Governments, Generations, and the Global Village

Disclaimer: This post is from the archives, and may not represent the current views of the author. It also may not be at all interesting to read. Continue at your own peril!

I’ve got a few somewhat-related topics in my head right now to talk about. I may not get to all of them, but I wanted to touch on a few before I forget and they all fall into the inky blackness of oblivion. So here goes.

First off, I’m pretty excited today. After writing this post, I plan on watching the final hour-long lesson of the Truth Project. I know I’ve already ranted about it before, so I’ll spare everyone another one. But I’m just glad it’s going to be over soon. I won’t have to dream up creative ways to turn Del Tackett into a human piΓ±ata anymore. The last one I watched (Lesson 11) was about labour. As much as I found some of what he said interesting – some things in this one were actually ideas I’d never heard before – some of it sounded much like a veiled anti-liberal speech. He talked about how things like “forced redistribution of wealth” and “excessive or inappropriate taxation” were bad things. He didn’t come right out and say that “socialism and liberal politics are bad,” but it sounded that way. Now, I have no problem with conservative philosophy, and I have no problem with people that are against socialism. But I do have a problem with people who say that liberalism is bad because God says it’s bad. Because when it comes down to it, that’s essentially what he’s saying. He’s trying to set up a “biblical worldview,” but with many things that he says, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find consistent biblical support for them. For crying out loud, Jesus himself said to “give all you have to the poor and come follow me”! You really can’t get more radically socialist than that. Now, I suppose Tackett would say that isn’t “forced” redistribution of wealth, but I think that’s stretching it. If he thinks Jesus is an authority on things (and I’m sure he does), and Jesus says to give all you have to the poor, don’t you think that is somewhat “forced”? It’s not much different than if the government authorities tell you to do the same – either way, you’re doing what an authority figure tells you to do.

Anyway, besides that, Tackett had an interesting view of labour. Using the ideas from Hebrew law about farmers leaving the edges of their fields unharvested, Tackett asserted that it was the responsibility of businessmen, not government, to provide jobs for the poor. (Of course, he conveniently doesn’t deal with the fact that this was a law set out by the government of Israel at the time, so it was still “forced” redistribution of wealth. But oh well.) I found this an interesting view – I had never really heard it expressed like this – but ultimately quite naive. Certainly, unemployment is a big problem. But businesses create jobs on the basis of need. If they need something done, that becomes a job for someone to do. If they have everything covered, what are they expected to do? Create meaningless jobs? Should they do what the Nazis did in concentration camps – get some prisoners to dig holes and build a mound of dirt, and then other prisoners to fill the holes in with that dirt? The idea that we can just magically invent jobs is a little – no, more than a little – naive. As much as it is certainly important for us to keep an eye on excessive government spending, the government has a much better way of creating jobs. They start building projects, repair roads, fund research, etc. They can create jobs for people when businesses have no incentive to do so. If businesses had limitless incentives to create jobs, we’d all be employed. So no, Del Tackett, the solution is not just to invent jobs. But good try.

Anyway, on something that is tangentially related to that topic, I’ve started thinking about generational differences in attitudes about charity and generosity. I read an article the other day about how baby boomers are essentially the “spoiled brats” of the world. I mean, certainly that’s a generalization, but the environmental influences present during the upbringing of a generation can certainly create different effects. (Just think about all those old ladies that lived during the Great Depression and now hang on to everything – they never throw anything out because they never know when they might need it.) Baby boomers lived during a pretty tumultuous time, and that led to some strange things. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll definitely spiked during the time when the boomers became teenagers and young adults. And now we have today’s generation. I read a news article about a month ago (unfortunately I forgot to bookmark it) that said that today’s teens are having less sex than their parents did at their age. Yes, that’s right. Despite all the warnings about excessive media influences, the proliferation of condoms and sex education, and easier access to abortion, teens today are apparently having less sex. And why is that? Well, I don’t really know. This is speculation, but perhaps it’s because we saw the lifestyles of the “spoiled brat” baby boomers and reacted against that. Or perhaps sex is just so mainstream that we’ve just kind of gotten “bored” of it – it’s not taboo anymore, so why do it? Or perhaps I’m just totally off. I don’t know.

