by Chris Banescu
“The Haves and the Have Nots” is a very common phrase used often in the mainstream of American society and in the social and political discourse; many times by Christians trying to equate its meaning with the Christian principles of charity and caring for the poor. You hear it being used constantly in newspaper and magazine articles, on television and cable news shows, in university lecture halls, in congressional, presidential and other political debates, and even in many religious circles. Yet few people realize and understand that this very same phrase and its implications come from a different time and place. The origins of this seemingly benign comment come from an ideological past rife with violence, murder, terror, and mayhem.
The birthplace of this phrase is a past drenched with the blood of countless innocents tortured, enslaved, imprisoned, and sacrificed in the pursuit of punishing the “haves” at the hands of the “have nots” and allegedly trying to even out the imbalance between the rich and the poor. The expression was used and continues to be used by communist revolutionaries as they sought and many still seek to sow the seeds of envy among their people, stoke the fires of revolution, and incite civil wars based on jealousy and resentment between economic and social classes.
It is the likes of Marx, Engles, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot who first adopted such expressions all the while using them to wreak havoc on their fellow citizens and shred the very fabric of the societies and civilizations that gave them life and freedom. These social terrorists used this expression (and many others like it) as the battle cry for energizing an entire philosophy of hate, tyranny, oppression, and murder. That philosophy is called communism and its deadly legacy can be found written in the blood of over 100 million people it has slaughtered over the past 75 years.
A superficial understanding of this phrase would classify it as a benign comment; just a simple commentary on the realities of life. Yet its simplicity and seemingly Christian idealism hides a malicious philosophy and secular humanist hope that is at once both misleading and corrupt. The phrase implies that the imbalance in free societies between the rich and the poor is a correctable wrong, and the equation must be corrected by government action. Whether such a government is elected by the people or forced by revolution, I believe, the end results are basically the same. Innocent people who suffer and have to involuntarily pay the price, so that others benefit for the sake of being in the right social class.
The only difference between communist regimes and more “free” ones, in the action used to “correct” this inequality between individuals, is the level and severity of punishment endured. Under the communist tyranny the “wrong” people not only lost their jobs, property, health, and freedoms, but also paid with their souls and lives. In modern day America, the social welfare systems inspired by the horrible reality of having “haves and have nots”, takes a more “gentle”, but still devious approach, by punishing those who have and giving the fruits of their labors to those who have not. Such charity is enforced on the entire society via a punitive tax system that progressively punishes those daring “haves” that consistently earn more and work harder. This is indeed enforced discrimination and involuntary coercion (and I dare say, enslavement) based on economic status, but very few people seem bothered by it much anymore.
Discrimination based on one’s ability to earn a living and support a family is apparently a perfectly acceptable means to deprive people of both the fruits of their labors and ultimately their freedoms. Those are the rules in the utopian version of society as envisioned by communist and liberal-leftist demagogues.
The proponents and champions of such sanctioned prejudice and society-wide class warfare see themselves as the new messiahs of the civil order, and make no attempts to hide that fact. They even use Christian symbolism and cherry-pick Gospel messages and teachings to justify their injustice and bigotry and call it “Christian charity.” Distorting the message of Christ to be charitable to the poor, these individuals twist the correct meaning of such good deeds, and corrupt the truth to suit their needs.
As The Black Book of Communism so eloquently stated, “a lie is not, strictly speaking, the opposite of the truth, and a lie will generally contain an element of truth.” (Courtois, 1999) Being charitable towards the poor, clothing the naked, and feeding the hungry is indeed what we are all called to do by our Lord and Savior. Many of the examples from the New Testament, that talk about helping the poor and caring for the needy, focus on personal and direct action by individuals called to act freely.
Christ taught and the Apostles preached that “we” as individual men and women need to act and help the poor. In the Gospel of St. Mark (and also mentioned in Matthew) the rich young ruler approached Jesus and asked:
“Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17).
Jesus responds very clearly:
“Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 10:21).
Notice that Christ did not say, “take the money and give it to someone else to give to the poor”, or “go give your money to a government agency and have them help the poor.” Jesus specifically addressed the young man directly and asked him to act, help, and follow the path to eternal and true salvation. Jesus asks us to voluntarily and freely give and share our blessings with those less fortunate. This approach to charity is indeed appropriate, blessed, and truthful.
Giving of oneself voluntarily and helping those in need are indeed noble and worthy goals that most Christians have and continue to practice. However, the communist/socialist/liberal mutation of such Christian charitable principles, into an involuntary and mandatory system, that forces everyone to contribute, and places a faceless government bureaucracy as the gatekeeper of such charity, is an abomination. Christ did not call on us to bestow on a government the right to re-distribute wealth, force people to be charitable, and enforce that right with threats of imprisonment. Jesus called on individuals to practice personal charity, sacrifice, love and dedication to helping the poor every day of our lives. Christ preached personal responsibility and accountability, not the relegation of our duties to an impersonal government program. Such thinking is not Christian, is not truthful, and is not right.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:17)
That is the way God taught us from the very beginning when dealing with the human propensity for envy and covetousness towards anything that does not rightfully belong to us. In His Ten Commandments, GOD was warning us against the motivations practiced by socialism and communism which sow envy, jealousy and hatred between people in order to steal from some and give to the others. This is exactly the opposite lesson we have seen practiced by communism, socialism, and now liberalism in our day and age. This is not the truthful and right way God spoke and Christ taught.
Personal Christian charity is one thing, communism/socialism is another. Confusing the two and allowing faceless agencies to enforce an involuntary and artificial social charity is indeed a serious mistake which unfortunately far too many Christians seem to make. As we have clearly seen in the many decades since the “war on poverty” started in America, trying to arbitrarily reset the “imbalance” between the “haves” and the “have nots” has not brought about a socialist utopia or cured any of our social ills. Worse yet, these social engineering programs have not made a dent in the ranks of the “have nots” and have indeed made their lives more miserable by creating a cycle of dependency and corruption that has now stretched for generations. The road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions.
As we all know the path of communism always leads to the enslavement and corruption of generations and ultimately to the death and torture of tens of million of innocent souls, while the Christian path has brought about the salvation of mankind and the redemption of creation. Which path you will chose will eventually determine the fate of this nation. I place my full faith and trust in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His truth and His teachings will ultimately save us all, including all the haves and have nots.
(This article was originally written and published on 11/8/2002.)