Politically Engineered Scarcity

How much are my fears based on a perception of scarcity? If I see that something is limited does it automagically arouse feelings of greed, lust, gluttony? Is this a trained behavior? Most likely.

Since we are small the lesson is repeated ad infinitum: things run out, get ’em while you can!

I can see it very clearly. In fact I see scarcity everywhere. It takes a lot of imagination, patience and training to learn to un-see scarcity.

The first step in an analysis of my perception of scarcity is to realize how it is politically engineered. By political I mean not only the standard idea of politics and legislation (those are important as well) but a broader concept of politics as something that involves a group of people talking with each other. Basically politics happens whenever two or three are gathered together!

If in the group there is one Kingdom person, their language will be so at odds with the others as to make them sound downright crazy!

Scarcity is bad Kingdom theology. Full stop. It is difficult to see how Kingdom life can be reconciled with lack or want.

But there is a difference between artificial scarcity and true lack. I don’t know any wooly-eyed Kingdom freak who denies that deserts lack water. I also do not know anyone crazy enough to believe we will eradicate poverty – apart from those uber-rich in Hollywood – what does that tell you? We will always have the poor, says Jesus. This is true scarcity.

I read that to mean, we will always have work to do. We will always have to be vigilant and listen carefully to those around us, to spot the weeds of injustice and cut them out. It is like gardening – there is never going to be a time when we have arrived.

But the good news is that we are quite a lot further along. Life is better. People are less tolerant of injustice and oppression. No we still do not have good mechanisms to deal with those things, but the sheer fact that we notice them at all is a monumental step forward.

Talking of monuments, Pinker has written a gargantuan book called “The Angels of our Better Natures” (clocking in on 1000+ pages) with lots and lots of obscure data showing that things are not only better than they were, they keep getting better.

But somehow no one wants to believe that.

Lent is a perfect time to begin the task of uninstalling the programs of scarcity which cloud our vision. Think of it as a good time to focus on whittling away that log in your eye. Why should we do that? because there are people out there, with true eye problems, specs that really hurt them, and the compassionate heart should do everything possible to help alleviate their pain.

But it is hard to help with a big old log sticking out a mile in front of your face, banging into everyone.


About spaceloom

An urban monk, and an experienced spiritual director with a Masters in Psychology. Married with two children. Want to know me better? Read my thoughts.
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