Acton Institute Powerblog

The Bond of Fellowship

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I was reading an essay that I found in an old book I bought in Vermont. Dr H.J. Laski (Oxford and Yale) wrote, “The less obvious the differences between men in the gain of living, the greater the bond of fellowship between them.” In other words the less we talk about differences between the rich and poor, the better we will all like each other and get along. In the Depression which began as he was writing, nearly everyone was poor.

Those more cheerful days of fellowship ended with Michael Harrington’s The Other America written in 1962. Harrington described and defined the poor in America not as the lower working class (think coal miners back then) or as ghetto dwellers, but as The Poor. We declared a $7 trillion War on Poverty during 1960s, apparently with no adequate outcome as we still have 48 million people poor enough to be on food stamps.

The “bond of fellowship” has little chance today as it faces a daily reminder that the rich are very rich and that they are a sort of enemy of the poor. If the rich, the argument goes, would give up a small fraction of their immense profits or wealth then the poor would all be earning a “living wage.” That’s the energy behind the talk now of the $15/hr minimum wage.

John Teevan After growing up in Chicago and graduating from Princeton (economics) where he became a Christian, John Teevan focused on ministry for 35 years. His interests in social action developed through that era, and now he leads in starting urban college sites, including one in Detroit, for Grace College. He also is the executive director of and has taught in Grace's Indiana Correctional Education program. Grace has contracts to provide education in the northern region of Indiana's state prisons. Fairly well-traveled because of his mission interests, he and Jane live in Winona Lake, Indiana. Their three grown son have lived and worked around the world.

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