Disillusioned with Humanity?

7 02 2013

Disillusioned with Humanity?

Job’s wisdom came with an interview with God. I often think how different we would all be if we each had ‘an interview with God’ and would thus be able to realise how great He is and how small we are, but it’s not like that. It seems that the Lord in His wisdom allows us to go our own way but then He either brings or allows (and there is room for debates in individual occurrences) things to cross our lives that make us question the views that we had of ourselves as almost divine-like beings.

But real life for us begins when we proceed along, to use a picture that Jemima Khan has recently used in respect to her attitude to Julian Assange over the principles of WikiLeaks, “a journey of admiration to demoralisation”.  So much of the time we live with self-admiration but we only come to a place of reality when we become demoralised over what we are really like. Then we come to God for help.

Our society in the UK is going through a journey from admiration to demoralisation. We, as a society at least, abandoned God back in the last quarter of the twentieth century and became a self-admiring society that, free from its religious shackles, could now grow up and reach its full potential. Yet the truth is that in any and every area of our society over the last ten years we have been found to be drastically wanting and demoralisation is setting in.

Being cut free from the strictures of absolute morality, government authorities and media, all made up of self-admiring individuals, have opened the doors to liberal freedoms –  but these chickens are now coming home to roost.

In the financial realm, the mockery of the bankers continues unabated after over five years of mismanagement. I recently came across a comment written by Clive James a couple of years ago that seemed to describe it all so well: “Even the legitimate financial system had all the trappings of a racket, including a wonderful mechanism whereby which the banks that lost your money were saved from ruin by being given more of your money so that they could award it as bonuses to the very people who lost your money in the first place.”  That is the bizarre nature of the world without absolutes that we have created.

If we move into the realm of relationships and sexual freedom, even the most liberal of writers is now forced to concede that it is not going well.  In a world freed from absolute morality, it is no wonder that promiscuity so often undermines marriages and committed cohabitation alike, it is no wonder that many men struggle with sexual imagery in their minds that drifts into reality and produces sexual abuse, rape, child abuse and so much more, it is no wonder that teenage pregnancy rates, abortion rates and STD rates are at almost epidemic proportions, it is no wonder that young people and old alike despair at ever finding that elusive quality called love.

It takes a Sunday journalist to state it clearly: “Children fare best, and are less likely to be a problem to society, if they are raised by married parents. Those married parents are far more likely to remain together – and so provide a stable home life for their families, as well as being a socially cohesive force in the community – than are those who are unmarried. These are just bald statistical facts.”  But it seems most of us don’t like the facts.

Perhaps the icon for demoralisation should be Jimmy Saville. If he was guilty as so many seem to claim he was, wasn’t the guilt also spread through those who turned a blind eye to him. Expediency was obviously the name of the game in the world freed from absolute morality. Only now, it seems, after he is dead, is the curtain being drawn back and the magnitude and extent of the sin revealed.

Demoralisation is striking in every quarter. In the realm of politics, in recent weeks I have now twice heard, from what were once staunch Conservatives, about both Prime Minister and Chancellor, the equivalent of “This man must go!” and yet the alternatives seem equally bad. Moral ethics appear to have no part to play in modern politics, only what is expedient or seems good at the time to an unanchored mind. Much of the malaise experienced within this society today must be laid at the feet of politicians and media people alike who have their own present-day agendas built on nothing less than what seems good to them today. Already we have said, the chickens are coming home to roost, but still they plough on opening further doors to future social chaos. Today’s laws thus create tomorrow’s chaos.

I have heard a few comments of “There must be an alternative to all this,” but generally society acts like the frog in the saucepan of water bring gradually brought to the boil, and seems unaware of just how bad things are. Self-admiration is a difficult thing to overcome; indeed it often takes crisis to shake our self-sufficiency. Whether we are suffering from the effects of global warming or from a cycle of unpleasant weather systems, as a country we have been getting pounded by the weather for the last few years.  Perhaps it is only those who suffer flooding again and again who begin to face the reality that they are small and puny and have little or no power in the face of such things. We will eventually learn to build flood-proof houses but we are slow to learn how to do that, and to recognise our own frailty and need of God’s help.

Perhaps the process would be accelerated if London was seriously flooded. That would be a wakeup call! But would that bring such people as our national leaders to their senses? The book of revelation shows crisis after crisis but still the stupidity of mankind meant they failed to turn to God for help. Self-admiration can be both the most blinding and the most stunting characteristic of the human race. How tragic.

In the midst of the process that I have referred to as “a journey of admiration to demoralisation”, we fail to face the truth that all of us are human beings prone to getting it wrong.  The recent classic case of Chris Huhne, a man who found himself getting caught doing one relatively small thing wrong (speeding), shows the folly of self-admiration that desperately seeks to cover up any failing. In his case he sought the help of his wife, but when the marriage broke down, found himself exposed and then had to tell lie after lie for years to try to cover it up. One sin (speeding) + one sin (conspiracy with wife) + multiple sins (lying and denial) = rejection of an MP by society. How much more simple would it have been if he took a driving ban originally and the whole thing passed into obscurity. Instead self-admiration dragged on for ten years before demoralisation set in and the truth was faced.

