Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cold hearts, sick minds

I'm on a bit of a heavy train of thought at the moment. It may have been triggered by a TV programme I watched yesterday about the great Spanish artist Goya. In the latter years of his life, following his witnessing the atrocities of Napoleon's invasion, his work became very dark and grotesque. In particular I think I resonated with Goya's sense of hopelessness in the face of mans inhumanity to man!
The recent news story about the UN aid workers and peace keepers perpetrating child abuse has both incensed and depressed me in equal measure. I struggle to conceive how one human being can treat another in this way. How can a human hearts become so cold as to commit such acts? How can human minds become so depraved to offer no resistance of conscience? Perhaps this is what Jesus was getting at when he told the crowds that anyone who says ‘Raca’ to his brother should be brought before the highest court in the land. That little Aramaic phrase simulates a retching of the throat prior to spitting – it’s an expression of utter contempt. And I do worry that this is where the headlines start, with the variety of ways and means through which even kids are taught the language of hate. At this point I’m reminded of the writings of De Touqeville, particularly his reflections on the newly emerging American nation:
“The first thing that strikes the observation is an innumerable multitude of men, all equal and alike, incessantly endeavoring to procure the petty and paltry pleasures with which they glut their lives. Each of them, living apart, is as a stranger to the fate of all the rest; his children and his private friends constitute to him the whole of mankind. As for the rest of his fellow citizens, he is close to them, but he does not see them; he touches them, but he does not feel them; he exists only in himself and for himself alone.”
Because my job often takes me into the most deprived communities in the city I often see the seedlings of this kind of attitude. Some young people I meet will have a firmly rooted stance that everyone outside their inner circle is a nobody (and of course there are categories below nobody but you wouldn’t want to be in them). Sadly these young people are likely to be making their own headlines sooner or later, for all the wrong reasons.

And so, and yet, with all that as a backdrop, I absolutely love the gospel. The pure, joyous and just gospel of Jesus of Nazareth who gave his life so that a new community could be born. And I love being part of that community, the church, in which I can be held accountable for my attitudes and hopefully keep my own heart from freezing over. And I want that community to grow and grow, because I see little hope for the world if it doesn't.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments: