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?





The Folly of a Godless Society

22 07 2012

I once thought that as our society here in Britain degenerated,  people would cry out for an alternative and turn to God.  Well it may be that we have got to cry some more before we will come to our senses.

These days I only write on this blog when it seems my level of frustration has reached such a peak that, like a boiling kettle, I need to vent.   The past five years have been a revelation but it seems that for most of us we don’t have eyes that can see. Every single major national institution has been discredited during this time and the reason for that is because people have been exposed and shown to have been acting unrighteously – government, media, police, the money-world, people generally.  Again and again our papers and TV news channels have been full of the failures of people.

On one recent political analysis programme recently two journalists both asserted that that nation is in a state of giving up and both warned that this could have repercussions in the collapse of society.  Increasingly people are asking, “What is wrong?” The answer of obvious but unpalatable for godless men and women.

I have written this before but it bears repeating.  Thirty four years ago I started teaching Law and for seventeen years I started off the course (which in those days meant two hour periods!) by getting the class of usually 18 to 23 year olds to imagine a new society, and I asked them to consider in small groups whether they needed rules, and why and who should make them. After an hour of deliberation they then fed back their answers. They always agreed we need rules to protect the weak. The crucial point was that at the beginning of that period, thirty four years ago, 100% of the class always said they believed in absolutes so there were some thing that were definitely right and some wrong. Over that seventeen year period they were a gradual shift until by the early 1990s probably only 5% believed in absolute right and wrong and the majority now believed it was just what you thought it to be.

A variety of writers (apart from me) have linked good ethical behaviour with belief in God, and declining ethical behaviour with a loss in belief in God. Humanist optimism has been proved to be hollow and empty and our society is proving it day by day. When you remove the one base for ethical standards is it any wonder that we are left with an ‘anything goes’ mentality.   You can scrabble around for whatever temporary fix your can dream up, but it won’t be a fix. We are learning that a society reaps what it sows, and if you sow godlessness, you find that unrighteousness, greed, injustice and folly spring up.

Those are not necessarily the primary reasons for turning back to God, but they certainly point us in the right direction. We are about to start the Olympic Games and yet again – but now with ordinary people – we are being exposed as a shallow, self-centred, greedy people.  The fiasco of the security firm failing its mandate is only made worse but many of those supposedly being employed not bothering to turn up for the work. On the other hand we have passport control staff threatening to strike just before the Olympics start. Greed and self-concern rule OK!

No, not OK, but we are reaping what we have sown but I suspect that it will need the grace of God for those in authority to have their eyes opened.  In the meantime, get ready for the next plug to be pulled to let flow away any self-confidence we have left. When, oh when, will we come to our senses and realise that actually, God’s design and God’s way works

Consider for a moment what is found so often in ‘the world’, see it through some of the things we’re warned against in the New Testament,  for example, “sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, …. anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language.” (Col 3:5,8)  Which sort of community is it best to be living in, that one or one that is described as with, “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive … put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Col 3:12-14) It’s pretty obvious really, isn’t it!

Those are two glimpses that the New Testament gives of the two possibilities; we could have used many other similar verses. The first Colossians quote cites just some of the things seen in our modern godless society; that’s the lifestyle we’ve chosen as a society, egged on by the media. The second is the world of the Christian believer, a world that works because it is how God has designed it.  So, I ask again, when, oh when, will we come to our senses and realise that actually, God’s design and God’s way works, and is best?

 

 

 

 





Frustrating Riots

10 08 2011

A prophet who I respect, a number of years ago warned the Christian community to resist frustration that they would feel as there was an increasing breakdown in law and order in our Western societies. Frustration is, I suspect a partial cause for me writing today and a factor in many people’s lives in the light of the street riots that have been occurring in Britain this week.

Let’s go back to the beginning: the police were after a man who had, according to the media, a somewhat questionable reputation. They had information that this man was dangerous and was quite likely to be carry a gun. When they close in on him (and I am only repeating what has appeared in the media) he puts his hand in his pocket when challenged, an act that any sensible man faced by armed police would not do unless he was intent on a shoot out. The armed policeman promptly shot him through the heart. The media (TV especially) leap on this and interview his parents who make him out to be a good guy who surely wouldn’t carry a weapon – he was and it was capable of shooting people. There is the first level of frustration with misguided parents who obviously lost the plot years ago and a media that makes the police look bad.

