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Life Under Capitalism
December 01, 2011
This “occupy” movement has made headlines all over the world—far more headlines than it deserves based on the actual number of people participating. A little while ago I came across an interesting little video, a piece of street theater generated by some of the participants of Occupy Wall Street. They call it simply, “Life Under Capitalism.” Here it is:
Did you get that? From cradle to grave, from morning to night, capitalism demands that we work. Of course we all know that life under socialism (which is what many of the occupiers are advocating) is a life of luxury and ease, right? Neverminding the obvious, it struck me that what is depicted here is not so much life under capitalism, but life in this cursed and sin-stained world. Whether you live under capitalism or socialism or under the most rudimentary economy of hunting-gathering, the reality is much the same: you work and then you die. And it all goes back to man’s fall into sin.
After Adam sinned, God pronounced his judgment on him. Here is what he said:
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”
Adam and his descendents would no longer live in a world that was friendly to them; rather, the world would now be hostile. Fulfilling God’s mandate of tending the earth and caring for it would now require backbreaking labor. Only by the sweat of his face would man eat. He would battle against the ground every day of his life and then, at the end of it all, the ground would swallow him up in death. The end. It was a cursed and hopeless existence that God promised.
Or it could have been. Just before passing judgment on Adam, God had spoken to Satan, to the serpent, and promised him that from the woman would come a Messiah, One who would make right all that has gone wrong. He promised death to the serpent and at the same time promised life to mankind.
The hope for those of us who labor under capitalism is not socialism. The truest hope for those who labor under communism is not capitalism. In either case you will labor all the days of your life and then you will die; that is man’s lot. The truest hope is in looking forward to the rest that will come for those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ, the one who says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” There is the truest and best kind of rest.