In a world full of fear and greed, it is easy to lose hope. There is something comprehensively pernicious about the apparent ease with which our worldview in the last 40 to 50 years has been overtaken by the overriding desires of the American empire and the enabling culture of greedy consumerism at any price.
Fear comes from the loss of any anchoring narrative about who we are, why we’re here and what our purpose is in the world. As our rational explanations have done away with our spiritual and religious lives, our mental health has deteriorated and the loss of hope has become overwhelming. Fear, disgust, shame and guilt combined with overwhelming greed and a reductionist view of an individual’s rights means people do not have to be accountable to anyone or anything, as there is no-one who cares. If an individual only has this time in history, then why shouldn’t they grab, rape and pillage for all its worth, before they die and become no more.
The life of a human being has become valueless except for the labour of their hands and their contribution to the only reality worth living and having, is an economic reality. If they can’t work and contribute they are useless and have no value. The fact there are more people in the world at this point than at any other time in history, has enabled this thinking to flourish.
People are commodities which have become plentiful in this death-dealing worldview and so using and discarding human beings as so much trash once they are worn out, having become use-less with ill health, age, or loss of beauty and sex appeal, is the most economic use of a body with a limited life span. Rather than investing in a person to heal or care for to make them last longer, it is easier to throw it away; and, starting again with a fresh body is the most economically viable business model.
Empires come and go, and the American empire is likely on the wane, coming into its last stages and consequently is at its most dangerous, thrashing and killing all in its path. Its continuing militarisation currently in the hands of an ignorant frightened leader spells disaster for billions of people.
Our human inability to understand how peace comes into existence and what living as neighbours might look like means that it is easy to lose hope.
The same loss of hope is evident in other countries around the world, with the rise of the conservative right wing, whose mantra is hatred and fear to justify the ever-increasing use of violence on anyone who doesn’t fit, resists or is importuning and embarrassing. It is a work of all our governments to persuade civilians it is in their best interests to trade in their inconvenient and hard won rights, for a more secure world and safety. Not peace, but security.
The first to go in this world, are the lawyers, doctors, engineers, poets and writers, along with the free and independent media, keeping only the shock jocks and those whose loyalty has already been purchased to tell the right story and not ask too many questions.
The funding for NGOs and services to the poor and marginalised is quietly whittled away, leaving only enough to keep the basics ticking over to ensure there isn’t any revolution.
Those already marginalised, our First Nations peoples, battered women, refugees and asylum seekers, the homeless, the mentally ill can continue to wear the sharp end of the reduction in services. The rest of the people are so immured to their voices and their stories they no longer see or hear the tipping point.
The danger for the oligarchs is winding back the services too much to the point where the loss of power by those without resources becomes dangerous because they become too big a minority, having tipped into being a suffering majority and when the middle class are absorbed into this group, and have nothing left to lose, then revolution becomes civil war. Surplus powerlessness by the dispossessed is the fear of all dictatorships and tyrants.
And then, the final part of the jigsaw, religion. It is despised and held in contempt by many because of the terrible failings of human beings who have behaved appallingly, with fear and pride, as our history and our present stories show. Nonetheless, the persistent understanding and expectations of the faithful of all traditions, contributes to an insistently different narrative always being present whether our leaders like it or not, and it is one that speaks of peace, hope, generosity, and a willingness to give up everything, even to die for a better world.
In the end, it is only those with a sense of God at work in their lives who understand there is a bigger picture that is alive and working beyond the all-encompassing despair and hopelessness of our age and lives.
If we look as Christians for Jesus on the cross, we won’t find him hanging there, as he has beaten death, he has risen. And in rising he has given new life, brought into view a new creation if only we might have the courage to see it and work for it. Already working in our world, God is making a difference.
So I see the fear and hopelessness, the greed and despair, and I weep at the stories of brutality and senseless waste of humanity; I am frightened at the dreadful view of the future being spelled out by bigots and men with power beyond their understanding and capacity, being misused and abused without restraint or human limits acknowledged.
However, as I stand giving witness to this reality I am at the same time, standing at the edge of a new creation, trusting in God as the way forward for a future for my children and grandchildren.