Resisting Structural Evil - Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation by Cynthia D. Moe-Lobeda discusses the structural evil we all participate in, gives hope for the future and reminds us we are not alone in the healing of the world, the source of creation is working with us. When humans can see with ’critical mystical vision’ the union of Spirit and humans is at work.
Since structural evil is created by humans, it must be stopped by humans. To do this, privileged people need to change their consumptive way of life to promote sustainable life for all. The structural sin is not individual but embedded in the system. Christianity is culpable in creating this uneven economic system but is also capable of offering hope for change. Moe-Lobeda looks into the ethics of the system, she defines ethics as: “disciplined inquiry into or study of morality.” (17)
Moe-Lobeda argues that the affluent in the US are morally responsible to be not only aware of the damage caused by over consumption, but are obligated to find ways to change. The poor and people of color around the world are suffering most, again a sign of white supremacy and privilege. Capitalism is not a viable way of life for continued sustainability for life on earth.
Moe-Lobeda identifies five theological problems that allow structural evil to continue: humans action is uncreating the good life force that was in the beginning, the earth is being crucified by human greed, etc., as we desecrate the planet we are unable to see God in creation, if humans are created in the image of God we may be an endangered species, and the great commandment to love God and neighbor cannot happen when humans are participating in actions that show no love. Knowledge of what humans are doing is not enough, a true turning from participating in structural evil is necessary but extremely difficult to detect when we are in the midst of the system causing the damage.
Moe-Lobeda calls for critical vision as opposed to acquiescing to a structurally violent system without seeing or questioning it. She gives many case studies and examples of people and places that have suffered from structural violence. Large corporations are seen as individuals under the law that was passed in the late 1800s, so there are many things they do legally that are immoral. This law needs to be amended for the survival of the planet.
The chief theological reason that calls Christians to change is our mandate to love our neighbor as ourselves. Love is not easy or simple, it does not require warm emotions, but it does require commitment and work. It does require a critical mystical vision. The author gives a systematic ethical argument for why we love and how we love, and who and what we are called to love. This pertains to economic life also, and she gives a four part vision that enables change and life - the vision must be “ecologically sustainable, environmentally equitable, economically equitable, and democratic.” (203) She carefully defines each term.
Citizens in the north, citizens who control most of the wealth and use most of the resources need to shift their priorities from wealth making to sustainability. She gives a moral framework with the hope that since humans have made the problem, humans are also the solution to the problem. Religious groups can incorporate this moral framework in their teachings and worship. The sacraments can open our eyes to this critical mystical vision.
Many examples, resources, websites, books, etc. are given to help people make the changes we need to create sustainable life and to resist the ecological violence we are perpetrating.