Before dawn this morning, I began distributing this tract in New York’s Zuccotti Park, across Broadway from Wall Street, where hundreds of “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrators were gathered, their numbers swelled by sympathizers responding to the mayor’s threat, later rescinded, to have the demonstrators evicted from the park by police starting at 7 a.m. [The next morning, feeling the Lord’s rebuke for tempting my readers to think of themselves as superior to others, I added the phrase “which include all of us to some extent” after “dupes,” and a few other minor edits.]
A lie cannot stand forever. Neither can an economic system built on one. Capitalism is based on the idea that the common good is adequately served by the competition of separate, selfishly motivated entities in the marketplace. To believe this is to say “let us do evil, that good may come of it.” The gospel of Jesus Christ has always testified against such sophistry. But experience itself bears witness to its falsehood, as the overheating earth now groans from wounds, possibly mortal, inflicted by its industrial despoilers and their overconsuming dupes (which include all of us to some extent). Meanwhile, the “competition in the marketplace” that sounds so sportsmanlike in the textbooks readily shows its heartlessness, in spite of good ends served by it, to any with eyes to see. Wolves do not “compete” with lambs. But neither is any good served by the lambs’ studying to become wolflike.
The truth is that we were made to live simply, serving one another as brothers and sisters, owning no conflicting interests, but ever saying in our hearts to the Wise and Loving One who made us, “Thy will be done.” If we seem far from such innocence now, it’s because we’ve fallen from our natural condition; but there is a living and present Savior who will restore us to it for the asking. And as we change, so may the system we live under change; but without our willingness to change, neither will the system. Ask for the Savior’s help and healing – for yourself and for those you’re now tempted to think of as your class enemies. Feeling imprisoned by the system? Those who vainly expect it to make them happy by keeping them rich may be more deeply imprisoned by it than you are. Pray for their awakening and you’ll be praying for your own. The One who hears prayer owns the key to all prisons.