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My Friend


” If you but knew, my destitute friend, that the poverty that sentences you to wretchedness is precisely what inspires you with a knowledge of justice and allows you to perceive the essence of life, then you would be content with the destiny ordained by God. I said ‘knowledge of justice’ because the attention of the wealthy is diverted by their treasures from this knowledge. And I said, ‘the essence of life’ because the powerful are distracted therefrom by their pursuit of glory. Rejoice, then, in justice because you are its tongue, and in life, because you are its book. Be glad, for you are the source of virtue on those who take your hand.

If you but comprehended, my forlorn comrade, that the burdens that have defeated you are the same power that illumines your heart and elevates your soul from the plane of ridicule to the station of esteem, then you would be content therewith as your inheritance and would accept its effects as your mentor. You would know that life is a chain with links, some intertwined with others, and that grief is a golden link that divides acquiescence in the outcomes of the present from the enjoyment of the delights of the future, just as morning divides sleep from the waking.

My friend, poverty manifests the nobility of the soul, and opulence brings out its blameworthy tendencies. Sadness lends delicacy to the emotions, whereas joy sullies them. For human beings still employ riches and joy as means to excess, just as they commit evil in the name of the Book that forbids it, and do in the name of humanity what humanity disavows.

Were poverty to be wiped and sorrow to vanish, the soul would become a blank scroll save for the characters that signify egotism and a love of aggrandizement and words that connote earthly appetites. For I looked, and found divinity, the spiritual essence in the human beings that cannot be bought with lucre nor augmented by the pleasures of libertines. I contemplated and saw the affluent forsaking their divinity and safeguarding their wealth, and the slaves of the age abandoning their divine selves to follow their pleasures.

The hour that you spend, you the destitute, with your wife and little ones after you come from the fields is a symbol of the human family of the future, a token of the happiness of coming generations. The life that the rich pass among their assets is a contemptible life that recalls the burrowing of the worms in graves; it is a symbol of fear.

The tears that you spill, you the sorrowful, are sweeter than the laughter of snobs and the guffaws of scoffers. Those tears cleanse the heart from the filth of rancour and teach the one who sheds them how the broken-hearted shares his feelings; they are the tears of the Nazarene.

The power that you sowed, you the poor, which the rich and powerful have exploited, will return to you. For the law of nature is that things return to their source. The tribulation you have endured, you the grief-stricken, will be transformed into bliss by the edict of heaven.

Coming generations will learn equality from poverty, and love from woes.”