125: The Reason for War (Thieves, who also happen to be Fools)


I came across the sentences below in the seventh of the Fors Clavigera letters this morning. It is one of those Ruskin wisdoms which needs no remark beyond itself. Thought it would be good to share it as the weekend approaches. He speaks in terms of Europe, but there are, as I suspect will be obvious, broader applications.

The first reason for all wars,and for the necessity of nation defences, is that the majority of persons, high and low, in all European nations, are Thieves, and, in their hearts, greedy of their neighbors’ goods, land, and fame.

But besides being Thieves, they are also Fools, and have never yet been able to understand that if Cornish people want pippins cheap, they must not ravage Devonshire; that the property of their neighbors is, in the end, their own also, and that the poverty of their neighbors, by the communism of God, becomes also in the end their own. “Invidia,” jealousy of your neighbor’s good, has been, since dust was first made flesh, the curse of man; and “Charitas,” the desire to do your neighbor grace, the one source of all human glory, power, and material Blessing.

Until next time.

Be well out there in the summer heat.




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