The Eternal Struggle Over Right and Wrong


“It is the eternal struggle between these two principles–right and wrong–throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time, and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says “You work and toil and earn bread, and I’ll eat it.” [Loud Applause/Cheers] “No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an a apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tryannical principal.”

-Abraham Lincoln in Debate with Stephen A. Douglas 1858.

“Out of modern civilization economic royalists carved new dynasties. New kingdoms were built upon concentration of control over material things. Through new uses of corporations, banks and securities, new machinery, and agriculture, of labor and capital–all undreamed of by the fathers–the whole structure of modern life was impressed into this royal service . . . It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dyanasties, thirsting for power, reach out for control over Government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction. In its service new mercenaries sought to regiment the people, their labor, and their property. And as a result the average man once more confronts the problem that faced the Minute Men.”

-Franklin D. Roosevelt, accepting Renomination as President of the United States at the Democratic National Convention, 1936.

This is a battle for fundamental human liberty: the right of a man or woman to live in decency, dignity, and with hope for their futures and that of their families. Citizens of the United States strive to have some influence over the course their lives will take. Struggles for Justice stands squarely in the front ranks of this fight. We fly a kind of moral black flag that accepts nothing less than full justice for the human family. On that point there is no compromise. We welcome persecution and hatred from those that stand against us. It is blessed.

We glory in the fight: in the struggle to do what is right and good and compassionate for others. It is non-violent, fully recognizes the rule of law, is infused with democracy, and fully in keeping with the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, recognizing that a power greater than ourselves, our creator, has given us this life, and empowered us to act. How we use this life is of critical importance. We can use it to enrich and empower ourselves over others or we can look to the weak and oppressed among us first before looking to mere self-interest. That is a very hard thing to do. But we fight to make that effort nonetheless.

Americans are frightened, and angry, and confused, and do not know where to turn. WE are faced with a whole new set of economic Royalists, more entrenched, and more dangerous and harmful than even faced in the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Americans do know what they need from this fight:

They seek meaningful work and a reward for labor that fits their education, skills, and hard fought and well earned grasping for the economic opportunity promised by the Republic our founders set in motion. Lincoln believed that America provides the opportunity for all its citizens to achieve their full potentiality. He grasped it as a young lawyer who came out of frontier prairies and its whisky, brawling, poorly educated culture and saved a nation for posterity.

Citizens of the nation want their votes to count. They want the people they empower to act for them to act not for a select few whose money speaks like a great shout over all other voices, but in the interests of the weakest and most vulnerable first, and then for the rest of us who have the strength to shout all the louder.

The complete irrelevance of our present government and of the political parties that seek power and influence has never been more apparent. The Occupy Wall Street Movement has shown us how bankrupt the entire system is. At some point, we must work with and by political parties that elect people to help change things by peaceful and democratic means. But surrendering to either party or Wall Street to make merely cosmetic changes would not make such a very great difference.

The rich and the powerful are inherently weak, when it comes to the most important real wealth and power. They have money, but they do not have compassion for those that do not and who struggle for bread. They have power, but it is not a power that they can take with them, along with their wealth, after this life is over. In the brief span of life here below they have but one chance for immortality. When has a wealthy miser or despot won but mere fame for their infamies?

A real legacy of respect and reverence for the ages is won only by those whose souls are large enough for their love of their fellow man to exceed the concern for their own individual self-interest. Gandhi, Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and even George Washington did not consider mere money and power to be what is important in life.

It was the power of some great ideal that brings forward the battle flag of a common humanity that Struggles for Justice stands for. We must place our very lives in service to others. Frederick Douglass, the great black orator and emancipationist leader, told some young social activists who had visited his home in Rochester, New York late in his life, deep into the 1880’s, far from the days of strife of emancipation and civil war, and said, “without struggle there is no progress.”

People who challenge the wealthy and powerful and established authority will be persecuted. They will be reviled. They will be hated. And they may even be destroyed. For the wealthy and powerful place those things above all else and they will resist with all their power any perceived threat to it.

Look for what happened in Oakland, California to be repeated. In 1932, the Bonus Army was thrown out of Washington D.C. by the United States Army. Authoritarian government will have to dispose of those in Zacotti Park and everywhere people gather to call attention, however peacefully, to the disgrace that is our present government and the rich who control it. But part of the victory is in having the courage to make that struggle no matter the odds.

For the greatest bequest from our creator beyond life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness we have written into the great charter establishing our Republic, is the knowledge of the right: and the great light that lies behind it.

