14 December, 2008

Weeds and Flowers

I have come to you a little later than usual, as I thought I would let Liam have his day in the sun!

I have had enough to say about excess and the misappropriation of wealth for a little while I think. Perhaps it is time to go back to the topic of inequality and how we intend to combat it.

I was in an interesting conversation today, which discussed the running of a country in the model of a business. In a classic business model, it is essential to make a profit. This is always the bottom line. We must find the weeds that prevent growth and un-root them in order to allow the effective blooming of flowers. The issue for a country therefore becomes how you un-root the weeds and then to decide what you do with them.

It is simply not ethical to ‘un-root’ the weeds. We cannot continue to throw the residual waste into the torturous vault known as the safety net. We must learn how to tend weeds, and see them as beautiful in their own right. Perhaps it will force us to adjust our image of beauty and begin at last to value the wild flowers that dot our communities.

What can you do with weeds? Well, I think it is important to recognize that all of God’s creations have a purpose. We must start to find God’s purposes, rather than attempting to squeeze weeds into our own man-made structures that suit our man-made needs.

For me though, the foundational question becomes how and why people become a ‘weed’ in the first place? Perhaps they have not been tended. Perhaps they were neglected to the point where they grew and grew unnoticed. That tends to happen when we take our attention and care off a particular section. Is that the weeds fault?

The reality is, we cannot run a country, or an education system, or a heath care system, or an employment system…as a business. And as The Salvation Army, surely some of our responsibility is in correcting the reckless neo-liberal economy that has driven its citizens to demand individual profit from their nation to the neglect of the ‘weeds’. I believe too, that it is important for us to stop engaging in the same system that perpetuates the relegating and neglect of weeds. We must start to be counter cultural, and stop joining the world in their schemes.

Well, a little abstract today, but if you can get something out of it, then good on you!

Till next week,


1 comment:

Liam said...

Great questions Gen!

I think a further question is how have we as the Salvation Army bought into the 'cult' of economic rationalism?
An even tougher question might be when should we have made decision from an economic rationalist framework?

There is always a lot of work done in the social policy field on cost prevention measures, but they aren't nearly instant or glitzy enough for our political climate.
I remember a report a couple of years ago that suggested spending money supporting young people coming out of state care between the age of 18-25 would provide a huge cost saving over neglecting them and then dealing with them through the criminal justice and social security systems later in life.