Saturday, November 19, 2011

Longing for a New Movement

I’m dreaming of a different movement – different from the Occupy movement, that blames institutions, corporations and government and ignores the way individuals and consumers played a role in shaping the way our country is today; and different from the Tea Party movement, that says, “I work hard, plan wisely, and balance my budget. If everyone else, including the government, took responsibility and planned ahead like I do, everything would be fine.”

This movement would not blame the wealthy 1% for our problems, assuming that because they have more, they have taken it from others. Nor would it blame the poor, disabled and elderly who receive government benefits and pay little – if any – taxes into the system. It would neither deny that institutions exhibit irresponsibility, greed and depravity on a large scale, nor deny that individuals cause problems for themselves through irresponsibility, greed, and depravity on a small scale.

This movement would not deny that location, upbringing, and the situation one is born into significantly affect their economic well-being throughout life. Nor will it deny that it takes a lot of careful, diligent and strategic effort and planning on someone’s part to take advantage of those opportunities and acquire or maintain privilege, wealth or security.

The movement I dream of would consist of people who believe that they have a serious responsibility to steward their resources, work diligently and strategically, and plan for the future. Its members would have a fierce conviction that they ought to speak prophetically and courageously against the depravity and irresponsibility of the institutions of society, with a constant awareness of the potential for the disadvantaged to be exploited.

This movement would embody a deep compassion and desire for justice and mercy to be administered wisely. The people who make up this movement would have a deep conviction that they must work hard, live responsibly, plan wisely and take full advantage of the opportunities given them so that they can leverage all their resources with overwhelming generosity for the advantage of others. They would have a deep-seated desire to open the door to the opportunities they enjoy to others.

The members of this movement would long to see individual empowerment and a sense of responsibility go viral. And the responsibility would not be that of each person for himself and his own, but the responsibility of each person to exercise his or her gifts and abilities for the good of all those around them. This movement would have a vision that sees beyond redistribution of wealth to redistribution of wisdom and opportunity; a vision that sees beyond hand-outs and allotments to empowerment, investment and lives of constant teaching and mentorship.

Instead of saying “You should have done what I did” or “The people in charge need to do something about this,” this movement would say “Because Christ is in charge, I ought to do something.” The tragedy is not that the government does too little or too much; the problem is not that people are too foolish and lazy and wasteful. The tragedy is that the people of God do too little of living, teaching and modeling justice, generosity and true worship, and do too much of living shortsightedly and selfishly.

Anyone up for starting a movement?