Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Politics of Envy.

As I watch the story about criticism of the US with regards to its contributions to the relief efforts in south Asia I couldn't help but remember something I read by the late Dorothy L. Sayers. It was a rather lengthy essay titled, "Christian Morality" (she also did a shorter version titled, "The other Six Deadly Sins"). The part of the essay that that I am referring to is the discussion of the sin of invidia of, as we know it, "envy".
As we all know, the UN official in charge of relief labeled the US as "stingy" and suggested we raise taxes so we could contribute more to the effort. At this point you may well be asking, "What has this got to do with envy?". Glad you asked! Bear in mind, I am operating primarily off of memory as I have lost my copy of "Christian Morality" so please forgive me any errors I may make in citing Miss Sayers.
According to Sayers, "If greed is the sin of the rich against the poor, then envy is the sin of the poor against the rich" Contrary to popular belief, envy does not consist of simply seeing what some one has and wanting the same for one's self. If someone decides that he or she wishes to put in the effort to gain the wherewithall to obtain the object of their desire, then we have no problem. The problem arises when we decide that the other person should not have it either. Envy likes to masquerade under such noble-sounding names as "social justice", and "redistribution of wealth" . It is envy that says, "If I cannot have it nobody can". Here is where it gets even colder blooded as a sin. If nobody is deserving of having wealth in the first place, then nobody is noble enough to donate on their own.
The US government's initial contribution to the relief effort is going $35billion in cash. When it is all said and done, the US will have donated well over a billion dollars in cash and material, of which a small fraction will have come from the government. You see, the UN only counts what a government contributes. The voluntary contribution of individuals do not enter into their thinking. Much of the contributions will come from faith-based organizations. To the envious, however, that doesn't count. It can't because the envious don't think that people can be generous on their own, it has to be coerced by the government...hence the official (who I refuse to name so as not to legitimize him at all) making the suggestion we raise taxes.
The American people of faith will surpass the sum total of all governmental "contributions". Not because we are Americans, but because people of faith know that there are things that are bigger than us and that "as you did so even to the least of these, you did so to me"

1 comment:

Rabenstrange said...

Preach it! You analysis is right on the money.