I agree with White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel when he said, "You never want a good crisis to go to waste." The moral lesson of this month's Greek financial crisis was papered over by central banks to avert worldwide economic disorder. The banks' trillion-dollar bailout soothed nervous traders last week. International markets surged in response . . . but did our souls?
Ancient Greek philosophers like Solon, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle recognized a connection between personal moral order and societal order. It's a lesson latter-day Greeks and Americans seem to have forgotten. Like parents of spoiled children, central banks reward the bad behavior of spendthrift governments, shower them with new cash, and sow the seeds of even greater disorder. Greece and the United States have more in common than massive unsustainable welfare systems: The countries share a morality problem.
Swelling welfare systems are indicative of declining national morality. We vote for legislators who give us more from the Treasury than we pay in taxes. By force of law we make future generations pay for our prodigal ways. Plain and simple, this is theft.
Yet when the world's economic order was near collapse last week did we see headlines about leaders pleading for the moral reform of their nations? Of course not, because most of our leaders fail to connect personal moral order with societal order. We let this crisis go to waste.
Perhaps the central bankers did us a favor. Maybe worldwide economic disorder will be delayed long enough for the United States, Greece, and other European nations to get our moral houses in order. More likely, we will continue down the path of big spending funded by central banks. It need not be this way. We need leaders who will speak the truth of our financial situation plainly. We need them to urge us to stop stealing from future generations, cut our debt, and live as moral citizens. Societal order follows personal moral order. It's that simple.
Well, not really. We need transformed hearts. Unlike the ancient Greeks, we should know by now that appeals to reason alone will not change the trajectory of man's wayward moral nature. Perhaps we Christians wasted this crisis, but there will be future opportunities. We need to speak the truth in love about man's moral condition and pray that God will change hearts. When this happens souls will soar and societies will thrive.