Years ago, in England, in the late 1980s, a priest told me that Margaret Thatcher had "institutionalized greed". She was not the only one, and in fact, the same type of "collective selfishness" burst out of psychobabble into the mainstream politics of America and Europe.
The Pope is a good examiner of corporate sin and the reality that a sense of responsibility for the common good has all but vanished.
We are experiencing a serious shortage of doctors, nurses, teachers, and all service oriented types of jobs. Volunteerism has all but disappeared (remember my old article on Bowling Alone?)
The Pope is correct is both assessments; that the problems of narcissistic consumerism is dire, but that human beings can rise above this.....but only, in and with Christ, through His Church.
204. The current global situation engenders a feeling of instability and uncertainty, which in turn becomes “a seedbed for collective selfishness”. When people become self-centred and self-enclosed, their greed increases. The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own and consume. It becomes almost impossible to accept the limits imposed by reality. In this horizon, a genuine sense of the common good also disappears. As these attitudes become more widespread, social norms are respected only to the extent that they do not clash with personal needs. So our concern cannot be limited merely to the threat of extreme weather events, but must also extend to the catastrophic consequences of social unrest. Obsession with a consumerist lifestyle, above all when few people are capable of maintaining it, can only lead to violence and mutual destruction.
205. Yet all is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start, despite their mental and social conditioning. We are able to take an honest look at ourselves, to acknowledge our deep dissatisfaction, and to embark on new paths to authentic freedom. No system can completely suppress our openness to what is good, true and beautiful, or our God-given ability to respond to his grace at work deep in our hearts. I appeal to everyone throughout the world not to forget this dignity which is ours. No one has the right to take it from us.
Ah, the beginning of self-knowledge and knowledge of others leads to knowledge of God.
Again, the Pope quotes the Pope Emeritus' encyclical Caritas in Veritate, which I examined on this blog almost two years ago. Follow the tags.