One click is all a spammer needs to know he can flood your inbox with advertisements. The spammers send you a couple of phony emails about male enhancement, cheap prescription drugs or a new source of echinacea and hope that you’ll find something worth clicking on. Once you click, you have identified yourself as a living, spending entity on the internet and now the game is over.

I just had a comment written on my blog the other day from an “Adam”. He mentioned some common names of people we apparently knew and gave a generic line about warm memories and requested I get in touch. The email looked fishy and I couldn’t think of who this Adam might be so I deleted the comment. Just too vague to be real. If you want to avoid spam, you have to consistently say “no”.

I think there is something in all this for understanding the current global economic mess. I think it is true that we are becoming aware of systemic evils – what the Bible refers to as “principalities”. But the question is always asked, how do you get from personal sin to victimization under evil systems. Are the people in these systems just more evil and combine forces to predate the rest of us? I don’t think so.

Systemic evil is like spam. It only grows if you say yes. A predatory lender cannot predate if potential customers are circumspect enough to analyze their own income and outflow and to check their hunger for advance. It is interesting to note that even given all that God created for them, Adam and Eve still hungered after the one thing they could see but could not have. Our systems have indeed become evil but this is only true because we incrementally and consistently said “yes” to the offer for one more serving … or at least did not say “no”.

Saying “no” would have meant simpler lifestyles. Less comfort, less style, less leisure. It would have meant a slower economy and less innovation while the rest of the world seemed to sprint ahead. Given the opportunity to avoid this dull reality, I don’t think many would turn down the offer. I don’t know that I would. In fact, I usually kick myself for reacting too slowly when I do. But restraint on the part of individual consumers at all levels of our economy would have meant that the offers that we now know got us into this mess would have expired on the shelves.

The analysts saying that we’ve only just begun to right these wrongs are telling us the truth. Getting back out won’t just require policies and bailouts, it will require those of us at the bottom of the pyramid to consistently say no. It may be important that we say “no” to corporate bailouts (though I think it’s too late for that given that this is the basket we’ve put all our eggs in). But more importantly it will take me saying “no” to myself and to my own inquenchable thirst for the one thing I can see but cannot have.

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Great article, Matt! Very thoughtful and true!