Who has pottered by this way, then?

Monday, July 9, 2012

The bottom line

Throughout history, there have been occasions where a whole society's assumptions get overturned and things change. One way of looking at these occasions is that they were when people challenged "the way things are" because they recognised that they were based on a fundamentally flawed way of looking at things. To put it another way, they're based on a lie. Very often this "lie" has been about the value of people, and often these changes have been spearheaded by the church - or more accurately, by groups of Christians (occasionally at odds with their leadership) who find their faith so at odds with some aspect of the environment they find themselves in that they act against these lies . By 'lies', I mean these ways of doing things which are based on accepting untrue statements which society tells us about people (or accepted ways of treating people) as a justification for "the ways things are". These are "big picture" changes, not merely changes of government or ruler I'm talking about here. 

For instance: 
Recognising the lie of slavery: that some people are less than human and only have value as a commodity. People argued and fought against that lie and truth won.
Recognising the lie of women not having the vote: the lie that some people, based on their gender alone, are not suitably qualified to participate in democracy.
People argued and fought against that lie and truth won.

So how about the lies of the moment? What are they?
There are many, but this is the one which is on my heart at the moment: the lie that it's fine to sacrifice some people for the sake of the nation's economy. Will the truth of the  intrinsic, universal value of people as being made in the image of God win against this lie?
The weak, the poor and the voiceless are the ones suffering most from the current economic turmoil and it seems that they are considered expendable in the grand scheme of things "for the greater good of the economy". Surely the economy is the servant of people, not its master? This isn't just a little, local issue. It seems to me that the way we have chosen to organise our world economy is based on this lie, among others. Whole nations are considered expendable for the good of western democracies and have been so for many decades. Now this issue has come centre-stage in our own society, and that of many other western democracies,  this is surely the time for people to question this lie and get the true value of each person centre stage in how we organise ourselves. This is not a call to a politics of Left or Right, but a call for a far deeper culture change in the political debate to be centred around the lives of the weakest and most vulnerable in society. Those on the margins who are being disproportionately affected by recent changes include young people in rural areas,the disabled and children in low-income families. The media campaign of vilification of those on benefits, especially incapacity, is not based on fact (a mere 0.5% of the Disability Living Allowance budget was down to fraud) but even without the facts being on the side of those bearing such hardship, followers of Jesus should always be fighting in their corner.

My faith leads me to hope that, in the footsteps of those within the church who argued against slavery, Christians will lead the way on this as they, more than anyone, should be aware that each person is made in the image of God, is a glimpse of the divine and thus is not expendable, not merely some part of a fiscal numbers game, but is the bottom line itself.

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