For Lefties too Stubborn to Quit
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Cain Kills Abel: The First Class War
Wednesday January 04, 2012 19:17 by Emmanuel Charles McCarthy - Christian Nonviolence Center
An issue that dwarfs in death and suffering the murders of 911 that you will not hear politicians debating or newspapers or news broadcasts covering is that one human being is dying every nine second from starvation in the world as it is presently spiritually, politically and economically organized. One person dies every nine seconds from starvation in a world that produces 3,500 calories per person per day and 4.2 pounds of food per person per day. That is premeditated, intentional, unjustified homicidal violence, murder. That is the warring of one group or class or cast of human beings against another. That is class warfare of the most hideous kind—class genocide. Yet, not a peep, let alone an impassioned daily outcry, from those who own the microphones and those who are granted access to them. Why? Do some human beings have worth, count, and others not?
As with all warfare whether between Mafia organizations, or between nations, or between religions or ethnic groups, in class warfare the human consequences must be kept out of sight and out of mind . But the heinous ordeal that its victims must endure until they perish is a fact of the human existence of which we are all part. The existence each starved victim of class war participates in the existence we all participate in. Its objective source, purpose and end are the same for every human being. Their ultimate destiny is our ultimate destiny. Their place in human existence is a non-removable fact in any authentic endeavor to search for the meaning of human existence and the meaning of my existence within that. After reading Howard Bess' article do take a moment, only then open the attachment, and maybe ask yourself one or two of those primal questions: What is the purpose of human existence and my purpose within it?; What does eternal salvation mean? Has Constantinian Christianity made a virtue of the raw suffering of the victims of class violence against the poor (the anawim) in order thereby to assuage the consciences, indeed to honor, the victimizers of the poor—victimizers who are now and always have been the financial backbone of all the Constantinian Churches?
Cain Kills Abel: The First Class War
By Rev. Howard Bess, Consortium News
03 January 12
Some people are fond of throwing the charge "class warfare" at anyone who seeks to reverse the rapid division of modern society into haves and have-nots. But the ancient story of Cain and Abel is a cautionary tale about the violence that class stratification inevitably brings, writes Rev. Howard Bess.
n America, there is a widening gap between the rich and the poor. The economic and social gap between employers and employees keeps widening. A similar chasm has opened between those whom we elect and the electorate. Extreme poverty and exorbitant wealth - along with imbalances of power - are stratifying our society.
Which leads us to one of the Bible's most important stories about the dangers from class stratification, the violent death of Abel at the hands of his brother Cain. Though often misunderstood, the story - and Cain's question to God, "Am I my brother's keeper?" - form a central moral tenet of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
To understand the context of the Cain and Abel message, one must go back to the special story of Jews, which - according to the Bible - begins when God spoke to a man named Abram who lived in what is today Iraq. God told Abram that he was to be the founder of a special people.
The Bible says that Abram left his home and went out not knowing where he was to go. He acquired a new name, Abraham, and he and his clan became nomadic herders. Abraham's descendants through an extended series of events ended up in Egypt as slaves.
Over time, led by Moses, the Abraham clan rebelled and escaped Egypt. Once again they became a nomadic clan of herders. In the process they became a warrior clan with a mission to take over Palestine, a fertile land northeast of Egypt. In the name of their God, they killed and conquered other clans that got in their way.
Eventually this warrior tribe controlled all of Palestine. The nation of Israel was established, with King David making Jerusalem the capital. The first Jerusalem temple was built under King Solomon, and Israel developed an extensive religious system.
The priests who controlled and operated the temple were the first group in Israelite history to become literate. They became the first writers of the stories which had been passed down as oral history for centuries. The priests collected the stories and put them in written form. But they told the stories not as actual history but to explain history.
By this point, Israel had acquired its territory through conquest, but now had a different problem: How were the Israelites to live together? Before the Israelites took ownership of Palestine, they were not farmers; they were herders who lived off the land. However, once the conquest was complete, some Israelites became farmers, while others remained herders.
In ancient societies like that of the developing Israelites, farmers rose into a higher social class than herders. In this context of Israel's social evolution, a priest or a group of priests chose to put an old story into written form, the story of two brothers, Cain and Abel.
Tensions arose between the two brothers because of their choice of occupations. Cain chose to be a farmer. Abel chose to be a herder. So, Cain became a member of the social elite, but that did not win him favor with God.
In the story, Abel brought his finest lamb as an offering to God, who was pleased. Cain brought an offering of grain from his farm, but God rejected the grain offering. Cain was outraged that God had shown preference to his lower-class brother. So a furious Cain killed Abel. It was a homicide based on social class.
Then, along came God who asked Cain the whereabouts of his brother, Abel. Cain responded, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?"
In the mind of Cain, his question was legitimate. As a member of an elite class, could he not set the rules? However, God had a different perspective. God sentenced Cain to the lowest possible class, a landless wanderer dispatched to the land of Nod. Cain protested, "This is a punishment I cannot bear!" But it was too late. The sentence was put in force.
Thus, the story of Cain and Abel became a critical part of the development of the conscience of Judaism - and later, Christianity and Islam. Out of this same seedbed grew the command to love your neighbor. In its earliest form, the command was probably, "love your neighbor as if he were a member of your own clan or your own class."
But the current relevance of the story is that the violent death of Abel came out of class conflict and similar violence is the inevitable outcome as long as society is stratified by wealth and power, rather than unified by an ethos of caring for one another.
In modern times, the dynamic of the Cain and Abel story has gone global. The United States and other powerful nations have become the Cain in the story and the Third World has become the Abel. Americans are obsessed with being number one in most everything. However, we will never be a truly great nation through wealth and power. Greatness will be found in the embrace of a brother and the love of a neighbor.
Being my brother's keeper and loving my neighbor may have formed the essential backbone of the moral and ethical mandate for Jew, Christian and Muslim. However, there is not much evidence that any of us is doing a very good job.