This morning I shared on Facebook a link to a new Avaaz petition. It is for pressurizing the big companies that benefit financially from arms trading, to stop arming Israel, and thereby begin to calm down the bloody situation in Gaza.
My Facebook post hadn’t long been up when a friend commented: “Sadly, the arms dealers (namely the USA, UK and Saudi Arabia) have too much to gain in lucrative contracts to end the violence.”
I had to acknowledge in my heart – yes, friend; I think you’re right.
Here in England we profit considerably from arms trading. It seems to me that governments everywhere are now in the pocket of corporations, and the political process has corrupted into a commercial activity.
How to respond? How to live responsibly in such a global human network – everything stitched up into a consumer process that will in the end eat itself.
There’s a limit to what any individual has the reach and might to achieve, but I do think there’s something to consider about the way of littleness.
This coming Sunday the reading at Mass is to be Jesus’s parable of the mustard seed – about the seed so small out of which grows a plant so big that the birds can come and find shelter in its branches. The Kingdom of Heaven, he said, is like this.
There is, I suspect, scant mileage for most of us – even when we band together – in attempting to confront and halt the machineries of big business. I think our best chance of change, miracles, hope, lies in humming a different tune.
It’s no good arguing with big business and governments, ordering them to cease supporting the arms trade; they won’t listen. Even if they appear to, they will lie and hide and find wily ways around. The slime mould of Mammon has overtaken them.
I think our best hope is in finding our way out of the paths of Mammon and into the ways of Sacred Economy – gift economy, holy poverty, voluntary simplicity. The less money changes hands, the less there is to divert into arms trading. The less we earn, the less tax we pay, the less can be syphoned off to finance war. The more simply we live and the less we own, the less money we need to earn so the less tax we will pay.
We won’t suffer by doing this: we’ll be enriched, discover greater freedom, deeper peace, stronger connections with each other and with nature. The smaller we become, the more birds we will be able to shelter in our branches.
The Quaker Testimonies – Truth, Peace, Equality and Simplicity – are all connected. But my perception is that every time Simplicity is the threshold, the door, the way in.
I think it’s worth a try. Affluence grows the seeds of war and simplicity the seeds of peace. We can try to duck under what we cannot overcome.