Tuesday, November 25, 2008

let it rest

It disturbs me that in the face of an economic slow down that our first and only response is a panicked rush to inject more money in an artificial stimulus package. There are times, of course, when emergency care is vital, CPR and so on. But there are also situations where the best response is to do nothing, to recognize that there are seasons and cycles in everything, to note that constant one-directional forward progress with all the time more and more and faster and faster is not natural and not healthy. Even in an emergency medical situation the initial treatment is followed by weeks or months of recuperative rest. After a long day of activity we take a night of sleep. After a long week of productive work we take a Sabbath. After spring and summer and the harvest, the ground needs a season of stillness. In winter we learn to live on what we stored from before rather than new production, and we simply live on less.

Perhaps this economic crises could also be an opportunity to question the fundamental assumptions of an economy who's only measure of health is constant growth. If we consumed less we would also not need to produce so much. We could learn to repair what we have instead of throwing away and replacing. Labor would become cheaper meaning that industry could hire more workers and become less reliant on fossil-fuel burning machines. Hiring craftspeople and making by hand might become as cost effective as mass production. Family farms might replace factory farms. Rather than some who are over-employed and others who are unemployed we could shorten the work week and allow people more time with families, and for vacation and spiritual and creative pursuits. We could re-discover the glory of libraries full of books that are free to borrow instead of expensive entertainments. We could become friends with our neighbors and enjoy staying at home instead of clogging the roads and highways.

I'm not an economist I'm a minister so this is strictly a pastoral response.

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