One billionaire, every two days. Where are the others?

Light of truth

Fr Justine Kaipranpadan

‘If you want to make a thing real, make it local,’ said G.K. Chesterton.

Last year, one billionaire was created every two days. This is the biggest increase in the number of billionaires in history. Where are others? Let us look on inequality and on its relation to spirituality. Culture is what we humans grow or create. It is the result of human intervention, and is distinguished from nature which is given, and grows and develops independently of our minds, wills and hands. The rich used to identify culture with their own way of eating, dressing, behaving or misbehaving.

Cultures entail spirituality, in the sense that they are people’s responses to the reality of human needs, possibilities, historical situations and events as well as to their implications and promises. As these evolve and unfold, new openness and responses are called for from the human side. And that means spirituality too keeps growing and putting forth new buds and blossoms.

Samuel Rayan, famous Indian theologian noted new meanings in spirituality and culture and he pointed the new culture and incarnation in suffering. Along with resistance and struggle there is much suffering in the world. People have their own ways of coping with suffering, their own culture of the cross. The passion of humankind is the passion of Christ who is solidary with the hungry and the homeless, and weeps with those that weep. There is God hidden in human suffering, and our suffering is hidden in the wounds of Christ.

In India the income inequality is widening each day. Last year’s survey had showed that India’s richest 1% held 58% of the country’s total wealth. India’s top 1% of the population now holds 73% of the wealth while 67 crore citizens, comprising the country’s poorest half, saw their wealth rise by just 1%. The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system. Those working hard, growing food for the country, building infrastructure, working in factories are struggling to fund their child’s education, buy medicines for family members and manage two meals a day. The growing divide undermines democracy and promotes corruption and cronyism. We need a culture involving a spirituality which rejects individualism and greed, patent laws and market principles; and affirms the social character of wealth and of all human achievement. It should upheld the principle of equality.

Where is God in the midst of this inequality? That truth seems to be God’s silence. And yet God is not silent. He bids us loud and clear to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and take care of the widow and the orphan. silence of the God means that God cannot be the object of speech or thought. To make God an object is to reduce God to creature-hood. Silence is related not only to the unspeakable reality of God, but to the inexplicable reality of the universe as well. This perspective is shared by all mystical thought. Recall William Blake’s famous lines:

‘To see a world in a grain of sand,
and a heaven in a wild flower,
To hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
and eternity in an hour.’
Let us meditate on a spirituality of equality. Our God is not silent everywhere.

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