latent within each human flower; for he realizes that just as a dwarfed, withered, or stunted flower will detract from the beauty of a flower garden, so will an uneducated , untrained, repressed, or sick man be a blight on the garden of human intelligence. Therefore the thinking men of the day are trying in every possible way to increase human intelligence.
"The intelligent man of today sees the nations of the world as the members of one large family--the human family. And that family is a happy group, united in love and co-operation, in educational system and language, in economic adjustment and religion."
The last is too much for us. Suddenly our suppressed emotions break all bonds, and a veritable uproar of questions and exclamations burst forth. "Religion! Did you say? United in religion?" an incredulous voice exclaims.
And as the wise man gravely nods his head, our Catholic friends smile complacently--for of course the whole world has become Catholic.
The Protestant friends look a little less certain, for there is a possibility that some other Protestant denomination than the right one may be the one in control.
A follower of Buddha smiles sweetly--for, of course, it must be the gentle spirit of Buddha that has united the people in love.
The followers of Moses have not the slightest doubt that the "faith of our fathers" has at last covered the earth.
While a Mohammedan brother claps his hands in glee at the prospect of a life-time of picnics in the open without the danger of having his food polluted by finding the shadow of a Christian falling across his lunch. Of course the whole world has become Mohammedan.
But when the various creeds and cults mention their names as contestants for the honor of this united religion, the aged man shakes his head and patiently explains, "No religion that still imparts spiritual life and inspiration to any part of the human race will ever be destroyed.
"All religions teach the law of love and co-operation. The followers of all religions believe in One Supreme Creator who radiates His Love and Bounty to all the creational world.
"All religionists believe in an intermediary between that Unknown and Unknowable Essence of the Creator and His creation. They believe in a wonderful being, a super-man, who has attracted by His Perfections the Supreme Rays of Intelligence and reflected them to all contingent beings.
"In times past some called that perfect mirror Moses, some Jesus, some Buddha, some Mohammed, etc. In the early part of the century each religionist believed his particular religion to be the only true pathway to God; and arose in contention and strife over the difference in names of their founders.
"But in this, the year 2000, no such inharmony exists. Religion is recognized as a source of inspiration and uplift; religion is the cause of unity. The different religions that have existed in the past and those that will exist in the future are seen as so many days or periods on which the Supreme Sun has shone; while the Founders of each religion are the Points on the horizon where the Sun has risen each morning.
"The Rising Point of the Sun for one Day is called Moses; the Rising Point of the Sun for another day is called Jesus, another Point, Buddha, another Zoroaster, another Mohammed.
"The names of each day are different, the name of each rising place is different, but it is ever the same Sun that illumines the world, whether it be the Sun of Monday or Tuesday, whether it rises from a northern or southern point on the horizon. It is ever the same sun."
Here we must interrupt again saying, "But after all this explanation, we still cannot reconcile the teachings of Moses and Mohammed, for instance, with the teachings of Jesus. Moses made a law that if a man committed a theft his hand would be cut off, while Jesus prayed for the thief that hung beside him on the cross. Jesus never married, while Mohammed allowed his followers to have four wives. Do you call this agreement, harmony, unity between the founders of religion?"
The wise old man only smiles and replies calmly, "Oh, but you do not understand. Each religion is divided into two parts: First, the true, fundamental, spiritual part that teaches love, love for God and love for God's creation, that teaches the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man; while the second part of each religion has to do with the material laws that were necessary for the time in which the Prophet lived.
"For example--at the time of Moses the law of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth was necessary--for the lawless peoples whom Moses taught had to be ruled by fear. Again, Mohammed limited his followers to four wives. That seems terrible to your early century minds to think that someone, who is claimed by millions of people to be a prophet of God, should countenance polygamy. But I realize," the venerable teacher continues, "that it is because you do not know the condition of the people to whom Mohammed gave his teachings. They were the savage tribes of the Arabian peninsula--so wild and unrestrained that each man was accustomed to taking as many wives as he wished. All a man had to do to call a woman his wife was to go out into the street and throw a cloak over her shoulders. To such an untrained and irresponsible people as this Mohammed gave first his teachings of love for the one God and His creation; and second his material laws. One of the material laws limited those wild and savage tribes to four wives, provided, Mohammed added, that they could be treated equally, an edict which he probably intended as a subtle step toward monogamy and a tremendous advance over the condition that had existed before.