At a corporate level we are hearing yet again of the failings of the NHS, this time because of deaths occurring while in NHS care. Yes, of course we can do better but for the moment we are going through the media frenzy yet again where truth is hazy. Only this morning I read of nurses who dropped an 86 in the ward and two weeks later the lady died. Whether the two things were linked is unclear, but people (nurses) are human beings and from time to time they get it wrong. Did they drop that lady purposely? Of course not!  In fact so fearful were they of repercussions that they pretended it had not happened. Self-admiration seeks to cover up and avoid truth.

The recent snow brought many school closures and with them, criticism about wimpish schools. One good article on the subject suggested it was nothing to do with that, but more that head teachers were fearful of litigation. The payouts that have been paid in recent years by education authorities for even minor natural injuries, things that happen in day to day living, like tripping over, have been incredible in both numbers and size. This is a society failing to handle its demoralisation by blaming whoever it can – except yourself – and, along the way, making capital out of others. Greed and selfishness walk hand in hand with self-admiration. And all the while, God in His goodness, is quietly working to bring people to their senses. As I’ve asked before on these pages, how long will it take?





Unproven?

17 11 2009

This blog, by its name, is obviously a blog about faith and specifically about the Christian faith, but it’s also about all aspects of human life and behaviour that has ethical dimensions to it. Now I say this because I have often commented that I believe sin can also be equated with stupidity. We’re all guilty of that because we’re all sinners, redeemed or not. Yesterday the news was shouting about Gordon Brown’s possible intention to use the Queen’s Speech to kick off the Labour manifesto with a quote that seemed the height of stupidity.

Let me quote: “In a podcast on the Downing Street website, Mr. Brown said that Britons wanted world-class public services underpinned by “guarantees not gambles” Now, forgive me if this sounds a bit harsh and this is a completely non-political observation, but it seems that such a comment from a leader of a party that has been in power for over a dozen years, comes over as crass stupidity to us the watching public. In fact any pontificating by Mr. Brown about improving services seems to have a hollow ring about it. Excuse me, what have you been doing for the last however many years since Labour have been in power? This is the craziness of politics. If you had an ounce of integrity you would put your hands up and say, “Sorry chaps, we haven’t been able to achieve these things, it was beyond us, so we’ll move over and let someone else have a go.” But of course politics, it increasingly seems, isn’t about integrity any longer.

But that wasn’t the thing that pushed me into print again today. When things come up in threes I find it interesting. There were three things in the papers of the last two days which had similar rings about them. The first was the ongoing comment about the public’s disbelief about Global Warming. Quote: “in a recent poll for the Times, only 41 per cent of U.K. voters thought the case for man-made global warming had been proved.” That means that most of us have big queries about it. The pro-brigade speak about the FACT of global warming but the sceptics challenge ‘the fact’. It seems that ‘the facts’ need interpreting. One sceptic even recently suggested that an increase in carbon dioxide was helpful. An apparently unproven case!  Time may change that because it is an ongoing science.

The second thing was an article, following a science conference in Alexandria, that declared that “Muslim scholars and students have turned against Darwin”.  The bulk of the article referred to a Professor of Physics and Astronomy from a university in the United Arab Emirates who referred to a survey of 100 academics and 100 scholars at his own university, that showed that 62 per cent of Muslim professors and students believed evolution to be an “unproven theory” compared with 10 per cent of non-Muslim professors.  The professor obviously was an evolutionist and said it didn’t contradict Islamic beliefs, yet clearly for a number of people it was unproven. I have no problem with micro-evolution but macro evolution, according to what I hear a number of people say, is still ‘unproven’. Remember for something to be ‘proven fact’ in scientific terms means there are no doubts or assumptions, or questions or gaps! Start asking evolutionists about the evolution of sex and there seems to be a large silence. Some will feel negative about me daring to suggest this – but it is, despite claims of ‘fact’ from some, more real to come to an ‘unproven’ verdict. Perhaps one day that may change but for the moment the questions, doubts, assumptions and gaps deny the verdict of ‘proven’ partly, it seems, because of lack of evidence.

The third thing came up in a report from Italy that “Colonel Muammar Gaddafi invited hundreds of attractive Italian “hostesses” to a villa in Rome last night for an evening at which he urged them to convert to Islam and told them Christianity was based on a fraud.” According to the report, “He then observed — to “general incredulity” — that Christ had not died on the Cross and been resurrected, as Christians believe, because the person crucified had been “a look-alike” who was substituted for the real Jesus.” Again, according to such Islamists, the case for Christ’s resurrection is ‘unproven’. But this one is a much more simple debate than the environmental and evolutionary debates. This argument, which is often put forward by Islamic representatives as part of their teaching, fails to take into account the wealth of evidence which makes the resurrection logically most probable, but of course you have to read and examine the evidence with an open mind to come to that conclusion. ‘Unproven’ here means “Unproven in my mind because I refuse to examine the evidence.”

Each of these three debates involve history and history so often requires assumptions. The first two revolve around long-term history which is uncertain and which require various assumptions because the evidence is not always there, and that is where it becomes unclear and debatable. The last one is about the simple, straight forward evidence of a simple historical event which has world-changing consequences and which is easily resolved by careful examination of that clear evidence. The evidence, at least in Colonel Gaddafi’s case seems unpalatable because it raises questions about an alternative belief system and that is not easy to take.  Unproven? It depends on where you start from!