The rich young man informed Jesus that he faithfully obeyed each of the commandments. The rich young man was certain Jesus would smile, nod, bless him, then send him on.
Jesus did not.
Instead, Jesus told the man to sell his possessions, give all his wealth to the poor.
We are led to believe the man did not.
We spend too much time admiring the rich, discussing the rich, attempting to copy the rich, I think, rather than seeking to understand the poor, and poverty, and living without.
Chamath Palihapitiya is a very rich man.
Mr. Palihapitiya, who also owns the Golden State Warriors and interests in various tech companies, is, I doubt you are surprised to learn, quick to tell others what they are doing wrong.
Recently, however, he told us what he did wrong: help build Facebook.
“The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse. No cooperation. Misinformation. Mistruth. And it’s not an American problem. This is not about Russian ads. This is a global problem. So we are in a really bad state of affairs right now, in my opinion.”
Do not expect Mr. Palihapitiya to give any of his Facebook money back.
Do not expect him to live like the poor, nor the middle, nor even the well-to-do professional class. He belongs to that tiny thriving cabal of aggressively globalist, virulently tech-centric, fabulously wealthy men and women who have prospered these past 30 years, even as millions of Others lose their work, their livelihood, witness the destruction of their community.
One of the apex beneficiaries of a political + financial + educational + economic structure which we can only question now because of the very clear and present backlash to it. It’s sort of like how those winning the culture wars never say culture wars, just culture. Only the losers say culture war. For the winners, it’s the culture.
For the economic winners, globalization is The Economy.
Until it’s not, of course.
To deride the men and women who find hope in electing men and women who just might represent their needs, their wants, their communities, at long last, is to deny the very real suffering your preferred economic system has created for millions.
Don’t do that.
Maybe the poor will always be with us, but the poor have a vote, and they also deserve a listen.
Tupac wondered if there is a ghetto in heaven.
“I’d rather be dead than a po’ nigga
Let the Lord judge the criminals
If I die, I wonder if Heaven got a ghetto”
I suspect not.
I Wonder If Heaven Got a Ghetto is a lyrical call to worship and a brutal call to arms. A five-minute homily that drops more wisdom, more real, than a college student might learn in a year — or a journalist in a lifetime.
Sadly, the music is wretched. Strip away the words and I Wonder If Heaven Got a Ghetto is almost painful to listen to, a throwaway 1990s drum kit vomit of a song, saccharine R&B blended with “urban adult contemporary” preening.
I think our current economic and cultural and political structures, particularly those being built up, less so those crumbling, those fading into the past, and the ones being set fire to, are like this Tupac song. There is brilliance inside, and goodness, and truth, and a reaching out, and a looking toward, but there’s also so much crap and hate and anger and violence overlaid, and we need to come to terms with this, if we are to right it.
Maybe, and I can’t promise this will be validated, but maybe if we listen to all those who the current cultural winners are brandishing as angry or racist or on the wrong side of history, maybe we can make the system they so admire actually work for all.
And without anybody having to give up everything they got.
“Now the tables have turned around
You didn’t listen, until the niggas burned it down
And now Bush can’t stop the hit
I predicted the shit, in 2Pacalypse
And for once I was down with niggas, felt good
In the hood bein’ around the niggas, yeah
And for the first time everybody let go
And the streets was death row
I wonder if Heaven got a ghetto”