Friday, October 24, 2008

Cusp

I don't think it's just me. I feel it the air, I feel it in the water. Many things that were are not any more... oh sorry, that's the Lord of the Rings!

Seriously though - it's that feeling I had in September 2001, May1997 & Christmas 1989, watching national and world events and knowing that everything was about to change in some fundamental manner. The big cities around the world are full of the deafening sound of stock markets crashing through the floor. Banks are being bought up by governments, global financial systems are in near terminal gridlock, inflation is soaring and recessions are being predicted (and felt) left, right and centre.

The US appear to be on the verge of voting in its first black president - a new JFK maybe? Russia has flexed its muscles in Georgia and finally thrown off any pretence to be being a Western friendly democracy - so much so that the talk is of a new Cold War. We even had a resumption of the Cod War between England and Iceland last week - albeit very briefly, and not over North Sea fishing rights. Power cuts and brownouts are being predicted in the UK this year - it all feels very like the seventies. Bring back Life on Mars I say...

All in all, things are going to change in 2009 - it will be a very different world to the one we faced at New Year 2008, let alone 2007! Only the arrogant or the truly prophetic (or darn lucky) would dare predict where all of this is going, as a new financial calamity, a new geopolitical shift, a new unprecedented global disaster seems to be happening on an almost daily basis. But it will change.

Jesus warned his disciples about this sort of thing - it's normal history though, everything as it always has happened - wars, rumours, economic and political sea changes. We just forget history and assume that this is unprecedented. It is not.

His reminder was not to worry, these are just birth pangs - because ultimately something new is coming, just not quite what he pundits are expecting though.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Juxtapositions

Just spotted in the foot links of the BBC website this afternoon


Hunger pains

BBC reporter sees Zimbabweans' struggle for food


Dressed to kill

From moose hunts to couture - Palin's $150,000 makeover


Some juxtapositions are beyond comment








Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day for Poverty



With UK headlines showing the highest rate of unemployment, in seventeen years and the highest rate of inflation in sixteen - on top of the market turmoil of the last three weeks, and the credit crunch of the last eighteen months, suddenly you can see that poverty is a reality around the corner for a lot more people than it was this time last year.

But that's just the UK, where to be honest absolute poverty (i.e. living on less than US$1 a day) is unheard of. But at the same time yesterday, the UN was warning that the global financial crisis has pretty much crashed the chances of achieving any of the Millenium Development Goals for those living in absoloute poverty. And the World Health Report has come up with some alarming figures on the widening health gap in health and life expectancy between rich and poor.

Already, the hike in food prices is affecting poorer people in most countries, let alone the poorest of the poor who already could not afford to buy food. And if you cannot eat, you get ill, and if you get ill, you cannot work, and if you cannot work, you cannot earn money to pay for food - and so it goes, and so it goes...

In short, the global credit crunch has done in for the world's poor. But it's not the bankers who created the problem that will suffer. First it is the poor Americans who were conned in to taking out loans that they could never have repaid and who are now bankrupt and homeless. Next it will be the poor of Africa and Asia who find aid budgets squeezed, protectionism closing down the markets they were just hoping might help them earn a decent living and discover that food, fuel and other essentials are increasingly priced beyond their means. And while the rest of us will have four or five lean years, and some may lose homes and jobs, most of us in the West will come out of it OK and alive.

But there are kids alive today in Zimbabwe and Pakistan who will not be this time next year because of the credit crunch. Credit they would never have had access to in their wildest dreams.

You can understand now why there is a clamour for criminal investigations. But what justice will there be for the poor, yet again shafted by crisis not of their making? Precious little I fear from the global banking system and the governments of wealthy nations.

God looks on, but is He weeping or angry?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Anti-Christian Violence in Orissa

Still largely unreported in the Western media, a month long spasm of senseless violence against Christians in the Indian state of Orissa seems to slowly be calming down, at least according to a local blog I am following.

Killing, arson, intimidation (including attacks on orphanages and children's homes for heaven's sake!) - exactly what this has to do with Hinduism is beyond me, but it never ceases to amaze me how humans can excuse the most extreme behaviour in the name of higher principles.

As the author of the Remember Orissa Blog says

Just think of the victims. Yes, they are not tribal. Yes, they are Dalits. Yes, they are Christians. Yes, some may have made false certificates to avail of benefits meant for tribals ; or broken conversion laws when they chose to believe in the Christian God ; or become proud of their progress and education. But don’t they have any rights anymore ? Aren’t they also human ? Aren’t they also Indians ? Or has that also been taken away from them. They go through the reverse Exodus experience – from God’s People to No People.
It is also telling that while the Western World is still obsessing about multi billion dollar and euro bailouts of major financial institutions, or about how Sarah Palin did in last night's presidential debate, (and in the UK how the chief of London's police force has been forced out by the mayor of London) the fact that the lives of ordinary people are being so drastically hit by unrelated problems goes by totally unmarked. The life of a poor person, especially of colour, is worth less it seems than any of the above.

Just where and when did we get it so incredibly wrong?

If you are reading this from the UK, there is one, little thing you can do - sign an on-line petition to encourage the British Government to raise this issue with the Indian Government, and make the situation more widely known.