OKC Relief: 2013-Hard Labor, the Knowledge Economy and Christian Economics

 “Labor was the first price, the original purchase-money that was paid for all things.  It was not by gold or by silver, but by labor, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. “ – Adam Smith

There is an epic change—a sea shift, if you will—occurring the economy of the United States and other Western economies. A combination of factors has caused this shift (governmental regulations, export/import laws, tax regulations, the rise of the internet, etc.) but in spite of what has caused it, individuals are experiencing the impact of this sea shift. And it’s not going to end anytime soon.
The first economy that is most acutely being left behind is the industrialized, farm and labor economy where someone performs hard labor for 8, 10, or 12 hours a day, goes home with their union negotiated pay in their pocket, and then collapses on the bed, only to rise again at 5am the next day to repeat the process. This is the economy of broken backs, wrinkled brows, workplace injuries and men and women who appear aged 65 at age 45.
The other economy that is being left behind is the human service economy. The economy of “Can I get fries with that?” and the economy of part time customer service that eventually moves to full time management. These economies are being replaced by automation, online servicing and other ways of providing the same thing for less. Part of this shift is being driven by governmental regulations and new laws. Part of this shift is being driven by the grand idea of a “no employment” economy that operates where there is no profit, no loss and really no jobs at all.  See the thought leaders on LinkedIn for more about this concept.
With all of these shifts and changes, it’s easy for organizations and individuals to become defensive and retrench; sticking to thinking that the old ways will save us and practices that preserve the image of stability, encourage and sustain sclerotic growth and provide a measure of security at the expense of the scariness of growth and freedom. 
The Face of Hard Labor
What I saw in Oklahoma convinced me that this last is the absolutely wrong approach to the future. And, as a conflict engagement consultant, I believe firmly that conflicts must be addressed with an eye toward the future and the preservation of relationships that may not yet even exist. With that in mind, three things occurred to me on the 24 hour+ bus ride back to the Binghamton area:
Neighborhoods Like this Aren’t Going to Clean Up Themselves
Hard labor will always exist. There will always be people who will have to build roads, lay concrete for housing foundations and stand on roofs, laying tar in the heat of a July day. However, the numbers of people overall performing this labor will decrease rather than increase and it is imperative that we train our very bright eyed and bushy tailed Millenial and post-Millenial generations the value of hard labor. 
The value of this will be particularly acute when disaster strikes and old things are swept aside and new structures must be built.
The knowledge economy and gains we have seen in it must be applied more and more to the hard labor economy. Now, maybe this is already happening at a deep level that I am unaware of, but I wonder: Is there an app for calling every Bobcat in a local area when a disaster strikes and the people to operate them? Is there a way to instantly download the building plans to a first responders’ I-phone so that they know the right room to go to when rescuing folks? Again, maybe this is happening in larger metropolitan areas, but what about out in the boondocks? And which Millenial or post-Millenial computer whiz is going to develop this and take it glocal?
The economy of giving—of time, money, labor and other intangible resources—is currently being led by organizations that are either Christian or have a Christian founding, such as the Salvation Army.  This creates a dichotomy whereby another economy is created, and that is a Christian economy. And as the overall society becomes more secularly focused, these Christian based organizations (sometimes partnering with secular organizations, such as the Red Cross, sometimes not) will gradually become more and more important in responding to disasters—environmental, financial and even economic.
I founded HSCT on the principle that there is a way to approach engaging with conflicts by applying Christian ethics to find long-term solutions for people and organizations. 
The simplest ethic is one of Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You. This is known commonly as the Golden Rule. 
Christians hopefully will take from the disaster in Oklahoma and apply this principle well and modeling the greatest ethic of all, which is simply to help others whenever and wherever the opportunity arises and by this demonstrate the depth and breadth of love.

-Peace Be With You All- 
Jesan Sorrells, MA 
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
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