As a social studies teacher and self proclaimed philosopher/political activist a great deal of my faith is centered around political thought. A few of my favorite people/teachers/authors Greg Boyd, Tony Campolo, Jim Wallis, etc. make it very clear that Jesus’ message is a “Kingdom” message that engages and conflicts with both the Roman empire of his day as well as all the empires that have followed including our own version of United States.
That being said, one clear situation arising is that the United States is in the midst of an empirical economic and societal downturn of epic proportions. This is not merely a financial crisis. Money is not the issue. Attitudes and beliefs are the issue.
During the time period from 1900-1970s the United States and its people experienced unprecedented financial growth. That growth set a belief structure in U.S. citizens’ eyes that success is measured in an increased standard of living. The people of the United States were no longer content having their needs be met. We measure success in bigger and better cars, houses, clothes, electronics, etc.
In the United States’ form of capitalism we would need constant and exponential growth. A completely unattainable goal in a world with limited resources.
Up until last night, my personal belief fell in line with most Democratic politicians. That we must RE-regulate the economic sector. However, I listened to a very compelling argument denouncing that ideology. Economics professor Richard Wolff gives light to regulation as a war in which you box your enemy in, yet allow them to continue to have uninhibited supply chains. Essentially, regulating the market puts a whole bunch of rules up around CEOs and their board of directors (people with TONS of motivation to dodge regulations and politically work towards their undoing) without actually defeating them; or very simply imprisoning your enemy while allowing them to continue ruling their empire and fighting against you.
Like I said earlier, the issue is not strictly financial; it is economic and societal. We cannot “regulate” or “legislate” a solution. A solution must once again, as it has so many times in our history, boil up from the people.
As people of a democratic-republic we must not allow our voices to be limited to a vote on November 2. We must cast our vote and spread our voice with every dollar we spend, with every minute we live, and with every choice we make.
Shane Claiborne, a well renowned Christian liver, philosopher, writer, and activist, writes in ‘Follow me to Freedom’ that “The best critique of something that is wrong is the practice of something better.”
In his lecture Professor Wolff asks us what would happen if instead of a board of directors who sought to undo regulations, companies were run by the people that worked there. He then explains one such instance of a group of computer software programmers who left IBM and started working out of one of their garages. Four days out of the week the programmers wrote software as normal; on Fridays they would have meetings to make company decisions.
They created a democratic work place. Rather than occupying a street they got creative, they got entrepreneurial, and they didn’t let the profits drive their business practices. They critiqued the corporate structure by creating their own.
Co-ops are other great examples of what will be needed moving into the future. Regulation and De-regulation are both obsolete models of business. The title says the rise of the United States. While it will take many, many years for the country to come out of this downturn, it IS possible. We must be creative with how we work, live, and interact with each other on an individual basis before we can re-establish our Country’s economy and society.
As Christ followers our allegiance belongs to one greater than the system established for ruling and representing the political boundaries of the United States of America. I believe this gives United States Christians an especially great responsibility in re-establishing our priorities and morals around societal (communally, regionally, nationally, and globally) health and gain rather than personal. It is, after all, what Jesus would do. So let us not put our faith in elected officials whose Constitutional duties are internal order and international representation, but in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, and the Creator who have indwelt with each human being both in and outside of our political borders. Let us once again rise as a national and global community; critiquing this current system by stepping outside of conventional thought and wisdom of selfish gain and putting to practice the self-sacrificial sharing that God and Christ have asked of us. Living simple that other may simply living.