Here's a moment to remember - utter depravity clearly reflected in This American Life. The time-stamp is around 38:00 if you go to listen, and I highly recommend that you do.
I don't understand the current banking crisis, but I am listening to an episode of This American Life aimed at explaining the crisis in simple terms, and I just heard something that seemed profoundly true to me - "The problem is us."
We currently owe, as a society, 13 Trillion dollars. The GDP for the entire US economy is 13 Trillion dollars. To be clear, that means that we collectively owe as much as the entire US economy combined. The only other time in recent history that this was the case was in 1929, just shy of the economic collapse and the Great Depression.
The problem is us. We owe too much. I myself owe more than Pam and I make combined in a year, almost all of which is educational debt. This is even after spending three painful years getting out from under commercial debts we couldn't handle. I'm part of the problem - in fact, mathematically I'm contributing more than my 'share', it looks like. So the problem is also me.
Yes, we have a bunch of millionaire and billionaire bankers who are hysterically greedy and desperately trying to avoid suffering any kind of consequences for stupid decisions they made while grasping insatiably for profit. They made bad decisions and we are going to bail them out, apparently, dollar for dollar. But they are not the whole of the problem. The problem is us.
This is a problem in all of our hearts - something that, frankly, religion is specifically and superbly equipped to identify and begin to address. It is an insurmountable battle, but the lines, for once in our lives, will be clearly drawn as banks fail and bailouts balloon into the trillions of tax dollars and jobs disappear.
The line is this. We throw our lives away in the pursuit of things which do not, will never, satisfy. And the time always comes when we pay for it. We pay for our trust in eternal growth without consequences. We pay for idolatry.
I'm afraid of what's coming for us, but I can't pretend that it is undeserved, that it is solely the purview of fat, chuckling villains smoking cigars made of $100 bills and taking private jet trips to visit child prostitutes in Thailand. Those villains are still there, but I can't pretend I'm not a villain too. A villain of a lesser sort, but less villainous? Ultimately, perhaps not. Perhaps the difference is only in means.
The problem is us. The problem is me.
Sin is fractal - the edge of every shore is the same no matter how high up or low down you are.