Another strange trend that I have seen is that today’s generation (my generation) seems to be very globally-minded and willing to volunteer their time, money, and energy toward a cause. That I see as an excellent thing. There are many young adults today who are very passionate about poverty, the environment, disease, education, and the rights of minorities, and they are willing to do much to help with the cause. Perhaps it’s naive optimism. But I think it’s more that we feel a stronger connection to those around the world. We are part of the “global village”, and we are (typically) more tolerant of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc. This seems to be a generation that doesn’t see the labels that people have. Or at least, they’re willing to look past the labels. And of course, that’s an excellent thing. But it brings up a good question: why? What’s the motivation behind it? Because another interesting thing is that today’s generation is much less religious than those before us. We are not necessarily all atheist or agnostic, but religion today plays a less important role in culture than it did. So without religion as a motivation, why are we still so generous with our time and money?

I think the answer lies in the rejection of labels. Today I finished off my Religious Studies course on Evil. Throughout the course, it’s been mentioned that social evil can occur when a person or group is defined as “other.” In other words, “they’re not one of us.” This is an important sociological phenomenon known as in-groups and out-groups. Psychologists have found that even a randomly selected group will quickly form an in-group and out-group even when simply given different coloured shirts. How much worse when it is their skin instead! Humans naturally form these groupings, and when that happens, it allows us to do great evil to others. When it’s “us vs. them,” we feel no remorse for killing or hating the out-group. The Nazis did it with the Jews. The Christians did it with the Muslims. The Americans did it with the Taliban. And when the out-group has done wrong, perhaps it’s somewhat justified. But by defining people as “other,” we define them as something less than human. And that becomes dangerous. The Nazis killed the Jews because they thought of them as sub-human. And the Americans who tortured Iraqi prisoners did the same thing more recently.

But today’s generation, generally speaking, has erased those lines in the sand. The typical kid going to school today likely has a class full of black, white, Hispanic, and Asian people, as well as Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, etc. How can you hate people that you have seen and known your whole life? How can you hate your friends? So our “in-group” has been widened to encompass the entire globe. The African child, dying of AIDS, is no different, no less important, than the kid sitting in his house in North America playing on his X-box. They are both part of “us” now, so why wouldn’t we help them? This mentality operates without religion – it operates on empathy. The ability to feel the pain of others drives us toward action. It is the in-group/out-group mentality that thwarts this empathic response. As we outgrow our labels, we outgrow our apathy.

At any rate, with all that said, I don’t mean to say that the upcoming generation is the beacon of light in the darkness. I speak in generalities, as unfortunate as that may be. There are still plenty of spoiled brats in today’s generation, and plenty of people who would rather spend their money on an iPod or a cell phone than on food for those starving in the world. The worst out-group of all is the out-of-sight, out-of-mind group. When we don’t see the realities of the people in developing nations, we can’t feel their pain. And although the global communications we have today have certainly helped to make the world smaller, it still seems difficult to remember the children of Africa when buying the cheeseburger at a fast food restaurant. The urge to buy and spend and consume is in our faces constantly, while the cry for help from the poor is merely a whimper. So, needless to say, we still have a long way to go. But I’m just glad that we are getting somewhere.

Anyway, I guess I’ll leave it there for tonight. I was going to mention a bit about anti-consumerism, but perhaps I’ll leave it for another time. Right now, I have one final hour of my life to waste on the Truth Project, so I mustn’t keep it waiting. Ta-ta for now.

10 responses to “Governments, Generations, and the Global Village”

feeno

K-Paco Amigo

You covered a lot, and most of it requires some thought. And I just can't muster up enough strength to comment on all of it. I'm a bit under the weather and need to rest up a bit before my softball game tonight.

