Hence it results that half a score of men may till the soil, hewwood, and make shoes, not from necessity, but in consequence of anacknowledgment of the fact that man should work, and that the more heworks the better it will be for him.
It results, that half a scoreof men,--or even one man, may demonstrate to people, both by hisconfession and by his actions, that the terrible evil from which theyare suffering is not a law of fate, the will of God, or anyhistorical necessity; but that it is merely a superstition, which isnot in the least powerful or terrible, but weak and insignificant, inwhich we must simply cease to believe, as in idols, in order to ridourselves of it, and in order to rend it like a paltry spider's web.
But why should we dress ourselves, wash and comb our hair? why should we open and shutdoors, hand ladies, into carriages, and do a hundred other thingswhich serfs formerly did for us?
Because we think that it isnecessary so to do; that human dignity demands it; that it is theduty, the obligation, of man. The dignity of man,his sacred duty and obligation, consists in using the hands and feetwhich have been given to him, for that for which they were given tohim, and that which consumes food on the labor which produces thatfood; and that they should be used, not on that which shall causethem to pine away, not as objects to wash and clean, and merely forthe purpose of stuffing into one's mouth food, drink, and cigarettes.
I think that many will come to the point which I have attained:because if the people of our sphere, of our caste, will only take aserious look at themselves, then young persons, who are in search ofpersonnel happiness, will stand aghast at the ever-increasingwretchedness of their life, which is plainly leading them todestruction; conscientious people will be shocked at the cruelty andthe illegality of their life; and timid people will be terrified bythe danger of their mode of life.
The Wretchedness of our Life: --However much we rich people mayreform, however much we may bolster up this delusive life of ourswith the aid of our science and art, this life will become, withevery year, both weaker and more diseased; with every year the numberof suicides, and the refusals to bear children, will increase; withevery year we shall feel the growing sadness of our life; with everygeneration, the new generations of people of this sphere of societywill become more puny.
Words always possess a clear significance until we deliberatelyattribute to them a false sense. Property signifies that which has been given to me, which belongs tome exclusively; that with which I can always do any thing I like;that which no one can take away from me; that which will remain mineto the end of my life, and precisely that which I am bound to use,increase, and improve.
Now, there exists but one such piece ofproperty for any man,--himself.
What will be the result if I, or some other man, or a handful of men,do not despise physical labor, but regard it as indispensable to ourhappiness and to the appeasement of our conscience?
This will be theresult, that there will be one man, two men, or a handful of men,who, coming into conflict with no one, without governmental orrevolutionary violence, will decide for ourselves the terriblequestion which stands before all the world, and which sets people atvariance, and that we shall settle it in such wise that life will bebetter to them, that their conscience will be more at peace, and thatthey will have nothing to fear; the result will be, that other peoplewill see that the happiness which they are seeking everywhere, liesthere around them; that the apparently unreconcilable contradictionsof conscience and of the constitution of this world will bereconciled in the easiest and most joyful manner; and that, insteadof fearing the people who surround us, it will become necessary forus to draw near to them and to love them.