Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Community Is Abundance

I must confess that I am very suspicious about the way the language of "abundance" gets thrown around these days, as if the point of human life were to have a lot of stuff or that material wealth is in any way correlated with divine blessing (it isn't).

Parker Palmer has helped me to reframe my understanding of "abundance."  In Let Your Life Speak he writes,
Authentic abundance does not lie in secured stockpiles of food or cash or influence or affection but in belonging to a community where we can give those goods to others who need them - and receive them from others when we are in need . . . abundance is a communal act, the joint creation of an incredibly complex ecology in which each part functions on behalf of the whole and, in return, is sustained by the whole.  Community doesn't just create abundance - community is abundance.  If we could learn that equation from the world of nature, the human world might be transformed. (p. 108)
There can be no abundance apart from community, from the shared endeavor of sustaining the common wealth for the common good.  This is the political dimension of the spiritual truth that we gain our life by giving ourselves away in love for the sake of others.  It has implications for everything from tax policy to public health to our response to global climate change.

Of course, the correlate to "abundance" is "enough."  It is our failure to recognize when we have enough, and thus our obligation to redistribute what we have for the sake of those who do not have enough, that is destroying community.  This isn't "class warfare."  It is the teaching and practice of Jesus.

1 comment:

laurend said...

what a beautiful quote! so true... thank you for sharing!