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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody


Genesis iv.9.

Cain was the first philosophical individualist; the first |laissez-faire| economist. When God asked: |Where is Abel?| Cain answered: |What responsibility have I for him? My business is to take care of myself. Am I my brother's keeper?| But the interesting fact is that Cain had been his brother's keeper though he declined responsibility for him. He refused to be responsible for his brother's life, but he certainly was responsible for his brother's death. He refused to be his brother's keeper, but he was willing to be his brother's slayer. There are plenty of people to-day who are trying to maintain this same impossible theory of social irresponsibility. They affirm that they have no social duty except to mind their own business; but that very denial of responsibility is what makes them among the most responsible agents of social disaster. They deal with their affairs on the principle that they are nobody's {177} keeper, and so they are stirring every day the fires of industrial revolt. We are passing through dark days in the business world, and there are many causes for the trouble, but the deepest cause is Cain's theory of life. |Where is thy brother?| says God to the business man to-day, -- |thy brother, the wage-earner, the victim of the cut-down and the lockout?| |Where is thy brother?| says God again to the unscrupulous agitator, bringing distress into many a workman's home for the satisfactions of ambition and power. And to any man who answers: |I know not. Am I my brother's keeper?| the rebuke of God is spoken again: |Cursed art thou! The voice of thy brother crieth against thee from the ground.|

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