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Looking forward

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Fri, Jan 6. 2011

Editor: Depending on who you listen to, the top news story for the year (2011) was the killing of Osama Bin Laden – some would say state-sponsored assassination, I would say killing. In terms of newsfeeds and long term impact, the Arab Spring (a wave of mass demonstrations and protests) that has swept across the Arab world.{{more}} In a matter of months, old hard-line regimes have fallen in the face of massive and widespread opposition, and few Arab countries have escaped this youthful, technology-driven angst. Western media houses have focused almost exclusively on these two items, while in the process, almost neglecting their ‘Icarus’ moment. Failing economies and a crisis of confidence have plagued the minds of the masses and elite alike, while the bubble of the dream of continuous and utopic progress has been burst. A world in turmoil is maybe the best description of what we are experiencing at this moment.

Most generations have a unique ability to miss the most obvious of phenomena – that they are part of living history. In 1989, Francis Fukuyama predicted the end of history, arguing that all that had to happen had already happened and nothing else that would happen was worthy of being called History. The shortsightedness of this comment is obvious in its understanding of what History is and who lives it. We have the gift, some would say curse, of living through history – a world in crisis met by a call for a new world order. Funny thing is that this History usually repeats itself, unerringly accurately one might say, and in our time, we are seeing the cyclical nature of history. We are here, but we have already been here. It was Solomon who opined that there is nothing that is new under the sun. Last I remembered, our sun has not been replaced by another, so it argues that our history is replete with sequels and requels, and notoriously absent of novelty. Therefore, a recurring history demands that a few things would happen soon.

Whenever there exists a monumental shifting of the cultural and economic axis of the world, there has been an accompanying shift in values and institutions. I am not the first and would not be the last to say this, but does anyone think that the collective and cumulative mess that we have dropped ourselves into can be navigated by the very values and institutions that aided in getting us in this quandary in the first place, can possibly get us out of it? The answer is no, in light of the challenges that we are now being faced with. There is need for a new, or rather different set of values and institutions if we are to make it through and continue the inevitable march towards human progressiveness (as some suggest). I firmly believe that this would occur. We are on the very tip of a revolution of social, economic, political, religious and militaristic values and norms. One that would shape the world differently from the one that exists now. I did not add technological advances as part of the revolution because it is the result of and not the cause by which change occurs. An argument can be made that all the others are, but not in the same scope of technology. A different set of values and norms would be construed as a new world order which in turn would mean an exceptional set of challenges for the Church.

Space and unfinished thoughts would not allow for a description of the challenges and possible ways to meet them, but a story would – an ancient story that was told by Jesus and is recorded in the Bible. This story starts with ten virgin bridesmaids waiting for a wedding procession to begin. They all subsequently fall asleep and are surprised when they hear the call of the wedding procession. However, five of them are smart and prepared enough to participate in this great occasion because they have oil in their lamps (very valuable at a time when VINLEC was not around). Alas, the other five are not prepared and lose out on participating in the festivities. Jesus’ use of parables leaned more towards obfuscation rather than surface clarity, but this one in particular seems clear for all purposes. Simply put, a time is coming when we all need to be prepared.

Kenyatta Lewis

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