Nonfiction > Upton Sinclair, ed. > The Cry for Justice
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Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.
 
God and My Neighbor

By Robert Blatchford
 
“FOR all that, Robert, you’re a notorious Infidel.” I paused—just opposite the Tivoli—and gazed moodily up and down the Strand.  1
  As I have remarked elsewhere, I like the Strand. It is a very human place. But I own that the Strand lacks dignity and beauty, and that amongst its varied odors the odor of sanctity is scarcely perceptible.  2
  There are no trees in the Strand. The thoroughfare should be wider. The architecture is, for the most part, banal. For a chief street in a Christian capital, the Strand is not eloquent of high national ideals.  3
  There are derelict churches in the Strand, and dingy, blatant taverns, and strident signs and hoardings; and there are slums hard by.  4
  There are thieves in the Strand, and prowling vagrants, and gaunt hawkers, and touts, and gamblers, and loitering failures, with tragic eyes and wilted garments; and prostitutes plying for hire.  5
  And east and west, and north and south of the Strand, there is London. Is there a man amongst all London’s millions brave enough to tell the naked truth about the vice and crime, the misery and meanness, the hypocrisies and shames of the great, rich, heathen city? Were such a man to arise amongst us and voice the awful truth, what would his reception be? How would he fare at the hands of the Press, and the Public—and the Church?  6
  As London is, so is England. This is a Christian country. What would Christ think of Park Lane, and the slums, and the hooligans? What would He think of the Stock Exchange, and the music hall, and the race-course? What would He think of our national ideals? What would He think of the House of Peers, and the Bench of Bishops, and the Yellow Press?  7
  Pausing again, over against Exeter Hall, I mentally apostrophize the Christian British people. “Ladies and Gentlemen,” I say, “you are Christians in name, but I discern little of Christ in your ideals, your institutions, or your daily lives. You are a mercenary, self-indulgent, frivolous, boastful, blood-guilty mob of heathen. I like you very much, but that is what you are. And it is you—you who call men ‘Infidels.’ You ridiculous creatures, what do you mean by it?”  8
  If to praise Christ in words, and deny Him in deeds, be Christianity, then London is a Christian city, and England is a Christian nation. For it is very evident that our common English ideals are anti-Christian, and that our commercial, foreign, and social affairs are run on anti-Christian lines.  9
  Renan says, in his Life of Jesus, that “were Jesus to return amongst us He would recognize as His disciples, not those who imagine they can compress Him into a few catechismal phrases, but those who labour to carry on his work.”  10
  My Christian friends, I am a Socialist, and as such believe in, and work for, universal freedom, and universal brotherhood, and universal peace.  11
  And you are Christians, and I am an “Infidel.” Well, be it even so.  12
 
 
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