Christianity

Who owe who?

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Money, debt, crisis! That’s all the news now. Panic and bedlam, disaster and doom. Agreement turns to disagreement, fix turns to flux.

There was a time when millions were a lot, but now we talk only of billions – except on the growing number of occasions when we talk in trillions. Politicians – many of whom have had no training in economics – talk of mind-boggling schemes to save the Euro, to save Europe and to save the world. 

And it’s all because of debt. Lots of it. Not just personal debt, or corporate debt, but national debt. Debt that is so big that countries, like Greece, are on the verge of bankruptcy, with a knock-on effect which will domino banks against each other all over Europe. Greek debt just now, but maybe Spanish debt and Italian debt soon – let’s be international about this, eh?

The whole mess has had a terrible effect on Greece and its people. Mass redundancy, wage cuts, high tax, strikes and riots. First an agreement was reached, then the Greek PM calls a referendum to sanction it. This gets the whole world up in a rage. How dare they call a referendum! It’s ironic. The Greeks actually invented democracy – the word comes from two Greek words which mean “people rule” – and yet the politicians actually want to stop them using it! It’s national debt – what have the people got to do with it?

But there is another side too. the people of Greece are striking and rioting because their government got them into this mess. They forget that their government, which they voted for, got them into this mess by creating the jobs and spending the money so that they, the people, got the benefit. After all, that’s why they voted for them – if the politicians had said in their manifestos 20 years ago that they were going to cut expenditure, they would have voted for someone else!

But are we any different in the UK? We have bad bankers too, don’t we?

Total personal debt in the UK at the end of June 2011 was a massive £1,451 billion. That’s right – billion. If you don’t like the b word, it’s almost £1.5 trillion. Of that figure, £1,241 bn is “secured” against homes, leaving just over £300 billion as unsecured debt. The average debt per home in the UK is £8000, excluding mortgages. Banks are writing off £20 million of bad debt every day. One person is declared insolvent every 60 seconds of every working day. (source)

And we blame the banks for causing all this mess. It was their fault. Yes, we asked for credit, yes, we got it and spent it. But it was them, not us. We might have been greedy, but they shouldn’t have let us, eh? Well, actually, credit where credit is due!

And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. (Matt 7:3-5, NLT)

I think it’s time for us to take the credit cards out of our own eye before we start blaming others for the fine mess we got ourselves in. Do you agree?

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