External Realities vs Inner Life

As I was rereading Parker Palmer’s book Let your Life Speak, I came across an interesting quote that shed some light on our current economic crisis for me. He says, “We capitalists have a long and crippling legacy of believing in the power of external realities much more deeply than we believe in the power of the inner life.” (p.77)

I found this intriguing because that is what is happening now. We, regular Joe or Jane Citizen, have lost self worth within the eyes of the government. We have been melted down to pocketbooks and wallets instead of citizens who can pick themselves up and do something important for their country, or the power of the inner life. In almost every major struggle in the our history the government, eventually, looked to it’s citizens for help and sacrifice and the American people came through.

Today, the current and going belief is that the power of external realities can pull us out of the mess we are in. It can be the government who can do it, Joe and Jane Citizen just need to act like life is normal, spend, spend, spend. The government has belief that we don’t have to do anything but I have a feeling they will eventually come knocking at my door and asking for help, in paying more taxes, in some sort of sacrificing to help pull this nation out of the economic downward spiral. I’m ready and willing…my question is why won’t they ask?

I watched the interview that NBC’s David Gregory had with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. David asked him what types of sacrifices the American people will be asked to make and Paulson never gave an answer. Our government is not ready to put their trust in the American inner life.

We lift up soldiers who are out there on the front lines and we talk about the sacrifices they are making, and rightly so. But I have a feeling that the citizens of this great country are willing to do something as well. Yet, when Capitalism cheapens our existences to a purchaser, a spender, a dollar sign, then where do we find our worth? Instead we are simply a commodity to be traded or invested. They remove our inner life.

Palmer continued on the same page with this quote, “The spiritual traditions do not deny the reality of the outer world. They simply claim that we help make that world by projecting our spirit on it, for better or for worse.” (p. 77) We as the church recognize the inner life of our parishioners and we value their worth. Maybe, since the government is not willing to tap into that power, we as the Church need to remind people of the power of sacrifice and difference it can make, to change lives and also a country.

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