In a recent Time article (Jan. 23, 2017) Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum that meets yearly in Davos, Switzerland, used the term Precariat to describe a growing segment of society. The term is what linguists call a portmanteau, a combination of not only words but also their meanings (think ‘smog’ as smoke and fog combining as a word and also in reality). Schwab describes a “condition of existence w/o predictability or security, affecting material or psychological welfare” and it comes from two words: precarious (unstable, easy to tip or knock off balance) and proletariat (class of wage earners). He predicted that >3.5 million cashiers will soon lose their jobs to automation and ditto an equal number of truck drivers when driverless vehicles move from socially novel to normal. In a broader sense I see “Precariat” referring to the growing sense of uneasiness and uncertainty felt in our society by ever increasing numbers not just about their present jobs, but their future, their pensions, their very identity (think gender confusion & gender fluidity), the mass migrations of people seeking work (from WV to VA & NC), the mass migrations of immigrants being displaced from their homelands, and the unsettled political imbalances we watch unfold on a daily and global basis.
This term “Precariat” reminded me of an earlier MSBA newsletter column on the nature of truth. In it I shared how in today’s society the loss of belief in absolute truth has allowed us to create our own not only facts but entire systems of belief based on nothing but our own preferences. (for evidence of it, refer to our new US administration’s use of “alternate facts” (its term, not mine) to describe their stances when objective facts differ from its desired narrative) In addition, we live in a time when war is without end and no longer waged primarily against nations but ideologies; and government is shifting from nations to alliances of corporations and politics (for one spin on this see the Sy-Fy channel’s new series, Incorporated). Depressed yet?
Paul tells us in Philippians 3.20 (and in some translations, 1.27) that we are citizens of heaven. When you travel abroad, you find out your language, your currency, your cultural cues are mainly useless; you have to adopt those of your now host country to survive. Which “country” do you call home: “Precariat,” a place of uncertainty and shifting values, or the Kingdom of God, where its King is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13.8)? In one way I live and minister in “Precariat” (also known as Earth), in the USA, in southern WV; but my primary allegiance remains to the Lord Jesus Christ and His Kingdom, and my obedience will always be first and foremost to His laws and truth (Acts 5.29; John 14.6). I am here in this earthly body as an ambassador for Christ (2 Cor. 5.20); I am to speak on His behalf to a lost and dying world in words of evangelism and to my fellow Kingdom citizens in words of discipleship.
Yes, explore new worlds---whether it’s Cuba this summer with our MSBA mission trip, or out on a Disaster Relief deployment, or a trip for your business. But as you go (Mt. 28.18-20) always speak as a Kingdom citizen with confidence and conviction, not as a dweller of “Precariat.” (As always, I’m happy to discuss this column or anything else at a Subway or Starbucks nearest you.)