The first question:
In one of your lectures on socialism, answering Sarjano’s question, you indicated that the proletariat were “the lowest.”
Is this contradictory to Christ’s teachings on the poor as being the children of God and the rich as being “the lowest”?
During years of rural development work with poor peasants in Latin America, I found them to be “higher” spiritually than the rich landlords.
The old religions all over the world have been consoling the poor in different ways. The same is being done by Jesus Christ too. Calling the poor the children of God is nothing but poison. Then Karl Marx is right – that religion is the opium of the people.
If it is true that the poor are the children of God, then we should not try to destroy poverty – otherwise we will be destroying the children of God. That will be very irreligious, unspiritual! In fact, we should destroy all richness in the world so everybody becomes a child of God. If spirituality is so simple, then why bother about improving the lot of the people, trying to make them richer, trying to make them more comfortable, giving them better technology, industry, food? This is all against religion! This is all against Jesus Christ!
Mahatma Gandhi used to call the poor daridra narayan; he went even one step further than Jesus Christ: the poor are not only the children of God, they are gods. This is a strategy: because your so-called religious people have not been able to find a way to solve the problem of poverty, they try to rationalize it. And the best way to console people is to tell them, “The rich are lower than you – you are higher!” This satisfies the ego.
Jesus says: Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God. This is also one of the tricks of all the religions in the world: promise the poor a beautiful future – after death. Nobody ever returns, nobody ever tells what actually is the case after death, so it cannot be refuted at all. You will be received, welcomed in the kingdom of God, and the rich, they will suffer in hell.
It satisfies the poor tremendously, the very idea of the rich suffering in hellfire and the poor being welcomed by St. Peter at the pearly gates of heaven. So this life is not such a big problem, a question of only a few years. One can manage, one can tolerate, one can remain satisfied. One can hope that “Sooner or later, on the Judgement Day, everything will be settled. And because we are poor, ours is going to be the kingdom of God.”
This is sheer nonsense. Who has said it makes no difference. Jesus may have said it, Mahatma Gandhi may have said it – I don’t care a bit! My whole concern is with the truth, and this is untrue.