880. Which is the first of all the natural rights of man?
“The right to live, and therefore no one has the right to take the life of his fellow-creature or to do anything that may compromise his personal existence.”
881. Does the right to live give to man the right to amass the means of living, in order that he may repose when no longer able to work?
“Yes but he should do this in concert with his family. Like the bee, by honest labour, and not by amassing in solitary selfishness. Certain animals, even, set man an example of this kind of fore-sight.”
882. Has man the right to defend what he has amassed by his labours?
“Has not God said, ‘Thou shalt not steal?’ and did not Jesus say: ‘Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s?'”
What a man has amassed by honest labour is a legitimate property that he has a right to defend for possession of the property which is the fruit of labour is a natural right as sacred as the right to labour or to live.
883. Is the desire to possess natural to man?
“Yes; but when it is simply for himself, and for his personal satisfaction, it is selfishness.”
– But is not the desire to possess a legitimate one, since he who has enough to live upon is not a burden to others?
“Some men are insatiable and accumulate without benefit to any one, merely to satisfy their passions. Do you suppose that this can be pleasing to God? He, on the contrary, who amasses through his labour, in order to have the means of assisting his fellow-creatures, practices the law of love and of charity, and his labour receives the blessing of God.”
884. What is the characteristic of legitimate property?
“No property is legitimate unless acquired without injury to others.” (808.)
The law of love and of justice, forbidding us to do to others what we would not that others should do to us, implicitly condemns every means of acquiring which would be contrary to that law.
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