You just shake your head at times, perplexed, bewildered at how things could be the way they are. I was shocked – and then I was surprised that I was shocked! – at the Aid Workers scandal where some people ostensibly there to help in places like Haiti were compounding the abuse of women by their money and self gratification. (But then I remembered that some clergy also ‘cross the line’ in their abuse of their role.) It is, of course, good to care, to render aid and assistance, to help but when it is the helper who is really benefitting then we think something is not right or definitely wrong.
I heard recently a podcast in which medication for the elderly was becoming a form of restraint in some aged care facilities. Again medication – medicine – is good and helpful and has therapeutic benefits because one weighs up the benefits over against the side effects – for the patient! When the medication, however, is administered for the benefits of the person giving out the medication, then we query, question, draw a line, investigate, and say ‘Hold on; stop this’.
At the beginning of the year I listened to an interview with Australia’s first school lawyer who was in a school to represent students and their families and to teach and advise about the law and people’s responsibilities under the law. It is well known that domestic violence affects education and the school and the community have agreed to fund this position as part of the scaffolding individuals and communities need to help them get through life. Of course this sort of scaffolding mightn’t be needed if families and communities didn’t face such violence and the issues that contribute to it.
If everything in this world eventually decays and the entropy of the universe is very cold and if it takes a lot of energy to keep things going, to maintain things then we shouldn’t be surprised that everything tends towards the ‘dark side’; that people will want things more easy for themselves if possible; and that noble deeds tire and can become selfish and even very ignoble. Theologically we describe this in Christianity in the teaching, which for many is quite scandalous, of original sin.
So how should we live in this world – no matter our context, century, country, or climate? By all means follow the rules and regulations around but they will not sustain nor ultimately support you. For me, it is the story of the person associated with a cross and empty tomb, that gives the reason for living, a source of life, and a comfort and hope to battle against all the tendencies in this world – and in me! – to hurt, abuse, ruin and kill. One of the troubles with Christians is that we can so easily blend into this world. But there are times – possibly each day – when following Jesus and struggling with our self centredness and seeking the best for others means that while we might notice what is happening around us – instead we want to follow Jesus and serve others – and live! (And that is also true in the organisational church … but that’s another ‘blurb’ all together!) GS