There is a ‘smiling contempt’ that has arisen in our world, as I reflect on our capacity to consume and kill which is gathering momentum and continues to do so, which is characterised by our matching ability to ignore, not see and reject that which does not fit our worldview; and, which is the smiling warm, addictive face of evil.
I was reading Richard Fidler recently, in his book Ghost Empire, in which he talks about death in relation to particular times in our history. He writes: 2016:212)
Death demands more death and a moral threshold is crossed. This is one of those moments in history when psychopathic leaders gain the upper hand, and the normal human sanctions against killing disappear; the Jacobin terror or revolutionary France, Indonesia’s year of living dangerously, the Kristallnacht of the Nazis, the Rwandan massacres. In such moments, death becomes as commonplace as eating and drinking. Passionless political killing mutates into casual murder for pleasure, and something unravels as the sight of helpless people invokes not pity, but its opposite, a kind of smiling contempt. The killing picks up momentum and corpses pile up until death has had its fill and can consume no more.
It is my sad reflection this behaviour is not solely about death, but is about the obscene, gratuitous, greedy consumption that is eating our world alive today. Consumption is picking up apace, it is not slowing down. There is, to paraphrase Richard Fidler again, a passionless, sick consumption, blowing out beyond control, invoking neither regret or concern for our illness, but its opposite; a smiling contempt for all those unable or unwilling to do likewise, a rejection of their critique of starvation and poverty and an active, deliberate misunderstanding of restraint, alternative choices made for simple living and the need to be aware of the impact on future generations to come. The despair is profound.
Arundhati Roy said recently, that when an animal starts to foul its own nest, it is in its death throes. This is our current times. The conspicuous, indigestible consumption is picking up momentum and our bloated corpses which have been killed by morbid greed have not experienced pleasure and contentment in such consumption; and instead our illness is mortal.
God weeps as we stand in witness to our own terror, greed and blindness. Our desire for death at this moment is clearly overwhelming. At some point, it will not be enough to assume that we will consume our fill until we can consume no more, and this will end; as this is not showing signs of slowing down.
I preached on Sunday on how we need to hold on to hope and faith in times of darkness. Blessed are those who mourn, who stand in witness to what is happening in the world in spite of all the contrary evidence, as we pray for different times and a different understanding to be birthed once again into our world with a different hope for the future.
To paraphrase Arundhati Roy:
There is a new world on its way, if we listen very clearly we can hear her breathing.