Warning for those labellers out there: This is no communist manifesto. Nor is it a socialist agenda. This is simply a mere observation of the facts.
There is no doubt that our small planet is facing many-a-crisis these days. Climate Change, Huge wealth disparities, Wars, Rampant Political Corruption… you name it, and it’s there. They say “money makes the world goes round”, and whether we like it or not, I’m afraid it’s quite a true observation of the world’s current state.
As I see it the problem with Capitalism ultimately is threefold:
- The generation of wealth, usually in monetary form, is the Prime Objective. Nothing more, nothing less. The more wealth, the greater the success.
- It assumes endless growth on a finite planet (insane…)
- And the biggest problem of them all – human greed.
In front of all of this we feel powerless. We tend to say “if you can’t beat them, join them” and find comfort in the masses – yet injustice remains. The contrast between the pits of the slums of Nairobi and the penthouse on top of the Shard is only allowed at our own peril. The wanton destruction of our planet is the harbinger of our downfall.
With all this doom and gloom, one can wonder “what can be done?” We feel so insignificant, so utterly useless – so at the mercy of the whims of big business and enslaved governments… The sky seems ever darker, the future, bleak.
And yet, as always, there is a silver cloud. We have a voice, and we can change things, together. The very terrible scourge that is capitalism can also be harnessed for great Good. If we truly desire it, we can shape Capitalism to fit the moral demands of our time. Just look at Fair trade goods – they are only possible through the demand created by certain individuals and trendy advertising. Think global heroes, such as Martin Luther King and Gandhi. Think National Parks. Think laws protecting human dignity. Think the Moon Landing. They do not make economic sense. And yet – they are hallmarks of the true human spirit – the spirit of Love, Justice, Exploration. That is what makes humankind a great endeavour – if only we let it happen.
As Christians the moral challenges of our time should drive us to addressing them. We cannot, as children of God, allow this senseless tide of a mad rush for dwindling resources to continue, especially when billions of people in the world go hungry, lack sanitary facilities and face disease on a daily basis. We must not allow the very systems that allow life on this fragile planet to fall to pieces.
We are at a truly marvellous time as a species – never have we had so much power at our disposal. We are the first generation to take the iconic image of the whole Earth taken from space for granted – shall we take the planet for granted as well? Because it isn’t infinite, you know…The fact is that we cannot keep living in an individualistic hedonistic state, both as persons and as countries. We are part of one planet, interdependent, with knowledge of the world at our fingertips. We have no excuse. The internet is out there, ubiquitous, at our disposal. Instant communication, which until a generation ago was a luxury, is now commonplace. The tools are there – where is the user?
Perhaps this Lent we are being called to look carefully at our own lives and think about How we live. Yes – it can be very depressing – but that pain will only instil in us a greater desire to do Good. To take a stand and DO something – even a small act. Buy Fair trade coffee instead of the regular stuff. Sign petitions. Read and promote a good book. Don’t waste food. Smile more often.
They say every act is but a drop in an ocean – but one that causes ripples. Perhaps, just perhaps, many ripples can cancel out the Tsunami that Unbridled Capitalism is. And if we are wise enough, we can turn the Tsunami the other way, and do great good.
The choice is ours. Shall we allow market forces to shape our lives? Or shall we use the market for greater good? The choice, ultimately, is ours. Yours. It is our right. It is our Duty.