I had come to see that the great tragedy in the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor...I truly believe that when the rich meet the poor, riches will have no meaning. And when the rich meet the poor, we will see poverty come to an end.
The great question for our time is, how to make sure that the continuing scientific revolution brings benefits to everybody rather than widening the gap between rich and poor. To lift up poor countries, and poor people in rich countries, from poverty, to give them a chance of a decent life, technology is not enough. Technology must be guided and driven by ethics if it is to do more than provide new toys for the rich.
There is not such a mighty difference as some men imagine between the poor and the rich; in pomp, show, and opinion, there is a great deal, but little as to the pleasures and satisfactions of life. They enjoy the same earth and air and heavens; hunger and thirst make the poor man's meat and drink as pleasant and relishing as all the varieties which cover the rich man's table; and the labor of a poor man is more healthful, and many times more pleasant, too, than the ease and softness of the rich.
The modern welfare state, highly touted as soaking the rich to subsidize the poor, does no such thing. In fact, soaking the rich would have disastrous effects, not just for the rich but for the poor and middle classes themselves. For it is the rich who provide a proportionately greater amount of saving, investment capital, entrepreneurial foresight, and financing of technological innovation that has brought the Unites States to by far the highest standard of living - for the mass of the people - of any country in history.
All of the incessant debate about development assistance, and whether the rich are doing enough to help the poor, actually concerns less than 1% of rich world income. The effort required of the rich is indeed so slight that to do less is to announce brazenly to a large part of the world: 'You count for nothing.' We should not be surprised, then, if in later years the rich reap the whirlwind of that heartless response.
There are many kinds of richness, and the man who is rich because of money is the lowest as far as the categories of richness are concerned. Let me say it in this way: the man of wealth is the poorest rich man. Looked at from the side of the poor, he is the richest poor man. Looked at from the side of a creative artist, of a dancer, of a musician, of a scientist, he is the poorest rich man. And as far as the world of ultimate awakening is concerned he cannot even be called rich.
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