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When you read Marx (or Jesus) this way, you come to see that real wealth is not material wealth and real poverty is not just the lack of food, shelter, and clothing. Real poverty is the belief that the purpose of life is acquiring wealth and owning things. Real wealth is not the possession of property but the recognition that our deepest need, as human beings, is to keep developing our natural and acquired powers to relate to other human beings.
Maybe we are a little crazy. After all, we believe in things we don't see. The Scriptures say that faith is "being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Heb. 11:1). We believe poverty can end even though it is all around us. We believe in peace even though we hear only rumours of wars. And since we are people of expectation, we are so convinced that another world is coming that we start living as if it were already here.
China is now suffering from poverty, not from unequal distribution of wealth. Where there are inequalities of wealth, the methods of Marx can, of course, be used; a class war can be advocated to destroy the inequalities. But in China, where industry is not yet developed, Marx's class war and dictatorship of the proletariat are impracticable.
Royce Westmoreland stared at him with biting scorn. "I despise hypocrisy, particularly when it is coated with holiness." "May I ask for a specific example?" "Fat priests," Royce replied, "with fat purses, who lecture staving peasants on the dangers of gluttony and the merits of poverty.
We could say that compassion is the ultimate attitude of wealth: an anti-poverty attitude, a war on want. It contains all sorts of heroic, juicy, positive, visionary, expansive qualities. And it implies larger scale thinking, a freer and more expansive way of relating to yourself and the world.
Genius is often a short way of spelling hard work. Poverty, obscurity, struggle and ambition formed the foundation for many careers of transcendent achievement. Few marks are made in the world's history by eight-hour-day men.... Sir Joshua Reynolds had but one maxim for success: Work, work, work. Is not rigid and continuous training necessary for the making of strong athletes? Hard work is not fatal to real success. Vouloir c'est pouvoir.
The authoritarian child-rearing style so often found in working-class families stems in part from the fact that parents see aroundthem so many young people whose lives are touched by the pain and delinquency that so often accompanies a life of poverty. Therefore, these parents live in fear for their children's future--fear that they'll lose control, that the children will wind up on the streets or, worse yet, in jail.
There can be no question that such a gap existed in early Christian art. What has been praised in it as deliberate simplification, masterly concentration or conscious idealizing and intensifying of the actual is in reality often just incapacity and poverty, just a helpless inability to render natural forms correctly, and a primitive bungling of the drawing. This clumsiness and ungainliness of early Christian art is not mastered until after the Edict of Toleration, when it became the official art of state and court, of aristocratic and educated circles.
I suppose, at the smallest average, for the making of a single rich man, we make a thousand whose life-long is one flood-tide of misery. The charnel-houses of poverty are in the shadow of the palace; and as one is splendid, so is the other dark, poisonous, degraded. How can a man grow rich, except on the spoils of others' labour? His boasted prudence and economy, what is it but the most skilfully availing himself of their necessities, most resolutely closing up his heart against their cries to him for help?
Public money ought to be touched with the most scrupulous conscientiousness of honor. It is not the produce of riches only, but of the hard earnings of labor and poverty. It is drawn even from the bitterness of want and misery. Not a beggar passes, or perishes in the streets, whose mite is not in that mass.