An Imaginary Conversation
Bolton Hall. "An Imaginary Conversation."
- Things as They Are (1909)
WE pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." Now suppose the Lord should say: "Come, let us reason together. What exactly do you want me to do?" We would say, "Send down a shower of bread, like the manna." And the Lord would answer: "If I do, it will belong, under your law, to the owners of land. Do you all own land? " And we should be obliged to say, "No: the poor, who do not own any, could only pick up what was untrampled in the streets." Then God would say, "Why, that isn't a satisfactory way of relieving poverty."
He might continue: "Where does your bread come from? From the land by labour, does it not?" "Yes." "Well," he would say, "most of your own country is still vacant and unused. All the inhabitants of your world could go into your State of Texas alone, and leave the rest of the earth empty and desolate; yet there would be fewer than ten persons—say, two families—to the acre. Now you don't want me to make more land, do you? " "No," the labourer would say. "We voters have made laws which encourage a few to take all land and do nothing with it." "Well," the Most High would answer, "it is not to me you should make this prayer, but to yourselves and to your fellows. I have given you your daily bread in the best possible way, by offering you a chance to work for it; and you have put it out of your hands."