In protesting and fighting against with all our might the current day version of our own economic Royalists, and the capture of our very Republican government by those corporations, banks, rich men, and powerful rulers who seek to oppress the people, we follow in the footsteps of all those who have sought to receive their due for the bread they toil to earn and not to work to fill the mouths of those who have not earned that bread.

The Tea Party, the Republican Party, conservatives, moderates, and even some independents and Democrats will oppose what Struggles for Justice is arguing for here. As President Roosevelt said so long ago: “we welcome their hatred.” And we can all pray for them, and feel sorry and deeply saddened that their souls are so small and so weak not to contain the generosity, vision, and compassion needed for true justice on this Earth.

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5 thoughts on “The Eternal Struggle Over Right and Wrong

  1. “we follow in the footsteps of all those who have sought to receive their due for the bread they toil to earn and not to work to fill the mouths of those who have not earned that bread.” — I quote your own words to make my point that my opposition to this administration, the Occupy Wall Street protesters and all other big government, cradle-to-grave entitlement believers is exactly what you state. I do not believe that the government has the right to forcibly take that which I have honestly earned and give it to someone who has not earned it. To give what I earn to another is charity. To TAKE what I have earned to give to another is theft.

  2. Holly, you do realize that Mr. Lincoln and President Roosevelt would be supporting Occupy Wall Street. In Lincoln’s case, he is attacking the divine right of kings power over the masses and slavery, and in the case of Roosevelt he is attacking precisely what Occupy Wall Street stands opposed to. And I lend support to their ideas. This is not a matter of big government taking away what you earn. The fight is against the wealthy and powerful and the solution is not automatically big government nor small government. I guess it is nice to have you on board with this one.

  3. “Property is the fruit of labor…property is desirable…is a positive good in the world. That some should be rich shows that others may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprise. Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another; but let him labor diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.”
    — March 21, 1864 – Reply to New York Workingmen’s Democratic Republican Association”.

    No sir, I don’t believe that President Lincoln would support Occupy Wall Street.
    I also don’t believe that the majority of protesters who now ‘occupy’ know what it is that they are trying to accomplish.
    The fact that you “lend support to their ideas”, leads me to believe that you are simply a cheerleader for chaos. Or perhaps I am just too conservative to understand what exactly their ideas are….

  4. Holly:

    You should be aware that the movement issued a lengthy declaration of their aims and views. I have reprinted the relevant portion of the declaration of 30 September 2011 in a piece I wrote here on this movement: Occupy Wall Street Protestors Provide Clear Answer . . . in the labor section of the blog. You can get the full declaration from their website.

    The purpose of the movement in New York is to call attention to the fact that there is such a huge disparity of wealth between the very rich and the rest of us, and to comment and educate people on the role Wall Street has played in the present economic troubles ordinary people are experiencing.

    They have not employed violence at all. They are unarmed. Most of the chaotic conditions you fear have been supplied by police who have overreacted to the presence of these people. The First Amendment to the Constitution protects the right of the people to peaceably assemble. Tea Party groups may wish to launch Occupy protests of their own. We’d support that here though we most likely would not support many of their ideas.

    Dr. Thomas Martin Sobottke

  5. As to Mr. Lincoln supporting the protestors it is fairly clear. He always supported common people who were under the thumb of the powerful. The comment I quoted from Lincoln was directed at the right of despised African-American slaves to earn their own bread and be free of the domination of the planter class in the South.

    Lincoln issued an annual message to Congress on 3 December 1861 where he pointedly commented:

    “Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its righs, which are as worth of proection as any other rights.”

    The man from Illinois would certainly sympathize with labor that is seeking work in dignity and in a manner to support their families and to share more fully in the fruits of their labor.

    Thus far the movement has not opposed the existence of corporations and their basic rights legally but they have challenged the status quo on Wall Street.

    It is clear from both statements supplied in this post that support is being given to common, ordinary, working people as assembled in many cities around our nation.

    These people are looking for honest labor and a fair return for what they do. If you are defending the right of capital or multi-national corporations to have their way with the geater part of humanity, the bottom 99 percent of the human population than you are hard hearted indeed.

    Struggles for Justice would not support the end of corporate capital altogether and the Occupy Wall Street Movement has not done so. They may have interest in constructing some kind of alternative society that does not permit Wall Street and the most powerful from oppressing the rest of us,

    Even the Tea Party movement originally contained some of the same concerns. But when Freedomworks, Koch Industries, and other business groups funded the movement it suppressed these ideas.

    Dr. Thomas Martin Sobottke

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