It is true that what you focus on you tend to propagate -–
eg. If you keep looking for bad news, you'll end up representing bad news
wherever you open your mouth. But sometimes the overwhelming facts cannot be
pushed aside, and sometimes, they are just plain negative.
In the world today, nations are experiencing perplexing times
as spoken about in Matthew 24. I'll pick just a handful to comment on but it's
almost like various nations are taking turns -– one region settles into 'relative
peace' and another sparks into conflict. Whilst historically there has always
been trouble between people groups, I believe the extent of these problems,
combined with other Matthew 24 global activities are truly displaying 'signs
of the times'.
So common is 'trouble' in this day and age that
oftentimes reports of disaster and peoples' misery would seem to go straight
over our heads -– 'ah yes, another bloody conflict in Africa; more dead by
way of natural catastrophes in Asia and casualties from bombings in Ireland'.
The old journalists adage is very true of humanity with
regard to proximity: 3 million dead in a Chinese flood equals 3 thousand dead in
a Turkish earthquake, equals 3 hundred dead in a Pakistani train crash, equals
30 dead in a German fire, equals 3 hitch hikers killed in Australia, equals a
murder in Auckland, equals a fatal car crash on the local motorway, equals a
broken arm for the man who lives next door... The impact of news on a given
individual will be conditioned by a mix of proximity/magnitude and novelty. The
truth is -– God knows and cares for each individual made in His image.
A World Health Organisation statement reported in the Herald
04.10.02 recently released miserable statistics about our world: 1 person
commits suicide every 40 seconds, one person is murdered every 60 seconds and
one person dies in armed conflict every 100 seconds. The figures included the
199,000 young people (10-29 yrs) who were killed by other young people and
57,000 children (mostly preschoolers) who die from abuse, often with head
injuries or suffocation.
Armed conflict is a growth phenomenon:
East Timor -– death and destruction have shadowed the
region as the aftermath of a struggle over Governance becomes more visible -–
and its not over yet. A referendum was held with regard to independence from
Indonesia VERSUS autonomy within Indonesia, but not independence. A situation
emerged where the army refused to work under any civil authority, basically
resulting in mayhem and murder. Because of a distinct lack of accountability
within the military, confusion and fear have reigned over the East Timorese
Pakistan -– the Dominion Post 20.02.02 reported on
the recent elections as military President General Pervez Musharraf declared a
return to democracy. Ironically, his idea of democracy is being questioned by
European Union observers who wonder at some of the President/General's
strategies which included: blocking former Prime Ministers and top opposition
candidates from running, limiting the power of the legislature and using state
funds to assist 'friendly candidates' in their efforts.
Northern Ireland -– in July 2002, the IRA offered an
apology for all of the people it has killed in three decades of sectarian
warfare, including all the non-combatants 'they never intended to kill'.
Whilst the condolence was most probably sincere, the social effect of decades of
murder has yet to be fully realised. Observers in schools report that children
as young as three years old are making 'sectarian comments' which are bitter
and prejudiced. More than 90% of children in Northern Ireland attend religiously
In Africa -– the tale of tyrants continues as several
leaders are said to be competing for the 'badest boy in Africa title'.
Negative cultures normally flow from a negative spring at the source...
Around six of the fifty African States are involved in bloody
civil wars as talk for the need to form an 'African Union' picks up
momentum. The Union would resemble the European Union, and hopefully lift the
most ethnically diverse continent in the world -– and the poorest, to
some sort of constructive and positive future. The Herald, 9 July 2002,
"Africa's salvation could lie in union -–
...The European Union grew out of the European Economic
Community, which was founded in the 1950s by impoverished countries that had
just emerged from a war that killed around 10 per cent of the Continent's
population. The idea was partly mutual economic aid, but more important always
was the goal of ending the dictatorships and the wars.
The eastern half of Europe languished under Communist
tyrannies until 1989, but when the Communists fell the EEC rose to the occasion.
It renamed itself the European Union and set out on the road
of monetary union and political expansion to take in the eastern European
countries, with the ultimate goal of a genuinely federal Europe...
Everybody has their own theory about what is wrong with
Africa, but these days there is surprisingly broad agreement among African
leaders and thinkers that most of the solutions probably lie above the level of
the individual state.
It is the first attempt to solve Africa's problems by
moving beyond the post-colonial states..."
Kenya -– the 'Professor of politics' as he is known,
one of Africa's longest serving leaders (24 years), President Moi secured yet
another year in power - through devious means according to critics. For
over five years a new constitution has been in the pipeline, which will
dramatically cut back the power the presidency has accumulated through 'numerous
amendments' made to the original constitution over the years since Kenya
gained independence from Britain in 1963. It is most likely to be December 2003
before the Constitution is ready to be activated.
According to the Daily Telegraph 22.06.02 "Mr Moi rules his
party with an iron fist, personally dressing down those who do not toe the line.
Rebels often end up bankrupt, politically finished and sometimes even dead".
Zimbabwe -– in an effort to rectify the wrongs of the
Colonial past, President Mugabe's two year reform package continues following
his (May 2002) order for 2900 white farmers to hand their land over to poor
black settlers OR face up to 2 years in jail, over half of the farmers have
complied, with the others waiting to see what might happen next. Apparently,
interpretation over what happens with mortgages over land, and ownership of
dwellings is a mystery. Mugabe maintains that 70% of the very best farm land in
Zimbabwe was left in white hands illegitimately. This beautiful country once
known as Africa's breadbasket now faces a serious famine which will affect the
lives of millions of people -– the reform programme only contributing to the
threat. With no hard currency available to import necessary food items and farms
quickly degrading to wasteland, the forecast is for continued misery.
There were many more examples of global gloom -– they're
easy to find. How we handle it is all a matter of perspective. I can picture Job
sitting next to his camp fire, after losing so much of his life's work and
those he loves, watching the fire he speaks philosophically in Job 5:7 "Man is
born into trouble as the sparks fly upward" before opening up to the bigger
picture (verse 8 onwards) "I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit
my cause. Which doeth great things and unsearchable things without number...".
Living without spiritual purpose could leave one physically