Often in our culture today, money takes precedence over relationships. The culture preaches that money will make us happy and that relationships are expendable. This is certainly not the Christian position. Christ tells us that we can serve only one king, either God or Mammon. Further, in the Kingdom of God, persons, like God and one’s neighbors, receive the utmost value. Material goods are important, they are gifts from God, but they are not ends in themselves and ought to be valued in their proper order.
Eastern’s situation regarding its relationship with its housekeeping staff seems to have encountered the risk of adopting this cultural vice which values money over relationships. Navigating through business contracts is a difficult endeavor and makes one vulnerable to deciding new contract conditions based on abstract calculations and not on the concrete particularities of the persons affected. The latest news regarding the housekeeping situation has sounded optimistic, citing that many of the housekeeping staff will be returning to work under the new housekeeping-provider, but the scenario that we are slowly coming out of has raised many questions: how can one deal well with the relationship between money and persons in a business context; are there guidelines to help navigate the ethical problems involved with these scenarios; how ought one proceed in deciding these things?
Since the Christian perspective gives persons the utmost value, the place to start, then, would seem to be here, with the persons involved. The missiologist from Fuller Theological Seminary, Bryant L. Myers, argues that the root cause of all poverty, all brokenness, is the damaged relationships between persons, especially the damaged relationships with God. Since the root cause of brokenness is damaged relationships, the place needing attention, or where healing is required, is on the personal/relational level. If hard financial decisions need to be made that will inevitably impact a community, the way to proceed, then, is by caring for the persons and relationships involved. Questions to consider are: How are the persons involved affected by the issue? how can the parties maintain a mutual love? is everyone having their voices heard?
The school’s situation involving its housekeeping staff has been a difficult process for many. There are signs that good may be coming from the housekeeping-provider change, but the process is not yet finished. The continuing transition ought to consider the good of the persons involved before any secondary ends, like money. Seeing many staff and students respond to the housekeeping-provider change out of a concern for the parties involved has been encouraging and seems a good way to make sure that those directly affected receive the love they deserve.
The relationship between money and persons easily gets complicated, and can be the cause of much pain, but through the hurts and challenges, the soul ripens. And so, with this challenge, our school is presented with the chance to grow, to blossom, into a more beautiful creation. The clouds are starting to clear, the sky is lightening up, and soon we shall see what will sprout from our soil, from the seeds we have planted.