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Lord, make me an instrument of your peace . . .

16 March 2015

Wealth and the world

Psalm 73

1A psalm of Asaph.
How good God is to the upright,
to those who are pure of heart!
2But, as for me, my feet had almost stumbled;
my steps had nearly slipped,
3Because I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.a
4For they suffer no pain;
their bodies are healthy and sleek.
5They are free of the burdens of life;
they are not afflicted like others.
6Thus pride adorns them as a necklace;
violence clothes them as a robe.
7Out of such blindness comes sin;
evil thoughts flood their hearts.b
8They scoff and spout their malice;
from on high they utter threats.c
9*They set their mouths against the heavens,
their tongues roam the earth.
10*So my people turn to them
and drink deeply of their words.
11They say, “Does God really know?”
“Does the Most High have any knowledge?”d
12Such, then, are the wicked,
always carefree, increasing their wealth.
13Is it in vain that I have kept my heart pure,
washed my hands in innocence?e
14For I am afflicted day after day,
chastised every morning.
15Had I thought, “I will speak as they do,”
I would have betrayed this generation of your children.
16Though I tried to understand all this,
it was too difficult for me,
17Till I entered the sanctuary of God
and came to understand their end.*
18You set them, indeed, on a slippery road;
you hurl them down to ruin.
19How suddenly they are devastated;
utterly undone by disaster!
20They are like a dream after waking, Lord,
dismissed like shadows when you arise.f
21Since my heart was embittered
and my soul deeply wounded,
22I was stupid and could not understand;
I was like a brute beast in your presence.
23Yet I am always with you;
you take hold of my right hand.g
24With your counsel you guide me,
and at the end receive me with honor.*
25Whom else have I in the heavens?
None beside you delights me on earth.
26Though my flesh and my heart fail,
God is the rock of my heart, my portion forever.
27But those who are far from you perish;
you destroy those unfaithful to you.
28As for me, to be near God is my good,
to make the Lord GOD my refuge.
I shall declare all your works
in the gates of daughter Zion.*

We consider for a moment the nature of today's society: the large difference between those who hold much wealth and those who have little.  In fact, in 2010, the top 1% in the United States held 35.4% of the net worth (Wealth, Income, and Power by G. William Domhoff - 2015).  The article is quite interesting because it shows a large number of comparisons of income, wealth, and the commensurate power that comes with this status in today's world.
The disturbing thing is that this information shows the great disparity between the top and bottom of today's society.  I wrote a long time ago, near the beginning of this blog, that it seemed to me that the Middle Ages are, in fact, alive and well.  Huffington Post wrote in 2013:
Today, as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, it seems we are approach a new Middle Ages in America, as inequality increasingly spreads through the land. It is as if the super-rich are like the new royalty and the top 1 percent are living in mansions like the old castles of kings in the kingdoms that eventually melded into Europe and the U.K. Meanwhile, the media wields the power of the medieval church, placing its blessing on those with wealth and celebrity, who are protected by their retinue of publicists, handlers, lawyers, chauffeurs, and servants. They are much like the landed nobility who were part of the king's court, who formed a protected and privileged enclave far removed from the much larger class of peasants who worked their land and paid their taxes, which supported the royalty and monarchy in their grand style.
So, we see that this condition exacerbates as life continues on in the US today. The concerning thing is that the leadership of our states and nation seem to have turned their back upon the poor.  Congress is mired in political intransigence.  State governors are hailed for gutting past progress in labor and retirement benefits.  More and more people are struggling to get by and are blamed for their own situation while companies reward their CEO's with more and more benefits, even when they fail and are fired.  All is completely out of proportion.  Sanity appears to have left the country.  Callousness toward the poor is rampant.  People are blamed for their laziness despite the fact that many are faultless for having lost their jobs due to their company moving either out of the country or thousands of miles away.  Where is the voice of reason?
The Psalmist writes about this situation.  The rich seem untouchable but have received their reward.  The poor have the LORD God and unending joy forever.  But, we have the power to change the situation here and now  and make things more equitable.  Our country's premise was not based upon the Middle Ages governance of Europe. 

All we need are a few courageous people. The common folk need to demand that their leaders either rectify the situation or we need to change the leaders.  It will take courage for this to happen and until someone steps forward it probably will not happen.
What I don't understand is how so many ordinary folks are so comfortable with this situation and don't seem to recognize that the leadership of their chosen party will only continue to support this system that favors the corporate leaders and the rich and powerful - because it keeps these leaders in power to do essentially nothing except continue the status quo.  But I guess as long as folks pay less taxes and have their guns they will be just happy with that.
Unfortunately, the moral decay of this country will eventually be its undoing.

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