Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sufficient, Sustainable livelihood for all .....

We live in a world that is struggling. Poverty is up there as the #1 issue. Here is another post and ciew and document on the struggle that we find ourselves in ....

Our obligation and ongoing tensions

Based on this vantage point of faith, "sufficient, sustainable livelihood for all" is a benchmark for affirming, opposing, and seeking changes in economic life. Because of sin we fall short of these obligations in this world, but we live in light of God's promised future that ultimately there will be no hunger and injustice. This promise makes us restless with less than what God intends for the world. In economic matters, this draws attention to:

the scope of God's concern -- "for all,"
the means by which life is sustained -- "livelihood,"
what is needed -- "sufficiency," and
a long-term perspective -- "sustainability."

These criteria often are in tension with one another. What benefits people in one area, sector, or country may harm those elsewhere. What is sufficient in one context is not in another. What is economically sufficient is not necessarily sustainable.

There are difficult and complex trade-offs and ambiguities in the dynamic processes of economic life. As believers, we are both impelled by God's promises and confronted with the practical realities of economic life. We often must choose among competing claims, conscious of our incomplete knowledge, of the sin that clouds all human judgments and actions, and of the grace and forgiveness given by Christ.

Economic assumptions can conflict with what we as a church confess. Who we are in Christ places us in tension with priorities given to money, consumption, competition, and profit in our economic system.

While autonomy and self-sufficiency are highly valued in our society, as people of faith we confess that we depend on God and are interdependent with one another. Through these relationships we are nurtured, sustained, and held accountable.

While succeeding or making something of themselves is what matters to many in economic life, we confess that in Christ we are freely justified by grace through faith rather than by what we do.

While a market economy emphasizes what individuals want and are willing and able to buy, as people of faith we realize that what human beings want is not necessarily what they need for the sake of life.

While a market economy assumes people will act to maximize their own interests, we acknowledge that what is in our interest must be placed in the context of what is good for the neighbor.

While competitiveness is key to economic success, we recognize that intense competitiveness can destroy relationships and work against the reconciliation and cooperation God desires among people.

While economic reasoning assumes that resources are scarce relative to people's wants, we affirm that God promises a world where there is enough for everyone, if only we would learn how to use and share what God has given for the sake of all.

While economic growth often is considered an unconditional good, we insist that such growth must be evaluated by its direct, indirect, short-term, and long-term effects on the well-being of all creation and people, especially those who are poor.

When we pray in the Lord's Prayer, "Give us this day our daily bread," we place ourselves in tension with economic assumptions of our society. Rather than being self-sufficient, we need and depend on what God gives or provides through people, practices, and systems. "Daily bread" is not earned by efforts of individuals alone, but is made possible through a variety of relationships and institutions. God gives in ways that expand our notions of who "us" includes, from people close at hand to those around the globe. In stark contrast to those who seek unchecked accumulation and profit, our attention is drawn to those who are desperate for what will sustain their lives for just this day.


Can we provide enough so that everyone can have sufficient livelihood ?

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