Upton Sinclair, ed. (18781968). The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest. 1915.
Work According to the Bible
By T. M. Bondareff
(A pamphlet written by a Siberian peasant and ex-serf, at the age of sixty-seven)
THEY often arrest thieves in the world; but these culprits are rather rogues than thieves. I have laid hands on the real thief, who has robbed God and the church. He has stolen the primal commandment which belongs to us who till the fields. I will point him out. It is he who does not produce his bread with his own hands, but eats the fruit of others toil. Seize him and lead him away to judgment. All crimes such as robberies, murders, frauds and the like arise from the fact that this commandment is hidden from man. The rich do all they can to avoid working with their hands, and the poor to rid themselves of the necessity. The poor man says, There are people who can live on others labor; why should not I? and he kills, steals and cheats in consequence. Behold now what harm can be done by white hands, more than all that good grimy hands can repair upon the earth! You spread out before the laborer the idleness of your life, and thus take away the force from his hands. Your way of living is for us the most cruel of offences, and a shame withal. You are a hundred-fold more wise and learned than I am, and for that reason you take my bread. But because you are wise you ought rather to have pity on me who am weak. It is said, Love thy neighbor as thyself. I am your neighbor, and you are mine. Why are we coarse and untaught? Because we produce our own bread, and yours too! Have we any time to study and educate ourselves? You have stolen our brains as well as our bread by trickery and violence.
How blind thou art, O wise man; thou that readest the scriptures, and seest not the way in which thou mightest free thyself, and the flock committed to thee, from the burden of sin! Thy blindness is like unto that of Balaam, who, astride his ass, saw not the angel of God armed with a sword of fire standing in the way before him. Thou art Balaam, I am the ass, and thou hast ridden upon my back from childhood!