Multinational Untouchables

When you think of the worst abuses in poor countries — land grabs, sweatshops, cash-filled envelopes passed to politicians — you probably think they’re committed by companies based in rich ones: Nike in Indonesia, Shell in Nigeria, Dow in Bhopal, India.

These are the cases you’re most likely to hear about, but they are no longer representative of how these abuses actually take place — or who commits them. These days, the worst multinational corporations have names you’ve never heard. They come from places like China and South Africa and Russia. The countries where they are headquartered are unable to regulate them, and the countries where they operate are unwilling to. (Michael Hobbes, “The Untouchables:Why it’s getting harder to stop multinational corporations“)

The Burden of White Christians

“Too often the church has preached blessings to those who are already rich and has delivered woe to those who are poor; too often we have encouraged the well-fed to feast on food that has been stolen from the poor. Too often judgement has been passed on those who are already marginalised and excluded. For some people the gospel really should be about liberation. For those who are imprisoned, the gospel means liberation. For those who are oppressed, the gospel means freedom. But what we need to realise is that some of us aren’t imprisoned. Some of us are exactly the people whose private property prisons exist to protect. We’re the jailers. Some of us aren’t oppressed; we are the ones in whose name other people are oppressed. We’re the oppressors. And for us the words of Jesus which promise us life are also hard words because to get to that life we first have to go through death.” (Marika Rose “The White Christian’s Burden”)

Responding to “Evil”

Because evil exists beyond the limits of reason, what matters for Ricoeur is not that we identify evil, but that we respond to it appropriately. He rightly observes that the tragedy of evil is not the act committed, but the experience of the victim. Separating evil perpetrated from evil suffered shifts the concern from what or who is evil to the best possible action in the face of it, which according to him is “not a solution, but a response.”

In the common conception, solutions to evil require retribution, and the most obvious way to achieve retribution is through violence. Responses, on the other hand, engender what Ricoeur calls “wisdom,” an unwavering commitment to relieve and prevent suffering. Any violence used in a response to evil would, therefore, be focused on the alleviation of suffering rather than the attempt to stamp out evil where we think we see it. (Steven Paulikas “How Should We Respond to ‘Evil’?”)