In the face of opposition, or evidence that the human or environmental costs are too high, empire adopts these kinds of reform as a guise to pretend it is healing itself. This is called reform, but it is really cosmetic change, which promotes more of what it is. Totalitarian regimes always have to call things by a name of false promise. The corporate commitment to immortality is called “succession planning.” Failures are called “development opportunities.” Innocent civilian victims are called “collateral damage.” Eliminating a thousand jobs is called “right-sizing.” Eliminating a million jobs is called “restructuring the job market.” Development is the watchword of empire, giving a positive face to its penchant for colonization. “Development” means that if you are not doing well there is something wrong with you. If you are a country, then there are financial austerities that you have to follow. If you are an individual, then we make coaching and mentoring available to you.
What transforms is something other than what we call reform, or privatization, or development. Transformation is a shift in beliefs and an alternative narrative that follows those beliefs. It is an act of imagination that is open to the wilderness of the Exodus narrative. It is applying the language of covenant and neighborliness to the challenges of raising children, healing the earth, becoming healthy, and creating an economy that works for all. It begins with a shift in language and narrative. It continues by re-authorizing whose voices are listened to. It completes the effort with action that is small, slow, and produced by people nearby. It requires language and action that seeks a future outside the system world of solutions.
What is your idea of the future? If it is hopeful, where do you see the hope coming from? If it is fearful, do you find yourself looking for relief through solutions or further development? How else might you think of the future? How might you see the future as a promised wilderness— where friendship, and neighborliness and covenant are the language and habit for healing and creativity?
Block, Peter; Brueggemann, Walter; McKnight, John. An Other Kingdom: Departing the Consumer Culture(pp. 43-44). Wiley. Kindle Edition.