Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The Emperors New Clothes: A Modern Parable.

Homeless man sleeping at a railways station

The new millennium started with such high hopes and promise.  The economic rationalists were promising us the end to all the world’s troubles.  A free-market economy, coupled with free trade and de-regulating the business-world we were told would end poverty, provide solutions to the environmental problems and possibly find cures for most diseases.  We would have universal peace, prosperity and happiness.
Many people seemed to have got caught up in chasing success.  Work, money in the bank, a share portfolio, property investments.  These were the things of real value.  Chasing these would ensure happiness, security and privilege.  Even if it had a cost, like neglecting friends, family and community.  After all we were told, those had no real value anyway.  Only things that could be brought and sold or recorded on a balance sheet have any real value.
It reminds me of the children’s story of the Emperor’s new clothes.   It was like someone in the nineties went around and changed all the price tags.  So the priceless things, friendship, permanent relationships, our children, our family, our community, spirituality and even God were some how seen as worthless.  The world was sold a lie. 
Then in the past year the world has been presented with a series of disasters.  War in Iraq and Afghanistan that seems to be never ending.  The global economy in melt down.  People who were planning a safe and well provided for retirement are now forced to re-adjust their plans as they watch their life savings being swallowed up as a result of corporate greed and excess. 
Closer to home we have witnessed the floods in North Queensland and the devastating bush fires in Victoria.  People have had tears in their eyes as they have watched people they don’t know or never loose every thing.  Homes burnt, businesses destroyed, but what was been worst was the mounting death toll.  Loved ones gone for ever. 
We have been forced to re-evaluate what is truly valuable.  People have rallied to help.  Millions of dollars given away to charities to aid these victims of the fires and communities have mourned and turned to each other for comfort.  
It is at these times that religion is again seen as valuable.  Part of religion’s proper function is to help make sense of life’s big issues and questions and to help draw people together.  To offer the comfort that we are not alone in these times, that God has not abandoned us.  That God is in our very midst that God is with us. 
As the words of the Pitcairn Anthem say …
“Then shall the King (Jesus) say unto them,
On His right hand –

Come ye blessed of my Father
Inherit the Kingdom prepared for you
From the foundation of the world.

I was enhunger’d and ye gave me meat,
I was thirsty and ye gave me drink,
I was a stranger and ye took me in,
Naked and ye clothed me,
I was sick and ye visited me,
I was in prison and ye came unto me;

In as much as ye have done it unto one
Of the least of these my brethren
Ye have done it unto me.
Ye have done it unto me.”

God is where he is always found, with the powerless, with those who suffer …

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