Life, to a vast majority, is a disinheritance. Providence feeds some to the fill but leaves many even without their daily feed. Few are born with silver spoons in their mouths, when many enter the world without even wooden ladles. The poor have more mouths than they can fill. Poverty fetters ambition and stifles the latent powers of the poor to rise to greatness. Many who can rise to eminence, live unknown and die unrecognized. Poverty stifles genius.
The poor are doomed to a sordid grind of bare existence. They earn barest wages enough to enable them to live for endless and cheerless toil. Abject poverty breeds destitution, wretchedness, squalor, and crime. It casts orphans upon the world, throws women on the streets of great cities, and drives able-bodied persons to steal and rob and murder. Born and bred in the lap of poverty, the poor live lives of bleak misery. They have not enough nourishing food that they can put some flesh on their bones. Mothers with hollow eyes and sunken cheeks and emaciated with disease, press their babes to their dry breasts. Wringing their hands in utter helplessness and despair at their unbearable misery, the poor eat their morsels moistened by their tears.
Nature stands by the poor in the country and helps them to endure poverty better than in large, industrial towns. It gives them fresh air and sunshine in abundance. They drink the sweet scent of the earth and the green trees and dead leaves that fall upon the ground. They feel kinship with nature who showers blessings upon them, which are denied to the poor living in the chawls of big towns. Industry rears squalid population. Both man and nature combine to make life of the poor miserable in towns. Here they live in the midst of the squalor of congested quarters. Here they are herded together, men, women, and children, within the walls of windowless rooms, oblivious of the needs of physical hygiene and devoid of the sense of moral decency. Here they live in the midst of blinding smoke belching from the factory chimneys. Here they live in a drab and dreary environment. The misery of the poor, all over the world, beggars’ language. Our civilization is not sufficiently civil.
Zarathushtra is moved by the sight of poverty and his heart aches with pity for them. He exhorts all to think of the poor and to help them and ameliorate their condition. Enable me to do my duty towards Thy poor, Ahura Mazda, and to lighten the load of their sufferings. If it pleases Thee that I should live my life in poverty, enable me to endure it patiently and bravely. Teach me to see that there is no shame in honest poverty. Let me not bring poverty over myself by indolence or extravagance or intemperance in life. Let me be poor in purse, if such is Thy will, but help me to be rich in spirit and to protect my poverty by Asha’s righteousness, O Thou Protector and Sustainer of the poor!
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