An blog by a member of the Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi, to explore the nexus between contemplation and resistance. "The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mounting Anger




The financial elites do not care about the anger of the American taxpayer because they don't have to. Obama’s decisions are implicitly controlled by the same financial interests that caused the crisis in the first place. A careful examination of his Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan (HASP) plan reveals the following: HASP will in most cases depend on the voluntary participation of private banks. In other words, there will be almost no obligations by the banks to actually lend the money to homeowners. If you know anyone who's tried to a get a loan from one of the bailed-out banks lately, it's easy to see what the new plan will entail. Innumerable hurdles designed to make it very difficult for homeowners to qualify will be erected by the banks while they take taxpayer money to build up their business in other ways. In particular, the bill says that anyone who is deemed able to "afford" their present rates will not qualify. If a mortgage company decides that refinancing a loan will cost them more than sending the house into foreclosure, they will be free to deny refinancing.

Instead of suffering for their destruction of the world economy, the banks will not be required to write down the values of their vastly overpriced loans, much less relinquish control over the resulting derivative securities (CDOs, SIVs, and all the rest of it). Instead of writing down the bad debt, as has been done in many previous crises, the banks will retain the unrealistic current value of their loans, with the difference paid for by the very taxpayers who are being thrown out of their homes.

In other words, the HASP bill is mostly window-dressing to cover another mass transfer of funds to the banks. The financial elite that Obama represents brook no limit, however mild, to its power and prerogatives. It would appear that having bought into their own "free market" propaganda, they now find themselves staring into the void. They know that the old game is over and they are attempting to build up a cushion at taxpayer expense so that they can ride out the storm.

Why don't they have to care? Because the opinion of the American people counts for nothing in Washington and Wall Street. In a thousand ways, Americans have been socialized into accepting a certain image of themselves that makes rebellion against the system almost impossible. This has allowed the growth of a modern aristocracy which has now consolidated its control over every aspect of official political, cultural and economic life.

Those of us who believe that Jesus came to bring social justice into the world must now make a commitment to fight this modern aristocracy. But we must fight them with the weapons of conscience, not bombs and guns. Bombs and guns are what they believe in and the fruit of their warfare is plain for all to see. Violence is always counterproductive because it always denies the power of conscience to move men’s hearts to embrace justice. We must believe in the power of conscience from the depths of our souls, remembering that the goal can never be achieved through the manipulation of human bodies with the technical instruments of control. Such a course will always dehumanize both us and those who choose to make themselves our opponents. The path to social justice always leads to deeper humanization by recreating ourselves as agents of truth.

4 comments:

inos said...

Boyd,

I am a frequenter of your blog and fellow blogger myself, with a passion for Jesus and for Justice. I took the liberty of quoting part of this post at my blog, and one of my readers responded to it this way:

"the power of conscience"? That's not something I can put my faith in. Human conscience has been affected by the Fall just like everything else. Anyone who tries to recreate themselves as agents of truth, will in truth be a liar. We can not recreate ourselves, the Spirit must transform us. For a blog that claims to be speaking about Jesus, I see no evidence of him in this proposed method of warfare.
So I also must ask the question, "What is this 'power of conscience' of which you speak?"

Boyd said...

Thanks, Inos, for passing this comment on to me. What I was referring to is what Gandhi called "truth force". The strategy of nonviolent struggle is to appeal to the conscience and understanding of one's opponent, as we all struggle together toward truth. This is the Jesus I know - the one who grows in us through the power of conscience.

inos said...

Boyd,

I'm a big fan of Ghandi (he followed Jesus better than most Christians, in my estimation). And there is definitely truth in the power of the mind and spirit to overcome violence. Every man is born with a conscience, and for this we praise God, for we know the depths of our own depravity and cannot begin to fathom a world where our evil bent was not checked by conscience. Without some collective conscience (or perhaps some common root of conscience) we would not have any basis for common morality.

But to say that Jesus grows in us through the power of conscience just sounds... weak. It sounds like weak theology. I'm sorry for harsh words, but I don't know that God talks about a 'power of conscience' at all. Perhaps you base your faith on authority other than the Bible, in which case our discussion is futile, but I'm reminded that it is the Spirit who is to "teach us all things" (John 14:26) and it is Scripture that equips us for every good work (2 Tim. 3:17).

Boyd said...

I welcome your comment, Inos and I don't regard your words as too harsh. I think I might have phrased it better and your criticism has compelled me to do so, for which I thank you. And let me assure you that I base my theology directly on the Bible.

First, I base my theology on the life of Jesus. He showed us in his actions the power that we should rely on in every circumstance. On the cross, Jesus showed us that we must be willing to die rather than kill, to break the power of unjust domination not by taking up the sword as Peter tried to do, but by willingly suffering death rather than resort to the weapons of war.

“For the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45). In taking up his cross, Jesus was displaying the injustice of the imperial political order of his time in the most powerful way possible, a way that has become the model for political protest down to our own times. Christians are those who are crucified for their active witness to justice, both “personal” and “political” justice. Jesus loses his life in this world by confessing the Human One (the Son of Man) before the imperial power.

Why does he do this? His intention is to break the most primal structures of power and domination in the world and create the possibility for a new order in the world where no one dominates over another, but all live in equality and freedom. Gandhi and Martin Luther King probably had the most profound insight into the meaning and intent of the practice of Jesus – to found a world in which violence was ended in its roots, not just its effects. “It should be an essential of real education that a child should learn, that in the struggle of life, it can easily conquer hate by love, untruth by truth, violence by self-suffering.” Gandhi, “Satyagraha”.

Gandhi’s definition of “Truth-force” is as follows, “Satyagraha is literally holding on to Truth and it means, therefore, Truth-force. Truth is soul or spirit. It is, therefore, known as soul-force.” When I say “the power of conscience”, this is what I’m referring to. The power of “Truth-force” is what Jesus made real in every action he performed. To say that Jesus grows in us through the power of conscience means that when we act as Jesus acted, in our willingness to suffer the cross and to die rather than participate in the system of violence then we participate in the Kingdom of God. He grows in us in the sense that we grow more like him. And growing more like Jesus is the only theology I know. Thank you for helping me to clarify this.