Jun 14, 2008

Living in the Economy

Last night, we listened to a pair of authors on the Bill Moyers TV show NOW. Both Steve Fraser and Holly Sklar have done their homework on the steps leading up to and explanations for the present economic crisis which is affecting so many middle class Americans. Both were a wealth of information of past history and trends in America, and both had dire warnings if our country continues on the path that is going. No surprise there.

Both of the authors, in separate interviews, commented on the excessive greed of corporate America and their willing bedfellows - federal bureaucracy and government. With the presidency of Ronald Reagan, the wealthy received a starting flag to pursue wealth their way with no consequences or restraints. It was a repeat of the golden age of the late 1800's. Over the past decades, we have witnessed the appalling lack of integrity and restraint of CEO's, their boards of trustees, stockholders, politicians and judges who have convinced themselves that they deserve to amass insane amounts of wealth, with no thought as to sharing it with those below who have been responsible for making their companies and careers successful. The result is a HUGE gap between the unfathomably wealthy and the middle class, which is rapidly slipping into lower class and, barring a major change in government and corporate policies, ultimately headed for poverty levels. During this time, many of us who have always considered ourselves middle class are bewildered as to why it is so difficult to put food on the table, pay for gas for our cars, take care of our clothing needs, handle everyday home repairs, and meet medical needs. We keep adding part-time jobs to make ends meet, but the ends keep moving farther apart. We're working longer hours, being denied health insurance, and offered no security that we will have our jobs tomorrow. One of the authors made the point that we are somewhat fooled by the salaries we are earning, thinking that they are so much higher than what our fathers or grandfathers earned. It was pointed out that, with adjustments made for inflation, we are actually earning what our grandfather earned in the 1920s as far as purchasing power is concerned. That was probably a blue collar or agricultural job and not even considered middle class.

After an hour of assimilating this information and realizing that these authors were describing my husband's and my current financial situation and frustrations, it was easy to become depressed, angry, and ready to pile into a VW van and head for Washington (sorry, that's my Baby Boomer coming out!).

My next thought was, "How does God want us to respond to living in this era?" Historically, this trend is nothing new - the extremely wealthy possessing all the power and lording it over the lower classes. Economics has cycles just as does the weather. The pendulum usually does swing the other direction - eventually. Sometimes it takes decades and many broken lives and political upheavals. I believe my bigger concern in the present crisis is the absence of outrage over the lack of integrity being displayed by these men and women addicted to the god of Mammon. Power corrupts. Money can be an immense source of power, and very few can handle it in a manner that benefits others. But stop and think for a minute. If you don't believe in an ultimate source of right and wrong and your existence here on earth is all the joy and happiness you will ever experience, then why wouldn't you try to get as many toys as possible and experience as much of what this life has to offer? With this thinking, you are responsible for your own happiness. If you aren't happy, then you only have yourself to blame. From this perspective, these individuals can only wonder why we aren't clawing our way to the top like everyone else and hoarding as much as we can for ourselves.

I believe we need to consider the lack of moral values and spiritual foundation that currently premeates our country and how this poverty has given birth to the current situation. We have become heady over our own inventions, technology and investments. They have wooed us with their power, glitz and profitability. Obviously, the evil one is immensely pleased that we are distracted and so easily entertained, and he is busy daily offering us enticements for all our five senses. If he can keep us preoccupied, then we won't be aware that we are completely ignoring the true life, peace and joy that only Christ can offer. Satan (no coincidence he is referred to also as the Angel of Light) has been in the deception business for thousands of years and has perfected it. You don't stand a chance trying to fight him on your own.

We are currently facing an economic crisis in our country. As believers, we have a hope and a kingdom that this world does not acknowledge. Shouldn't that affect how we live our lives in the present circumstances? If things continue to get worse, and there isn't any indication that there is a solution around the corner, will the world see a difference in how we as believers navigate through these waters and how others are handling it? As we daily lift our needs before the Father and trust his care for us and our loved ones, by His grace we will be able to reach out in mercy and tenderness to those who don't share that hope and point to something greater than the riches of this world. It is often in the bleakest of nights that God's glory has opportunity to shine the brightest.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.

But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

- I Timothy 6:6-12

1 comment:

Allen said...

St. Paul's words to Timothy say it all. Not many in USA are content with clothing and food. Godliness and contentment are great gain. In USA great gain is known as massive accumulation. How blind our nation has become.