"And so you see that it was lack of differentiation between the unchangeable, spiritual teachings and the ever-changing material laws of these founders of religion that caused so much dissension in the early part of the century.
"In this the year 2000 people understand the fundamental harmony underlying all religions, all creation in fact.--Here I see a man who is disgusted with all this talk about religion." And our instructor turned with a smile to our friend the scientist.
"I perceive that you have not yet discovered, what we of the twenty-first century know, that true religion and true science are not antagonistic. Our definition of religion is man's love for God as expressed in his attitude toward mankind; while we know that science makes rational and systematic our search for truth.
"The scientific man of today sees all phenomena involved in all phenomena. He sees the atom as a miniature universe, governed by the same universal laws that control the largest bodies in creation.
"The scientist of this year 2000 is not antagonistic to the religion of the day, because religion has cast off its man-made creeds and dogmas that in times past kept its followers bound by tradition and bigotry. The religionist of today sees as many roads to perfection as there are human beings--for science has proved that no two phenomena are exactly alike.
"All men, scientists and religionists alike,
independently for truth, and accept nothing that does not appeal to their
A PAUSE ensues. The venerable gentleman seems lost in thought. I personally feel overwhelmed by such an ideal concept. I have nothing to say. But it is not so with our friend Mr. Educator. The idea of a universal education appeals to him. He asks for an explanation, and our venerable friend seems especially pleased to comply with the request.
The International court of Justice has established an education system that is universal throughout the world. It has also formed laws that make it compulsory for every boy and girl to not only have the same fundamental education but to be trained in some trade, art, or profession. That is why you see all these people so happy in their work. Each one is trained in the work he or she is most fitted to succeed at. In this age one of the highest forms of worship is work done in the spirit of love and service. In the year 2000 we witness the glorification of labor.
"The educational system also includes instruction in an international language. Long ago the International Court of Justice empowered a committee of linguists, highly versed in all known languages, to form a synthetic language that could be taught in all the schools of the world, so that the child along with his home tongue could learn this international language. There were attempts made to form an international language in your day. Esperanto was perhaps the most notable example. During your travels you will notice that a child from Italy can converse freely with a child from Germany, France, America, China--in fact with children of all nations. Since the use of this language has become universal, misunderstanding between races and nations due to difference in language has been entirely wiped out.
At this point I interrupted, "One of the expenditures of your community fund is itemized as 'supplying deficiencies in the incomes of the poor.' I want to hear about that."
"Oh yes," our kind friend acquiesces, "we did not get to that. Suppose an emergency were to arise. A farmer's income due to failure of crop or some unforseen circumstance is $500, while his expenses are $1,000. The farmer lacks $500 to have enough to pay his debts. In such a case the local House of Justice will pay to him the sum of $500 from the common fund, so he will not be in need.
"The poor, who have not sufficient earning capacity to properly clothe, house, and feed themselves, have their necessary expenses defrayed by the general fund.
"Orphans without means, who are being educated by the community, have all their expenses paid by the House of Justice.
"And other members of the community, who for valid reasons are incapacitated, the blind, the old, the deaf, their comfort will be looked after. In the village no one remains in want."
"But what about the cities, state, nation?" is asked.
"In the cities the same plan is carried out only on a larger scale."
"Let us go and see the cities for ourselves," someone exclaims.
"But I am not ready to leave our generous informant yet," I object. "I may want to ask more questions."
"I will go with you, then you can see and listen at the same time," replies the gracious gentleman. Of course this is delightful, so we again begin our travels.
As we visit one city after another, I am impressed with the fact that there are no congested districts of foreigners such as I have been accustomed to see.
