I have just read one of our Independent schools ‘A’ level student’s research paper on the Berlin wall. It made me think about the whole subject of walls, particularly as, as I write walls and barbered wire are very much in the news.
Supposedly walls should keep us warm and safe, at least if you have roof on your house as well, however as we look though history walls have also had other uses and somehow get into our psyche, and it seems to me many times ending up with negative connotation. In fact it seems to me that each time you see walls, proposed walls, or building of walls there is the feeling of failure, loss, or the fact that our world is in a bad place.
I guess the biggest wall of all is the Great Wall of China, built to keep our others who might attack which are why all of the walls seemed to have been built, on the basis we are all right and we don’t want you in or out in some cases so let’s build a wall. In a sense a great symbol of failure,as it demonstrates that you need to be controlled, either by being held in or kept out. What it cannot do is control thinking, though those that build the walls, I think, really would like to be able to do that.
So let me just site a few walls to show what I mean. Berlin wall of course was built to keep East Germans from running away to West Berlin, and thus loosing it key workers and intelligencer; So really a failure of an ideological way of thinking. Then maybe Hadrian’s Wall, built by the Romans, surly that must represent the failureof the Romans to control the Scottish Nation, or to conquer it so a wall was built to keep the Picts as the Romans called them out. The last standing division or wall in Europe is in Cyprus showing us the failure of politics, religion and ethnicity to get on and work together for peoples best good.
The fact that walls are a strong sign of failure the world continues to build them, demonstrating to all who can see how useless we are at getting things right, so between 1950 and 2010 the world has built some 50 admissions of failure. In such places as Israel, India, Pakistan, Georgia and South Ossetia, Mexico and the USA a fence at the moment, but listening to the politics of the USA in 2016 it seems as though this failure need to be reinforced by a proper wall! Then there is India and Bangladesh, North and South Korea, Spain & Morocco even in Northern Ireland ‘Peace Walls’ still celebrate the fact that people fail to get on. There is a sand wall built between in the Western Sahara to seal out Morocco. Shall I go on? These are just a selection of the world’s walls. The border between Botswana and Zimbabwe is separated by an electrified fence. Malaysia and Thailand are separated by a wall, as are Saudi Arabia and Iraq, Iran and Iraq, and Kuwait and Iraq.
And now in 2016 European countries again want to put up walls offailure in Bulgaria, in Greece, certainly the UK has spent millions on its own wall of failure on French territory, to keep out those from the so called Calais Jungle. I would have thought that the world and its leaders would be embarrassed to keep using such high profile symbols of their failure, but it seems not.
It seems that the current Pope thinks that building Bridges is a much better idea than building walls, maybe he has a point. I know that as a follower of Jesus that should makes us generous rather than selfish and if we want to build failure walls because we perceive people as our enemies, the Jesus instruction is to Love your enemies. Walls don’t work.
You in your small corner and I in Mine
When I was around 5 years old, I went to Sunday school. I liked the people, I liked the other kids, but what I remember most is one song that they always sang. I guess I sang it too as I can still remember all the words; maybe you know it too. It starts off with, “Jesus Bids Us Shine” and ends with the line, “you in your small corner and I in Mine.” I hated that line; I still don’t like it now. I don’t think I liked corners and particularly not small ones; I certainly did not want to be in one.
When I was 11 years old I made my first trip, as the Brits say, “overseas”. I went to France with my school for a week. We travelled third class, as you could in those days, on a ferry across the channel to St Malo. Third class meant that you could not go inside the ferry; you had to stay on deck come rain or shine. They did give you a blanket and you could snuggle up to the funnel to keep warm.
Refugees: the current issues – is there a solution? I was privileged to have been able to speak at the United Nations on the subject recently. The reality is that this is the worst refugee crisis since World War Two; actually, in regards of displacement and movement of people, it’s worse. According to UNHCR there are currently 59.5 million displaced people in the world at the moment. In the UK there is a lot of anti-immigration press, telling us how many “illegal people” there are and the fact that they are taking jobs, school places, and homes. This has created a great deal of tension and distrust. Many of the figures quoted are not true, and when you look at real figures from reliable sources you find that the story is very different.
There is another story too, that is not being talked about much and that is one that needs to be brought to Europe’s attention. In Europe, UK, Germany, and Italy particularly, there is a need for young workers who pay tax. The reason being that in the UK and other European countries the indigenous populations are getting older. Most of us have things like state pensions, paid from taxes. When these were originally introduced with a male retirement age of 65 and female retirement age of 60, life expectancy was between 68 and 69, very different to today predictions. The current life expectancy in the UK is heading towards 100 years. Who is going to pay for all those retired people? Whose taxes will fund it? We need the refugees’ help to do that. Politicians don’t have very much to say about this.
I heard someone telling a story recently about how they were working in fish conservation and checking on clean water in rivers and streams in the UK. Apparently they found an area of a stream where the fish were struggling for oxygen and dying. Workers then take out any dead fish and then it’s apparently possible to push oxygen into the water, often the water agencies do this by, as the Environment Agency says, pouring Hydrogen Peroxide into the water upstream. This releases extra Oxygen into the water. Such action appears to somewhat reduced the potential fish kill.
I don’t usually write anything about Politics, but the recent elections at which I did vote, seem to me to be setting a trend that require lots of us who, maybe think differently, to say something.
An Iraqi friend of mine recently said to me, maybe there is a problem with democracy in that stupid people get to vote; perhaps we should have an exam before people are given the franchise?
Recently listening to the debate in a ladies’ hairdressers, waiting for my wife, who had just commented on the problems for the kidnapped girls in Nigeria, I was staggered to discover from about 10 plus people there, she was the only one who knew that girls had been kidnapped. They moved on in conversation to various other world shattering events, but it seemed to me that my wife was the only one who had a TV that showed any news programmes. The world affairs, local and national politics seemed at such a low level of interest to them I wanted to scream argh…
It isn’t that this stuff isn’t out there it is, but as most of the main three political parties are saying the message has not got through, perhaps that is because they shy away from the real facts to try and be popular to those who don’t listen to them anyway.
Pick and Mix
Follower of Jesus
I am slightly puzzled by various people I meet up with of late, and some I hear speaking publically, who seem to want to stress to me that they are ‘people of faith’, that they ‘love God’, that they ‘are Christians’ or that they ‘are followers of Jesus’. I suppose some of those statements could be understandable, but ‘follower of Jesus’, seems a bit harder for me to swallow.
Is it the Jesus who says ‘do whatever you like as I don’t mind’? I don’t know that one. Is it the Jesus who says ‘whatever values you think fit you, that’sok, as long as you say you are following me, that’s fine’? I don’t know him either. Is it the one who says ‘we are all going in the same direction and it does not matter what you believe’? I’ve never met him.