The Common Good

Humpty Dumpty Falls off Wall Street

Wall Street is now in shambles, worldwide confidence is eroded, the stock market is in free-fall, and many people are losing homes and jobs. Many had put all their confidence in the freedom-from-regulation marketplace and its self-correcting actions.

We now see that this approach led the way to wanton greed and misplaced confidence, and we are all suffering the results. Reminds me of Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall ... All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty Dumpty together again. At best Humpty has been shattered, and we will have to carve out a new course.

What an opportunity to check where our trust lies, what we treasure. The call to the early Christians was to a different set of values, to trust in God, not possessions or money. Jesus speaks in Luke 12 that one's "real life in no way depends upon the number of his possessions," and goes on to say, "get yourselves purses that never grow old ... for wherever your treasure is, you may be certain that your heart will be there, too."

Now is the time to articulate a set of values that puts people over possessions, that balances personal interests with the common good, that seeks to be stewards of the environment, our gifts, our time, and leaves the world better for the next generation.

Mary NelsonMary Nelson is president emeritus of Bethel New Life, a faith-based community development corporation on the west side of Chicago. She is also a board member of Sojourners.

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