The belief that we need to possess more is the driving force for much of the violence and war, corruption and exploitation on earth. In the campaign to gain, we often pursue our goals at all costs, even at the risk of destroying whole cultures and peoples, writes Jenberu Haile.
When we can recognize the image of the Creator in every living being, the ethics and economics of war reveal themselves in all their evil and stupidity. As one of the wealthiest and most powerful countries, the United States’ over-sized defense budget says a great deal about our priorities: USD 668 billion for defense vs. USD 190 billion for education, housing, infrastructure, and other basic services. It might appear that the US is fighting fewer wars with fewer troops; however, more work is being given to private, highly paid contractors (while many active service members and veterans qualify for food stamps). Why don’t we say, “Thank you for your service!” to teachers, too? The military gives us needed security, but teachers give us the health and culture that allows us to flourish inside that security. Security is not an end itself. Human flourishing is.
The Souls of Poor Folk identifies the United States’ irrational attachment to war: The massive US defense budget has never actually been about “defense.”… rather, their goals are to consolidate US corporations’ control over oil, gas, other resources and pipelines; to supply the Pentagon with military bases and strategic territory to wage more wars; to maintain military dominance over any challenger(s); and to continue to provide justification for Washington’s multi-billion-dollar military industry. Mentioning this country, the US, is important here to point to readers that it is not as such a worth emulating country! They are operating as nations out of scarcity where as the Easterners, us, operate out of abundance!
We are willing to accept the glibbest justifications for our constant war economy, and there is no end in sight. How could this possibly be the will of the One Creator? For mature Christians, Muslims and for other people of faith, war must be the very last resort after all other means are used to protect the defenseless and innocent.
Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money, identifies three core myths that keep us locked in an economy of scarcity which is the economy of war: (emphasis here is mine)
There’s not enough to go around… somebody’s going to be left out… if there’s not enough for everyone, then taking care of yourself and your own, even at others’ expense, seems unfortunate, but unavoidable and somehow valid.
More is better, drives a competitive culture of accumulation, acquisition, and greed. It distracts us from living more mindfully and richly with what we have. We judge others based on what they have and miss the immeasurable inner gifts they bring to life. Our drive to enlarge our net worth turns us away from discovering and deepening our self-worth.
The belief that we need to possess more is the driving force for much of the violence and war, corruption and exploitation on earth. In the campaign to gain, we often pursue our goals at all costs, even at the risk of destroying whole cultures and peoples.
That’s just the way it is, and there’s no way out. There’s not enough to go around, more is definitely better, and the people who have more are always people who are other than us.
This myth justifies the greed, prejudice, and inaction that scarcity fosters in our relationship with money and the rest of the human race. For generations, it protected the early American slave trade from which the privileged majority built farms, towns, business empires, and family fortunes, many of which survive today. For more generations it protected and emboldened institutionalized racism, sex discrimination and social and economic discrimination against other ethnic and religious minorities.
In our resignation, we abandon our human potential, and the possibility of contributing to a thriving, equitable, healthy world.
We have to be willing to let go of that’s just the way it is, even if just for a moment, to consider the possibility that there isn’t a way it is or way it isn’t. There is the way we choose to act and what we choose to make of circumstances.
Can we recognize that better comes from not more, but deepening our experience of what’s already there? Rather than growth being external in acquiring and accumulating money or things, can we redefine growth to see it as a recognition of and appreciation for what we already have?
It is a fundamental law of nature, that there is enough and it is finite. Its finiteness is no threat; it creates a more accurate relationship that commands respect, reverence, and managing those resources with the knowledge that they are precious and in ways that do the most good for the most people. Knowing that there is enough inspires sharing, collaboration, and contribution; being ignorant of this put us in a continuous tug of war which is illusory anyway.
Ed.’s Note: Jenberu Haile is the general manager of JHAMNZ General Consultancy and Training Services. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Reporter. He can be reached at [email protected].