Sunday Snippet: Leo Tolstoy

“I sit on a man’s back, choking him, and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by any means possible, except getting off his back.”

How many of us are guilty of precisely this kind of hypocrisy?

Perhaps we could look at the Occupy Wall Street movement and the concept of relative wealth. Perhaps we could look at our rampant consumerism and how companies treat workers in overseas factories. Perhaps we could look at the treatment of animals as part of the food industry. Whatever the case, I think we are all guilty of this hypocrisy at some level.

It’s probably fair to say that most of us want to make this world a better place and, from an ethical standpoint, we want to treat our fellow man with as much respect as we can. We want to help those who need help. But at the same time, we are not quite as willing to sacrifice our lifestyles and our standards of living to achieve those kinds of goals. And no, I’m not any less guilty of this than anyone else.

Perspective, as always, is everything. Realize what it takes for that man to carry you on his back before you get on a moral high horse and admonish others for riding the backs of other men.

Leo Tolstoy was a Russian author in the late 19th century and into the early part of the 20th century. He is perhaps best known for works like War and Peace and Anna Karenina, but he was also outspoken with some of his political views. He was a Christian anarchist who believed that man only had to answer to God, but he rejected the use of violence to further these needs for social change.