The missing Oceangate Submersible Titan opens the door for people who love to wish evil on other people. The fact that the people involved are taking part in a vanity project almost justifies it. Vanity is no excuse even though the hubris of billionaires is annoying to the rest of us. There is an urge within most of us to tell others, “I told you so.” Despite reports that the Titan was unsafe, the five people on board went anyway. I hope they live to learn from the experience. But many others want them to die. It is an attitude a Christian may not have.
Envy and Vanity
Vanity is pride in nothing. Envy is coveting what the vain have. It does not make sense. Many of the superrich people on this planet realize being wealthy is not enough. They have a drive to see themselves as something other than people who make money. We see some who want to be called explorers, visionaries, and even Presidents of super powers. So now the resources of many governments are being put into rescue operations.
It is hard not to laugh at the irony of people who historically despise government regulation and interventions to now need them if they are going to survive. But I was appalled when haters did the same when WNBA player Brittney Griner, who knelt during the national anthem, needed the help of the US government. Apparently, her critics are still engaging in similar attitudes.
Justice or Envy
One reason I despise “Love the sinner, hate the sin” comments is that I have am not good at separating the two. It is difficult to tell some times if I am truly outraged over injustice or simply giving in to envy. The way to judge this may be if I enjoy the idea of another person’s fall from power. But that does not quite do it.
I find it interesting that social and other forms of media for consumption are the only means by which I know the very powerful, very rich, and celebrated people. I know none of them personally. Honestly, I am glad I do not. However, should not the fact I do not know them keep me from responding as though I did? If I was somehow victimized by them I could claim justification. Would it be worse if they acted out of personal malice or covered by the ignorance our social structures provide.
I hope I never find myself celebrating the death of another human being. If I do I hope it is only out of a sense of justice. Let it never be from the standpoint of envy.
The billionaire class is despised for many reasons. Money equals power. Power is always a corrupting influence which is why it is often violent. There is something wrong with the desire to gather more money and with it the ability to manipulate the lives of other people. The greatest wrong is done because of the temptation such people provide. Politicians wishing to do good continue to be corrupted by asking for large donations. Political parties compromise their candidates for the sake of dark money.
Churches and (let’s be real) pastors want influence and the trappings of success. In the United States, churches are not far from seeking patronage with the wealthy because the people we want to serve cannot support the ministry infrastructure we apparently need.
The vanity of such people needs to be stoked by everyone else to get what they wish. After all, did the High Priest tell Herod it was wrong for him to have his brother’s wife? No, they were the words of a man who had nothing material to lose. One reason we despise the superrich is because they represent to us our own greed.
Wishing People Evil
I want to see people get their comeuppance. Minnie’s chocolate pie in The Help is the best example I know of taking the petty powerful down a peg. But we should remember that seeing justice done is different than enjoying the downfall of another person. The five people who morbidly wanted to visit the watery grave of their spiritual forebears may die there with them. It won’t be justice. It will be effect of stupidity – the rich person’s equivalent of “Hey bubba, watch this.”
Neither Minnie’s pie nor the suffocation of five people in a football under the waves will get unjust structures torn down and rebuilt. Restructuring society requires both grace and grit. Having billionaires die as a momentary blood sport to satisfy the masses will not do anything like that.