Aren’t the above words (in bold) serious and stark. Bear in mind that they were spoken at the time to a select few who were following Jesus. Others at the time were given the same message but through a parable that they needed to think about and interpret for themselves. Only later, around AD 65, were these plain words written down so that future generations could read and assess them.
Avarice and deceit? From within? Agreed! There’s no other place from which these can spring save from the human heart (Greek = kardia). In these first century writings the heart was kernel of the person including mind, emotions and will - and not (as now) the emotions alone.
Across the UK and Jersey the consensus is that bankers have been greedy, avaricious – and that this has brought about the global financial crisis. Added to that is the conviction of many that banks and financial businesses were deceitful in the way they repackaged sub-prime mortgages and that greed then again came into play when institutions and investors everywhere bought into these packages to obtain a high(er) yield.
Putting these things together, the global financial mess becomes a matter of the human kardia – or, rather, of human hearts collectively going wrong.
With such thoughts in mind, the forthcoming G20 meeting in London – and the possible effects of that meeting on Jersey – become quite challenging.
Given these particular propensities of the human kardia, what are the chances of America and Europe agreeing a course of action that will be for the good of all? Will not America, Britain, France and Germany pursue what is “good” for them? And could each of those country’s perception of what is good for them be correctly labelled “avarice” in the light of the fact, for instance, that China has over 300,000,000 people (the total population of the US) who live on less than a $ a day?
And Jersey (perhaps rightly – think about it) has been motivated to sign a Tax Information Exchange Agreement in London last week in an effort to ensure that the G20 will not act against us next month. The motivation is certainly “self-interest” – but is that another step on the avarice pathway?
One thing is certain for 2 April – none of the countries present will openly say that they are looking after their own interests. They will not do that because loud voices are shouting that a “retreat into protectionism” would be disastrous. So they will need to cover over any indications of avarice in that direction. Cover-over? Yes, that’s the same as deceit.
Many in Jersey are members of, sit with or advise committees of one kind or another. The meeting of the heads of governments of the G20 (the 19 most important industrialised and developing countries plus Europe) will be no different – all the kardia, around the table will fit the above bold words.
Hold it a minute, though. If the origin of the global financial crisis is the human kardia with its avarice and deceit, will a meeting of yet more powerful human kardia reach sound decisions?
The answer to that must be: the decisions may not be sound but they will be the best that can be achieved when the decision-makers are, to use Jesus’ word, “defiled”.
Is there a better way? Yes – the formation of a kingdom (within which but citizenship can start here and now) in which every human follows and becomes like the man Jesus of Nazareth – committed totally to the service of others (devoting his life to others to the death in fact). He was able to neutralise all greed and deceit in others by placing his life in their hands - the hands of the greedy and deceitful – so as to ransom them.
Upside down? Yes. The G20 will not be upside down. Nor will Jersey. They can’t be because they must do the will of all the kardia to whom they are answerable. But some see ... and become convinced of far better things.