|HEALING A BROKEN WORLD|
HEALING A BROKEN WORLD – SEEING HOPE WITH THE EYES OF A JOYFUL HEART.
SIP JAMBEROO Nov 14 2005
Kevin Bates sm
Every year we keep proclaiming the risen Jesus at Easter. Every year we reaffirm our hope that life will always have meaning and value. Every year we keep telling and reclaiming the stories that refresh our memories and call us to re-gather our strength and our love.
And to a point these stories do work – otherwise we wouldn’t be here.
Every year of my journey I become more and more disenchanted with the idea of human progress. After centuries of so-called civilization, centuries of presuming that our western cultures are somehow superior to any other form of human enterprise, we find our world hungrier and more violent than ever.
From our imagined superior vantage point we keep using violence and fear to process our issues, so that we are alert and alarmed – we’re even scared of chooks and all forms of bird-life at the moment!! The paranoia we are creating for ourselves is spiralling in an ever decreasing circle of self-absorbed panic, and we are likely to disappear somewhere dark and not so inviting if we keep this up.
The very earth itself is crying out it seems – the tsunami of last summer, the earthquake just recently in Pakistan, Hurricanes in Central America and in southern USA – and these in turn have brought out some of the best and the worst in us.
Hurricane Katrina revealed the hidden poverty of the US and the violence and mayhem that followed that storm was as significant as the storm itself as a sign of the decay of a civilization.
Nearer to home, we have a media filled with vacuous talk-back, with increasingly monopolised control and with trivial rubbish as John Doyle brilliantly pointed out the other week in his Andrew Olle Media lecture.
He noted that substantial thought, or “elite thought” as he put it, is reviled by the media moguls and viewed with suspicion because it raises too may uncomfortable questions, and is to be avoided at all costs.
We haven’t even mentioned the church yet in this context.
We have governments of both major political persuasions who regard economic management as being of the essence of good governance and we become an economy instead of a community where as John Doyle points out, spending 150% of what you earn makes for good economics and so it goes.
We have people living with a modicum of comfort, and some living in quiet desperation as their rights are ever so gradually eroded. Up to 85% of Australia’s workers are going to be affected by the Industrial Relations legislation that is being introduced, and centuries of workplace reform are being jettisoned it seems in the name of wealth – the wealth of a few.
The obscenity of the wealth of some of us and the obscenity of the poverty of some of us will come more and more sharply into relief as these policies take hold. And they are being introduced and sponsored by a Federal Minister who is a serious, practising Catholic and a good family man. I wonder how he makes sense of all this.
In my experience, having written to him a number of times on a number of issues, he answers questions thrown at him around this and other matters with a studied silence.
The secrecy surrounding the IR legislation prior to its release with a Prime Minister saying “Trust me it will be ok” is hardly reassuring and generating of hope or trust.
Just recently I heard of an 11-year-old boy at Fitzroy Crossing in WA hanging himself. It seems that many people simply are finding that there is no hope for them to be found.
Echoing this fear and, and looking for some meaning in it al, Black-Eyed Peas a couple of years’ ago put out a heartfelt cry in a song “Where is the Love?”
On the other side of the coin there is evidence of life and hope.
In response to all the tragic situations that have faced us this year, people of goodwill, people of the gospel and people of many faith and spiritual backgrounds, found their hearts moved to the point where their generosity and wisdom overflowed.
And perhaps there is our clue for hope. Gustavo Guttierez, the Latin American theologian, reckoned that it was only the oppressed who instigate any real sense of hope, because they had tasted what it was like to be trodden down and treated as a wasteland by a more affluent world.
Jesus reckoned he came to preach the Kingdom of God to the poor – perhaps because they had nothing to lose and were prepared to have a crack at anything that might generate life and hope.
He also maintained that in order to taste this hope, we had first to taste the oppression – or as he put it “pick up your Cross every day and follow me.”
So maybe the clues for our hope lie in our very suffering. The clues of our hope lie in our capacity and our readiness to listen to the cry of the world, and to respond.
The clues to our hope are in our own hands. If we look to our politicians, our systems, religious, political, economic, military, to generate peace and meaning for us, then our hopes will be dashed.
If we look to our wealth to save us, our technology, our science, to bring us happiness, our success on Wheel of fortune, the Price is Right, Who wants to be a Millionaire, OzLotto and so on, then our hopes will be futile.
If we look to religious practice dislocated from social action, from prayer, from contemplation of the big questions, then our hope will be frustrated.
However, if we allow our hearts to be broken open, embrace our sufferings, and learn from the sufferings our behaviours bring to our world, then perhaps hope can be born.
If we join our voices and our efforts to those working to eradicate poverty in our world, to heal sickness, to liberate oppressed peoples, then hope will be reborn.
If we work so that our church and civil communities really listen and welcome the cries of those who are oppressed in our midst, let alone those far away, then hope is born.
There is much to hope in. But for many, hope is a dream long lost and long past.
Rising from the dead really does take our best efforts, and perhaps our best chance of this is to throw ourselves back into God’s arms so that we might start to see again what hope his call holds for us.