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From Hell to Heaven
Chapter 257 - Old and contemporary times. The world was never good excepting a few in it
1. Starting our descent we reach a place at the foot of the Semmering called Spital.
2. Emperor Karl steps up again, saying: “Oh Lord and Father that art holy, supra- holy! In my time this place was really a sanctuary for the poor suffering. I often visited and made gifts to it during my travels southbound. But after me things petered out, and the well-off Styrians’ charitable impulses soon turned to profit. People strove for wealth and forgot that the poor have nothing and hence can’t live. The country received little blessing for that. In my time it counted among the wealthiest lands in the kingdom but now is likely to count among the poorest of the whole country.
3. Say I: Indeed, there you are not completely wrong; there still are a few of considerable achievements, but speaking generally, there still are a hardly be a land with more egotists than this very one. The highland is still the better part but the lowland is in trouble: profiteering, fornication, lack of faith on the one hand and crassest paganism on the other! Self-interest, bland insensitivity towards mankind, meanness and jealousy are the main drives of this land. Wherefore we are visiting this sick little folk, to perhaps make it a little healthier. They won’t tolerate us in their city, wherefore we shall set up quarters in its vicinity,”
4. Says Karl: “Lord, I would call thunder and lightning down: these must be real devils of people! Are there no officials or military or police here?”
5. Say I: “Oh plenty, but few humans among them! The civil servants would soon be great lords for higher salaries, whence their hearts are usually of stone and they act with unmitigated severity, so that upon promotion they would be kept in mind as competent men. Few of them are satisfied with what they are and have. Most are bent on climbing, and behold, this is much evil, where very little love and less justice is seen.
6. If the military of this city were not of conspicuous presence then the civil servants would fare badly, for they are not in favour. If the official in a state is to strew blessings then he must have much love! If he doesn’t have such then he strews out weeds and thistles whenever he acts. Eliciting hate and contempt from the subjects.
7. Says Rudolf of Hartsburg: “But, Lord, behold the two wide roads, one for the carriages, the other for the iron railway; how much beautiful land they take up, whilst in my time all roads had to be narrow and pass only through unusable land. I had kept no deficit, yet had to wage several wars. Nonetheless those who travel on broad roads, transporting their wares with speed, are indebted to the entire world: verily, this I don’t understand!”
8. Say I: “This is quite simple: having no love, they have no proper insight. If mankind lived according to need they would all be provided for. But living in luxury and pride, they suffer want and misery and became debtors to the entire world; do you grasp this simple, fundamental truth?”
9. Says Rudolf: “Oh Lord, unfortunately I do! This would be the time upon Earth of which you prophesied that love shall grow cold and there shall be no faith. This is obvious from all the measures how being taken: nothing but pomp, haughtiness and luxury, each trying to outdo the other.
10. Looking back to my time, there was even a dress code, with everyone having to dress according to their standing, and this put a stop to much arrogance and ostentatious squandering. But now mutual respect, love, faith and mercy have ceased, and cold, unfeeling intellect everywhere rules peoples’ hearts.
11. In my time free inns were introduced where poor travellers were served free of charge. Everyone could lay rightful claim upon his co-religionist’s hospitality and only Jews and pagans had to pay the innkeeper a small fee. The tavern keeper had the right to send appeal collectors to neighbouring municipalities who richly provided him with everything, and this surely was a good arrangement. There is so trace of such now. A moneyless traveller is abandoned to his death: mankind, how far have you removed yourself from God’s kingdom!
12. Oh Lord, I don’t think much can be done with this present mankind, because each almost carries his mortal judgement upon his brow. Hell’s bells where no one notices his brother’s plight and the loud wailing of misery is overheard by the world’s ostentatious noise. Wherefore I maintain that not much be fussed with such spiritually near-death mankind; let them become extinct physically through all kinds of pestilence, just keeping a few scattered good ones, so that the Earth can eventually be renewed with better inhabitants.”
13. Say I: “My dear friend, you are quite right, the world finds itself in a miserable state, considerably worse than in Noah’s and Lot’s time, I say unto you; but what can be done other than show patience over patience? Let them all die today, and they shall be no better by a hair’s breadth in the spirit kingdom than they were upon Earth. If however you let them wriggle about upon Earth for a while and chalk up real misery through their foolishness, then many may introvert and crawl to the cross again.
14. Here and there however there still are charitable people who do much good for their poor brothers and sisters. In your time these were indeed quite a few good establishments, yet also downright bad ones; and so it is today.
15. I say unto you: the world never was good, but just a few people in it! Whatever is already evil, remains so. No grapes or figs grow upon thorns and thistles, but you shall harvest choice fruit upon vines and fig trees: let us therefore not concern ourselves with the world! The more it carries on the more it shall ultimately punish itself. He who climbs high shall soon be told by the cliff peaks how high and life-threatening they are. But we are just visiting sick people, and so let us move on!”
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