I was telling Marcel, our foreign exchange student from Spain, that many governments worldwide believe a myth that the way resources are currently distributed isn’t OK. I told him that many governments felt compelled to determine a better algorithm than the one in place to ensure everyone gets a fair piece of the pie.
Marcel nodded. He had just told me that he saw an inequity between a man with ten houses and a homeless man. He didn’t need any explanation.
The issue, though, isn’t his perception of the outcome. The problem is that he thinks this distribution isn’t a natural one; some teachers have taught him that it is a result of evil in the world.
Where do I start unwinding this?
“Marcel, look at the solar system. What is the most important thing in the solar system?”
Yup. He got that right. Energy/Matter are interchangeable. Without them, you have nothing.
“Is that fairly distributed?
“What do you mean?”
“More than 99% of all the matter and energy are in one small spot in the middle. The other 99% of all the space in our solar system have NOTHING, comparatively. What that an outcome caused by corporate greed?”
“How about freshwater? Nearly all the freshwater is in a very small part of the surface area of our planet. Lake Superior alone has more freshwater than all the lakes in Australia and New Zealand combined. Was that an outcome rooted in greed or evil?”
“No. It just happened.” OK
I decided to put an end to science and the dismantling of the flawed link between cause and effect. Instead, I jumped to faith.
“Remember the Biblical story of the men with the talents? What happened to the guy who started with five and the guy who started with one?”
“The guy with one had none in the end.”
“What about the guy with five?”
“He doubled his five talents, and he got the one from the first guy. So, now he has 11.”
“Good! Was that the result of evil forces in the universe?”
“Yeah, God explained why it happened that way. The guy with five was smart and took risks, and the guy with one didn’t take risks and was scared. So, he lost.”
Yup. He got that right, too.
“Marcel, those outcomes I just described have always been true. They aren’t new circumstances. They aren’t the result of greed, capitalism, or evil forces.”
“I guess so,” he said.
He was being polite. He still liked his old position, even though it no longer worked.
“Politics says that all men are created equal or. Faith says all men are created in the image of God. There is no promise of an equal outcome, and if you try to force an equal outcome, you will be fighting natural processes and God’s design. If you take from the rich to give to the poor, you need to take parts of the sun and share it equally with everyone. If you will use this new fad definition of fair, redistribute fresh water while you are at it. None of those last two events have ever happened naturally. Why would they? It isn’t worth the effort, is it?”
“No, not really.”
We had no conversation on the topic for a while. Then, I got this as part of an email from the demography department at the state. For the record, they were not a part of our conversation.
It showed a time stamp of less than a year old. It made me nod and think about my conversation with Marcel. People behave like energy in the solar system or water in the great lakes. One in five residents lives in the five largest places. For sure, that is not an evil outcome! So, I went back to Marcel with this.
“Marcel, don’t fix what isn’t broken. Give people a fair chance at the start. Don’t try to legislate the outcome.”
“What does that mean?”
“Don’t pick the game’s final score while the teams are still playing. I promise you; it is OK if the better team beats the bad team. This isn’t just true in soccer. It is true in all the universe. It is true with wealth distribution. It is true in the Word of God. Make peace with the outcomes of things. I promise you God is trying to teach you that, no matter how bad your teachers may be at teaching you how to say, “no fair,” when you see a man without health care or a safe place to live.
He gave me another head nod.
I’ll take it as a win.