“Of all the predictions to be made about 2015, none seems safer than the idea that across the great democracies people will feel deeply let down by those who lead them…. The levels of unpopularity and disengagement in the West have now risen to staggering levels… with the numbers of those fed-up [Americans]… climbing above 80%” [higher than during the notorious Watergate incident of the early 1970s in which the U.S. president was revealed for what he was: a crook, a liar, and an all-around small-minded vulgar bully], (Economist, “The World in 2015,” Nov. 21, 2014).
I was struck by the Economist magazine’s end-of-the-year lead editorial. In many ways it is prophetic. We ARE in serious trouble with major social, political, and economic problems going unresolved due to an appalling lack of good, decent leadership throughout much of the Western world.
For instance, I offer up this example from my home Canadian province, British Columbia. According to Statistics Canada, “Working families have taken a hammering. In the 35 years between 1976 and 2011, the median income of households in B.C. declined by 10 per cent. And the retreat becomes a rout if we only look at men’s wages. Over the same period, the median wage of men fell by a full third,” (Times Colonist, “Middle class takes a beating,” Dec. 21, 2014).
Inequality in our society has reached a crisis stage in which the 400 richest Americans now own more assets, have more wealth than the combined financial resources in the hands of over 150 million of their fellow citizens at the bottom of the food chain in the U.S. of A. (see Inequality for All, a 2013 documentary by Jacob Kornbluth).
What is the root cause behind this pervasive lack of good leaders and the growing impoverishment of the average person? An economist like Charles Piketty could argue that this inequality is due to a high growth rate return on capital, in comparison to the rate of economic growth, and that the solution to such inequality is a progressive global tax on wealth. I believe that just looking for material explanations and tax and spend solutions misses the real source of this widespread disenchantment with leadership and the growing economic inequality.
The root cause of our lack of good leaders in the Western democratic societies and most of our growing social/economic/political problems can be traced back to the fact that our nations have largely forsaken the teachings of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, especially those concerning sexual morality, and social justice. I assert that the natural consequence of what happens when any people turns its back on the Bible’s God is rising injustice, skyrocketing selfishness, and a general spiritual impoverishment of the soul. In such a dry, morally and ethically challenged environment, few leaders can be found who will put public service ahead of their own self-service. You’ll notice that these days most public “servants” are doing a pretty good job in taking care of #1 and have far better retirement plans, pay levels and benefits than John Q. Public.
The Prophet Micah put it this way:
Then I said, “Listen, leaders of ·the people…; listen, you rulers of the ·nation…·You should know ·how to decide cases fairly [social justice, equity], but you hate good and love evil.
You skin my people alive and tear the flesh off their bones [Tax them till they howl and tie them up with bureaucratic regulation]. You ·eat my people’s flesh and skin them and break their bones; you chop them up like meat for the pot, like meat in a cooking pan . Then they will cry to the Lord, but He won’t answer them. At that time He will hide his face from them, because what they have done is evil” [We’ve all, leaders and people alike, turned our backs on the Bible’s values] (see MIcah 3:1-4 Expanded Bible Version, edits mine).
Cause and effect. This is a critically important lesson. But I think many in the still prosperous West have no interest in connecting the dots between our collective abandonment of God and our current infestation of parasitical, self-serving leaders and the steady erosion of the our standard of living. But if we’re stubborn about collectively doing our own thing, well, the Bible’s God promises to call and raise the stakes that we have to put on the table to stay in the game.
“And if you fail to learn the lesson and continue your hostility toward me, then I myself will be hostile toward you. I will personally strike you with calamity seven times over for your sins,” (Leviticus 26:23-24 New Living Version).
But, of course, it doesn’t have to be that way for you personally. You can opt out of this negative feedback loop. As 2015 begins, the good news is that you can still choose to turn back toward God and so change your future. Speaking through a prophet the Lord God of the Scriptures still makes you this offer:
“Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you… Deuteronomy 30:14-16 New Living Translation (NLT)