Thursday, 13 September 2012

King Island Abattoir Closes:

This week has seen closure of the abattoir on King Island.  75 people put out of work instantly.   It would be easy to predicting a future of doom and gloom.  I do wonder what the immediate future might be for us on King Island.  How will the Island cope?
As I have read the history of King Island, one of the things that struck me is that the Island and her people have had to struggle for much of that history.  Right from the beginning, ship wrecks, unpredictable weather, and as the Island progressed fires, the struggle with the land anda series of businesses booming and then closing.   
For generations people have survived and even thrived here for much of that time with few of the luxuries or conveniences the world took for granted.  They built their homes, they built a community and they left a legacy.  From what I have read they seemed happy in what they did have.  Their Island home, their friends and family and for many a deep faith in God.
·        When times of trouble have come people have shared the little they did have with those who had none. 
·        They did not asked what is in it for me?
·        There was a strong commitment to the idea of the “common good”. 
Sharing, caring for those in need, the elderly, the sick and the less able is fortunately a strong and visible value on this Island.  But it is under attack. 
·        We live in an age where individuals rights are emphasised over or our community responsibilities. 
·        We live in an age where everyone looks to the “bottom line” … “what’s in it for me?”
·        And advertising tells us …”look after the most important person in the world … you”.
The Island way of the ‘common good” is worth protecting; a community that does care for those in need.

It is a value that goes to the heart of the Christian message.  Jesus just hours before he was betrayed but knowing what was to happen to him said to his followers …
“A new commandment I give unto you … that you love one another as I have loved you”.
Jesus used a specific word that we translate as love: agape.

The best characterization of agape that I have come across is from New Testament scholar, Leon Morris … who writes …
 Agape is a love lavished on others without a thought of whether they are worthy to receive it or not.  It proceeds rather from the nature of the lover, than from any merit in the beloved.”
This definition distinguishes agape love from what we would normally regard as love. 

We most commonly show love to those who are loveable.  In other words because there is something about the other we like, or want, there is a bottom line in it for us.
But the love Jesus commanded his followers to show was a love for all people that was a sacrificial love.  A love that did not expect to be repaid.  This is what the ‘common good’ is about.  Caring for those in our community who may never have the ability or means to repay us but caring for them and loving them because it is right, because it is good, because they are our neighbours and friends.
If we care for members of our Island in this way, I don’t think we will have much to fear no matter how bad the fallout of the abattoir closure might be, because the whole community will be sharing and supporting the cost equally.

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