It is Christmas time, a time of year that we think about giving unselfishly to others, about being compassionate, and about giving Christmas presents to one another without thought of return—the “Spirit of Giving”. Could it be that this spirit of giving reflects a deeper need in us to give freely, a need which is—during the rest of the year–daily thwarted by our need to make money and participate in our capitalistic, self-aggrandizing economic system? And if this is true, then why do we not consider changing our economic system to one based on morality and the spirit of giving?
The Pope recently spoke about the reasons humanity ought to rethink how we get our needs met, suggesting that the capitalistic economic system is a human-made, not God- or Mother-Nature-made system. He suggested that we are leaving our natural love of others and natural desire to save our natural world behind in our desire to make money. As a system that was created by humans eons ago, it is a system that we can now perhaps recognize is outgrown. It is a system which we can tear down and replace, just we have replaced the system of monarchy in Europe by a better human-made system of democracy. We have the power.
In his recent speech, the Pope suggested that humanity put the solutions to the problems caused by poverty and environmental degradation above capitalistic endeavors– to put morality above monetary gain. In the case of our society, only about 1% of Americans are actually gaining monetarily (to a tune of a 30% increase over the past year, compared to about .05% for the other 99%). Too many others are losing their jobs or homes and slipping into poverty.
The abuses of capitalism become glaringly apparent in situations when human rights are violated on a massive scale, such as in wars for oil, large-scale starvation or the current housing crisis in the United States. In the current crisis, we are finding that millions of families are losing their homes while millions of homes are being left vacant. And this traumatic situation is based on recent banking practices such as massive lending and securities fraud which were not only immoral, but also illegal. Yet, we have seen obvious government corruption as these bankers have not been prosecuted for their crimes, but have instead been able to “settle” for approximately $800 billion. In the meantime, they have made 1000 times that ($16 trillion) in profits, and are corrupting our judicial system in Florida by pushing through illegal foreclosures.
As a single mom facing illegal bank foreclosure, I can attest to the fact that fearing being foreclosed upon at Christmastime is horrendous. This holiday season, let us all remember those who are losing their homes—homes that they have often more than paid for. I can suggest that one simple thing everyone can do to support people who are losing their homes is to join the housing justice movement. Join Occupy Our Homes (occupyourhomes.org), Occupy Our Homes Manasota, or other housing justice groups forming locally, statewide and nationally to fight back against morally-corrupt bank takeovers of innocent people’s homes–and of our communities.