I am writing this blog at the end of what has been one of the most volatile weeks the stock market has experienced in a long time. I am reasonably sure that my retirement account has not done well. Last week over a lunch conversation a friend suggested that the primary forces driving the stock market are greed and fear. Neither of us would claim to be financial experts, but greed and fear do seem to be motivators. When things are going well it almost seems natural to want more and when things come apart fear influences everything.
Greed and fear influence much more than finances. Think about our post 9-11 world. As a nation we have made many fear-based decisions. We have gone to war, declared entire nations to be our enemies, spied on our own people, and developed a quiet mistrust of people who fit a certain profile or worship differently.
There are those who would argue that all of this is a necessary evil. To be honest there are times when I agree. Who in their right mind thinks that terrorism should be normative?
As a Christian, I can’t help but wonder if the “Greed and Fear” pattern is unhealthy. After all who in their right mind wants to live in a world controlled greed or fear?
There are other models. In his book No Future without Forgiveness, Desmund Tutu lays out a strong case for a confront-and-forgive approach. Can you imagine how our world would be different today if the leaders of our country had used this approach after 9-11? Martin Luther King Jr. often spoke of the Beloved Community. For King our mutual humanity transcended things like race, tribe, social class and nation. King’s approach might be described as “speaking the truth yet non-violent.” Can you imagine a world where this is the primary way to solve our disputes?
Greed and fear may be the primary motivators right now, but as followers of Jesus we are called to be transforming agents.