Have you noticed the violence, class hatred, and vandalism lately? All in the name of tolerance, respect, and love. Does this seem ironic to you?
There are many things we cannot do in this world. Yet sometimes we think we can—we think it will work. In 1916, an American pastor named Reverend Boetcker famously penned a little pamphlet entitled The Ten Cannots. Over the years, it has been misattributed to Abraham Lincoln and it does sound very “Lincolnesque”. I have often turned to it for inspiration.
The Ten Cannots
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.
You might rightly conclude from this list that, in today’s society, we are doing everything wrong. I cannot address everything in one blog post. Today, I will consider, You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
It seems that so many of our leaders today resort to pitting one group of people against another. This is scapegoating, among other things. It’s always nice to have someone else to blame for our problems. It’s those greedy one-percenters who are destroying our society. It’s those lazy people on social security who are bankrupting our country. I’d be rich and happy if it weren’t for institutional racism. I’m being persecuted because I’m a woman (or a man), I’m black (or I’m white), I’m gay (or I’m straight).
But everybody has problems. Just because someone else’s problems seem different from yours, doesn’t mean they don’t struggle with something. Comparing your handicaps to someone else’s is a fool’s errand. Nothing good can come of it. It’s up to each one of us to do the best we cab with whatever we have. This is an eternal truth of life—a spiritual truth. Our problems do not lie outside of us. They lie inside us. Blaming someone else demonstrates a low level of spiritual understanding. It’s also completely useless.
The fact that each one of us is a unique child of God is just the other side of the coin that says that everyone else is different from us. Stressing those differences, or antagonizing those differences, just tears all of us apart. As the old Desiderata that was popular back in the 70s says, “If you compare yourself to others, you will become vain and bitter, for always there will be lesser and greater persons than yourself.” We need to focus on our similarities. All of us are human. All of us struggle. All of us are children and heirs of the same God, whether we realize it or not. How do we do that? Not by inciting hatred.
To respond to a black man being shot, with violence against white people, is not only ironic. It is counterproductive. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “To answer brutality with brutality is to admit one’s moral and intellectual bankruptcy and it can only start a vicious cycle.”
The only effective response to violence is love. Violence needs healing—not more violence. Instead of inciting class hatred—foster the brotherhood of man. Blaming others will not help you. Acting violently will not bring peace. Intensifying the divisions between people will not bring unity. Only love will heal. Because, You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. Only love will help.
Let’s try loving each other more.
God Bless You!
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