​The oppressor and the slave are both cooperators in ignorance

All that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts. In a justly ordered universe, where loss of equipoise would mean total destruction, individual responsibility must be absolute. A man’s weakness and strength, purity and impurity, are his own and not another man’s. They are brought about by himself and not by another; and they can only be altered by himself, never by another. His condition is also his own, and not another man’s. His sufferings and his happiness are evolved from within. As he thinks, so is he; as he continues to think, so he remains.
A strong man cannot help a weaker unless that weaker is willing to be helped. And even then the weak man must become strong of himself. He must, by his own efforts, develop the strength which he admires in another. None but himself can alter his condition. It has been usual for men to think and to say, “Many men are slaves because one is an oppressor; let us hate the oppressor!” But there is amongst an increasing few a tendency to reverse this judgment and to say, “One man is an oppressor because many are slaves; let us despise the slaves.”

The truth is that oppressor and slaves are cooperators in ignorance, and, while seeming to afflict each other, are in reality, afflicting themselves. A perfect knowledge perceives the action of law in the weakness of the oppressed and the misapplied power of the oppressor. A perfect love, seeing the suffering which both states entail, condemns neither; a perfect compassion embraces both oppressor and oppressed. He who has conquered weakness and has pushed away all selfish thoughts belongs neither to oppressor nor oppressed. He is free. A man can only rise, conquer, and achieve by lifting up his thoughts. He can only remain weak, abject, and miserably by refusing to lift up his thoughts.

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