Money, money, must be funny, in a rich man's world
Andrew Bryant looks at our attitudes to wealth in the light of recent scandals, and concludes that we all may be part of the problem.
The Panama Papers have once again highlighted that this is a rich man's world. The rich are very good at keeping rich and with that comes power and influence - and their own set of rules.
Everyone seems to have the right to comment on what the poor spend their money on, what they eat and how they live their lives - the rich can do what they like. Those on benefits are portrayed as scroungers; the rich are our patrons to whom we must be grateful.
Despite the initial fuss over the Panama Papers it its still seen as better to be a tax dodger than a benefit cheat. We are supposed to be grateful for all the benefits the rich bring, even though by their tax avoidance they damage the income available to support the poorest.
Economic migrants who are poor and in need are to be kept out, those who are wealthy are welcomed as an asset despite their impact on housing prices and regardless of how they came by their wealth. The poor are seen as instinctively feckless whilst the rich are instinctively worthy - but it is seen as ungrateful to ask who the rich may have exploited to make their wealth.
Without doubt it is a rich man's world – and, yes, it is mainly men - but it is not very funny.
But before we start planning the revolution and building the barricades - what of our part, my part, in all of this. The rich are, of course, those who have more than us. I am not rich...or am I?
If right now you have money in your pocket, you belong to the world's richest 10%. The money in my purse (without even getting into the credit and bank cards) would be to the majority in the world riches more than they could dream of.
And we, the richest 10%, so often treat the poor of the world exactly as we complain the rich in our own society treat the poor. Our lifestyles increasingly rely on harnessing the economies of other nations to supply our needs. We are slow to engage with climate change as it means reigning in our lifestyle, and its worst effects impact countries largely out of sight of our travels.
And we dislike it when they come knocking on our door saying they want a share of what we have got - these are called economic migrants and are sent home.
We to readily point to a mythical "them" - the ungrateful poor or the unfeeling rich - but globally maybe, just maybe, we too are just as much part of the problem.
In the end finger-pointing rarely solves anything. Instead the conversation we need to have is about the type of society and the type of global community we want to have. This is surely what we mean when we speak of the Kingdom of God. At the heart of the Christian gospel is not a call to grow the Church but to build the Kingdom - a world where all know peace and justice and the riches of creation are used for the good of all.
And just maybe all this needs to begin with me accepting less so that others may have more?
The Revd Andrew Bryant is the Canon for Mission and Pastoral Care at Norwich Cathedral. He was previously Team Rector of Portishead, Bristol, in the Diocese of Bath and Wells, and has served in parishes in the Guildford and Lichfield Dioceses, as well as working for twelve years with Kaleidoscope Theatre, a charity promoting integration through theatre for young adults with Down’s Syndrome.
You can read Andrew's latest blog entry here and can follow him via his new Twitter account @AndyBry3.
The views carried here are those of the author, not of Network Norwich and Norfolk, and are intended to stimulate constructive debate between website users.