A Note re “Systemic Evil”

First off, the disclaimer: “Capitalism, as an economic system, is not intrinsically evil as such.” [How I hate having to say that!]

Now, the disdisclaimer: “Capitalism, Socialism, or any blend or variant thereof, becomes intrinsically evil the moment it becomes an object of worship. Thou shalt hold no economic and/or political system above the Lord thy God.”

There is no question but that capitalism (of the worst sort) has become the major object of worship for some large but  undeterminable number of us; and that this worship has become a curse upon us and on everything we can get our grubby mitts on. [Even the best form of socialism imaginable would fare as badly!]

Worship? What that mean?

What do you hold “worthy”, important, essential in the “real” world (whichever that may seem to be)? Is it, truly,  God or Mammon? Not necessarily even very much mammon, but enough? I’m not saying this shouldn’t be a concern; we’re told to pray for our ongoing needs — but do you truly feel that God, and obedience/collaboration with God produces your needs through the system? Or are you a slave of the system who happens to pray, when its demands permit?

So then, it probably isn’t only those other people who fall into this trap. I’m not saying that such feelings are due cause for self-hatred, merely that we probably aren’t entitled to sneer at anyone for falling into this condition.

This is what ‘Systemic Evil’ looks like.

Some people feel that evil suits them just fine. Most of us don’t. What happens, in a system that rewards misconduct and discourages uncompromising integrity — is that such a system will gently ease out the good and welcome the evil in. “Evil” people aren’t needed to keep it operating on the dark side of the line.

People being as we are, some people will happily don “I’m proud to be a Minion!” t-shirts as they trudge off to jobs at Minions of Evil Inc., but most of us would rather identify with something, uh, nicer. People may know, vaguely, that the Sweetness & Light Company is actually a subsidiary of Minions Inc., but still prefer thinking of themselves as striving to be kinder, gentler minions, working to make Minions a force for good in the world — despite those sometimes-unfortunate things that must be done.

People volunteer for, donate to, organizations that promise to do good. They work for, pay for, organizations that in fact cause considerable harm.

Personal malice, benevolence, responsibility or negligence matter a great deal — to the particular people who embody these qualities. Their effect on outcomes is negligible.

A bad system (any system, once it takes precedence over that living image that makes us human in the true sense — which contains all virtues because it is God alive inside us) corrupts and misuses even good intentions. Replacing or reforming the participants achieves only temporary improvement. (The same can be said of eating, which people continue to find a worthwhile activity. But it’s well to keep limitations in mind.) Overthrowing the system, replacing it with a shiny new idol, can likewise make things better for a little while.

My wife Anne said once: “One way you can truly come to hate a person — is to expect something from him that only God can provide.” The same might well be said of human institutional arrangements.

And what does turning to God entail? Something so simple it’s taking us thousands of years to let go of all the complicated things people do instead. Even in trying to think of how to say this — Do I trust my own skills and intellect? I do, and nothing happens.

When I trust God to provide me truth and the words to say it in, then it comes.


3 responses to “A Note re “Systemic Evil”

  1. Thank you! This is inspiring me in something I, myself, have to write that I was struggling with: all variations on being willing to turn uncompromisingly toward that Light (God). Maybe your note will give enough umph to help me on this path.

  2. Nice post. Seems to me that you can go back as far as you like and the problem has always been the same. It’s not the planet, or whats on it, or the systems we create. It seems to be something inside us that causes things to go the way they do. I think it’s the ego, that is so “self” oriented, which puts it’s spin on everything it touches. And of course, when the ego devises economic systems based on competition, instead of cooperation,…well you end up with what we have, a system of musical chairs where there is always a few chair short.

    sysystems we create

    • “Ego” is a three-letter word! (I had a friend who saw his ego once, hated it, tried to get rid of it! And became insufferable!)

      An ego is part of God’s good creation — only people needn’t take it so seriously all the time! I could get ego-points by trying to love my neighbor more than I love myself, but that’s not the assignment. I’m supposed to love your ego, even love my ego — but warn you if your ego is eating the carpet, keep my own ego from biting anyone!

      We don’t need to “figure it all out”. We can try, for the sheer pleasure of the effort — but for deciding what to actually do, best to “Let God steer!”

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