A quote attributed to both St. John Chrysostome and St. Gennadius of Constantinople goes along some variant of “The rich exist for the sake of the poor, and the poor exist for the salvation of the rich.” These words are as true as when they were first said in the fifth century and are as relevant for our times today, for while there have always been rich and poor, the two form a circle that is supposed to be mutually beneficial. Wealth is a gift from God, and one is expected to use it wisely. Likewise, the impoverished have a gift of faith and love for other men, especially the wealthy, which Christ warns that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into Heaven. These are very troubling words for so many, and understandably so, for God is powerful, He is merciful and He is just, and He is the standard of all and to who all will return.
One cannot support the death of the rich as much as one cannot support the death of the poor, for the two are different but necessary and must be respected. It is not one who favors another of the groups, but finding balance between them that benefits both groups. This is part of conflict throughout history, which can be written as the struggle between the powerless and the powerful to find a just balance in a world that is afflicted by original sin.
One of the great tragedies of man is that when imbalances to this struggle happen which are very severe, violence often results. It can be the rich against the poor, or the poor against the rich, but it does not matter how it happens. The fact is that one tries to overtake the other and instead of harmony, death is the end. This is why the Catholic Church is so emphatic about the concept of the “three estates” of society- the rulers, the ruled, and the Church acting as the binding and separating agent between the two that partakes of both but is bound intrinsically to neither. This is also the reason why the Church tends to eschew nationalism, because while supporting a nation is good, it can put a disproportionate emphasis on the rulers instead of the ruled. In the same way, it is also why the Church tends also historically to opposed a ‘populist church’, because this has the same effect but with the reverse emphasis.
During the French Revolution, which was a populist uprising backed by very wealthy interests, the French countrymen thought they were ‘rebelling’ against ‘the elites’, which was the French aristocracy. They beheaded them, but also proceeded to attack and behead many members of the Church and in destroying the Church and current ruling class, only established a new and more abusive class of rulers over the French people in the form of a banking and industrial oligarchy accountable to no one who could rule by political funding instead of direct accountability as with the previous king. Their “guillotining” of the rich did nothing other than get rid of one group of questionable rich people and replace them with a group of just bad rich people.
Since this is a pattern throughout history, and times change but the nature of man does not, it is with great interest that I have noted that the conditions of the laboring man, who has been reduced to the state of a modern-day slave, is starting to talk in light of this virus and the financial havoc it has brought to him with language similar to that used in the French Revolution.
If one goes to Twitter, the hashtag #guillotine2020 has become very popular, with people clamoring for the execution of the rich.
One only needs to put the hashtag in to see it.
Likewise, there are also calls for general violence against rich and powerful people, from celebrities to politicians, that seem to be embraced by both sides of the political spectrum.
This is part of what I have described as the “gift that keeps on giving” with the virus, which is that a workers’ rebellion is beginning to form as angry people are demanding radical solutions to the problems of society all of which have the basic premise of overthrowing the previous order. However, since times change but the nature of man does not, this is not only not the answer, but will result in what happened with the French Revolution, which is the perpetuation of the previous system of abuse but with different faces, and with a very strong chance that the abuse will be even worse than before yet will be presented as something good while the people will continue to suffer.
It must be made very clear that in a situation such as what is happening right now, violence is not only NOT A SOLUTION but it is probably the most effective way to extend for an indefinite time period the same problems of the past with much more severe repercussions.
The best way to deal with the current problems is to support peace on both sides, and to not participate in what is taking place. People are likely going to fight, and while there will be calls to “take a side”, there is no side to take because there is no “winning” side in this fight. If anything, the best thing would be the natural, slow, and measured passing of the previous order to a new order, as with the cycle of life in every generation that allows for an organic transition instead of a sharp one.
Remember the lesson of the movie Wargames from 1983 about “geothermal nuclear war”, which the lesson is ‘the only way to win is not to play.’
This is the lesson for today. There is no winner in a contest between two evil positions. The way to succeed truly is to flee from both.