“On those who waver, have mercy; save others by snatching them out of the fire.” Jude 22-23
It’s often said that everyone is out for himself. For capitalism to thrive, compassion must yield to a relentless pursuit of one’s own interest. But not to fear: greed makes the community prosper. Let the great scramble begin! People will work like crazy to come out ahead. The most ruthless are those that enlarge the pie for the rest. Some facetiously suggest that to beat the competition, hire a psychopath to run things. Greed is the new virtue while altruism is a sweet thought with no traction.
After the recent financial upheaval that destroyed savings, jobs, and lives, we may wonder about the gospel of greed. Does any human endeavor prosper under a regime of self-interest? Even corporations require trust and cooperation to reach their goals. Markets can’t function without rules of fair play. Only when people are cynically manipulated does their readiness to sacrifice dry up. Maybe the invisible hand of Adam Smith is invisible because it just isn’t there.
Cynicism paints the world from a distance. Jesus enters the human scene up close. No one reaches their goals without lots of help. Sooner or later, each needs a second or third chance or more. Father Zossima, in Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov, insists that we are never alone, even when carrying guilt for crimes. The hard times can be endured because we are in it together. Greater than money is the gift of being known and standing together in solidarity. Mercy is life’s oxygen.
What makes us strong? With tough talk flying around, we may lose touch with what’s real.
By Jeane Schuler