The Face of Changing Times

Following up on the “Working to 2025” series, a number of articles have been written that discuss upcoming challenges. This is a digest of a few of them.

Some of my Catholic friends have recently shared articles about the Pope, including an article from Salon. Here, Katie Mcdonough reports that Pope Francis calls capitalism “a new tyranny” in a recently published official church document called the apostolic exhortation. I think the message is important, so let me highlight four separate excerpts from the section called “Some Challenges of Today’s World.”

This epochal change has been set in motion by the enormous qualitative, quantitative, rapid and cumulative advances occurring in the sciences and in technology, and by their instant application in different areas of nature and of life.

Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “throw away” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born…

Others are also sharing articles about impending change. Doug Sosnik writes in POLITICO Magazine and asks, “Which Side of the Barricade Are You On?” He anticipates a rising populist movement, which I highlight with this excerpt:

This all suggests that the period of turmoil and dissatisfaction that we have been experiencing for the past 10 years could well continue through the end of this decade. However, underneath this turmoil you can see the shape of an emerging populist movement that will, in time, either move the politicians to action or throw them out of office. The country is moving toward new types of leaders, those who will be problem-solvers and build institutions that are capable of making a difference in people’s lives.

Finally, Linda Tirado, who is a night cook (and now writes the blog Killer Martinis), put a face on poverty when she wrote the article, “This Is Why Poor People’s Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense.” Here’s an excerpt:

I am not asking for sympathy. I am just trying to explain, on a human level, how it is that people make what look from the outside like awful decisions. This is what our lives are like, and here are our defense mechanisms, and here is why we think differently. It’s certainly self-defeating, but it’s safer. That’s all. I hope it helps make sense of it.

The article went viral, and was met with criticism from some, to which the author responded in the article, “Meet the Woman Who Accidentally Explained Poverty to the Nation.” She is intelligent and articulate, and I think her writing puts a human face on the situation we have in our country today.

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One thought on “The Face of Changing Times

  1. Pingback: Reflecting on the First Year of this Blog | Commentary by Allan

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