Wealth requires commonwealth

I’ve had a phrase running through my mind recently about how there isn’t wealth without commonwealth. But for the life of me I couldn’t place where I had come across that phrase. Finally, this morning I found a reference to a sermon by Martin Luther King, Jr. titled “The man who was a fool.” Sure enough, it was the most recent sermon I had read out of the book Strength to Love, compiled by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963 and most recently published by Fortress Press. 

The sermon is based on Luke 12:16-20, a parable about a rich young man who decides to build up more barns to store his surplus grain so that he can relax, eat, drink, and be merry. Perhaps half way through the sermon, Martin Luther King, Jr. says (emphasis mine):

The rich man was a fool because he failed to realize his dependence on others. His soliloquy contains approximately sixty words, yet “I” and “my” occur twelve times. He has said “I” and “my” so often that he had lost the capacity to say “we” and “our.” A victim of the cancerous disease of egotism, he failed to realize that wealth always comes as a result of the commonwealth. He talked as though he could plough the fields and build the barns alone. He failed to realize that he was the heir of a vast treasury of ideas and labour to which both the living and the dead had contributed. When an individual or a nation overlooks this interdependence, we find a tragic foolishness.

And so it is…

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