THE INEQUALITY OF RICHES
8. The inequality of riches is one of the problems which humanity will go on trying to resolve without success as long as only the present life is considered. The first question which presents itself is: Why are we not all equally rich? For the simple reason that we are not equally intelligent, active and industrious enough to acquire it, nor sober and careful enough to keep it Besides, it is a mathematically demonstrable fact that riches, if equally divided would give a minimum and insufficient portion to each one. So that, supposing this division were actually made, in a short time this equilibrium would be undone by the diversity of characters and aptitudes. That supposing it to be possible and lasting, if each one had sufficient to live upon, then the result would be an annihilation of all great works which contribute towards progress and the well-being of humanity. And finally, if it were conceded that each person was given the indispensable, then there would no longer be any goad to impel men and women to make discoveries or to found useful enterprises. Therefore if God has concentrated riches in certain areas, it is in order that from there it can be expanded in sufficient quantities according to needs.
Having accepted this fact, we then ask why God has conceded riches to people who are incapable of making them bear fruit for the good of all. Here we have yet another proof of the wisdom and goodness of God. By giving Man free-will, He wishes that the position of being able to distinguish right from wrong be reached through individual experience, and that the practice of good be solely the result of effort and choice. Man should not be fatally conducted towards either good or evil, as then we would be nothing more than passive and irresponsible instruments, as are animals. Wealth is a means of being able to test one's morality. But, as it is also a powerful means of action towards progress, God does not wish it to remain unproductive over long periods of time, so He unceasingly displaces it Each one possesses it sooner or later, so that they may drill themselves in utilizing it and demonstrate what uses they have learnt to put it to. Nevertheless, it is materially impossible for all to possess it at the same time, as it happens that if everyone had riches, then no one would work, which would result in the improvement of the planet being compromised. Each one then has a turn in possessing it In this manner, those who do not have it today, have already had it or will have it at some future time. Likewise, those who have it now perhaps will not have it tomorrow. There are rich and poor because God, being just, prescribes work to each one in turn. For those who suffer it, poverty is a test of patience and resignation; for others, riches are a test in charity and abnegation.
It is with good reason that the very bad uses to which some people put their riches are to be deplored, as are the ignoble passions provoked by their greed. This makes us ask ourselves if God is just to give riches to such creatures. It is certain that if man had but one life nothing could justify such a division of worldly goods. However, if we keep in sight not only the present life, but also the assemblage of existences, we would see that everything is justly balanced. From this point of view, the poor person lacks a motive with which to accuse providence, just as he has no motive to be envious of the rich who, in their turn also lack a motive to glorify themselves for what they possess. On the other hand, if the application of these riches is abused it will not be by means of decree of sumptuary laws that the wrongdoing will be remedied. The law can temporarily change the exterior, but it cannot succeed in changing the heart. Hence these laws would be of fleeting duration and would then be followed by more unrestrained reactions. The origin of evil lies in pride and selfishness; therefore, all manner of abuses will cease when humanity is governed by the law of charity.