Greg Smith’s online resignation letter in the New York Times tells a story most science fiction fans would recognise.
A man works in a place that seems normal until gradually he perceives a change in his work mates and the nature of what they are doing. The reality of the situation is revealed when someone forgets to put on their human mask or takes it off to reveal who they really are: usually scary lizard people.
Smith’s story is a bit like that. He tells a tale of Goldman Sachs changing from the “if you work hard enough and honestly enough the rewards will come to you” bank to one of darkness and ripoffs. He describes his experience was one of being overcome by a tide wrongdoing, but what we register is his naivety in believing that aggressive international capitalism is an ethical, fair and integrity filled enterprise. Didn’t he read Bonfire of the Vanities? Or did he willingly close his eyes to the reality until it became too diffficult to do so any longer?
As a farewell his letter is a sad one and unfortunately, it is a letter he posts on his way out rather than a memo sent from his desk. That makes it easier to forget as our attention turns to Syria, coach crashes, high petrol prices and the next Konyish “act now” campaign.
What intrigues me is what would have happened if he had written that letter as an employee who wasn’t planning on leaving. He would discover how pressing the need would be to have him silenced. In silencing him, Goldman Sachs would reveal themselves for who they really were rather than us having to take his word for it.
It’s a story that comes straight out of the gospels.
Jesus came to unseat the usurping rebellious powers who sought to enslave humans and a good creation through sin and death. Jesus declared that God is in charge and through symbolic acts and miracles and stories revealed the targets of his campaign: the corrupt rich and the corrupt religious establishment, the corrupt empires whose kings declared themselves to be God. He declared liberation to the captive slaves: the poor, the marginalised, the disabled, those who are actively shut out of the kingdom of God by the stewards who are supposed to hold the door open for them.
Jesus was confronted by those with power, those who collaborated profitably with the enslaving powers and principalities; the ones who had more to lose by the coming kingdom of God than they had to gain. They decided to silence Jesus in the interest of “national and spiritual security”. The cross was the perfect tool because it was a powerful projection of who is in charge. Criminals and rebels would be hung along roads and crossroads as reminders that Rome had power everywhere. Everywhere except an obscure tomb in Jerusalem.
The joy of Easter is that the powers and principalities don’t have authority over the grave or eternity or over the present apart from the power we give them. Jesus rises from the dead, the first born of a new age and a new race. He is a resurrected person whose life is no longer up for grabs.
Jesus knew a kingdom of darkness surrounded humanity; those living in it did not. His mission was to open the eyes of those who would see what the reality was and join his insurgency of love. Jesus wakes us up to who we were created to be and hopefully awakens us so fully that we refuse to be slaves to a lie.
I like the theology that God has called us to be insurgents in our enslaved occupied society. But rather than being car bombers and kidnappers we are lovers. We love in the middle of the crowded market. We love the isolated easily picked off person. We gather forces of love to confront the massed forces of hate and corruption.
Most of all we stop being surprised that the way of the world has a tendency to enslave rather than to liberate. Goldman Sachs and their ilk have plenty of slaves willing to serve them. Those of us who are free should not be counted among them.