Monday, 28 February 2011

The irony of tyranny

In the first chapters of Job, we are provided with a celestial backdrop to human adversity. The rest of the book is characterised by dramatic irony.

In real life today, there is the same dramatic irony, but we can see little of the backdrop by unaided insight. We are much like Job's 'comforters', only more inclined to blame God, rather than our tragic heroes, the poor, for sudden or sustained misfortune.

The truth is that even poor men, like Job, fail to see their latent capacity for self-righteous self-deception. How does Cromwell overthrow Royalists, only to accept £100,000 a year as Lord Protector and accept the customary address of 'Your Highness'?

Poverty in itself is not virtue, nor is it retribution. It is temporal, it can be largely undone by the blessing of human fairness and decency. It can even be viewed as a blessing by those who see the deception of worldly wealth and the potential for tyranny in the humblest human soul.

Of course, this does not exonerate the classes and nations that ignore the poverty that they impose on their neighbours, nor should victims of poverty endure it interminably without any relief that we can provide.

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