I listen every day to stories in the media floods, famine, disease, human pain and suffering, livelihoods, homelands obliterated, war, disease, human mutation, tales of the disadvantaged, poverty stricken, homeless, hungry, mentally wounded and struggling in our own societies.
Every day we are pummelled with disaster after disaster – the millions who are suffering.
Every moment we are told what to think, feel, do and we follow blindly – that tiny inner voice does not agree?
In every communication suspicion, fear allows us to be manipulated, we follow systems and processes that are alien to our psychi – to misconstrue what someone says and get communication completely wrong?
The situation, in some cases, has reached such nonsensical levels that instead of greeting our neighbour and sharing with them we are more likely, with fear in our hearts, to ignore any contact, lock that door and retreat into our own private “safe world?”
Have the lunatics taken over the assylum or are we lunatics in the first place?
Can we not learn lessons?
Can we not read the books, everything that was before?
The book of Proverbs in the Bible?
“Unused fields could yield plenty of food for the poor, but unjust men keep them from being farmed.” Proverbs chapter 13 verse 23. The Good News Bible (Church of Scotland).
Am I the only one who sees the mirror image, what happened about 3000 years ago and the situation today?
This article, however, is not being written because of present systems, actions and reportage. I would like to suggest an alternative, part of a solution, a possible way forward that I am sure many have thought of.
We talk about Community Development in the UK, Europe and America. Do we talk about Community Development in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Africa, etc.?
In the Bible Old Testament there is a book called Nehemiah.
Nehemiah was called by God to take his people back to Jerusalem from Babylon and rebuild the city. This he duly did despite being ridiculed and attacked by his enemies. He did not give up, neither did the people who followed his lead. Every family took part in the rebuilding of Jerusalem each family having responsibility for an area. Here is an extract:
The book of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of Jerusalem
“1. When Sanballat heard that we Jews had begun rebuilding the wall he was furious and began to ridicule us. 2. In front of his companions and the Smaritan troops he said “What do these miserable Jews think they’re doing? Do they think that by offering sacrifices they can finish the work in one day? Can they make building stones out of heaps of burnt rubble?”
3. Tobiah was standing there beside him and he added, “What kind of wall could they ever build? Even a fox could knock it down!”
4. I prayed, “Listen to them mocking us o God! Let their ridicule fall on their own heads. Let them be robbed of everything they have, and let them be taken as prisoners to a foreign land. 5. Don’t forgive the evil they do and don’t forget their sins, for they have insulted us who are building.
6. So we went on rebuilding the wall and soon it was half its full height, because the people were eager to work.” Nehemiah Chapter 4, verses 1-6. Good News Bible (Church of Scotland).
Does this action sound familiar? For me it was an epiphany at church on Sunday.
All my adult life I have tried to help people around me. In the last ten years I have been even more involved in local community development especially in the area of support.
At one point I can honestly say, I felt I was standing as a rock in the middle of a huge sea of pain and suffering, being strong for everyone I could help, whilst being in a less than ideal situation myself.
I am trying my hardest at the moment to create, build something that will provide space for local community to develop themselves, the area they live in. In this respect, this passage resonated strongly with me and gave me the push I needed.
The mirror image, just now is Europe being overwhelmed by refugees who are fleeing their homelands to find safety and decent living standards for themselves and their families. This is a natural survival instinct. I get very angry when such suffering communities are disregarded as a nuisance or a problem to be dealt with. They are human beings, there is a way to help and it is not just with charity or by imposing our cultural values.
There is a huge task to undertake, however, as shown in Nehemiah, it is not impossible. It is about engaging with individuals and communities, just as we do here, finding those with leadership skills who are willing to take responsibility, providing tools and skills to help them rebuild their homes; livelihoods; ways of living; giving them a beginning to do it for themselves and celebrating achievement. It is not about throwing money at the situation, it is not about further destruction or division. It is not about interfering or imposing superiority and creating further oppression, it is about asking how, and offering help, making suggestions and taking ideas, innovations and inventions seriously, creating dialogue and action. Most importantly it is not about ridiculing or taking achievement away it is about allowing and encouraging true aspiration and achievement, creating friendships and working with individuals and communities.
We have to find a way of rebuilding in the midst of the war zone. Think about it. Our disadvantaged communities try to develop in the midst of a different kind of war, a war zone nonetheless!
In my view, I have watched a deterioration in humanity over the last thirty years. It is not just about inequality in financial wealth. We are so caught up in the need to survive and get ever more material wealth we cannot “see the wood for the trees”. There are so many quotations, “it is not about the quantity it is about the quality,” or “the love of money is the root of all evil,” are both good examples.
Addiction and oppression are bi-products of our present way of life, there is such a better more fulfilling path, one we have to take to survive, create and live.
My vision of present society is that of human lemmings rushing to their destruction over the cliff of greed, avarice, despair and poverty. Can we not change perception and direction now please?