Wednesday, March 17, 2021
This second letter found recently was written by Charles Redele (from The Netherlands) and mentions some of the realities of the industrial relations between business and the workers then. Charles expresses his personal conviction based on his Christian faith.


Charles Redele Dordrecht, 14th January 1959

Dear Ben

A few years ago my wife inherited a farm in the north of Holland. We told the farmer that we should like very much to meet with all the farmhands. The farmer replied: “This cannot be done. The landowner is not supposed to shake hands with the farmhands and they would not understand this attitude”.

It took us several years before we could convince the farmer that teamwork between landowner, farmer and labourers was only normal living. One day the farmer invited all the men of the farm to his drawing room for a cup of coffee and we, my wife, three sons and I were present. I told them how grateful I was that they had accepted our invitation. I said, “I like to say sorry for the materialistic and superior way we and so many of our class have treated you and I want to say that I really want to be different. I believe a classless society is the answer for so many tensions and my family and I have decided to put this into practice by living up to 4 absolute standards”.

One of the men said: “I'm impressed by what you say. I certainly did not expect this. You have been very open and now I like to follow your example and I am going to tell you something I never ever told my friends. When I was a small boy I regularly went to bed without an evening meal. We were 12 children and my father earned very small wages. When-ever it rained he could not work. This was one of the reasons why I have hated all of you and always have felt very bitter. When I heard your apology, I feel I could lose my hatred and bitterness”.

All of us were very struck by your story and I laughed nervously. We cannot cut out the past and arguing is certainly not a solution for this problem, my family and I are inviting all of you to come to our orchards, to get an idea about the way we are trying to live together. It was the day that we were discussing our balance sheet and profit and loss account with the fellows of the orchards. They listen to our discussions and witnessed how we found together a solution on the basis of what is right and not who is right. We all had lunch together and they questioned all men who worked in the orchards.

One of the men from the north said “The difference between you and those of us from the north is, when we work overtime it is to earn a few guilders extra, which we need to badly, but it seems that your men have quite a different purpose in life.

They work out of love for their orchards and moreover the whole outlook is broader than ours. We just live for our weekly pay pack and they work because they are convinced, that this way of teamwork is the answer for all the difficulties through which the free world threatens to perish. I now understand why your men are so much happier and freer than we are. Could not you spare some of your time to come to us in the north from time to time, to explain to us this way of living? “

That is what we have been doing, my wife and I. Frequently we sit together with the men in the north in the fields, discussing our difficulties. There is not much difference between our families and they started to tell not only about their difficulties but very soon they were seeking to find the answer. “I'm afraid”, one of them said, “I have to go back home, to tell my wife and children how sorry I am for my negative behaviour”. We all laughed and had a good time without noticing we became good friends together and hatred and bitterness I felt had gone, replaced by faith, friendship and love.

Very often, we are discussing how we can bring this way of life to others. Not only that we can invite several of our acquaintances to our orchards and farm, but our men arrange film showings about MRA [Moral Re-Armament, now known as Initiatives of Change] and by doing so try to promote the ideology of MRA. Because there is no doubt: the answer which we found and try to live together, is the only answer for all the problems in me. This is in family life, on the farms, in factories, for countries and continents, for class as well as race difficulties. It has nothing to do with character, but with human nature, it is a basic moral problem. And the answer is to live up to the 4 absolute standards: absolute honesty, absolute unselfishness, absolute purity, absolute love. If one decides to put this into practice, it means breaking your selfish will completely, replacing it with the freedom that comes when Jesus Christ is invited to enter into one's heart (according to my own Christian faith), which of course can change human nature.

I remember one morning at the breakfast table when we discussed how listening to my inner voice had helped me work cooperatively with my farm workers. I read my quiet time to the boys: never to get irritated or angry anymore. A few minutes afterwards one of the boys laughed and I saw his yellow teeth I said: How many times did I tell you to brush your teeth in the morning. Why did you not do it? And I got very excited. The boy laughed. Do you not remember your quiet time, never to be irritated anymore? And I had to say sorry.

A few minutes after which one of the other boys put far too much marmalade on his bread and again, I got furious and told him that the money was not grown on my back. Then all three said: “you seem to forget your quiet time again” and once more I had to say sorry. But the next morning my son laughed at me, showing his teeth and said: “You do not have to be angry again, daddy, look at my teeth”, and we all laughed and had a good positive breakfast.

Ben, I do not know if this story is of any use to you ...