Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Gandhian Economics

I've long thought that some basic things need to change about our society.  The current economic crisis is (perhaps God's way of) providing us the opportunity to begin to change the way we look at things, the way we spend money and the way we treat each other.

In his article Economic Crisis or Non-Violent Opportunity?, Michael Nagler asks the question: What is an economy for? Gandhi's vision, Nagler says is that
The real purpose of an economic system is to guarantee to every person in its circle the fundamentals of physical existence (food, clothing, shelter) and the tools of meaningful work so that they can get on with the business of living together and working out our common destiny.
Our economic system, fueled by intrusive, ubiquitous advertising, is based on buying things we don't need.  This does tend to fuel jobs, but, increasingly, they are overseas and do not fuel our economy at home.  Gandhi's idea is to have a local economy--one where producers and consumers are neighbors and have each others' best interests at heart.

The cornerstone of this philosophy is one of trusteeship.  If we look at our "possessions" as being held in trust rather than outright ownership, we can begin to divest ourselves of the innate selfishness that is part of our current consumer culture.

Jesus told us the parable of the rich fool.  (Luke 12: 16-21).  In it, the rich man decides to store (hoard?) his surplus grain instead of using it to feed the poor.  He makes grandiose plans for his future in light of his new-found riches.  God then says to him, "You fool!  This very night your life will be demanded back
from you and who will get what you have prepared for yourself?"

Nothing we have is really ours.  It is only on loan to us to use for the greater good of those among whom God has placed us.  Material goods are not given to us to hoard or use like an addictive drug.  If we each lived in godly simplicity, we would all be closer to the love of God which is a triune one of relationship with others.

This, and all hardships are allowed to come for the greater good.   That is how God works.  Lets try to learn the lessons we are meant to learn.

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Dymphna's favorite quotes

"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

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