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?


Stephen Proctor said...


Anonymous said...

thoughtfully written. i have some definite thoughts about the dark side of capitalism, that have emerged for me in the last few years. i think greed is a much more corrupting influence and motivator than we acknowledge or want to recognize in this country. the thing that disturbs me most, however, is how ignorant many christians are to how pervasive a problem it is. i have grown weary of the conservative stance of self-responsibility trumping all, because the truth of the matter is, life isn't so cut and dried. responsible citizens may have to cut back on work to care for elderly parents. they may lose a job and not be able to find another one that adequately provides for their families. there are an awful lot of people in charge who are stingy with what they think their employees are worth, so they can live in their fancy houses and take exotic vacations. i can give you countless examples of people i know personally who fit these examples.

for many people, the system is set up in a way that makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for those in such situations to do what is best for both the state agencies and the families they purport to help. it becomes this ugly circle that makes things worse for everyone.

in my own life, i have dealt with more than i ever want to encounter again, with those who are in the banking, real estate, and financial world, and i have grown sick to my stomach with the practices and rules of its institutions. they'd like to disguise it as being responsible or cautious, and maybe they are. i highly doubt it, though. i think they are looking out for their own interests and doing whatever they can to ensure profit at the maximum profit possible. people don't matter. money does. we're just income brackets, credit scores, profit margin/loss, whatever. impersonalized. dollar signs.

I wouldn't go as far as the whole wealth redistribution nonsense, but i do think there needs to be a strong measure of accountability for these institutions. maybe it won't be in this age, but i don't think God is sitting around being pleased about the disgusting practices being executed either. there are a lot of injustices in this world and i think what happens in this world when money is involved is definitely one of them. anyway, not everyone's going to agree, but that's all i wanted to say. -brenda