21 June 2017

Don't drain the swamp. Clean out the barn.

In the Gospel of Mark (Mark 5:1-20), Jesus goes across the lake to the "country of the Gerasenes", that is to say, the territory of the city-state of Gerasa. There, a man "possessed by a demon" comes from the caves to meet him. People had tried to tie him down but he was too strong to be tied, even with chains for he would always break out of them. Day and night among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. Jesus approached him and called the demon to come out of the man, who replied "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you in the name of God never to torment me!" Jesus asked the demon for his name and is told "My name is Legion, for we are many." The demons begged Jesus not to send them away, but instead they asked Him to send them into the pigs on a nearby hillside, which he did. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. The possessed man was restored to sanity.

Now, the men tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and and the people went out to see what had happened. No doubt these people were not Jews because Jews under the Mosaic law do not eat pork and so these pigs were being raised for other people, perhaps for sale to the Roman soldiers or for export to other places. In any case, When the Savior released the young man from the evil spirits and permitted them to enter into the pigs and the pigs all died by drowning, the local people ordered Our Lord to go away. He was bad for business. The spirit of capitalism made them feel that rescuing a poor soul from the demons, was not worth the loss of their precious pigs.

Why is it that pigs and capitalism are so related? We talk about "bringing home the bacon" as if it were money. Mothers tell their children, "Don't be greedy like a pig." On Wall Street they say "pigs get fat but hogs get slaughtered." In George Orwell's novel "Animal Farm" the pigs were the smartest animals and they ended up representing all of the other farm animals against the farmers. When the animals peeked into the window of the farmhouse where the negotiations were proceeding, they looked around the table and had difficulty discerning which were the men and which were the pigs.

Our television screen is our modern equivalent of the window to the negotiating table and we still have trouble differentiating the men from the pigs. I think instead of draining the swamp we need to clean out the barn.


Dwilson540 said...

I might argue that no one at that time had a concept of Capitalism. And I might argue that Capitalism has done more to lift people out of poverty and relieve suffering that much of anything else during human history.

Bob Mrotek said...

Dale, you won't get an argument from me. Like the King sings in the Musical, "The King and I," by Rodgers and Hammerstein, "It is a puzzlement" and like Jean Jacques Rousseau said, "You cannot avoid paradox if you think for yourself and it is better to fall into paradox than into prejudice (or as the Persian Poet Rumi said, "Don't fall into the well of dogma"). Michelle Montaigne would add, Epekho... je soutiens - "I reserve judgment (I hold back, I abjure). For example, my grandfather was a cigar maker at a time when the cigar was king. The grandfather of the lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, was Oscar Hammerstein I, and he was also a cigar maker at the same time as my grandfather. My grandfather opened a shop that made cigars by hand but Oscar invented the cigar making machine and put my grandfather and his employees out of business. That's capitalism. However, I don't have any problem with it. I just don't smoke cigars.

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I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. I have been living in Mexico since January 6th, 1999. I am continually studying to improve my knowledge of the Spanish language and Mexican history and culture. I am also a student of Mandarin Chinese.