in my last post, i shared a bit of how i personally see a simple lifestyle given my commitment as a claretian priest and just as arthur.
but the usa context in which we live colors the way simple living happens because of the systems that exist. every culture has its good and bad aspects. in the usa, we live in one of the most materialistic countries of the world. in the economics of it all, we need to consume and produce goods and services in order for us to flourish. when we are locked down, consumption/production at least decreases and sometimes ceases.
in our society, we see more and more the shadows of our economic system because of this covid pandemic. in these great united states, i never thought we would see a 2020 version of the bread lines of the great depression. with such high unemployment now, so many people do not have money for food! there were already those without adequate healthcare and now we are seeing it more clearly too. since it is all interconnected, our inadequate distribution systems for food, education, housing, insurance etc are deeply affected too. much suffering is on those with limited or no access to these basic needs and much of what we are seeing during this pandemic is downright sinful. these systems can hinder a just and humane response to these challenges we are facing.
with a materialistic culture, we have a materialistic answer: stimulus checks. while $1200 checks will be helpful to those in need for the short term, this alone will not solve the heart of the problems that are at the foundation of these systems
when the dignity and well being of real people is trumped by declining wall street numbers– people, especially those who are poor and of color– will be exploited and suffer. the desperation of those who are struggling to pay rent and feed their children drives an immediate response: get back to work. this is understandable and i might very well have the same frustration if i were in that situation. but to go back to “business as usual” prematurely will only prolong the health threat to real people and more of our family members and friends will get infected, spread the virus; will die. the health and lives of real people are at the service of our economy.
but if someone believes in the sanctity of all human life, the economy ought to be at the service of all humans persons.
perhaps eventually we will more clearly see who benefits and who is left out from our systems. perhaps we will integrate in our culture a deeper sense of “do to others as you would have them do to you” in systemic ways instead of relegating it only to a personal ethic of charity. perhaps if enough people move in these directions of love, our society will be transformed into something that God wills and we will get more tangible glimpses of God’s reign among us.
Good reflection, budda bruddah! The market is not inherently moral. Not all start from the same place of resources or privilege. We indeed need deeper bonds of solidarity between communities and nations. Keep pondering the big social questions, bruddah!
amen amen steve. and we humans are reactive to getting back to “normal”. we’re not inclined to plan nor change for the future given what we are learning through this pandemic