2014 begins with freezing temperatures across the USA, destabilizing governments in the Middle East, mixed economic news, a gridlocked federal government, and the normal hostility of elites toward any semblance of morality and common sense. In other words, just another day in our beautiful and broken world.
Globally and nationally the cry of the populace is simple, “We need jobs!” The desire for meaningful, sustainable work is woven in to the fabric of Creation and found in every person of conscience. In spite of stock market gains and an explosion of billionaires, most of the nation and world are not feeling hopeful. this concerns offset somewhat as we discover that abject poverty is declining at a rapid rate and millions of new enterprises are beginning every day.
The polarized political rhetoric and the simplistic thinking of the chattering classes Left and Right is not helpful in making this next year better. It is not enough to say, “more government ‘investment’ [read here more jobs for bureaucrats]!” or “the magic of the market” [forgetting that the rule of law, access to markets and personal virtue and property rights are necessary conditions for flourishing].”
As politicians maneuver for reelection, I propose a more radical approach to our future. No, it is not a bumper-sticker or a million-person march or even an Internet petition. Let’s start a revolution of humility and service through our everyday activity. Let’s “flip the switch” in our hearts and minds and recast our work – whether paid or unpaid, public or private – as humble service to God and for the common good.
I am not suggesting an idealistic vision that avoids the drudgery and sweat of daily labor. What I am saying is that all moral and meaningful work at its core is service and when we think this way, there is more energy and wisdom that when we just do it for the paycheck. We should agitate for safe conditions and access to markets. We must uphold personal virtue and the rule of law against amorality and anarchy. We can resist the tyranny of encroaching government by exceeding standards of conduct and creation-care.
Every company is serving the common good when they supply good jobs. Every clerk makes a difference in serving customers that contribute their resources to the economy. Volunteers sustain our communities as they offer care and services that help people thrive, from coaches to rest homes visitation.
For people of faith, daily work is worship, as all domains are viewed as doxological offerings to the Lord. For people of all faiths or none, an ethos of humility and service dignifies and empowers each person and helps erode the class divisions that arrogant elites and envious masses resent so much.
Let’s transform today from the inside out. Let’s offer each person we meet love and respect. Let’s give our bosses and full day’s work and our employees the resources they need for flourishing. Together we can transcend the pundits’ polemics and make our world better one decision at a time.