Editorial, The Review of Religions, November 1992
A boom financed by spending borrowed money and a centrally controlled interest rate policy in the major industrial economies of the West has left in its wake the serious social and economic consequences of a long-lasting recession. Its effects are going to be felt not only by the West but also by the the Third World and the emerging economies of the former East bloc countries. Is this the peace dividend resulting from the thawing of the cold war?
We have bred a society which holds itself unaccountable to any authority. It has become accustomed to greed, selfishness, crime, exploitation, discrimination and dominance. Far too may resources are wasted in keeping up with the Joneses. There is a constant thirst for lavish living and a hunger for rising living standards irrespective of whether it can be afforded or not. Suddenly investor and consumer confidence is at an all time low, bankruptcies and liquidations mount, home repossessions increase and unemployment soars to new heights. Unfortunately, the remedies being proposed by most governments are the very kinds of policies which sank us into this recession. We must, therefore, brace ourselves for some pretty nasty shocks.
It is not an objective of Review of Religions to advocate political choices in this period of readjustment. Nevertheless, there is at stake the social and economic well-being of mankind in general, and, since this has a bearing on the moral health of a society, we need to draw attention to some relevant facts.
The rift between the haves and the have-nots has caused a visible polarisation in the social fibre of many societies. We will need to take positive action to tackle unemployment to stave off the mischief idle hands and idle minds can get into. The richer section and middle classes will need to return to a simple lifestyle and show a willingness to help the less fortunate sections of our society. We must all understand that the prosperity of the all is promoted best through mutual sharing and co-operation than through the discrimination, exploitation and dominance of some by others. Both individually and collectively, we have to strive continuously to deepen our consciousness of the duties we owe to each other at the social, economic, moral, and spiritual levels. All executive, administration, legislative and judicial processes will have to be employed to safeguard and preserve the dignity of man, especially the weakest and poorest amongst us.
Politicians will have to be aware of their moral obligations in discharging the trust they owe to their electorates. To achieve a fairer society, they may need to sacrifice party politics or even national interests. Such a sacrifice may not yield an immediate direct dividend but its long term effects are bound to be felt all over the world and provide the much needed kick-start to sustained growth. Drastic situations sometimes require drastic measures but those measures do not necessarily lie in borrowing money, interfering with interest and exchange rates or being penny-wise and pound-foolish. If we fail to adopt the correct measures, we are in for a period of crimes and violence of the worst nature, broken family homes and a disgruntled and unhappy society on the brink of disaster.
But perhaps far more important and fundamental to the predicament of man today is the denial of a God. For years, we have employed man-made remedies to man-made problems. Should we not sometimes turn to the One Who made man and discover whether His ways contain some solution to our problems? Did God make such a wonderful universe and subjected everything to the service of man without any purpose? Is our transient life in this world the end and be all of everything?
Unless we rediscover God and help our fellow human beings, we will continue to grope our way through a blind alley. The weakest amongst us will continue to be shoved and pushed aside in this mad scramble. As for the strongest, this street leads nowhere. God sometimes allows man-made problems to take their natural course to test which of us is steadfast in our belief in Him – in sickness and in health, in abundance and in adversity, in recession and in boom. Will we only get down on our knees when we need Him most now and, overcome with materialism in boom, forget Him? Evil indeed is man’s forgetfulness.