Now there is a subtle further frustration because many of us no longer trust the police because over the past thirty year they have shown themselves often to be very human and very fallible and when you are supposed to be the bringers of justice you must be above that. There are, on the other side, all those fighters for civil rights who also lose our respect when they sound hurt, shocked and surprised when in today’s climate a suspected criminal carries a gun and they don’t expect a bad outcome! Can we not simply say quite openly, if you give the authorities cause to believe you are involved in criminal activities and you then carry a gun, please don’t be surprised if you are shot if you make any move apart from putting your hands up when challenged by uniformed police.

Next frustration: the media who use the word ‘demonstration’ when people in the street set fire and vandalise property. Call it what it is “unacceptable rioting”. At least as the days have gone on the media who stopped using the word ‘demonstrators’ and not call them what they are – looters and rioters.

Next frustration: parents and teachers. I cannot help but feel in total agreement with the shopkeeper who cried, where are the parents, what are they doing let their young kids out. The truth probably is that the parents make excuses fro their kids. Teachers? Well when the photos start going up on the TV screen of looters, I would expect teachers to (after parents who are probably going to keep their heads down) say, I recognise him/her, they’re in my class. But then comes the bigger frustration that as a society we’re going to make excuses for these kids.

Yes, it is an unfair world, yes there are people who have well paid jobs and the younger generation don’t but actually not all of the younger generation behave like this. yes, they’re frustrated that they can’t get a job in the present climate  but they go out and do volunteer work to get known or to build up a portfolio of experience for when times get better and jobs start being advertised. Who is going to get that job? The kid who has sat around doing nothing or the one who has been volunteering and learning on the unpaid job. Easy answer!

And let’s not play the colour card either. There are plenty of good coloured kids who are doing what I suggested above. No this is a ‘defeated culture’ mentality and it starts with parents and the rest of us give little encouragement. Let’s start having some honesty on the streets. As has been said by many, much of what we’ve been seeing has been mindless, self-centred, greedy, spiteful, criminal acts. Let the law take its course and may they be punished.

Which brings on yet another frustration.  Community Service? Prison? Isn’t it time we started thinking outside the box. Number One: Parents stand in the box alongside their delinquent child and  if they plead “They’re out of control,” then let the options be, either YOU will do Community Service as well, or you will attend two months worth or parent training for parents with teens to see that it’s not completely impossible to bring change. Number Two: how about completely different punishment – how about putting this rioting teenager in solitary confinement for a week and I do mean in a room for no TV, no music, no mates or no phone or anything, no company, just a bed, a drinking fountain and a toilet (all vandal proof) and no means of committing suicide, with the warning that if you re-offend, you’ll be in for three weeks and so on. Think about it. If you don’t like that I’m sure there are so other better ways than what we have at the moment. (Six weeks working in a refugee camp in Africa??)

But of course our biggest problem is not the credit crunch but the fact, as I wrote in my previous blog, that we have lost our moral compass and have no absolutes, so it is little wonder these kids have no compunction about destroying or stealing what is not theirs. That may be a reason but it’s not an excuse, for there is no excuse in a civilised society, but we might ask, is a society without any moral base founded by God, civilised any more?

Running a close second to that is our tendency to pretend that everything is all right in our society when it is clearly not. Government will need to do some rethinking (that’s what they volunteered and are paid for!) and the Church needs to come out of the woodwork and be a demonstration of a viable alternative society that has answers, God’s answers that work, as well as being caring and compassionate and there for the underclass. Frustration is a sign that things are not right and that we feel powerless to do anything about it. Are we, I wonder?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Hypocrisy, Government & the Media

2 12 2008

Every now and then I hear the challenge, “Christians are all hypocrites!” When I hear that I agree but suggest that, “us hypocrites have got to stick together.” This tends to raise an eyebrow and a question as to what I mean. What I mean, very simply, is that we are all hypocrites. The word, I understand, originally was used in Greek of play actors. If you were an actor, you were a ‘hypocrite’. Today it has taken on a moral tone though and so people tend to get upset if I suggest they are hypocrites. The denial of hypocrisy is failure to know yourself. We all act, we all put on a face, we all pretend. My concern though, is that in modern life, it seems that certain groups have take hypocrisy to an art form!

As I have read my paper this morning, it seems like the piranhas of the media are thrashing around in the water seeking to devour various stories and those involved in them. Of course the media machine, being what it is today, comes down on every side, taking sides with all players at some point, after all print pages have to be filled, and anyway who is right? The main story I have in mind, here at least, is in respect of the report that came out yesterday, about the failures (apparently) of Haringey Social Services, but there are various other stories about which we could make similar comments.

