Postage for Pakistan and other parts of the planet

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The poor you shall always have with you

Currently, I'm reading Our Oriental Heritage by the incomparable Will Durant. In it he writes, "Slowly the increasing complexity of tools and trade subjected the unskilled or weak to the skilled or strong; every invention was a new weapon in the hands of the strong, and further strengthened them in their mastery and use of the weak."
If the above is true -- and it certainly has the ring of truth -- what I draw from this is the following:
1) You cannot stop progress because man being man will always seek to create, build upon whatever foundations are laid before him, and invent;
2) In general, such progress will always be to the benefit of some to the exclusion of others;
3) Such progress will also typically enable the poor to find ways to keep themselves poor (e.g., spending money on an iPhone when a TracPhone will do, and then spending untold sums on various aps and downloads);
4) Therefore, it should not surprise us that the gap between rich and poor is widening. As Durant wrote back in the mid-1930s, "So in our time that Mississippi of inventions which we call the Industrial Revolution has enormously intensified the natural inequality of men."
Indeed, in a time of creative revolution such as we've seen over the last 50 years, it would be a surprise and indeed alarming were this not to happen. What is certainly surprising is that it surprises us that the gap is widening.
These things, it seems if we look at history, are cyclical. They ebb, they flow. Such will it ever be. It simply reinforces what my college professor, the great Dr. Ron Rietveld, once told us, and which for 20+ years has run in my ears ever since: "The only thing we learn from history is that we don't learn from history."
It's absolutely true. We don't care about it. "Ahhh, old hat. Yesterday's news, pal. Who cares what happened back then?" And then we get surprised when what happened back then happens to us for precisely the same reasons it happened back then.
None of this, of course, excuses us from taking care of the poor and -- if we are rich -- using our surplus as a blessing upon the poor. That's why God gives us surplus: Not for our own use but so that we may be His loving hands toward others (just like Moses was His hand at bringing water to the Hebrews or the priest is His hand of Divine Mercy in the confessional).
Still, Jesus said, "The poor you will always have with you," and it makes an awful lot of sense.
I don't know. Maybe I'm wrong. What do you think?

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