"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Roots and walls and the Great Recession

There are two primary spiritual responses to what in America is being called the Great Recession; to build walls around us, out of the weakness of fear, or to put down roots to give us strength and hope. So writes Tim King, assistant to Jim Wallis, in Jim's book Rediscovering Values: on Wall Street, Main Street and Your Street (A Moral Compass for the New Economy). The former response of fear comes from the "Greed is good, it's all about me," "I want it now" camp. Too scared to share, too scared to show vulnerability, these people build ever bigger walls around themselves and their ever more "valuable" assets, trying to buy security and happiness. but of course it won't work in the long run.
On the other hand, we can have hope, and grow roots to give us the strength to live by the maxim that enough is enough, we're in this together, and we will look after the interests of the generations coming after us. Roots dig under the surface, reach to the source, give us the strength to meet the challenges ahead - with such a sound source of strength we are not afraid to share, not afraid to be vulnerable, and we can make the world a much fairer and better place.
This is a good book. Even though it is primarily written for the American reader it is just as relevant and accessible for any English speaking audience - the recession has after all been global. But all will be wasted if we don't use this opportunity to change things - don't just go back to the same economic and spiritless behaviour that got us in this mess in the first place. We need real change of heart and mind, and we need spirituality. Tim King recalls the sound wisdom of sharing so that all may have enough, passed down from his great grandmother to his grandmother. I am reminded of an even older wisdom in a passage in Alastair McIntosh' wonderful book Soil and Soul:
McIntosh recalls how Tom Forsyth, a crofter from the Scottish West Highland community of Scoraig, would say: ‘it’s not good enough to do your community-development only at the grass roots. So much of the grassroots are just at the level of spectator sport, television, cigarettes, drink and consumer culture. No, you’ve got to get down to the taproots…that are rooted in the ‘ancient spiritual bedrock.’’ This is where change has to start.

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