Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/369

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THEOLOGY VERSUS THRIFT.

Several children wish for wealth 'because so many white people are rich' and a boy of thirteen explains, 'If I were rich the white man would not cry my name down but would be my friend.'

It is a regrettable fact that one fifth of the children who desire wealth, expect to 'live bedout working,' as a nine year old boy puts it. Aladdin's lamp is sadly missing from the lives of these twelve hundred children. Their most extravagant desires are as limited in scope as the children voicing them are limited in number. Ten children would travel if wealthy, seven would run a store, two would be conductors on street-cars, five would own pianos, four bicycles, one a 'five-dollar doll' and one a horseless carriage.

But pathetically limited as is their idea of wealth and the wants which it would supply, half of the older children from the rural districts reply with a decided negative to the question 'Would you like to be rich?' Their religion has forced them to choose between comfort in this world and bliss in the next. A girl of sixteen expresses the prevailing sentiment in her answer. "No, I would not like to be rich. Because the Bible say it is just as impossible for a rich man to get to heaven as it is for a camel to get through a cambrac needle eye." [1]

As is shown by the following table, the hostility toward riches is an increasing factor in the lives of both city and country children.

The Attitude of Negro Children toward Wealth.

Ages. 6 to 10. 11 to 13. 14 to 20. All ages.
City. Country. City. Country. City. Country. City. Country.
Percentage
desiring wealth.
93 82 90 70 83 50 91 65
Percentage
desiring poverty.
7 18 10 30 17 50 9 35

While fewer than one fifth of the older children living in cities repudiate wealth, one half of the country children from fourteen to twenty years of age distinctly declare their preference for poverty.

The children of the city poor usually see the ordinary comforts of life in evidence among their more fortunate neighbors and often their ambition is aroused to acquire equally desirable property. On the other hand, in the rural districts the standard of living varies less widely, and there is less evidence of prosperity to stimulate the desire for wealth. However, the disproportionate number of country children who exalt poverty does not depend upon the merely passive effect of neighborhood conditions. Their papers bear proof of positive teaching that the accumulation of property is opposed to religion. Almost all who repudiate wealth do so on religious grounds. Between the


  1. The common 'reading' of Mark 10, 25, by illiterate preachers.