AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SUSTAINABILITY
Heading: Development Topic: Work
Contrary to the received opinion in some economic and political circles that people are inherently lazy and must be forced to work, there is ample evidence that most people want to work and to have a constructive role in society. Work is not just something one has to do to earn a living. It has social and even spiritual importance. The Bahá'í writings state "Ye are the trees of My garden; ye must give forth goodly and wondrous fruits, that ye yourselves and others may profit therefrom. Thus it is incumbent on everyone to engage in crafts and professions, for therein lies the secret of wealth... Trees that yield no fruit have been and ever will be for the fire." And again "The best of men are they that earn a livelihood by their calling and spend upon themselves and upon their kindred for the love of God..." (Bahá'u'lláh, 1858). Thus work performed in a spirit of service to humanity is as spiritually uplifting as prayer.
A sustainable society will aim to develop and use all the human potential for work in all its forms, as this is the basis of wealth creation, in which all should participate. On the other hand, idleness and begging are unproductive and degrading, and to be avoided. Because of the spiritual as well as material significance of work, it becomes an obligation of society to ensure a form of employment for everyone, and this should be an aim of any sustainable development.
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