We live in an age of perceived crisis.
Not necessarily real ones you understand in the way that our grandparents may have known- in the age of Hitler’s (anf Churchill’s) bombs falling on cities, of concentration camps, and nuclear proliferation.
Instead we have the perceived crises of;
Terrorism– the so called war on ‘global terror’- which we fight using as a weapon, global terror. International policy is formed out of the elevation of fear in a general population- fear of an unknown evil, mixed in with a dose of racism, and religion…
The credit crunch– do you get the impression that there is some kind of hidden hand holding economic strings that we are powerless to influence? Almost as if the burst in the artificial credit bubble was a natural disaster? Meanwhile stock brokers ‘feel the pinch’ and lose the odd sports car, whilst in more marginal places where debt has become a the only option, survival is harder. (Check out this post for more discussion on this issue)
Knife crime- reported as an ‘epidemic’ in the UK, despite at best marginal rises within particular demographic groups in our cities. Anyone would think we did not live in one of the safest societies in one of the safest country in the world!
Energy crisis- oil prices soaring, leading to uncertainty and fear all over the world’s economy. Suddenly oil fields previously politically unacceptable are opened up. And people buy cars with smaller engines, to sit in the same traffic jams…
And so on- house prices, food prices, natural disasters, global warming, etc etc…
I am not a conspiracy theorist. I am always much more prepared to believe in a certain kind of chaos that results in some opportunist winners, and some unfortunate victims.
However, I am more and more convinced that our system of free market capitalism should not stand uncriticised. That far from being the answer to the complex problem of human economic organisation, instead it has become an animal that, once fed, is as likely to bite off the hands of the zoo keeper as it is to pull his cart.
My friend Ali sent me this link today. He tends towards relish of a good conspiracy, but I agree that this critique makes interesting watching…
This is propaganda, but propaganda when used by the powerless can become protest- if not a check on the actions of the powerful, perhaps at least it can lead to a reformulation of their strategy. It reminded me again of Thatcher, the most unpopular British prime minister ever, until the Falklands war. Then she was the unassailable economic saviour of western capitalism…
And also of Moazzim Begg, and his experience at Guantanamo bay.
Which brings me to the point of this post. I am a Christian. I am part of a small local community. What should be the local response to all this stuff that fills the airwaves? Which voices should I listen to that are beautiful and true?
Global communication networks allow us to connect with people thousands of miles away, but there is so much information out there, how would you ever make anything heard, or know that what you hear is good?
The old adage of think globally, act locally often just seems like an empty statement. A bit like ‘global village’. For some the world may have shrunk- but the gap between those who have, and those who have not is larger than ever.
But I think that we Christians do recognise truth when it hits us between the eyes. It comes at us when we see one person who transcends the times, and speaks up for beauty and peace, and love.
I remember reading an open letter that Brian McLaren wrote to George Bush just after the attack on the World Trade Centre. Warning against vengeful and angry responses that will result in more victims, more broken lives and families.
Check this out for more discussion about how we might respond to crisis.
The other way that we encounter truth, is through the words and stories of Jesus.
Blessed are the peacemakers.
And blessed are those for whom crisis (perceived or real) commands compassion, and love.