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The Economically Privileged and Over-Consuming Class

“Our daily lives in Western society are built on the exploitation and impoverishment of people around the world. The chains of structural evil that bind us into systemic exploitation of others and of the Earth are intricate and cleverly hidden. These forces include intricate webs of interrelated power arrangements, ideologies, values, practices, policies, and ways of perceiving reality that span generations and have unintended snowballing consequences.” So asserts Cynthia Moe-Lobeda in her 2013 book Resisting Sturctural Evil – Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation, published by Fortress Press.

Our ways of life and the economic policies that make them possible, contribute to severe, even deadly, poverty and ecological degradation on massive scales.

Law Professor Amy Sinden writes regarding climate change: “The haves of the world are responsible for the vast majority of the greenhouse gases that have already accumulated, and yet it is the have-nots who are likely to bear the brunt of its effects. . . this crisis divides us both in terms of culpability and vulnerability.”

“People of economic privilege live and breathe as players in a great “masquerade of evil.” Most of us do so unintentionally and unwittingly. As a whole, we do not fully recognize the vast wealth discrepancy, poverty, and ecological degradation that haunt our country and our world. United States society—the society most linked with controlling political-economic powers—generally promotes the excessive consumption and wealth accumulation enabled by prevailing economic arrangements as a good life. In general, we demonstrate effective allegiance to this way of life and the political-economic alignments that enable it.”

Cynthia Moe-Labeda is “not asking us to take on another cause—be it poverty, environmental degradation, economic exploitation, or other. Rather she is inviting us to perceive more fully:

  • the profound necessity of radical change in foundational aspects of the way “we” live,
  • the shape of that change and paths toward it, and
  • sacred power at work in the world to bring abundant life for all.”

So as part of the world’s economically privileged and over-consuming class she is calling us “to move beyond critique of neoliberal globalization to an ecumenical vision of life in just and loving relationships, through a search for alternatives to the present economic structure.” This is what the World Council of Churches proposes in its Alternative Globalization Addressing Peoples and Earth (AGAPE).