Thou Shalt Not Covet
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
Exodus 20:17 "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that [is] thy neighbor’s."
No. I am not about to turn my collar around and climb back into my pulpit. If this piece turns out to be a sermon, then – so be it.
The Bible verse above is, in fact, the Tenth Commandment. Those of the Judeo-Christian faith understand covetousness to mean: reprehensible acquisitiveness, excessively and culpably desirous of the possessions of another, or -- just plain envious of the possessions of another.
I can think of no better example of human beings trampling on the Tenth Commandment than the current asinine display of covetousness by those protesting Wall Street and America’s financial institutions.
The motley, rag-tag, battalions of socialism are openly LUSTING after the wealth of others, wealth they have not earned – but -- through some warped feeling of their own inferiority, expressed by their inability to compete in the marketplace of capitalism, they feel entitled to the wealth of others. It is wealth to which they have no right.
The founding Fathers of America saw this coming and spoke out against it.
Samuel Adams stated: "The utopian schemes of leveling [redistribution of wealth], and a community of goods, are as visionary and impracticable as those that vest all property in the Crown. [These ideas] are arbitrary, despotic, and, in our government, unconstitutional."
Later, James Madison, author of the Constitution, wrote, "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents."
What we are witnessing in the streets of the nation is only the latest attempt by sluggards in this country to take property from those who have earned it and give it to those who have NOT earned it. No matter how you frame it -- it is out and out thievery.
It has been known for countless centuries that when a nation’s leader takes from Paul to pay Peter, he can always count on the support of Peter. America’s current leader knows this all too well and shamelessly employs it in his campaign for another term in office.
The current protest movement is not new. The mobs seeking to take what is not theirs are not new. They fouled the streets of Rome centuries ago. History is replete with records of frenzied mobs seeking to steal the wealth of the prosperous.
America was founded on the idea that anyone could become prosperous by applying one’s self, working, and investing in one’s future. America offers the OPPORTUNITY. It is up to the individual to take advantage of that opportunity to better him/herself and secure a more prosperous future for their offspring.
The dream of pulling one’s self up by one’s bootstraps cannot be realized when one exists solely on the labor/wealth of others. When the source of their sustenance dries up, as it is bound to do, the entire society will founder and fail.
Someone once said: “When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.” (Author Unknown)
Coveting that which is your neighbor’s is a cancer of the soul. It will eventually consume that which makes us human. It lies at the root of most of a society’s troubles. It has brought down, and will continue to bring down, entire nations. It can be brought to bay only by the efforts of each solitary individual.
The greatest exhibition of “transference” is the protesters in New York, and around the country and world, transferring their own greed onto those they are protesting against.
Our government has taken huge sums of wealth from the prosperous in America and given it to America’s less fortunate in a “hand-up” effort only to see it accepted as a “hand-out.” The fact is, this massive transfer of wealth has gone on for so long that the government continues it out of stark fear that the moment they stop the “handouts,” there will be revolution in the streets.
Much like the “bread and circuses” of ancient Rome, the system has been turned on its head and is now, in fact, a reverse form of blackmail. The threat is implied – and the message is received, loud, and clear, in our nation’s capital.
Coveting our neighbor’s wealth is but an excuse for not expending the same energy in earning one’s own wealth.
As I look at the writhing mobs, I am fascinated at how many Americans are willing to allow themselves to be used as a tool by ambitious men who seek to direct America’s attention away from a failed President and his administration, for a few months, until the election. They have no idea that their impact on American history will be less significant that of a bug on the windshield of a car speeding down I-95.
J. D. Longstreet