George D. Herron

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The economic system denies the right of the sincerest and most sympathetic to keep their hands out of the blood of their brothers. We may not go to our rest at night, or waken to our work in the morning, without bearing the burden of the communal guilt; without being ourselves creators and causes of the wrongs we seek to bear away. At every step, when we would do good, evil is present with us, and exacts its tribute from the very citadel of the soul.
If we stay at our posts, in order that we may change the system, we are on the backs of our brothers; if we desert our posts, in order that we may get off our brothers' backs, we take bread from their mouths, from the mouths of their children, and add to the army of the workless and hopeless.

George Davis Herron (1862–1925) was an American clergyman, lecturer, writer, and Christian socialist activist.

Quotes[edit]

Between Caesar and Jesus (1899)[edit]

Full text online
  • The hope of the social reformer is to open wide the gates of opportunity, so that every creature, from the least to the greatest, may make his life a moral adventure and a joy, and exhaust his possibilities in the thing he can best do.
    • p. 15
  • All that is good in civilization must be for the equal use of all, in order that each man may make his life most worthwhile to the common life and to himself.
    • p. 15
  • No longer is it possible for men to be content to have, while their brothers have not. The physical misery of the world's disinherited is becoming the spiritual misery of the world's elect. Superior privileges of any sort now carry with them the sense of shame.
    • p. 16
  • Civilization no longer represents the conscience of the individuals who must find therein their work. The facts and forces which now organize industry and so-called justice, violate the best instincts of mankind.
    • p. 19
  • Without regard to his conscience, the economic system involves a man in the guilt of the moral and physical death of his brothers: their blood cries to him from the adulterated and monopolized foods he eats; from the sweat-shop clothes he wears; from his educational advantages, his special privileges, his social opportunities. ... In fine, civilization denies to man that highest of all rights — the right to live a guiltless life, the right to do right.
    • p. 20
  • This railway system practically administers the government of the United States, in all things that concern the system, and the governments of the several states of the Union as well. The majority of the United States senators recently elected have been its mere appointees and lobbyists, and agents at the same time for other corporate properties.
    In all this corrupt exploitation of the nation by the most degrading sort of economic force, in this debauchery of every citizen of my commonwealth, I am obliged to participate, in order to travel anywhere upon the national highways, whether I go upon God's errands or go in quest of evil to do.
    • pp. 21-22
  • The only possible innocence that remains to me, while I pay forced tribute to the system, while I profit by its corrupting influences and agencies, while I bear my part in the culpable public ignorance and guilty moral apathy, is that of protest and exhaustless effort.
    • p. 22
  • I can no longer clothe myself, whether in good clothes or cheap, without the likelihood that my clothes are made under sweat-shop conditions. ... If I send my students to pursue further study upon subjects to which I have introduced them, I must send them to receive the benefits of endowments from the hands of a besotted philanthropy, drunken and sated with the wine of life pressed from the crushed and exhausted millions who feed the modern industrial wine press.
    • pp. 23-24
  • Whatever I do, whichever way I turn, I can neither feed nor clothe my family, nor take part in public affairs as a citizen, nor speak the truth as I conceive it, without being stained with the blood of my brothers and sisters; without putting my hands into the wickedness that prostitutes every sacred national and religious function.
    • p. 24
  • The economic system denies the right of the sincerest and most sympathetic to keep their hands out of the blood of their brothers. We may not go to our rest at night, or waken to our work in the morning, without bearing the burden of the communal guilt; without being ourselves creators and causes of the wrongs we seek to bear away. At every step, when we would do good, evil is present with us, and exacts its tribute from the very citadel of the soul.
    • pp. 24-25
  • If we stay at our posts, in order that we may change the system, we are on the backs of our brothers; if we desert our posts, in order that we may get off our brothers' backs, we take bread from their mouths, from the mouths of their children, and add to the army of the workless and hopeless.
    • p. 25
  • It is only the densest ethical ignorance that talks about a "Christian business" life; for business is now intrinsically evil.
    • p. 26
  • Whoever says that a man can live the Christian life, while at the same time successfully participating in the present order of things, is either profound in the lack of knowledge, or else he deliberately lies.
    • p. 26
  • There are no honest goods to buy or to sell; adulterated foods, shoddy manufacture of all that we wear, the underpaid labor and consumed life that make every garment a texture of falsehood, the hideous competitive war that slays its millions where swords and cannons slay their tens, all unite to baffle and mock the efforts of the awakened conscience at every turn, and make the industrial system seem like the triumph of hell and madness on the earth. Only by a sort of terrible daily denial of his spiritual self, a crucifixion of the principles by which he longs to organize his life, can a man wrest a stained and insecure livelihood from this terrible war for bread which we call industry.
    • p. 26-27

External links[edit]

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