Friday, January 20, 2012

The Gift

by Michael Magoski

Jesse, in a somewhat related post you wrote, "In a capitalist society like America, however, this goes against the prevailing mindset. In a capitalist society, the primary goal of any citizen must be to make money." I'd like to refer you to Lewis Hyde's "The Gift". For me what really identifies capitalism is the following: wealth is determined by taking 'things' out of circulation ... you buy a piece of land, a house, even a piece of art - you do not share this; rather, you keep it for yourself. One of the fundamental problems with this type of economic system is that it 'teaches' selfishness and greediness. Obviously the goal then is to acquire more without an end ever really in sight.

A funny and true story, when our colonists first came over, the governor of one of the colonies was given a peace pipe as a gift by the local Indian chief. Unfortunately, the Indians didn't think that they needed to explain what the true nature of a gift is (the gift is not kept forever, rather it is housed for a while and honored, and then passed on - it is kept in circulation) After a period of time had passed, in which the peace pipe was obviously not 'passed on', the Indian chief went to the colonial governor and made an inquiry. The governor replied, "I sent your gift to the King of England."

"That is far away", said the Indian chief, "when will we get it back?"

The Governor, puzzled, said, "Never. It was a gift."

To which the Indian chief, now puzzled, said, "Yes, it was a gift, you keep it for a while, you honor it and share it with your people, and then you gift it to the next tribe. This helps to keep peace in the valley."

The governor had only two words in reply, two words that really sum up the capitalist thinking, "Indian Giver."

So long as the very core ideals of Jesus Christ himself are ignored by capitalist and Christian alike (we can include socialists and communists here to) the problems our society faces will never go away but only fester until the blood shed comes to our front doors. Jesus preached the act of being selfless (among other things). Why are we not able to get the hang of this? Why are politicians, Christians, capitalists and all the other stereotypes fully able to articulate the meaning and purpose of this act (selflessness) but completely unable to integrate the act into their public policy and daily life?

On another note, I fully understand that some form of housing will end up across the street from us (the Magoski Arts Colony) on Santa Fe, but I encourage all people, while the view is clear across both sides of the tracks, to stop and look. We, Fullerton, are a divided city. Those railroad tracks and the buildings that line them are in fact our Berlin Wall. We, Christians and capitalists alike, have done an amazing job of building ourselves a walled city with the serf peasant villages on its exterior. We do not want to acknowledge this, but just look. And when the opportunity to do something to bridge these elements arrives, we not only do nothing, we don't even think we have any choice but to build more apartments (and apartments that will serve no one's interests but the developer and those in their pocketbook).

I would really like ask our Christians, "When are you going to actually act like Jesus Christ is your hero and savior?" And I would like to ask our Capitalists, "When have you made enough money? When is it that you don't need more land?" And I would like to ask our people, "Why do we prefer building walls to bridges?"

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