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Time for action


Tue, Jan 13, 2015

by G E M Saunders

One of the easiest things to do is nothing; no effort or sacrifice is required, neither is there any expenditure or utilization of resources. Doing nothing, therefore, makes for a very convenient option for those of us who are not interested in moving beyond mere talk and into the action phase.{{more}}

In many areas of our lives, we have receded beyond the boundaries and have become spectators and commentators in what used to be OUR game. We have ceded the important ground to the lawless, the drug lords, gangs and reprobates who now thrive on our inaction and our political divisiveness. They know quite well that without our unified approach, these divisions will widen, creating more space for them to operate.

We must also be close to becoming cynical about the constant dose of talk-radio rhetoric, the well-intentioned homilies and sermons from the altar and the writings, addresses and lectures from the would-be leaders of our society, all purporting to know what is wrong and all concluding that “we need to” and “we have to,” but yet we never do. We must be wary of braggadocio and empty sound bites that are seemingly only designed to elicit applause with no intention of addressing the real issues.

So, why do devote so much time to telling ourselves what we already know? Why do we constantly pray for change and improvements and at the same time retire to our homes refusing to act? Could it be that we know what to do, but not how to do it? Are we in need of better quality leadership? We may well be getting to a point where our Heavenly Father is now ignoring our disingenuous supplications.

As we enter 2015, we should be mindful of the direction in which we are heading and shake off the inertia that is gradually overtaking us and hindering that important transition from talk to action. The real question is to whom do we look to for leadership in taking action and confronting these societal ills? Do we get it from among leaders in society, from the legislature and government or, as usual, do we look to the Church, the last bastion of hope? Because of society’s poor record at self regulation, we have had our behaviour regulated by the legislature, politicians and our government, all with unsatisfactory results.

It would therefore be most unfortunate if the Church were to abdicate its leadership and inspirational role and remain silent on issues such as crime, lawlessness, injustices and yes, politics. However, the Church, with all its extraordinary power and influence, cannot be satisfied with simply breaking the silence. There must be a plan of action and a gathering of resources, clergy and laity, to implement this plan in a particular period. At this important juncture of Synod in the Methodist, Catholic and other churches, a major issue for consideration could be how can the Church better inspire a nation and its leaders?

In so doing, the Church must seek to be the Church and not anything else. The Church must seek to heal and unify, not polarize; and while it must be concerned with issues of a political nature, its excursions into this area have be tactful in our politically divisive society and more especially in an election year. Having already identified that the root cause of many of our problems are the divisions within and among churches and society, it would be self-defeating for the Church to speak and act in a manner that widens these divisions.

Although the Church is expected to be involved in the political process, it was never meant to be a partisan power base. The clergy ought not to descend from its elevated position to compete with politicians; neither can the Church and its clergy supplant the Government; it must engage the government; the early days of the failed theocracy are long gone.

For effective leadership to come from the Church, it must be involved in all aspects of society and by good spiritual witness it will invariably influence all factions and levels of the society. Despite all the good intentions of law enforcement, it is highly unlikely that the spate of crime and gang violence will simply resolve itself under police suppression. There must be an intervention by the Church, a spiritual awakening supported by action from the laity and the community.

Our country will only change when the people change and then act. As good as we are with reading, talking, listening and praying, all of those are meaningless without action. Our leaders and politicians “need to” change and so does the media, the society and yes, the Church. The role of the church is to impact and influence all groups by its weekend worship, community involvement and by mediating between disputing parties.

Pope Francis, despite wrong-footing several of his clergies around the world, has provided us with the best example of decorum at the altar and how to cause action by resolving disagreements using covert mediation. And while the Pope does not wish for us to be enslaved by any man nor party, neither should we sit as passive vessels imbibing wholesale what we read and are told. The Church must pray for discernment of truth from facts, good from bad, so that its laity and society can act accordingly and decisively. We cannot continue to wait on us; we need a plan, and we need to act in unison.