Jan 16, 2009
After my previous post The Mystery of the Number "9" in 2009, one reader at another magazine site where the article was published responded thus: "Interesting, but totally miserable!... I do not see how the world could get worse than it already is... That means we will have a worse Dafur, a worse Kenyan drought/politicians, a worse American foreign policy?" Now, obviously this dear reader, while overlooking the overall motif of hope that I present, brushed against what I may call the "prophetic" aspects of the article. I have stated in an earlier piece on this blog that I am an optimist. However, I am not one to be sold on utopian ideas of a perfecct society that is ever progressing or on a cheap salvation. I am more of an optimistic realist, one who believes in the possibilities of a better society, if, and only when, the human society, individually and collectively, is willing to grapple with the realities of its own fall. An optimism (freedom) that is guided by the accompanying and absoluteley necessary sense of responsibility. I gather that it is this call to responsibility that the reader struggles with. The fact that for us to hope for a better 2009 and beyond, we must equally rise to the challenge of responsible decision making, starting with wanting to change internally. Sadly, the overwhelming historical evidence suggests that as humanity, we are largely averse to this call. It is easy for us to pass on our responsibility to government, to the church, to our employers, or to institutions and to demand that they think ans act a certain way and yet refuse to alter our own way of thinking and acting. More tragically, it is easy for us to play the blame game, all the while wallow in our misery with no initiative to get up. And so we blame God, we blame government, the American foreign policy, or the other tribe/race. Now, God forbid that we should have a worsening Darfur or another Rwanda-like situation anywhere in the world as my reader fears. But doesn't it strike you as being strange that only fifty years after the atrocities of Awchwitz, the incredible outcry and regrets that followed, and the declarations of "Never Again," that we had a Rwanda situation play openly on our hands with few, if any, flinching? What went wrong with the collective desire for change that remains? Fast-forward that to today. Here we are again in 2009. The tragedy that has unfolded, besides Darfur, on the economic front. What guarantee do we have that we shall not repeat the same mistakes again? How can we hope for better leadership when we have corrupted the fundamental values and allowed moral decline in leadership institutions? True we are inaugurating a new American President this coming Tuesday in an atmosphere of great historical significance. As a Kenyan-American, I feel proud of Barack Obama's achievements. But aren't we expecting too much if while refusing to own up to our own short-comings and our defiance against God we expect a quick fix? Or since my reader refers to Kenyan political leaders, isn't it strange that these very leaders were not long ago crying for change and vying for "opportunity to change how things are done for the better" of their country? How come after they came to power that 1500 people died through political violence instigated by their power greed, the worst ever political situation in Kenya's 45 year history as an independent nation? Isn't it clear that part of our problem is attributing too much innocence and goodness to those who are "delivered from evil?" Isn’t it clear that the sources of evil and human suffering are not always “out there” but so many times “in here?” I have stated in the earlier article that genuine followers of Jesus Christ have nothing to worry about or fear regarding the prospects in 2009. It is not that we won't be faced with the common challenges as everyone else. It is that Jesus Christ Himself walks with us in the midst of the problems and gives us a different perspective. When we individually and collectively bow before the crowned Man, Jesus Christ, He takes on the role of Answerer to all of our life's challenges. As consequence, led by love, God’s primary attribute, and not by power alone, our default attribute as humanity, we are better positioned to effect change in society. The change for which faith hopes, which it believes possible, cannot be effected through power, might, majesty, dominion, and the like, but through love. This is the key to societal transformation entailing a future free of repeat Darfurs and Rwanda’s or an American foreign policy that opresses rather than lifts up the down-trodden. Ultmately it is not just the actual practices of the rich nations of the world or the political class in poor nations. It is the spirit which incites these practices and sustains them; it is the goals, the values, the anxieties, and the bogus hopes which make such practices seem necessary or natural. The invisible, intangible, spiritual core of human society must be altered if what is visibly and tangibly wrong in the world is to be altered significantly. But this monumental transformation is only possible when, in humility, we invite the Answerer to help us.