Our guide informs us that in this the year 2000 there are no foreigners. "There are immigrants to be sure; but the International Court of Arbitration has worked out a system that takes care of the immigrant in all countries, and makes him an asset to the community.
"Any person entering a country is examined for his innate capabilities and is placed in a location and a work that he is fitted to succeed at.
"Every man that has agricultural tendencies is encouraged in farming. It is a recognized fact that well regulated and productive farms act as a fundamental basis for a nation's prosperity."
We visit the penitentiaries and find them more like schools and hospitals than places for severe correction or harsh retaliation. "Criminals have been discovered to be either ignorant, sick, or mentally deficient," we are informed. "Their number has been reduced to a minimum since education and the healing art have advanced so marvelously."
"The factories, mines and all large establishments, where numerous employees are needed, are wonderful places to visit. Each employee acts as if this business were his own business. His interest and joy in work are phenomenal.
As I express my thoughts aloud our guide responds, "You are right. Each employee has a personal interest in the business. Besides his salary he owns a certain number of shares, that pay him dividends monthly or annually on the net profits of the concern.
"History shows that as far back as 1915 certain employers began sharing the profits of their business with their employees. Today the system is an established thing. It has entirely wiped out strikes for wages, that were so troublesome years ago."
Here Mr. Educator interrupts and changes the subject, "Ever since we visited those wonderful schools, I have wanted a question answered. I am amazed at the large number of instructors that your educational system supports--all stamped as men and women of superior intelligence. It has been my experience that where a man or woman remained faithful in the field of teaching he or she was more or less a martyr to the cause of education. All the instructors I have known have been underpaid."
"Yes, that condition existed for many years," our informant replies. But ever since the International House of Justice established the inheritance tax as a regular revenue for each local storehouse, teachers have received adequate compensation.
"All inheritance estates are divided into seven divisions: Children, husband and wife, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, teachers. If anyone dies without heirs the House of Justice is given the inheritance to use for the good of the community. In case there are heirs, one-third of the estate is paid into the community fund and the other two-thirds is divided among the heirs.
"You will notice that teachers constitute one of the heirs. And so it is possible, by means of this continuous support from all inheritance estates, to get the most efficient and best qualified men and women in the world to devote their time and intelligence to the service of educating the people of the earth.
"The schools themselves, you will remember, are built and supported by the community fund.
"Thus you see how interwoven are the educational and economic systems of this the year 2000. The acquirement of desirable educators and ideal schools depends on economic prosperity; while economic prosperity in turn depends on the activity of educators and their vehicles the schools in training the mind of man and thus developing his intelligence.
"So we can truly say that intelligence is the axis around which this universal civilization revolves.
"It is intelligence that makes man realize his oneness with the other members of the human race.
"It is intelligence that makes him see the essential harmony that exists between true science and true religion.
"It is intelligence that enables man to recognize the gift of work.
"It is intelligence that teaches man the necessity of normalizing rather than equalizing or monopolizing the distribution of capital.
"It is intelligence that makes compulsory a universal system of education and training for both boys and girls.
"It is intelligence that has united the world in a federation of nations.
"It is intelligence that has caused the International House of Justice to limit the boundaries of all nations; to change the dreadnaughts and warships into a great merchant marine; and to form an international policy to protect the rights of all countries; to limit the standing armies of nations to a few battalions for preserving internal order.
"It was intelligence that caused the International Court to establish this twenty-first century economic system, that connects local community with state, state with nation, and that binds the nations together in a great federation of nations.
"It was intelligence that causes these wheels within wheels to revolve safely and continuously.
"This year 2000 has become distinguished for its spirit of cooperation and brotherly love--through the agency of intelligence. Intelligence is the secret of all progress; and all intelligence comes from One Supreme Source. It is the Supreme Creative Intelligence that supplies each ray of individual intelligence.
"It was the Supreme Intelligence animating the temple of man that caused that Great Sacrifice, Bahá'u'lláh, in the middle of the nineteenth century to sow the seeds that have developed into this 'heaven on earth' that we call a universal civilization."