Prosperity and lessons from history

Recently, there has been much discussion in the public sector regarding prosperity and how to achieve it nationally as well as personally. Our leaders have spoken of attaining the “middle class” and the ways by which that can occur.

There have been disagreements regarding the path to prosperity and which route will get us there as a nation. There have been discussions about “income inequality” as well as counterarguments o the same topic.

Whichever side suits your political and economic orientation and resonates with your own vision for the American economy, my concern is that we do not loose sight of the lessons of history regarding the pitfalls of unrestrained fervor to reach prosperity.

I was reading Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Enuma Okoro’s Common Prayer A Liturgy For Ordinary Radicals and I came across this entry:

“On January 24, 1848, James Marshall discovered gold in the American River, setting off the American gold rush. Prior to the discovery of this precious metal, one-hundred and fifty-thousand Native American lived in California. White settlers in search of gold brought with them genocide through both disease and violence. In 1851, the government of California endorsed the extermination of native people. Offering five dollars per head in some places, they invested a total of a million dollars in the systematic murder of men, women and children. By 1870, only an estimated thirty-one thousand California natives had survived.”

If we loose our humanity as we seek prosperity as happened in the past, there is no real prosperity at all.

No economic system can flower or create a prosperous society if its unbridled application leads to things such as genocide. I am an unapologetic capitalist from an economic perspective. However, no system can be just or offer real wealth to the people that live under it if it causes human beings to treat each other as roadblocks in their particular path to prosperity.

Any system of economic growth has to be tempered by the humanity of its participants. It is tempt8ing to cast aside all sense of our humanity when we panic over a plunging stock market and a crippled economy, but fear often robs us of our humanity. It is religion’s role and the role of faithful people to act as a gray eminence over the face of the public sector to see that this is held in front of our eyes.

I guess that makes me a capitalist that agrees with Pope Francis I.

What do you think?


About tpurchasesnj

I am a Presbyterian minister. I am also a former military chaplain. It has always been important to me to examine the impact that religion has on the public sector. That is the purpose of this blog; to explore the ways that religion intersects the market place.
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