Monday, August 8, 2011

What's Wrong With the World: Greed

I usually try to keep my Monday fare light as Mondays are hard enough without actually having to think. This post by Fr. Dwight Longenecker at Standing on My Head deserves to be an exception to that.

We in the West like to think we have achieved greatness. Technologically we have some wonders that is for certain, but something is going terribly wrong with us. Some of the great thinkers of Modern Times have been sounding the claxon while we scrabble along, too busy to notice. This post sums it up amazingly...

London Riots 

Riots have broken out in London again. Last night and tonight organized gangs are rampaging through parts of the city burning and looting. Who's to blame?

Everybody's to blame. That's who. In the present economic climate many people are suffering with the loss of jobs, the loss of savings and the loss of their homes and security. Why is that? Because of greed at every level of society--greed amongst the middle classes, but also greed amongst the lower classes the upper classes.

Greed amongst a lazy, dependent underclass of people who won't work and feel entitled to more and more and more free handouts. Greed amongst the 'nice' middle class people who invest their money is shady get rich quick schemes. Greed amongst 'nice' rich people who devise the schemes, take usury to vile and obscene extremes and rake in the cash as fast as they can. Greed amongst money lenders and property speculators and stock market 'geniuses'. Greed amongst those who will use the financial crises that come along every ten years to use their already huge wealth to buy up everything they can at a cheap price--robbing everyone they can of the true value.

A society worm eaten with greed. Greed where every store tries to offer their goods at the cheapest possible prices and every housewife and shopper covets a 'bargain' so much and cheerfully degrades their lives for yet another cheap trinket purchased not because he needs it, but because it's cheap. Greed where manufacturers cut corners and offer nasty, poor quality goods with a veneer of 'quality'. Greed where consumers buy such junk. Greed woven into our children's worldview. Greed where everybody is grabbing whatever they can however they can.

The problem with a society fueled by greed is that lurking beneath the sin of greed is always violence. Violence because I can only have all the goodies I want at the expense of someone else. If I have it you can't have it. I will have my cheap consumer goods, but just don't tell me about the child labor, the sweatshops, the slave labor level of wages and the rape of the environment in order to get me all my cheap goodies. All of this is a form of violence, and the riots in London are simply an outward expression of the reality of our Western society--a society that is thoroughly materialistic and therefore atheistic.

Pope John Paul II said there were two materialistic atheistic world systems and that both would eventually collapse in on themselves. The first was communism. The second was unrestrained capitalism. The first is built on power. The second is built on greed.

Do you see the burning shops and police cars in the streets of London? Do you see the gangs wearing hoods and masks rampaging through the streets bashing into banks, burning stores and looting shopping malls? It is a prophetic image. It shows us who we are, and we had better take a good, long, hard look.

The news shows rioting gangs of lawless youths burning and pillaging and taking whatever they want and no one can stop them. But I see behind their ugly faces, their frightening masks and their hoods and weapons a whole society of people who do the very same thing they do, but with business suits instead of hoodies, masks of polite smiles and good manners instead of balaclavas, and the weapons of lawsuits and legislation and corporate lawyers and contracts to force their way on the world.

What's wrong with the world? G.K.Chesterton answered the question: "I am." For I too am greedy. Greedy with my time. Greedy with my talents. Greedy with my money. Greedy with my life, and if this is true of me it is true of every other person and the only answer to this desperate human condition is....

...true conversion of life.

Link to original article....

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