Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Greatest

The richest man in the world may be Vladimir Putin, according to financial executive Bill Browder. While the wealth of their country is siphoned off to secret Swiss bank accounts, everyone but the oligarchs struggle to scratch out a living, just as the Russians have throughout history.

Donald Trump would naturally admire the richest man in the world and, since he is taking over leadership of the richest country in the world, would naturally consider it quite appropriate that he would be the rightful recipient of that honor, given enough time to exact all of the tribute possible from his loyal subjects. Until he was elected President, all he had to work with were a smattering of resorts, hotels, a school, sundry consumer product lines, and the Trump Foundation. It turns out that he used the foundation to support anything Trump, just as the name implies.

If he is anything like his pal, Putin, the Trump Foundation was just a warm-up. At 71, he really needs to kick it into high gear in order to exceed $200 billion, but he seems unencumbered by scruples and has brought so many tycoons into his inner circle that his chances look pretty good. This is what making America great again means to Trump - great for him and his coterie of oligarchs.

We didn't think we'd end up like Russia after two centuries of democracy. Perhaps we won't if Trump can be forestalled by legalities like the proposed Presidential Accountability Act. Laws, however, don't seem to count for much in Trump's calculations, so we might all end up as subjects of the throne eventually.

In Laudato Si, Pope Francis pointed out the error in this pattern of governance:
This vision of “might is right” has engendered immense inequality, injustice and acts of violence against the majority of humanity, since resources end up in the hands of the first comer or the most powerful: the winner takes all. Completely at odds with this model are the ideals of harmony, justice, fraternity and peace as proposed by Jesus. As he said of the powers of his own age: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Mt 20:25-26).
A glimmer of the Christmas story shines through this passage: despite all the Caesars, Putins, and Trumps of the world, Jesus tells us, "It shall not be so among you." While they go high, we go low, and so become great in his kingdom.

Photo by Sampo Sikiƶ

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