Thursday, December 2, 2010
Why Simplicity? A Complex Answer, Part II
A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life's roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway.
True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.
A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: "This is not just."
The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood...
Powerful (even dangerous) words, those, but well worth consideration.
As Christians and decent people the world over are concerned about living just lives, we owe it to ourselves to at least ask the questions: Is this way of life just? Is this disparity of wealth just? Does it lead to war? To environmental and societal destruction? Is there a corallary between the great wealth of one nation and the great poverty of another?
Having answered these questions, what "revolution of values," as Dr. King calls it, do we need? What changes in our values and lives ought to follow? Or do we do nothing and continue as the wealthy elite of the world with a clean conscience?
This final clarification for today: Just because King or I might believe we need a revolution of values, a restructuring of the social order, is not to say we are calling for Marxist communism. It is, rather (at least in my estimation), just what it is: A call for a revolution of values, a questioning of how and how much we consume, a consideration of the poor and marginalized recognizing our great wealth. Perhaps an old time revival, to put it in religious parlance. That is not, to be clear, a call for Marxism. At least not for me and mine.
Just trying to nip that misunderstanding in the bud.