Wednesday, July 05, 2006

What Swords? What Plowshares?

I wonder about the ethics of "tools" of the system (whatever system that might be).

I remember watching the film The Corporation and hearing a person say that a corporation is neither moral or immoral, it is simply amoral, for it is simply a tool. I found that a slight bit jarring because a publically-traded company that has a listing on the New York Stock Exchange is required to continually increase profit, which for some reason just screams Greed! to me. But I am naive about this stuff and I know that.

Still, I have heard several things referred to as "tools" in these last several months...the free market, money, government, institutions, etc...and while I can go with that idea for a period of time, I begin to wonder if that word is not some sort of cop-out. You see, if something is merely a tool, then it's all in how you use it. The tool itself has no inherent good or bad or ethical or unethical or moral or immoral's all about who's using the tool. Kinda like how guns don't kill people, people kill people (hence my picture of Charlton Heston).

So I wonder what Jesus or the Prophets have to say about the use of tools...and I find this passage (that many are familiar with) about beating swords into plowshares (Isaiah 2:4, Joel 3:10, Micah 4:3). And I think long and hard about did someone else.

A sword was merely a tool, right?...and it was created with a purpose in mind...and some might say it's a good purpose and some might say it's bad and some might say it's about who wielded this sword. You see, the sword could be used to protect the innocent or it could be used to kill the innocent.

But the Prophets had an idea about taking a current tool and forging it into a tool that is fitting for the Day of the Lord (or the Kingdom of God or the World that God dreams of). The prophets didn't just say, "Well, it's a just focus on the heart of the person wielding it" They went beyond that.

So I wonder what are our swords? Is it the free market? Global capitalism? Money? Communication? Government? Corporations? Institutions?

And what would the plowshares look like?

Is anyone vibing with me here? I think this is something we really ought consider.


TP said...

I would tend to move for tools to be amoral. Since a tool –be it money or a pistol - has no inherent responsibility for how it’s used. Much like money is used as a sword or a plowshare numerous times throughout any given day (e.g. Warren Buffet’s gift to charity, or funds directed toward weapons for imperialistic usage) Shaping plowshares out of market forces (globalization, capitalism, corporate profits, etc...) can - I would argue, should - be the work of the faithful to subvert the system and promote a new ethic. How that works itself out into praxis becomes another issue. I think it requires knowledge of and power over the forces as a starting place.

bfine107 said...

This is a REALLY good thought Ryan. Your causing us to question the very frameworks and structures, and that is a very good thing.

I don't have any answers right now, but you've certainly provoked more questions.

Andrew Greenhalgh said...

Good thoughts, Ryan. I don't know what the answer is. All is know is that you're on the right track here and I'm in the same corner. We've got to figure out how to subvert the system and recreate the reigning tools into something that fits more along the lines of the proverbial plowshare. Keep running with this thought...

celticfire said...

The Corporation was a great movie.

I just finished an interview with Roxanne-Dunbar-Ortiz.

A veteran activist and scholar, the author of Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, Outlaw Woman: A Memoir of the War Years, 1960-1975, and Red Dirt: Growing up Okie. She has played important roles in a number of movements and struggles around the world, including the women's liberation movement, the American Indian Movement (AIM), and has fought for self-determination among various people's around the world.

Her writings have appeared in numerous human rights, international law, and history journals as well as such publications Monthly Review, and on the CounterPunch website.

Check it out:

Pamela said...

did you see those awards for "people who make america great"? there were two girls who definitely reshaped the tool of global capitalism, if feelin' your flow correctly...

it's the first two, Benita Singh and Ruth Degolia. Positive Global Capitalism...