Leo Tolstoy
· The Circle of Reading
Translated by Dmitry Fadeyev

January 16

False faith is the primary cause of a bad way of life.

1

The life of a human being consists in making the unwise things in his life wiser. For this he needs to do two things:

  1. to see the full meaning of the unwisdom of his life and pay attention to it;
  2. to fully perceive the wisdom of a possible life.

A human being who perceives the full unwisdom of his life, along with the disastrous effects that must result from it, involuntarily turns away from it; and, on the other hand, by clearly perceiving the possibility of a wise life, a human being involuntarily strives towards it. Thus, the task of all teachers of humankind must be to not conceal the evil of unwisdom and present in all its clarity the good of a wise life.

But the seat of Moses is always occupied by those who are not moving towards the light, because their goals are evil; and thus it is always the case that the people who present themselves as teachers are not only not trying to clarify the unwisdom of present life and the wisdom of a life that must be, but, on the contrary, are trying to conceal the unwisdom of present life and undermine the confidence in the wisdom of a life that must be. This is the reason for the existence and activity of the police, and the armed forces, and criminal laws, and prisons, and orphanages, and almshouses for old people, and foster homes, and brothels, and mental asylums, and hospitals, and insurance companies, and all the forced and compulsory educational institutions, and institutions for juvenile delinquents, and many more such things.

Apart from concealing evil, every one of these institutions is fated to give birth to new evil, increasing uncontrollably, like a snowball, the evil which it is supposed to destroy.

If only one thousandth of the effort expended on the establishment of all this, whose aim is to conceal evil and which only increases it, was used to counteract the thing which all of these institutions serve to conceal, then this evil would become clear to us, and it would be quickly destroyed.

2

We must pay close attention to our public affairs, we must be ready to change our opinions, to reject old views and assimilate new ones. We must throw away our prejudices and reason with a wholly liberated mind. A sailor who continues to use the same sails, ignoring changes in the wind, will never reach his harbor.

— Henry George

3

In order to improve their relations, workers and capitalists must set aside the old law of Moses, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” and put into practice the law of love: treat others the way you want others to treat you.

— Lucy Mallory

4

Reforms enacted by force will never fix evil as long as people remain the same as they are, which is why we can only expect evil to be corrected by the propagation of goodness and reason, not by changing the form of our lives.

5

One only has to simply and directly accept the teaching of Christ for the terrible deception in which each and every one of us lives to become clearly apparent.


Submission to the demands of false faith is the primary cause of people’s misfortune.