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Exploring Life’s Questions: First Responses, Part 1

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

For a description of this project, see Exploring Life’s Questions: Starting a Dialogue.

Many thanks to our first participants, three of our church members who provided their thoughts and suggestions based on these questions:

What if we organized our society so that everyone has enough?

Let’s start with what this question means:

  • Enough of what?
  • And who is everyone?
  • Why is this important to us?

You’ll find a summary of Part I of their answers below. (We have many more people to talk with, and we know that the answers will expand as we add more people.)

Enough of what?

When people don’t have enough of the basics, then it’s difficult (if not impossible) for them to work or to move beyond concerns about survival.

  • Basic Physical Needs come first, for example: a reliable supply of food and clean water, safe and adequate housing, and sufficient healthcare.
  • Other Basic Needs include safety, money, support for families, childcare, and access to transportation.
  • Education or Training should enable you to take care of yourself, to develop a sense of self-reliance, to function as a citizen or employee, and to interact and work with others.
  • Social Connections with, for example, family, friends, and colleagues enable us to function in a social world. They’re essential for our well-being. Love and participation in relationships, small groups, and society fit here.
  • Environmental Security is fundamental. Everything is connected. In some parts of our planet, the environment is already under so much stress that people can’t survive.
And who is everyone?

For this question, the answer depends on where we focus.

One answer: Everyone, period.

  • Citizens or not? Everyone.
  • Here legally or illegally? Everyone.
  • Contributing? That’s 99% of the people. So, everyone.

Another answer: We can consider our church, party, city, state, country, or the world. What’s realistic? If the scope is too broad, then this can be overwhelming.

  • So, we can choose to focus on our neighbors first.
  • And we ask again, “Who is everyone?” The answer comes back, “Our neighbor.”
Why is this important to us?

And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:40 RSV

Making sure that everyone has enough is not only humane, but it’s also the right thing to do. Plus, here are a few examples of benefits:

  • People are more successful if they don’t fear for their survival. They become more creative when they don’t have to worry where their next meal is coming from.
  • The whole society would be so much healthier in so many ways if people had enough. For example, with adequate healthcare, we would spend less, overall, on medical costs.
  • We would also have less trouble with the pandemic, which would be, among other things, good for our national security.
  • With a healthy society, business would do better, too.

Doing the morally right thing pays off in so many ways.

Next Steps

We have many more thoughts to share with you, including a wonderful list of Bible quotes and some early thoughts about how to ensure that everyone has enough. Please stay tuned for the next post.

We’d like to hear what you think! Contribute to this discussion by commenting below. If you want to widen the dialogue, talk about it with family members, friends in the community, or one of our Church’s small groups. Then, share your thoughts with all of us. You can also submit your ideas as part of this dialogue by sending them to us. We’re available if you need help with writing.

Many thanks to Keith Casto, Alan Cole, and Karen Winchester for sharing their thoughts. We have more on the way. Let’s keep exploring and looking for answers!

Jeanne Farrington
Carla Zaccheo
Social Media Ministry Team

2 Comments

  1. This question is many faceted but it does steer us away from the meaningless question of everyone having “equal” resources. It focuses instead on the matter of having “enough”, but this by itself still branches into different territories.

    On the surface, it asks this as a visioning process. How would it feel? Would it be freeing? Would people have more enthusiasm in life, more reason to get up in the morning with confidence for that day and optimism for the future? Would we work together better if we were not spending so much time and energy on getting our basic needs taken care of? These are the simpler corollary questions.

    But the expansion of the question talks about the practicalities, and that assumes not only a state of everyone having enough, but also systems and institutions for maintaining that state in some approximate sense. It implies that there is sufficient support for keeping that in place, for economic security, educational opportunity, support for those with physical or mental disabilities, an infrastructure that is stable, and capabilities to respond to common risks/threats in the near term and beyond, even far beyond. Yes, it relates to discussions on minimum wage, Social Security, universal health care, common internet access, and recognition of the different cultures that make up our nation & world, and lots more.

    We as a Christian community need to continue to take our spiritual understanding deeper and bring it forward into today’s sticky problems, and join with those in other spiritual traditions. Every piece of this needs to acknowledge our interdependence, at every possible level. It assumes that we need to have strong sensitivity to actions that may have effects that we may not even recognize until we see the effects on the welfare of individuals or groups. This will never be a static process.

  2. Thank you, Dennis, for your thoughtful reply. Your corollary questions are important. We’re collecting such questions as additional fuel for our dialogue. “This will never be a static process” indeed.

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