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Shaking the Gates of Hell: Faith-Led Resistance to Corporate Globalization

We are living at a time when humanity and the earth itself face unprecedented danger. The current form of corporate-dominated globalization is escalating the plunder of the earth's riches, accelerating the release of greenhouse gases, increasing the exploitation of workers, expanding police and military repression, and leaving poverty in its wake. The most powerful nations in the world support and promote this growing momentum, which pays off handsomely for a few wealthy individuals, giant corporations, and the politicians whose coffers they fill.

The destructiveness of the global economic system presents a moral challenge to all people of faith and conscience, especially those of us whom this system benefits. People who live in richer nations, especially the United States, bear particular responsibility. Our government dominates key global institutions that affect the daily lives of millions. Our military-industrial complex enforces a form of globalization that harms the poor, benefits U.S.-based corporations, and seeks to ensure unfettered access to the world's resources. Our patterns of over-consumption lead to increasing poverty, inequity, and environmental degradation. Our action and our inaction affect others, for our lives intermingle with the lives of people around the world and with the whole web of life.

If corporations continue to amass greater wealth and power, poverty and inequity will continue to grow. More and more people around the world will be deprived of the basic necessities of life. Communities that have been self-sustaining for generations will continue to disintegrate, as local artisans, small businesses, and small farmers lose out to competition by transnational corporations. Native peoples will continue to be driven off their lands. Jobs will continue to be lost and labor standards will spiral downward. Places of beauty and diversity will continue to be devoured to create wealth for the few. The resulting social upheaval will require increasingly repressive police forces and ever more jails and prisons. Rich nations, especially the United States, will continue to enforce the corporate colonization of the world through military power. These patterns are already well underway, and are leading to social upheaval, repression, terrorism, war, misery, and ecological collapse.

In short, if we do not turn things around, we face a living hell, a hell on earth. The gates of this hell are open and looming before us.

The destructive forces at work in this crisis are not abstract or irreversible, but emerge from actual institutions that hold political, economic, and military power. The institutional "Powers" that make up the dominant global economic system include the transnational corporations that drive the global economy; rule-making bureaucracies such as the IMF, World Bank, and WTO, national governments, and the US military/industrial complex, the primary enforcer of corporate globalization.

How can we respond to the growing power of corporations and their domination of the world's cultures, governments, and global institutions? Our response must have both an inner and outer dimension, since the commercialization of culture and the commodification of life affect our inner lives as well as the outer world. Our bodies, minds, spirits, and relationships are affected by corporate globalization and by the ideology that accompanies it. The response that I propose is faith-led resistance to the current global order, resistance that involves every aspect of our lives.

It has been said that great evil requires great resistance. Struggles for justice have always required people who were willing to stand up with courage and to step out in faith.

Will we be successful in stopping the global consolidation of corporate power and the empire it supports? No one knows what the outcome of this struggle will be. But as Gandhi said, "You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no results."

In addition, the movement for global justice is strong and growing. People who have been working passionately on various issues for years are seeing their causes converge. They are coming together in the struggle to resist global annihilation and to develop creative alternatives for a hopeful future. People are rising up. This is a global movement, largely nonviolent and deeply democratic. As a popular book on the topic proclaims "We are everywhere."

The seeds for an alternative, hopeful future are being planted even now by individuals and groups around the world who are working for a world in which each person's work contributes to the common good and provides dignity and a living wage, everyone has the right to basic necessities of life, corporations are accountable, widespread use of poisons is prohibited, nuclear weapons are dismantled, and wilderness is protected as a common heritage of all creatures. The seeds for widespread spiritual, social, economic, and political change are being planted as people participate in nonviolent resistance and develop alternative ways of living, often modeled on indigenous and traditional ways of life.

People of faith can join with others to "shake the gates of hell," resisting the horror of a barren, violent, and poisoned future, while developing viable alternatives to help build a peaceful, just, and sustainable world.

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