It seems to me that, as I have commented on this blog recently, truth is in short supply and so the players – who, in this case, appear to be the Government and the media – skirt around the truth, or perhaps if I were being generous, struggle to find the truth, but to no avail.

For the sake of space, as I said above, I’ll only consider the Social Services story. The report and the government and now the media are firing all guns at the Social Services’ workers who, it is being said, failed to protect baby P. For years I and others like me, have been crying out like lone voices in the wilderness about the social breakdown within our society. Slowly the truth of this is getting some acknowledgement. What is not being acknowledged (because it condemns the great liberal experiment of the last thirty years) is the scale of the breakdown.

A while back I had cause to stand alongside someone who was having family difficulties (understatement) and she herself involved Social Services. For a number of months I sat in with her on meetings with social workers, often very large meetings. What became patently obvious was that Social Services did not have answers for her situation. Initially I found myself totally frustrated at this but the more I considered the situation, the more I realised they were totally out of their depth and many of them were nearing exhaustion or breakdown themselves. The job and the scale of social breakdown is just too much for them. The government has not understood the scale and so the money is not there to hire double the number of workers, but perhaps even then they might not have answers, simply help.

So that is one aspect of the hypocrisy that surrounds the problems surrounding baby P and thousands of others (so the media say) like this child, the pretence that the problem is not as great as the wilderness prophets say it is, and the pretence that declares, “We can handle it!” I don’t think so!

But there is another aspect of unreality that is being studiously ignored in all of this. The fact is that there are parents and those associated with parents who are being thoroughly evil (and any adult who tortures or maims children is evil), and I hear few denunciations of these people. Yes, they are arrested, charged and imprisoned in some cases, but I don’t hear such a hue and cry that would make such behaviour untenable. The focus seems to be on the band-aid appliers, social workers, not on those who are causing the harm. Why are we still living in this cloud cuckoo land that naïve atheistic humanists warble on about, that thinks people are nice and with a bit more education, a bit more effort, or a bit more money, it will be all right?

I have been reminded recently of law classes I used to take at college. When I asked these students between the ages of eighteen and their mid-twenties why we need laws, they said, “to protect the weak and vulnerable, because people are not nice.” They said the same thing year in, year out, while I taught that course. They knew the truth. Why doesn’t modern society?
Now I make these comments in the light of a newsletter I received during the week that made comment on the writings of Dr. Francis Schaeffer, Christian philosopher and pastor, back in 1976. Here is an extract from that newsletter:

The final chapter of Francis Schaeffer’s seminal ‘How Should We Then Live?’ (1976) opens with these words: “Overwhelming pressures are being brought to bear on people who have no absolutes…(and whose only values are) the impoverished values of personal peace and affluence. The pressures are progressively preparing modern people to accept a manipulative, authoritarian government. Unhappily, many of these pressures are upon us now.”

Whereupon he lists five ‘trigger points’ which in his view herald the demise of freedom within the democratic West. The first is ‘Economic Breakdown’.At a certain point” he says, “economic disaster seems all too possible” All this, note, from 1976!

It seems uncannily familiar. Some anticipated the financial ‘Crash’ but Schaeffer’s prediction came much earlier, nearly forty years in fact. And it was of a different order entirely. What he saw was that ‘the orgy of (economic) greed and irresponsibility’, as someone put it, goes deeper than mere financial stupidity. The very tap-root of western economic stability and success was cut when the culture turned from its Christian moorings. Convictions about Truth and absolute moral accountability were part of the social fabric that made political and economic freedom possible in the first place. Sever them and what’s left?”

The point being made in that letter, and which has been made on these pages over the months, is that take away your foundation (God) for moral absolutes and you are left with ‘anything goes’. The article was making the point that the economics upheavals we have recently been going through, and are presently struggling with, actually have their roots in the removal of standards. An examination of the activities of so many in the financial markets over the past ten years, merely confirms that.

But it goes way beyond economic breakdown; it goes to the very heart of society. Yes, there have always been abuses and there have always been wrongs and there have always been evil men and women, but when you remove the foundations, the floodgates are unleashed, law is undermined and authority to say, “This is wrong!” is removed.

That is the society that we have created today, and that, ultimately, is the under-girding cause of the social breakdown that our social workers are struggling with. Part of the tragedy is the blindness that guilt imposes. We will look to any other reason than the basic and fundamental one. To acknowledge failure, to acknowledge rejection of God and the removal of any stable foundation for morality and standards, seems abhorrent to those who have pinned their hopes on the godless liberal experiment. How long will it be before we will face its failure?