Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Teetering on the Edge ...

I typed the words "teetering on the edge" into a search engine and the first image that popped up was this one - from an article about a three foot wide wooden "road" being built in the Hunan province of China.

How apt? I thought ... it embraces much of what I have been thinking and reflecting lately.

The other day I read the article about the strike/lock out at the Caterpillar locomotive plant in London Ontario and how the corporation is asking workers to take a 50% reduction in wages and a roll back in benefits while the company itself is posting record profits, and has for the last few years been expanding.

The management has locked the workers out and has threatened to move the jobs south if the workers don't take the offer ... once again, good paying Canadian jobs are about to simply disappear so that companies can protect their bottom line and continue to ensure profits for the shareholders.

As I read these accounts - and there have been and continue to be many of them in our media, I can't help but wonder when we will reach the tipping point as a nation where there are two classes of people - the investors (the wealthy) and the part-time workers (the poor), with almost no one in between.

In recent days I've had within my circle of friends and family news of losing a job with limited and challenging prospects for the future, struggles to find affordable and adequate housing in a frightening market that is completely out of control, and the day to day struggles just to make ends meet and get through the day ... Taking a step back and reading the various media sources I consult on a regular basis, I hear these same concerns voiced across North America as people are finding themselves umemployed, over extended and facing a bleak future - ALL the while, our politicans and our pundits tell us the economy is rebounding and recovering.

Really?? The economy is recovering?? For WHO??

The only people who seem to be benefitting and enjoying a recovering economy are the wealthy and the investors who are happy that thier various portfolios are rebounding and posting profits. But for the workers who are suddenly out of jobs, and facing unemployment or WORSE, employment in part-time jobs with NO benefits, there is no solace, and no peace.

We may have thousands of NEW jobs, but every indication would tell us that those new jobs are a pale shadow of what they are replacing.

Where there were once good paying jobs with benefits and future in the many factories and plants across our country, now there are lower paying jobs with limited to no benefits and absolutely NO long term security. The owners of the plants are forever threatening to move these jobs off shore where cheaper workforces with eagerly take on the tasks of building the bits and pieces our consumerist culture erroneously values.

I've observed before that one is hard pressed to find domestically produced products and items, and I've wondered what the long term effects of this will be ... I fear we're standing on the brink of not only realizing, but experiencing the profound and devestating effects of this long term obsession with shopping, shopping, and shopping.

Cheaper is not necessarily better, and cheaper may have a HUGE long term effect beyond the few extra coins in our pockets at the end of the transaction.

Ballooning credit.

Limited job prospect.

Migrating business ventures.

Economic devestation.

The list goes on and on ... as I reflect on this, I think of an observation in one of the books on our global food supply that noted the $1.99 burger at the local fast food joint may be subsidized by various levels of Government through a HUGE diversity of programmes and public policies. If memory serves, the author suggested that that cheap two dollar burger may be costing the tax payers upwards of ten dollars when we factor in the subsidizes from field to table - all in the name of a cheap burger with questionable nurtitional and culinary value.

What if we stopped living the consumerist lifestyle that values cheap over quality?

What if we put people before profits?

What if we lived our lives mindful of what our the many effects our decision in the grocery store has from field to table?

What if we stopped valuing shopping over everything else, and instead began to address the hungry ache that permeates our lives and our culture?

What if we finally recognized that our economic system is not just broken, it is an utter disaster that is destroying communities, families and the lives of individuals?

What if we finally opened our eyes to the simple fact we are teetering over the brink, and if we don't rethink things SOON, we will plunge into an abyss from which recover may be extremely difficult if not impossible???

Regardless of what President Bush said after 9/11 - shopping and the consumerist lifestyle will not save us ... it will only help to drive us further into a bankruptcy of mind, body, spirit and economics that will leave us impoverished in ways that are simply unimaginable ...

It's time for the Church to step up and reclaim the voice that prophets like Bill Phipps and Walter Brueggemann have offered, and instead of whispering in the sanctuary, we need to shout it from the roof tops ... our society is broken ... it's time to fix it and bring the transformative healing that is part of our genetic material as the Body of Christ !!

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