Saturday, November 29, 2014
"Where Your Treasure Is, There Your Heart Will Be Also"
I would like to offer what I take to be part of the answer to this question of why we tend towards privacy. It lies within the simple definition of capitalism.
"an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, especially as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth."
I would like to highlight "chiefly by private individuals or corporations..."
Before I finalize that as my answer to the question at hand, however, I would like to point out a few things:
1. I'm not advocating socialism or communism. I am just trying to point out the forces at work in our lives.
2. What my friend said in Starbucks the other night in response to this question of why we tend toward privacy the way we do was, basically, sin. But also, if I remember right, stress and fatigue.
3. So, I would like to point out, sin was around before capitalism. But our privacy was not.
4. Marginal side note. Capitalism factors into our stress and fatigue. Other countries in Europe and Africa I have traveled to that aren't so capitalist driven don't experience this, at least not in the same way or to the same degree. But, on the other side of this point, the Jews sure did experience this stress while slaves in Egypt. So, maybe the stress part of my friend's answer just wears different masks. But, regardless, capitalism, generally speaking, has something to do with that stress, to which my friend was referring, which helps shape our tendency towards privacy.
So, all in all, then, considering the definition of capitalism, I think Jesus gave us at least a partial answer to the question of why we tend towards privacy....
"Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." I repeat: "...investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations..."
In addition, capitalism sets each private entity in competition with the next. Isolation is, then, all the more inevitable.
In closing, this is, in my mind, only a partial answer to the question. But it is a main part of the answer that relates to an ongoing conversation about where our hope lies and how that effects our mission....a topic which arose the other night when my friend mentioned the hopelessness of our socio-political systems - in the context of a conversation about racism. Marshall McLuhan discusses the question of privacy in a lot of detail around the topic of the printing press (1350 A.D., long before capitalism came on the scene). My point here in this paragraph is that, I think, there are other interwoven forces at work besides capitalism alone in shaping our tendency towards privacy. Capitalism, however, seems to offer a good beginning to an answer.
Disclaimer: I am far from the first person to point this out. The most recent person who got me thinking about it was David Fitch.
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