Sitting with the Communists

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Communism, Economics, Socialism

I have a good friend whom I hike with every so often.  My friend is a commercial airline pilot, a retired General from the United States military.  I’ll call my friend “Shane” for the purpose of this blog post.

Shane is an enigma to me.  I will not hear from him for months at a time, then he will call me out of the blue and say, “want to go for a hike?”  During these long absences, if I text or email Shane, there’s no response.  Silence.

When I finally do connect with Shane and we hike, our conversation always turns to religion, philosophy, and theology and how these topics mix and match with the current state of affairs in our world.  Sometimes, we talk about the extractive nature of rogue capitalism and how the maxim of ‘profit at any cost’ is costing us immensely.  We talk about rogue capitalism and its conflict with Catholic social teaching.

After years in the military, Shane has a fair idea of how the military has historically, and currently, been used as a tool to advance the economic interests of wealthy elites.  When I say “elite,” I am talking about the .001% of the world population that owns more wealth than 99% of the rest of the planet combined.  The players.  Most of society believes we go to war because the ‘other’ guys are bad guys, a threat.  It’s more challenging to consider war as an extension of the extractive nature of a capitalist ideology gone mad.

In a future post, I will come back and spend some time discussing my interests in economics, more specifically economic inequality.

Anyway, it should come as no surprise that I recently ended up at a local non-profit with Shane surrounded by confident, self-professed Socialists.  I kid you not.  Each of the people I sat with in our small circle looked me in the eye and said, I am a Catholic with a capital “C” and a communist with a small “c.”

I am an explorer.  I prefer not to leave many stones unturned in life, and I agree with Aristotle that the unexamined life is not worth living.  But this said, I often wonder with a smirk on my face how I end up in the places I do.  As my grandmother would say, I am curious.

The “communists” were, thankfully, not concerned with overthrowing the government and bringing Stalin back, they were more interested in addressing the interests of the poor in the city by advocating politically on their behalf through local political structures.  As an example, the city was recently advocating increasing the public transportation fares by a few cents.  To me, a few cents is negligible, but to the homeless and poor in the community, a few cents has an impact.  It is felt.  The communists were addressing this by organizing the community to speak out on behalf of and for the homeless to political leaders.

I have found in my life that it’s hard for me to be “all in” on ideologies.  There’s much I appreciate within socialism, and there’s also much I appreciate in healthy capitalism.  There are elements of libertarianism that speak to me.  I also recognize the flaws in each.

If I had to say, I enjoy a variety of perspectives because it allows me a better understanding of the human condition.  Also, because I am a people-person, when I learn about different perspectives on life, then I am able to sit down and relate with a broader range of people.

Curiosity, it seems, expands the space in my life where I live, move and have my being.

Next time a friend invites you to an event that takes you out of our comfort zone, go.  Show up, be present, and be on the lookout for God winks 😉

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resilience + resistance + socialism

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