I do agree that creating meaningless jobs would never work. However businesses always have incentives to create jobs, it's called making more money. And nobody and I mean nobody is better at creating meaningless positions than the Govt. When the Govt. sees a problem they think they can fix it by spending more money, Why? Because it ain't there money. Business owners on the other hand are trying to cut costs and make responsible decisions to make their business more effective, which will make more money for the business which in turn creates more jobs. The Govt. stifles business' by taking there money and throwing it at other peoples problems. I think like 1 in every 6 Americans are getting a check from our Govt. That ratio should be and could be about 1 in 15. When you or me are low on funds we cut back on going out to dinner or going on weekend getaways or less extravagant vacations, some have to give up their vacations all together. Big govt.=less power of the people.
My hero Ronald Reagan said "Govt. doesn't solve problems it subsidizes them".

Anyways That's enough soap box for now, Thanks again, you da man!

Shalom, feeno

feeno

Jeff

It's amazing how old and tired and sick I felt all weekend long, then tonight after my dominating performance on the softball diamond how young and fresh and even skinny I feel.

I have really been in a slump the past few games. And not only did I have a pretty good game at first base I finally hit the ball tonight. In our last at bat we were down by 17-16, I came to the plate with one out and bases loaded, I crushed the first pitch I saw, knocked in 2 runs for a walk off win. I ended up 3 for 4, but even my out was hit pretty well.

I know your not really impressed
by this stuff, but I really have no one else to tell, you and my brother are the only two that get these softball updates. And I shouldn't brag, but I've sucked so bad lately it just felt good to have my teammates mob me. Oh BTW this team we played was undeafeated and in first place.

Thanks for being here for me, I know I'm strange, but what the hell? Peace out, brown trout, feeno

Jeff

Hey feeno,

I certainly see your reasoning about the government/business jobs. I really, to be honest, haven't settled on a political view. I think I tend to lean toward the more liberal end of the spectrum, but I certainly see merit in the idea of small government. It's a matter of balancing freedom of the individuals vs. freedom of opportunity. Government subsidies help to even the inequity between the rich and the poor (at least in theory), giving the poor more of an opportunity to do the whole "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" thing. However, at the same time, small governments leave more money in the hands of the citizen, giving them more opportunity to do that same thing. It seems to be that both ends of the political spectrum are aiming toward the same thing, but going about it in vastly different ways. And it seems that conservative/libertarian would appeal more to the middle class, whereas liberal/socialist would appeal more to the lower class. I guess it may be a matter of who really needs it more. Where are peoples' freedoms restricted the most?

Anyway, I would go on and talk about what you were saying about government creating meaningless jobs – and I agree that you're absolutely right. But that seems to deal more with making government more efficient, rather than making government bigger or smaller. You can have a government that offers very few social programs, yet wastes much money, and you can have a government that offers a lot, but does so in a streamlined fashion. I see it as two separate issues.

Anyway, like I said, I haven't really settled on a political theory, so I won't try to convince you of something I'm not convinced on myself πŸ˜€ Glad to hear that you're out of your softball slump…Go feeno with the game-winning hit! Haha I don't mind the softball updates…I'd rather hear about that sort of thing than having regular knitting updates or something πŸ™‚

Have a good one!

Jeff

Jeff

Haha well no, it's good to hear you're doing that! Just…don't give me regular updates about how big the blanket is so far πŸ™‚

Cori-Beth

Finished the blanket! It's a baby blanket. So that wasn't an update on how big it's getting, just one to say that it's done! Heehee Working on a new one now… Will be selling these at a craft show coming up. Not a mindless, made-up job by the Gov't, but a self-made one! No comments from the peanut gallery…

Okay, that's enough now, no more about crocheting blankets, roll your eyes at me if you want, now!

Corinne

feeno

I know I said I finally figured out how to add a new post, and I actually thought I did, however, when I want to start a new post all I have to do is click on the new post thingy. My problem is the new post thingy is not showing up. How do I find it? Please, anyone, help.

Jeff

Haha alright…go to the Blogger site and log in if you have to. That should take you to your "Dashboard". You should see your name and picture, and a list of the blogs you run. Under each blog name, you should see a blue button that says "New Post". Click it, and you should be able to make a new post without making a new blog πŸ™‚

feeno

Thank you for the info. Now anytime I need to do that, I'll have to click over here and refresh my memory.

Just wanted to say hi. I'm leaving Sat. AM to go on a small vacation to the Mountains of North Carolina. I'll give you a full report when I get back.

See ya Homie, feeno

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