Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium discusses “No to the inequality which spawns violence.” It’s a message that needs preaching. There is no escape from sin and violence inside gated compounds. For decades (at least) people have been willing to blame all sorts of people not themselves for unrest. (If only the poor were more like the rich …) There is a biblical principle to consider, for anyone who feels called to the leadership caste in society.
59. Today in many places we hear a call for greater security. But until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples is reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence. The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence, yet without equal opportunities the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode.
Is this an accurate assessment of human nature? It would seem so.
When a society – whether local, national or global – is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programs or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility. This is not the case simply because inequality provokes a violent reaction from those excluded from the system, but because the socioeconomic system is unjust at its root. Just as goodness tends to spread, the toleration of evil, which is injustice, tends to expand its baneful influence and quietly to undermine any political and social system, no matter how solid it may appear.
A lot of bile has been expended on the godlessness of things like Communism, the media, the entertainment culture. No matter how solid our economic underpinnings appear, there may well be that quiet influence subverting the best intentions of trickle-down advocates.
If every action has its consequences, an evil embedded in the structures of a society has a constant potential for disintegration and death. It is evil crystallized in unjust social structures, which cannot be the basis of hope for a better future. We are far from the so-called “end of history”, since the conditions for a sustainable and peaceful development have not yet been adequately articulated and realized.
I wonder how many millennialists are alarmed at the assessment that the end times are a long way off. I would suggest a very, very long way off. It is up to the present to provide for the near-future as best we can, within the limits of our own mortality and in cooperation with the grace of God. There is no supernatural rescue. Those who insist there is may well have to contend with a different set of eschatological questions.