“He that overvalues himself will undervalue others, and he that undervalues others will oppress them.” – Samuel Johnson
I was in a discussion on the increasing income and wealth inequality and decreasing mobility in the US economic system. The top 10% of the Country take in 47% of the income (CBS news). The top 1% take in 20% of US income! America ranks 2nd for income inequality in the developed world.
The income of the bottom 50% was just 13%. The share of the top 1% overtook the bottom 50% back in the 1990s. This disparity also negatively affects people of color. Native Americans, Latinos and African-Americans are not only impacted by general downward trends, but centuries of racist banking practices, redlining (the ‘ghettoizing’ of neighborhoods), etc. It’s a bad state of affairs that is hurting most Americans and too many are lulled to sleep.
Those with power have the potential to OPPRESS those without it – to keep them in subservience and hardship, especially by the unjust use of authority. Whether we’re talking about human trafficking, slavery, or other money and power motivated societal ills; oppression is prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control that brings mental pressure or distress. It may not seem like it, but financially we’re only a few iterations away from the stories you’d find in dystopian novels like The Hunger Games. Unfortunately, many who come out from the bottom to a level of wealth become just like their predecessors. King Solomon advised in Proverbs 3:32-33, “Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways. For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous. The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just.”
If we want to find out underlying motives for wicked and oppressive practices, follow the money tree. “10For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:10) Christians,
Paul cites generosity and the divestment of goods as the antidote to escape a life of self-interest and avarice – extreme greed for wealth or material gain. “17Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” As Kingdom citizens, we understand the reason for wealth is to be a conduit of blessing to others, not a means to oppress them. Christ’s Kingdom is counter-cultural, and is meant to be a beacon of light in the world.
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