We left off with Pharaoh’s double nightmare in Genesis 41. This is the fear and anxiety of those with the most. Think for a moment of the sheer interest in trends in the stock market. Imagine a few percentage points drop on the Dow Jone’s Industrial! It sparks anxiety and concern in monetary and economic policies not just in this country but also around the world.
What about the millions who are daily facing evictions or service interruptions or have no food on the table?
Pharaoh embarked on a massive plan of production and storage; more production and more storehouses. Exodus 1:11 says the masters “set taskmasters over them (those who labor) to oppress them with forced labor. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh”. In this mindset even Joseph’s benevolence became oblivious. Exodus 1:8 says, “Now a new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph”. In our current economic metanarrative we forget who we are. The principles and foundations that made us who we are take back stage.
Pharaoh’s economics resulted in enormous hardship, especially for the poor, the marginalized, the disadvantaged and the aliens.
A totalizing narrative - like Pharaoh’s economy – can, and does get interrupted. It cannot last forever despite popular belief. In Egypt, “the Israelites groaned under their slavery, and cried out” (Exodus 2:23). The suffering could no longer be silent. They could not take it any more. They voiced their frustrations.
That was the first interruption to the narrative, but there was also a second interruption. “Out of the slavery their cry for help rose up to God. God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God looked upon the Israelites, and God took notice of them” (Exodus 2:23-25).
The interruption has now gone beyond groaning to taking action. The goal of the meeting at Christ Church Cathedral was to challenge those who recognize this trend in Pharaoh’s economy and how it is repeated in our own economy to go deeper in the Economics of Compassion Initiative and explore how to be active in the interruption process through an alternative economic model.
Next we will suggest some areas in which anyone in the community can be involved.