Embassy of Heaven

Demands of World vs Christ


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Conditions of earthly happiness

One of the first conditions acknowledged by everyone is that man's union with nature should not be infringed - that is to say, that he should live under the open sky, in the light of the sun and in the fresh air, in contact with the earth, with vegetation, and with animals. All men have always considered that to be deprived of those things was a great misfortune. Men confined in prison feel this deprivation more than anything else. But consider the life of people who live according to the teaching of the world: the more they achieve success according to the world's teaching the more are they deprived of this condition of happiness. The higher they climb in the scale of worldly fortune the less do they see of the light of the sun, of the fields and the woods, and of wild or domestic animals. Many of them, almost all the women, live on to old age seeing the rising of the sun only once or twice in their lives, and never seeing the fields and the woods except from a carriage or a railway train, and not only without having sown or planted anything, or fed or reared cows, horses, or hens, but without even having an idea of how those animals are born, grow, and live. These people only see textiles, stone, and wood shaped by human toil, and that not by the light of the sun but by artificial light. They only hear the sounds of machines, vehicles, cannons, and musical instruments; they smell scents and tobacco-smoke; under their feet and hands they have only textiles, stone, and wood; for the most part, on account of their weak digestions, they eat highly-spiced food that is not fresh. Their movements from place to place do not save them from these deprivations. They move about in closed boxes. In the country and abroad, wherever they go, they have the same textiles and wood under their feet, the same curtains hiding the light of the sun from them, the same footmen, coachmen and porters depriving them of contact with the earth, with plants, and with animals. Wherever they may be they are deprived, like prisoners, of this condition of happiness. As prisoners console themselves with a tuft of grass that grows in the prison yard, with a spider or a mouse, so these people sometimes console themselves with puny indoor plants, a parrot, or a monkey, and even these they do not themselves rear.

Another undoubted condition of happiness is work; in the first place voluntary work which one is fond of, and secondly physical work which gives one an appetite and sound, restful sleep. Again the more good fortune people have secured according to the world's teaching, the more are they deprived of this second condition of happiness. All the fortunate ones of the world, the men in important places and the rich, either live like prisoners, quite deprived of work and vainly struggling with diseases that arise from the absence of physical labour, and still more vainly with the ennui which overcomes them (I say vainly, because work is only joyous when it is undoubtedly needful - and they need nothing), or they do work they hate, as bankers, public prosecutors, governors, or ministers, while their wives arrange drawing-rooms, china, and costumes for themselves and their children. (I say hateful because I have never yet met one of them who praised his occupation, or did it with even as much pleasure as that with which a porter clears away the snow from before the house.) All these fortunate people are either deprived of work or are burdened with work they dislike - that is to say, they find themselves in the position in which prisoners are placed.

The third indubitable condition of happiness is a family. And again, the further people have advanced in worldly success the less is that happiness accessible to them. Most of them are adulterers, and consciously renounce the happiness of a family, submitting only to its inconveniences. If they are not adulterers, still their children are not a joy to them but a burden, and they deprive themselves of them, trying in every way - often by most tormenting means - to make their marital unions barren. Or if they have children they are deprived of the joy of intercourse with them. By their rules they have to hand them over to strangers, for the most part quite alien people; first to foreigners,4 This is a reference to the common Russian practice of having a foreign nurse, governess, or tutor for young children, that they may learn a foreign language in the nursery. - A.M. and then to the Government instructors;5 The Russian schools are State institutions. - A.M. so that their family only causes them grief, their children from infancy becoming as unhappy as their parents and having only one feeling towards their parents - a desire for their death in order to inherit their property.6 The defence of such a life that one often hears from parents is amazing. 'I want nothing', say the parents; 'this kind of life is hard for me, but as I love my children I bear it for their sakes.' That is to say, I know by undoubted experience that our life is unhappy, and therefore . . . I educate my children so that they shall be as unhappy as I am. And therefore, out of my love for them, I place them in the full physical and moral contagion of a town; I hand them over to strangers who have only a mercenary aim in educating them; and so physically, morally, and mentally I take pains to injure my children. And this contention has to serve as justification for the irrational life the parents themselves lead! - L.T. They are not shut up in prison, but the consequences of their life in regard to their family, are more tormenting than the deprivation of family life to which prisoners are exposed.

The fourth condition of happiness is free, amicable intercourse with all the different people in the world. And again, the higher the rank attained by men of the world the more are they deprived of this chief condition of happiness: the higher, the narrower and the more restricted is the group of people with whom it is possible for them to associate and the lower in mental and moral development are the few people who form the enchanted circle from which there is no escape. For a peasant and his wife intercourse is open with the whole world of mankind, and if one million people do not wish to have intercourse with him he still has eighty millions of people such as himself, labouring people with whom, from Archangel to Astrakhan, without waiting for visits or introductions, he can at once enter into the closest brotherly relations. For an official with his wife there are hundreds of people on the same level as himself, but those above him do not receive him and those below him are all separated from him. For a rich man of the world and his wife a few dozen worldly families are accessible, all the rest are cut off from him. For a Minister of State, or a millionaire, and his family, there are a single dozen similarly important or wealthy people. For Emperors and Kings the circle is yet more restricted. Is not this a form of imprisonment in which the prisoner can only have intercourse with two or three warders?

Finally, a fifth condition of happiness is a healthy and painless death. And again, the higher people stand on the social ladder the more are they deprived of this condition of happiness. Take for example a moderately rich man and his wife and an average peasant and his wife: notwithstanding all the hunger and excessive toil which, not by his fault but by the cruelty of man, a peasant has to bear, you will see that the lower the healthier and the higher the sicklier are men and women.

Count over in your memory the rich men and their wives you have known or now know, and you will notice that most of them are ill. Among them a healthy man, who is not undergoing treatment continually or periodically summer after summer, is as much an exception as is a sick man among the peasantry. All these fortunate people without exception, begin with onanism (which has become in their class a natural condition of development), they all have bad teeth, are all grey or bald at an age when a workman is just reaching his full strength. They are nearly all subject to nervous, digestive, and sexual illnesses from gluttony, drunkenness, debauchery, and doctoring, and those who do not die young spend half their life in being doctored and taking injections of morphia, or are shrivelled cripples unfitted to live by their own exertions and capable of existing only like parasites or like those ants who are fed by slave-ants. Consider their deaths: this one shot himself; that one rotted with syphilis; another old man died from the effects of a stimulant, while another died young from a flogging to which he submitted in his desire for sex-stimulation; one was eaten alive by lice, another by worms; one drank himself to death, another died of over-eating; one from morphia, and another as the result of an abortion. They perish one after another for the sake of the world's teaching. And the crowd throngs after them and seeks, like martyrs, for suffering and destruction.

One life after another is flung under the chariot-wheels of that god: the chariot passes on tearing them to pieces, and more and more victims, with groans, cries, and curses, fall beneath it!

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