Sunday, 9 February 2014

Oppression, liberation, and judgement

I struggle with passages on the bible that speak of violent judgement by God. This can be against those seen as his people of in the case of Nahum against those who oppress others. Nahum seeks to liberate his people but in order for liberation to occur, the bonds of the oppressor need to be broken. This means that oppressor will feel judged and to some extent broken.

I can see that in a violent world where oppression is through force or violence that judgement may also appear as coming by force or violence. This is not absent from our world. Some would argue that Iraq and Afghanistan have been set free from oppressive regimes by invasions led by western armies. However, we have also seen forceful oppressors defeated by peaceful means or civil disobedience. In these cases the oppressors have fought back but been humiliated by the growing support for the push for freedom. I am thinking specifically of the civil rights movement or the downfall of apartheid in South Africa.

My focus isn't against obvious slavery but against a system of economic interaction and thought that enslaves to paid work. In this case the oppressors to some extent like the slave owners argue that the generation of wealth will be harmed by a change to the system and the setting free of the oppressed. So often our language is too timid and in order to highlight the system for what it is, we need to talk of oppression and slavery.

I see our political leaders increasingly as the oppressors. They argue for an educational system that seeks to enslave children to a system of work from an early age. Through the measurement that they put in place, they destroy freedom of thought, innovation, and critical thinking. The children need to learn to conform (be indoctrinated in the ways of the system) so that they will become the new slave workforce or the new oppressors who are blinkered to alternative solutions or ways of thinking.

The wealthy are seen as the saviours and shouldn't be oppressed even though they increasingly take from others their wealth and condemn the wage earners to poverty or slavery. To many, the wealthy should not be condemned and that all have the opportunity to be wealthy if they will work hard, that is be enslaved to work. However, the escape from the grind of hard labour only comes through being the owner of the idea or production. But even this doesn't work if you are just part of the supply chain.

How will this system be overthrown? What will be the impact of it being overthrown? Clearly the overthrow of capitalism could come through violence such as invasion or riot. The outcome of this type of overthrow tends to be oppression by the victor and destruction of the previous oppressors. This is the type of vision that Nahum speaks of.

The second type of overthrow is through peaceful disobedience. This still embodies judgement of the oppressors and the ultimate loss of their status and power. They may seek to fight back with force but increasingly it will crumble leaving them at the mercy of those seeking change.

Liberation will come and the oppressors will be laid low but I fear that we still have not learnt that true peace comes from cooperation and sharing of resources. As long as we seek to protect what we believe to be ours, we will continue to have oppression and a struggle for freedom. True freedom will come through caring for others and willing releasing some of our own wants and assets for the use of others. Our rights have to be tempered by our responsibilities to others. Our actions have consequences that we need to accept and consider carefully.

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