Christian Council for Monetary Justice
Papers su
bmitted by Members

Wise words from 1667 and 1897 in individual and in social mode
which were tabled on recent Wednesdays at the Global Table, at Friends House, Euston


1. Isaac Penington to Friends in Amersham (1667)
To Friends in Amersham
FRIENDS,
Our life is love, and peace, and tenderness; and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations one against another; but praying one for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand, if there has been any slip or fall; and waiting till the Lord gives sense and repentance, if sense and repentance in any be wanting. Oh! wait to feel this spirit, and to be guided to walk in this spirit, that ye may enjoy the Lord in sweetness, and walk sweetly, meekly, tenderly, peaceably, and lovingly one with another. And then, ye will be a praise to the Lord; and any thing that is, or hath been, or may be, amiss, ye will come over in the true dominion, even in the Lamb's dominion; and that which is contrary shall be trampled upon, as life rises and rules in you. So watch your hearts and ways; and watch one over another, in that which is gentle and tender, and knows it can neither preserve itself, nor help another out of the snare; but the Lord must be waited upon, to do this in and for us all. So mind Truth, the service, enjoyment, and possession of it in your hearts; and so to walk, as ye may bring no disgrace upon it, but may be a good savor in the places where ye live, the meek, innocent, tender, righteous life reigning in you, governing over you, and shining through you, in the eyes of all with whom ye converse.
Your Friend in the Truth, and a desirer of your welfare and prosperity therein.
I. P. Aylesbury, 4th of Third Month, 1667
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~kuenning/penington/letter20.html

 

2. THE MASTER MOTIVE OF HUMAN ACTION

In thinking of the possibilities of social organization, we are apt to assume that greed is the strongest of human motives, and that systems of administration can be safely based only upon the idea that the fear of punishment is necessary to keep men honest, that selfish interests are always stronger than general interests. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Whatever is potent for evil may be made potent for good. The change I have proposed would destroy the conditions that distort impulses in themselves beneficent, and would transmute the forces that now tend to disintegrate society into forces that would tend to unite and purify it.

Give labour a free field and its full earnings; take for the benefit of the whole community that fund which the growth of the community creates, and want and the fear of want would be gone. The springs of production would be set free and the enormous increase of wealth would give the poorest ample comfort. Men would no more worry about finding employment than they worry about finding air to breathe; they need have no more care about physical necessities than do the lilies of the field. The progress of science, the march of invention, the diffusion of knowledge, would bring their benefits to all. With this abolition of want and the fear of want, the admiration of riches would decay and men would seek the respect and approbation of their fellows in other modes than by the acquisition and display of wealth. In this way there would be brought to the management of public affairs, and the administration of common funds the skill, the attention, the fidelity and the integrity that can now be secured only for private interests.

Short-sighted is the philosophy that counts on selfishness as the master motive of human action. It is blind to facts of which the world is full. It sees not the present, and reads not the past aright. If you would move men to action, to what shall you appeal? Not to their pockets, but to their patriotism; not to selfishness, but to sympathy. Self-interest is, as it were, a mechanical force - potent, it is true; capable of large and wide results. But there is in human nature what may be likened to a chemical force that melts and fuses and overwhelms, to which nothing seems impossible. " All that a man hath will he give for his life " - that is self-interest. But in loyalty to higher impulses men will give even life.

How People are Inspired

It is not selfishness that enriches the annals of every people with heroes and saints. It is not selfishness that on every page of the world's history bursts out in sudden splendour of noble deeds or sheds the soft radiance of benignant lives. It was not selfishness that turned Gautama's back to his royal home or bade the Maid of Orleans lift the sword from the altar; that held the Three Hundred in the Pass of Thermopylae, or gathered into Winkelried's bosom the sheaf of spears; that chained Vincent de Paul to the bench of the galley, or brought little starving children, during the Indian famine, tottering to the relief stations with yet weaker starvelings in their arms. Call it religion, patriotism, sympathy, the enthusiasm for humanity, or the love of God - give it what name you will; there is yet a force that overcomes and drives out selfishness; a force that is the electricity of the moral universe; a force beside which all others are weak. Everywhere that men have lived it has shown its power, and today, as ever, the world is full of it. To be pitied is the man who has never seen and never felt it. Look around! Among common men and women, amid the care and the struggle of daily life, in the jar of the noisy street and amid the squalor where want hides - every here and there is the darkness lighted with the tremendous play of its lambent flames. He who has not seen it has walked with shut eyes. He who looks may see, as Plutarch says, that 'the soul has a principle of kindness in itself, and is born to love, as well as perceive, think, or remember.'

from Chap 23 of Progress and Poverty, Henry George, Philadelphia 1879

Canon Peter Challen, Chairman of CCMJ
and Convenor of the Global Table
at the Friends House, Euston, London NW1