What will we do (Part II)

…and this is the most difficult part, of course.

As far as the economic crises go, the two authors I mentioned (Rickards and Goodchild) have solutions to offer, one of a radical free-market nature, the other more of an ‘to each according to their need, from each according to their gifts’ concept. And just today, a video surfaced on my ‘Facebook interface’ – this by Paul Mason, a well-respected economic journalist and analyst. The video is entitled

capitalism is failing, and it’s time to panic

and it suggests that technology, combined with a willingness to share more freely without necessarily demanding payment for everything (non-market collaborative ventures such as cooperatives), may offer a solution. For those who might think that this is impossible, Mason says: “What is impossible is the democracy of riot squads, of oligarch-run political parties, of fiscal coercion by central banks, the surveillance state.”

What will happen to the global financial system in reality? Personally, I don’t have the faintest idea, and it’s all way above my pay grade. But respected and respectable commentators from many angles are saying that – whatever else –  the status quo is untenable.

The church world, indeed the world at large, has watched and listened in fascination to the words and actions of Pope Francis. Much of what he says is truly radical, especially in the context of Vatican politics and formalised religion. Not least, his Encyclical Letter this year, called

Laudato Si, On Care for Our Common Home

which has caused waves because of its tremendous outspokenness on the issue of – well, care for our common home, the planet that we live on and should be caring for. The encyclical tackles climate change, pollution, waste, inequality amongst other issues; and says

” These situations have caused sister earth, along with all the abandoned of our world, to cry out, pleading that we take another course. Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years.”

So we are faced with this unpredictable future, with a whole complex matrix of interconnected problems which no-one really knows how to resolve, or perhaps has the political clout and courage to tackle radically, in the real sense of the word – from the root. And we are faced with the question – what will we do?

The New Statesman recently published an article which made me cheer through this depression, because it articulated so clearly how many of us feel. The greatest threat to Europe – to our way of life, our European values, our standard of living – is not migration, it is creeping fascism.

“Fascism happens when a culture fracturing along social lines is encouraged to unite against a perceived external threat. It’s the terrifying “not us” that gives the false impression that there is an “us” to defend.” (Laurie Pennie, New Statesman, 14 August 2015)

And that’s the thing: our culture may well be fracturing, but the real reason is all the above – financial instability, increasing inequality and sheer bloody poverty, climate change, pollution and all the rest of the unfairness that, basically, dying capitalism is forcing on us.

What will we do? Will be build higher and higher walls to keep migrants out? Will we put broken glass on top of the walls, and then barbed wire on top of the broken glass on top of the walls? Will we say ‘I’m alright, Jack’, and pursue our goals of comfortable life and massive over-consumption, no matter the environmental consequences?

“Inequity affects not only individuals but entire countries; it compels us to consider an ethics of international relations. A true “ecological debt” exists, particularly between the global north and south, connected to commercial imbalances with effects on the environment, and the disproportionate use of natural resources by certain countries over long periods of time.” (Laudato Si’, para 51)

Will we continue to close our eyes to inequity, the ecological debt – to be blunt, the greed which blights our lives and those of the poor?

And as Christians – how will we square the circle of living in the comfortable West, knowing that there are human beings worldwide who are suffering NOW? One suggestion for migrants to Latvia, where I live now, is that our country should only accept Christian migrants. Why? To paraphrase Shylock, if we prick a Muslim, does he not bleed? If a Muslim mother loses her child in a suicide bomb, does she not weep? Do we not share a common humanity with all of God’s created children?

For me this is all still thought in progress. One thing I do know: tomorrow, 1 September, Christians throughout the world will be fasting, praying and reflecting on Creation.

On the 1st day of September this and every year, let us join in this global Christian observance, and let our prayer, fasting, and personal reflection lead to action and the shaping of lifestyles which enable us to walk lightly on “this fragile earth, our island home”, as an Anglican Eucharistic prayer describes our planet. (Bishop David Hamid’s blog)

Joining in one day of fasting and reflection seems like a very small first step, but still worth taking.

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