One of the encouraging byproducts of this time of global lockdown has been the increased curiosity about a global economy that honors people, profit and the planet. More and more books are being published about Eco-civilizations built on an economic philosophy that is just and generous. Entire schools of thought like Modern Monetary Theory offer us new visions of how we can do well while also doing good. I find these ideas hopeful and compelling.
What is less clear is how we move from the capitalist system we have to a system that honors what most of us value. How do we create a way of relating to one another that respects our planet, distributes power equitably, and honors all of God’s creation?
I remember hearing a lecture by Dr. Walter Brueggemann some years ago when he said the biblical economic story goes something like this:
- We begin in the predatory slave economy of Pharaoh,
- Biblical faith is about emancipation from a predatory economy to an alternative economy,
- Bread from heaven signifies an unexpected abundance,
- The Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai are a way to administer abundance.
From there, scripture becomes a wrestling match of competing views of how power should flow and ultimately who would be in control. It turns out the Ten Commandments weren’t popular for those invested in oppression.
Purity laws become the way we decided. When we determine an entire class of people to be less pure – women, gays, people of color, immigrants – and we ritually demean them, it becomes a natural next step to economically exploit them. It seems we are still entangled in that destructive way of thinking.
But it’s all falling apart. Finally, today, we are seeing signs that more and more of us want a new way, a different way of honoring our value and meeting our needs.
Here is where we might start: let’s change the risk/reward equation. Let’s make the actions and products that hurt people and the planet LESS profitable and LESS desirable.
- Let’s work to make giving someone healthcare more profitable than denying them.
- Let’s work to make maintaining peace more profitable than going to war.
- Let’s work to make protecting women’s rights and freedom more profitable than selling them to human traffickers.
- Let’s work to make investing in under-resourced communities more profitable than jailing black and brown people.
Do you see where I am going with this?
As we emerge from this COVID lockdown, let’s work toward an economy that shapes a better world for all of us. Jesus talked about money more than any other topic during his ministry among us. There’s a reason for that. We can’t love God and oppress each other.
1 John 3:17-18 says it best: “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”
We are in this together,