On Doug Fabrizio's "Radio West" this morning (Podcast here), Jim Wallis talked us through his new book, Rediscovering Values. The book and the podcast is about what is wrong with our American value system and how to begin to "find a way out". Seems we have, once again, bowed down to a god of our own making. This time it is 'The Market', run by unbridled selfishness and greed.
Wallis (Wikipedia link), a theologian and activist, asks this important question, "What do you do when the invisible hand lets go of the common good?"
Referring to our recession/depression Wallis points out that most people ask "When will the crisis be over?" Wallis notes that this is the wrong question. Instead we ought to be asking "How will the crisis change us?"
Wallis says that we now act on these values: "Greed is good. It's all about me. I want it now." Wallis notes that "Wealth doesn't trickle down, but bad values do." Instead of the values that seem to drive our society/economy, Wallis argues that we ought to be acting on "new old virtues": "Enough is enough. We are in this together. … [And the] Native American indigenous peoples' ethic that you evaluate decisions today by their impact on the seventh generation out."
Instead of "keeping up with the Joneses", Wallis suggests why not "Let's check with the Joneses, and see if they are OK." Wallis is no anti-market zealot, rather he wants to see markets relegated to their proper place in society.
Pointing to one indicator of our values crisis Wallis asks rhetorically, Does anyone think it is a good idea when CEO pay goes from 30 times average workers' salary to 415 times? This happened in just 30 years. How does this single notion erode the values of a culture? Wallis has much more.
Wallis ends with something I too pitched long ago, Gandhi's Seven Deadly Sins:
- Wealth without work.
- Pleasure without conscience.
- Knowledge without character.
- Commerce without morality.
- Science without humanity.
- Worship without sacrifice.
- Politics without principles.
We are there! Where do we go from here? One more book to add to my long list of yet-to-read: Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street, by Jim Wallis.