Friday, 11 April 2008

12 April 2008 – Prophecies against the nations

Old Testament prophets often spoke not just about Israel's wandering away from God but also against the behaviour and actions of the surrounding nations. Jeremiah 46-51 is one such passage. In Davidson's commentary (1985) on this passage, Davidson challenges his readers to think about the injustices that exist in the world today.

My thoughts are based on the way that capitalist, western culture believes that it has the answers. The advances in technology and scientific research have primarily been based in western or European based cultures. That has led to prosperity and wealth. Some might argue a place of privilege. In order to maintain this prosperity, the prosperous nations have looked for places to uncover the resources needed (land, oil, labour, etc.). In doing so, they have taken their culture and implanted on other cultures. In the process, the aboriginal people, the original or earliest people of the land, have in so many places lost their history and sense of place. They have been forced to conform to the western / European colonisation. This process continues in Africa, the middle East, and Asia. The syndrome of western prosperity has destroyed much of the cultures that pre-existed the arrival of technological and prosperity driven western society.

In order for these nations to get on board the prosperity band wagon, their people have been exploited as slave labour for the production of cheap goods to the affluent nations. In the middle east, the wealth generating resources have been extracted for use in the affluent nations. Now we see some of these nations becoming affluent and seeking to influence the rest of the world or maybe it is to hold the western nations to ransom. Considering the exploitation of their lands then maybe they have a good case.

Inequality or the way that we go to other nations breeds new resentments. We haven't gone to understand, to help them learn, or to aid them to utilise the resources of prosperity. We have taken our cultural baggage and taken over their life.

There is a tension here between sharing prosperity along with our cultural baggage and understanding a people's culture and strengthening and building both their culture and our own. We need to release our baggage and recognise that although we may see ourselves as the people with the advantage (at least the wealth advantage), there are things in other cultures that can enrich our way of life and challenge us about the way that we deal with the problems in our culture. We will address these issues if we can remove our sense of being advantaged and of being in a position to give to others. We need to recognise that we also need to receive.

Is the question that we should be asking “What is it that you see yourselves needing to address the problems that you see?” rather than “Here is what we have to give and in return we want?”

References

Davidson, R. (1985). Jeremiah Volume 2 and Lamentations. Edinburgh: The Saint Andrews Press.

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