Bolshevik Party Meeting. Lenin is seen at right.

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No person is immune to moral evil. Whether moral evil entered human nature at some specific point in human evolution in some updated doctrine of the Fall in Genesis or whether it has always been infecting human character, “all have sinned.” Now the Liberation Theologians have noted that there is a bias toward the poor in the Bible–and that is true. But there is also a tendency in Marxist and liberal democratic circles to place the poor in a special category of people who are somehow immune to the Fall. In that category, the poor join women and racial minorities. Somehow the people in these special groups are immune to the evil of wealthy Eurocentric Americans.

But this view is false. Both rich, middle-class, and poor are morally flawed. If the sin of the rich is arrogance and lack of charity, and of the middle classes a worship of financial stability to the exclusion of higher goods, the great sin of the poor is envy.

Not all poor people envy the rich. But many do. They resent the fact that someone has more than they. I understand the impulse–as a child growing up in a lower middle-class, working class home I was frustrated at not having all the things the “city kids” had. Few feelings make a person more miserable–and more filled with hatred–than envy. I would rather be in rage with jealously any day than be filled with envy.

Thus there is a subset of the poor who want to take the hard-earned goods of the middle class and the rich for themselves without putting in the necessary effort. Either they break in and steal, or they steal by other means, becoming dependent on government to get them the “good things of life.” Sometimes envy results in a combination of the two ways of gaining property.

As a teacher, I have students from all socioeconomic classes. Students from wealthier families tend to be materialistic and desire to keep their lifestyle–I grant that. And some of the middle class students would prefer to be like the richer students in socioeconomic status. But, to my surprise, it is oftentimes the students from less prosperous backgrounds who are the most materialistic. I tell them I only want a car that gets me from point A to point B, and these poor students respond that I should desire the nicer things of life, including a luxury car. Those poor have bought into the lie that American society tells them, that true worth comes from wealth and status. Plato and Aristotle recognized long ago that true worth comes from a virtuous life, not from the accumulation of wealth, but my students of all classes do not see it that way. When envy leads to a sense of entitlement, trouble begins, either by the poor robbing people on the streets or engaging in illegal activities for a quick source of income, or by their robbing the taxpayers by refusing to take the time and effort to work their way up the socioeconomic ladder.

There are many, many poor people who do try to work their way up the socioeconomic ladder, and some do quite well for themselves when it comes to material goods. And there are poor people on small family farms who would not trade their lives for the world. But those who are envious are dangerous, for they hate those who have more, and it does n0t matter to them whether those who have more worked hard for their possessions. The envious want what they want NOW. Envy and resentment led the Bolsheviks into power in post-Czarist Russia, and such envy and resentment can destroy the freedom that we Americans enjoy. When the Left puts the poor on a pedestal and pampers their envy, they pave the way for a ruinous pathway for America’s future. Only by recognizing that all people are part of the basic human condition, including moral faults, can envy and other sins be, at least in some small part, overcome.