Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Ich, der arme Person

Written by: on January 25, 2014

Let me begin with an apology for my tardiness on this post. I was in Orlando representing GFU and GFES at a leaders conference from Tuesday till Thursday night.  My book failed to arrive before I left and did not arrive till Thursday.  My day was packed Friday with me teaching Friday evening.  I here submit my humble and very limited review of Bauman’s great work.

Globalization has been referred to as a cause-and-effect kaleidoscope where events in one nation affect the markets, industries, and even individuals in other nations.[1]This globalization provides a lot of positive benefits that assist nations willing to engage in the international economy.  Studies have proven that globalization has reduced inequality, reduced the incidence of poverty, increased national GDPs, and increased the ratio of trade to GDP in all nations who have welcomed international economic integration.[2]  One of the most striking examples of the positive affects of globalization is Bangladesh.  Around the 1970’s it was one of the poorest countries and many deemed it a hopeless case.  But things began to change as the nation benefited from international economic integration.   Between 1975 – 2001 the GDP per head of Bangladesh rose at 2.3 percent generating a 60 percent rise in real income per head over more than a quarter of a century.[3] Some would even say that embracing globalization is the only way to increase prosperity.   Will Hutton in his book, The Writing on the Wall, concludes that China, with its remarkable fiscal growth provides conclusive proof that “liberalization, privatization, market freedoms, and an embrace of globalization are the only route to prosperity.”[4] Yet, this prosperity does not come without a price.

In his book, Collateral Damage, Zygmunt Bauman highlights the negative affects of this phenomena called globalization.  He refers to these negative affects as social consequences.[5] Such consequences have serious results on those that are not socially prepared for the rapid changes of life socially, politically, and economically. The forces involved in globalization cannot be simplified as just religious, or political, but rather, this global cause-and-effect kaleidoscope involves economic, political, legal, and cultural forces that cross international boundaries and create international problems, and require international solutions.[6]  These issues regarding globalization “has in particular spelt major changes in the ways people live their lives, how they approach work, as well as how they position themselves within the employment marketplace.”[7]  Bauman, admits that as marketplaces of the world increase there is less likelihood of diminishing or leveling up of inequality of incomes, of standards of living, and of life prospects.[8] Indeed Bauman identifies the privatized consumer market as anti-communal, individualizing patters of styles, patterns that set individuals in competition with others.[9]  In general globalization, and in particularly privatization — though providing many with great benefits as they engage in international economic integration — brings about negative affects that cause collateral damage of people, societies, and economics turning the fight against and resolving socially produced problems back onto the shoulders of individual men and women, who are in most cases not nearly resourceful enough for the task of solving such problems.[10]  As the range of individual autonomy is expanding so is the great burdening of the once viewed responsibility of the state onto the individual. This creates more individual self concern and further separation from the community as a whole. Suspicion is generated, fear rises, and the collateral damages pile up. The greater humanity expands the less human we become.  At the same time we expect the less fortunate of us to take more responsibility for their “condition” of being less than the status quo, the normal, the rich, the “more like us.” They are the arme Leut’ of all societies, being further divided by their own misery.[11] They are alone and lack respect for themselves, each other, and certainly those that seem to have risen out of their current state.  It is to these arme Leut’ that Jesus came and calls us to go.  It is for the lost, the poor, the oppressed, that the Gospel comes with a Christ to rescue them.

Globalization has indeed brought great financial gains, yet we cannot lose the reality that those gains come at the cost of great collateral damages. Regardless of the debate concerning globalization and its somewhat abstract talk of ‘borderless worlds’, ‘turbo-capitalism’ and ‘transgovernmental networks,’[12] globalization will continue to drive forward toward higher gains, greater influence, and market shares, leaving in its wake those that can only identify themselves as arme Leut’. The answer is not to stand in the way of globalization, but rather, as we ride the prosperity wave, recognize and not forget the arme Leut’. Until we, as the body of Christ, can incarnate ourselves as our Lord did and cry out with Him Ich, der arme Person (I, the poor person) we have not yet become Christ on Earth. It is to this end that The Church must rise up seeking the collateral damaged ones victimized by the very growth that created them.

[1] David C. Thomas and Kerr Inkson, Cultural Intelligence: Living and Working Globally, 2d. ed. (San Francisco: Berrett-Kehler Publishers, Inc., 2009), 6.

[2] Martin Wolf, Why Globalization Works (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004), 158.

[3] Ibid., 145.

[4] Will Hutton, The Writing on the Wall: Why We Must Embrace China as a Partner or Face It as an Enemy (New York: Free Press, 2006), 135.

[5] Zygmunt Bauman, Collateral Damage: Social Inequalities in a Global Age (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2011), 7.

[6] Thomas and Inkson, 7.

[7] Elliott,328.

[8] Bauman, 15.

[9] Ibid., 16.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid., 151.

[12] Elliot, 313.

About the Author

Mitch Arbelaez

International Mission Mobilizers with Go To Nations Living and traveling the world from Jacksonville Florida

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