Our mission: To understand and live out Jesus’ vision for a just and loving world.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18
What if we organized our society so that everyone has enough?
- When should this happen? How long would it take?
- Who can (or should) make it happen?
- Who or what is in the way?
- What are some steps we could take to achieve this goal?
In our last post, we started to explore what it might mean if everyone in our society has enough, see ELQ: First Responses, Part 1. Now, we’re sharing thoughts and suggestions from our first participants about what we could do to get there: Below is a summary of the first answers to the questions above. (We have many more people to talk with, and we know that the answers will expand as we add more people.)
When should this happen? How long would it take?
Right now, our society is upside down, with people having a beyond-opulent lifestyle living next to people who are starving. This doesn’t make sense.
When to start? Now. We have to start where we are, keep going, and expand our efforts. For example:
Vote. That’s a given. From local to national elections, we need the right people in office. People who share our vision that we must work toward making sure that everyone has enough.
Build on what we have. Continue with current local and national initiatives. Expand them as we’re able. For example:
- Individuals offer time, donations, and love as they are able.
- Our church provides Safe Parking during some months of the year. Could we expand that to a year-round program? What else could we expand to help more people?
- There has been recent legislation in DC to assist people with funding to get through the pandemic—with hopes of more to come in the near future. We can support that action.
- Treat the pandemic the way we treated WWII. In that emergency, by investing money in the war effort, we lifted the country’s financial well-being. Many who served during WWII saved part of their salaries. This helped many people to move into the middle class.
The timeline is ongoing. Still, if we put our minds to it, it might take 20 years to organize ourselves so that everyone has enough.
- This is controversial, but we’d have to raise taxes on the wealthiest people (a lot). If you have a house you can afford, medical care you can afford, then your taxes are an investment.
- We could use our money so that we get the most benefit from it: for things that we cannot provide for ourselves. Like roads. Like the infrastructure that we all depend on. Fair wages and safe, adequate housing: these are all part of our country’s infrastructure.
Who can (or should) make it happen?
For this question, the answer is complex. It involves individuals, small organizations (like churches and nonprofits), larger public and private organizations, and legislative bodies. Here are a few examples:
Legislation & regulation. We can’t do this without coordination. We need the commitment of individuals and small groups, but they cannot do it alone. We have to appeal to legislative bodies from city councils on up.
Higher Ed. Offer free education beyond high school. This would be in the best interests of our society. Some countries have already taken this step, and it has worked well for them.
Landlords. For example, what if landlords of larger developments set aside a few units for people with lower incomes?
Churches. What if (and this would likely be controversial)—still, what if a condition of membership was to participate (as one is able) in some activity to make things better?
Who or what is in the way?
Inadequate assistance. For example, we don’t have an adequate minimum wage or enough adequate housing.
Politics. Whatever we choose to do will be become political. Even wearing masks in a pandemic has been politicized.
Identity politics. The system favors some groups over others. Some are afraid that people of a different color (for example) are going to receive help, too.
Rebellion. Don’t tell me what to do! You cannot ask me to do that!
Busy lives. Most of us have more than enough to do. However, if we organize small, discrete tasks, then even busy people can find a way to fit them in. This takes strong organization and communication.
What are some steps we could take to achieve this goal?
If people get a taste of a fairer society where people have what they need, they might insist on it.
Get involved. Choose the steps to take. Don’t keep a distance from those who need help.
Be specific. Describe specific things that people can do. Could you do this one thing? Could your group take on this responsibility?
Make a moral argument. What we want is morally right, but we often fail to make the moral arguments for ensuring that everyone has enough. Focus on what is moral and right.
Monitor elected officials. Be politically involved. Keep an eye on our representatives, and give them support to follow an agenda that we think is morally essential.
Pay attention to national & local considerations. For example, in some parts of the country, a person could live on (maybe even less than) $15/hour. That’s not true in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, or New York City. We should set a reasonable nation-wide floor for a minimum wage, and states or local areas could set a higher minimum where needed.
Avoid disruption. To achieve our ideals, we can work incrementally or in a totally disruptive way, through revolution. Disrupters are thinking about themselves, not people at the bottom. Disruption causes a lot of suffering. We need to keep people safe and do this incrementally with a long-term strategy that has protections.
Everything is connected. Part of security is environmental security. In certain parts of earth, the environment is under so much stress people can’t survive. This may be an even more fundamental issue.
This topic starts with the utopian question: What if we organized our society so that everyone has enough? Consider the dystopian question: What if we don’t organize or give a damn about whether others have enough? And now consider this question: In our society, how do we deal with the utopian aspiration? This will help us to focus the question so that it isn’t floating out there in outer space.
And a last piece of advice: Have an intelligent and peaceful discussion about how to do this. Discuss the process. Explore the nuances. Have the big philosophical discussion.
We have many more thoughts to share with you, including responses from some of our small groups at FCCSJ, a wonderful list of Bible quotes, and thoughts from folks who work every day with people who do not have enough. Please stay tuned for the next post.
If you would like to add to this exploration, we’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment on this post, stop by our Facebook page, or contact us.
Social Media Ministry Team