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(Read this series from its beginning here.)
What does this mean for us today? A lot.
The contradictions of our present economic system are being exposed more every passing day. The exploitations built into our present system are straining in this pandemic. A system with such a long history of placing profit above people and planet cannot easily pivot now to prioritizing people, especially not the most vulnerable people in our society.
Our food distribution chain is breaking down.
People have lost their income.
They can’t afford to feed their families.
Those who were barely surviving already now can’t pay their rent and/or mortgages.
The solution here in the U.S. so far has been to plunge those in need further into debt. Bailouts for people in the U.S. are very different than those other countries are offering to their citizens. States’ are also quickly running out of money.
The immigrant population here is especially vulnerable during all of this, and our present food chain depends on them.
The for-profit-health system is also at a breaking point, and healthcare professionals now have to place their own lives at risk.
Nonprofits that typically provide charity are also feeling the strain as they operate at significantly lower income levels than they usually do.
It’s time to dream of and work toward a system the places people over profit. Imagine the world we could create if Jesus followers insisted on following Jesus’ clear call to distributive justice.
In Luke’s gospel, the fig tree continued to grow but did not produce any life-giving fruit.
Growth for growth’s sake in capitalist economics is called profit. It’s good for business. But on a cellular level in biology, it’s called cancer.
It’s not good for creatures or for the planet. And it’s not good for those at the bottom and edges of our present economic system. It was once named a recipe for potential disaster, and today it’s proving to be just that.
In our passage, the fig tree won’t be allowed to continue to grow exponentially or indefinitely without providing fruit for the sustenance and life of those around it.
What can this say to us right now during this crisis about our own systems?
Our present system is not working. It’s not simply not working and for those our present system deems “the least of these,” it’s doing immeasurable harm.
I want to believe that another world is possible.
If it is, we will have to choose it.