Attempts to instigate the processes of economic development frustrate economists. Strategies effective in some geographic regions fail dismally in others. Economic growth, moreover, does not necessarily enhance human welfare. The realization that world economic wealth is an essential component to the development of humankind and a global society at peace begets even keener frustration. The Prosperity of Humankind, a 1995 statement by the Bahá’í International Community, recognizes the essential role of economis in igniting the capacity of humankind. Although for social scientists, many of the requisite values and principles called for in the statement are not new, the recognition of the “unity of humankind” and the vision of world prosperity underlying all plans for human interaction offer a blueprint far global prosperity that releases human potential, capacities, and choices. Since the late 1700s, economists have designed models that primarily reflect the socioeconomic and political framework of Western society. Religious teachings about the nature of humankind are not a part of modern economic theory, because past religious doctrines do not explain observed economic behavior. Western society demonstrates a materialistic orientation. Economists assume that economic decisions are based on rational self-interest. In The Prosperity of Humankind, a new concept of the reality of human nature presented by the Bahá’í writings opens a dialogue between religious thinkers and economists. The unity of humankind and the global activities triggered by this premise provide workable new hypotheses for designing economic strategies for prosperity.
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