Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Sue and I recently watched The Bicycle Thief. What a powerful movie. What is instructive about it is that it demonstrates the poverty that Europe (in this case Italy) suffered in the couple of years immediately after World War II. This can be immediately contrasted with another picture of post-war Italy, only about a dozen years later, La Dolce Vita, where Italy is portrayed as a land of sports cars, glamour, and partying.
There are two things that I take away from this comparison. First, it is truly remarkable how quickly Europe was able to recover economically. The downside of this miracle is that we in the West believed that something like the same model of external aid and intensive capital re-development was also the way to bring the rest of the world out of poverty. As William Easterly points out, this was a false analogy, one that has proven to have tragic consequences. Economic "recovery" for a developed country from a war is not the same thing as economic "development."
Secondly, in comparing the two movies we see that the return of material prosperity, if anything, has led to a society that is less spiritually mature. Which of these people do you believe are closer to the Kingdom of God?