1. Unfortunately, when viewed from psychology and history, I fear that the slow economic decline and corresponding decline in infrastructure and quality of life, will, in general, be endured until it manifests to a point of social decline that results in such scarcity of resources that small conflicts will increasingly erupt into riots. This violence will, by and large, be contained and internalized within the locations of the economically oppressed. History tells me scapegoat-ism will increasingly manifest and blame and violence between immigrants, the historically structurally disenfranchised, and the former middle class. Under these conditions, disorganized violence can become increasingly organized against one another and/or the upper class leading to a combined military and police response and suppression or institutions (I am thinking interfaith alliances united in moral-ethical common cause) can unite the oppressed as a single body in nonviolent common cause. Unfortunately, a violent and destructive outcome is positively reinforced by a post-war type economy of restructuring built on more debt.
2. I am a M. Div. student. We watched this video in my Spiritual Leadership class. My witness as a former continuous improvement leader from a top 25 MBA program who worked in some of the largest corporations in the world: this wealth is entirely extractive and exploitative. Year after year, companies report increased financial growth and efficiency. 1%-10% of individuals possessing asymmetrical information are able to differentiate between real/sustainable gains and unsustainable gains and thrive in good and bad times. The benefits have not translated to improved quality of life for the majority of people. The masses work under conditions of increasing stress, declining health, and declining health care. Under conditions of socioeconomic insecurity, families suffer and are broken. The quality of life is declining generation to generation. Yet, each individual suffers in isolation. Minds, bodies, and spirits are being broken. Individuals within the bottom 90%, under stress, react in fear and anger against one another. The “Protestant Work Ethic” makes poverty and unemployment sinful; the poor and working poor are made to feel like failures at home and at work. More adults cry in Corporate America than people think – at all levels. People have become human capital resources whose productive “value” is extracted. Once that value is exhausted, they are discarded like so much manufacturing waste. Neither the three branches of Government nor the “fourth” branch, the media, are doing anything to change this growing injustice. It is my hope, in the spirit of MLK, Jr. and others, that our Churches, as the 5th branch of Government, will organize the individual voices into collective prophetic voice and action that will lead to a sustainable reversal of this inhumane trend – both at home and abroad.
3. Our Government has been hijacked by Corporations. When corporations are endowed with the legal status of individuals, they co-opt individual rights, as well. Legal protections that serve as internal checks and balances no longer maintain the social contract. In such states of disequilibrium, it becomes incumbent upon extra-governmental institutions to organize people, to co-locate with the oppressed and from their position to hold the Government accountable, to demand justice and ensure the social contract between the government and the governed. I think a compelling case can be made that the freedom of the press and the freedom of religion serve as checks and balances not just to ensure individual rights, but to operate in conjunction with the right to assemble. In theory/de jure, viewed as a closed system, the Govt is limited to three branches. In a broader view/de facto, the Govt is composed of quasi-governmental bodies like lobbyists and corporations on one side that must be balance by other institutions that are not of the Government, but are necessary forces in the operation of a healthy and functioning Government.
4. To be clear, I also believe the economic oppressors are oppressed. Their perception of the “rules of the game” reinforce their greed, anger, and ignorance and lead them to attach to material wealth. Sadly, like hungry ghosts, they can never be satisfied, yet continue in a single direction for the answer. Liberal and conservative leaders both fail to recognize the intrinsic common distortion created by their bourgeois location. I think Kerry, Romney, and others have made it crystal clear how disconnected they have been and are with reality; the result is dehumanization. Like Cornel West and Tavis Smiley pointed out, it creates The Rich and The Rest of Us. Think of the impact on RFK of leaving Massachusetts, visiting Alabama, ad witnessing with disbelief that we can have whole areas where individuals suffer from severe malnutrition and distended stomachs in the U.S. Whose nutritional insecurity fatally limits their growth, livelihoods, and lives. You cannot witness and be moved from afar. You have to be in the room, look in the eyes, taste, smell, and feel it with nowhere to run to, and to hear the cries of the children and the angry words of the parents, to feel it. We are designed for empathy (i.e. mirror neurons). We must feel the imminent and immanent threat of death and emptiness in our collective belly and womb. We are not only destroying ourselves, but the planet. The ongoing debate in the media between liberal and conservative bourgeois positions say “sorry, we are trying but we canot seem to agree on how to help you” while the financial news testifies to the fact that in the midst of their failure to help us, they have no problem increasingly helping themselves. It’s a scam and we need to organize and stop being willing passive partners in being bamboozled.
Passive disconnected spirituality cannot be acceptable. People need to look without as well as within. It is my hope that individuals will go forth and open themselves to being vulnerable, to allow the pain outside to contact the pain inside, and to unite in solidarity with one another in common cause. Every small act matters. We are disenfranchised. Yet, every call or letter to a politician is calculated to represent the viewpoints of hundred if not thousands that do not call. Therefore, let us unite around important legislation and court cases and change the Govt. Our churches and community organizations are good places to come together. Let us move from witness to justice!