I’ve copied Aylmer Maude’s translation of Leo Tolstoy’s interesting
Letter to the
Liberals to The Picket Line. I’ve been
unable to reach either the publisher of the book where I found the translation
or the translator, so I’m asking for forgiveness rather than permission as I
post it here. Excerpts:
It seems to me that it is now specially important to do what is right quietly
and persistently, not only without asking permission from government, but
consciously avoiding its participation.…
People who take part in government, or work under its direction, may deceive
themselves or their sympathizers by making a show of struggling; but those
against whom they struggle — the government — know quite well, by the
strength of the resistance experienced, that these people are not really
pulling, but are only pretending to. And our government knows this with
respect to the Liberals, and constantly tests the quality of the opposition,
and finding that genuine resistance is practically non-existent, it continues
its course in full assurance that it can do what it likes with such
[T]wo methods of opposing the government have been tried, both
unsuccessfully, and it now remains to try a third and a last method, one not
yet tried, but one which, I think, cannot but be successful. Briefly, that
means this: that all enlightened and honest people should try to be as good
as they can, and not even good in all respects, but only in one; namely, in
observing one of the most elementary virtues — to be honest, and not to lie,
but to act and speak so that your motives should be intelligible to an
affectionate seven-year old-boy; to act so that your boy should not say, “But
why, papa, did you say so-and-so, and now you do and say something quite
different?” This method seems very weak, and yet I am convinced that it is
this method, and this method only, that has moved humanity since the race
In spite of the renewal movement’s proud claims to miraculous transformation,
the polls showed that members of the movement divorced their spouses just as
often as their secular neighbors. They beat their wives as often as their
neighbors. They were almost as materialistic and even more racist than their
pagan friends. The hard-core skeptics smiled in cynical amusement at this
blatant hypocrisy. The general population was puzzled and disgusted. Many of
the renewal movement’s leaders simply stepped up the tempo of their now
enormously successful, highly sophisticated promotional programs. Others
wept. ¶ This, alas, is roughly the situation of Western or at least American
If Christians do not live what they preach, the whole thing is a farce.
“American Christianity has largely failed ,” Barna concludes, “because Jesus’
modern-day disciples do not act like Jesus.” This scandalous behavior mocks
Christ, undermines evangelism, and destroys Christian credibility.
Seems to me that those of us who don’t believe in gods and divine books and
such could use a similar kick in the pants, but who could deliver it and how?
Alexander Cockburn has tickled the Secret Service search engines, I’m sure,
with his essay
suggesting that President Bush should be killed (after a fair trial finds him
guilty of war crimes for which the penalty is death).
Fewer than half (46 percent) of survey respondents say that they have
become happier as they have accumulated more money. Nearly one third
(29 percent) of respondents with more than $10 million in investable
assets agree that having a lot of money brings more problems than it
solves, and 33 percent agree that having enough money is a constant
worry in their life.…
While having money today makes life less stressful, increased longevity
has created new anxieties about financial security in the future.
Approximately one in five (19 percent) respondents with $10 million in
investable assets and 21 percent of those with assets from $1 million to
$4.9 million worry that they will not have enough money to support the
lifestyle they want to have in retirement.
When asked how much they needed to feel financially secure in the
future, respondents consistently cited a need to approximately double
their current level of assets. Those with $10 million or more felt
they needed a median of $18.1 million; those with $5 million or more
needed $10.4 million, and those with a half million to $1 million said
they needed $2.4 million.
Felons are barred from voting in 48 of 50 states — including New York. Yet in
New York, as in the rest of the country, disenfranchised prisoners are
included in the population counts that become the basis for drawing
An eye-opening analysis by Prison Policy Initiative’s Peter Wagner found
seven upstate New York Senate districts that meet minimal population
requirements only because prison inmates are included in the count. New York
is not alone. The group’s researchers have found 21 counties nationally where
at least 21 percent of the “residents” were inmates.
The New York Republican Party uses its majority in the State Senate to
maintain political power through fat years and lean. The Senate Republicans,
in turn, rely on their large upstate delegation to keep that majority.
Whether those legislators have consciously made the connection or not, it’s
hard to escape the fact that bulging prisons are good for their districts.
The advantages extend beyond jobs and political gerrymandering. By counting
unemployed inmates as residents, the prison counties lower their per capita
incomes — and increase the portion they get of federal funds for the poor.
This results in a transfer of federal cash from places that can’t afford to
lose it to places that don’t deserve it.
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