"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
Tuesday, April 27, 2004 Hopie Welles and Beth Maynard made good comments on my last post:
Hopie - "This all said by a man who has no risk of losing his job to a priest in India. For the most part, I agree, Mike. But it's just so painful when someone you love is constantly waiting for the phonecall telling him that someone else has his job now, and he has none."
Beth - "I know *shamelessly* little about all this. But isn't part of the problem (tho perhaps not in the minds of the people you're referring to) that jobs in the US come with the requirement of a minimum wage and some benefits and so on... whereas closing plants here in favor of opening them in developing countries means companies can pay very low wages and ignore the rights of their employees?"
Yeah, it is easy for me to say. But I hope I would say it even it it weren't. I hope I would say it if my job were being taken by a priest in India. Because whether it's easy or hard to say, I believe it's true.
And it is painful when it effects us or people we love. But what Christ calls us to do is to look beyond caring just for those we love to caring for those he loves -- everyone. It's very hard to do ... which is why, I suppose, we don't talk that much about it in terms like this. We're told that "charity begins at home" and things like that, and that sounds really good because we don't have to look at the people who aren't at home.
The larger issue -- and one that is just part of human nature -- is that it's really, really tough to remember and even tougher to act as if EVERY life has equal value. Because people we know and love have more effect on our lives and thus more value to us, it's natural to value them above others whom we don't know. I will hope that one of our students gets a great scholarship to grad school even though that would mean that someone else wouldn't get that scholarship. Am I wrong in hoping for that scholarship. Well, yes and no. I don't think it's wrong to wish good for a person. I think it's very human to want people we love to prosper. But as Christians we have a higher calling and that calling is to transcend our view and ascend to a Christ's-eye view of things, working and praying for justice for all and that God's will -- which is a will which values all equally -- will be done.
As far as Beth's comments, yes, outsourcing is almost always done because labor is cheaper in countries that don't have our labor standards. But the answer there is not to use that as an excuse for keeping what we have but for using the leverage companies have with countries that really want their business to get those countries to raise their standards, to institute enforceable rights for workers. Unfortunately, this means asking companies to be Christlike -- to sacrifice short-term financial gain for themselves in order to use their power to make the world a more just place.
"Right! Like that'll happen." is my first response. Until I remember that companies are made of people. And people are inherently good. And good people, when convinced of their call to and ability to do good, often do amazing things. Until I remember that the people who are going to be running those companies the next 10,20, 50 years are the same people who show up at Rockwell House on Wednesday night, the same people who went to Nashville to be with the women of Magdala, the same people who volunteer with "each one, teach one" or at the juvenile detention center.
Our faith is a faith of conversion. Not of building up numbers on membership rolls but of conversion of heart -- of taking our hearts of stone and having them replaced with hearts of flesh. Of God looking at the dry bones of a society that often seems dead to the needs of any but itself and saying "give these bones life" and then coming down among us to show us what life looks like and then pointing to all of us and saying we are that Body of life.
| Mike at 4/27/2004 11:26:00 AM
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"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."