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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Public Opinion

I am currently wading through "A History of Modern Political Thought" by Iain Hampsher-Monk. The sub-title, "Major Political Thinkers from Hobbes to Marx" took my attention in the public library and my intellectual stubbornness has got me through the tough sections.

What interested me recently was the following passage. The chapter in question concerns the thought of John Stuart Mill who advanced and developed his father's utilitarian philosophy. It concerns America but it struck me that it could also equally apply to England and Australia in the 21st century. Mill was writing in the 19th century.

"America was the country where, if anywhere, tradition, inherited authority and the past generally counted for nothing, and yet, strangely, 'in no country does there exist less independence of thought'.

Hampsher-Monk goes on to quote Tocqueville, "For whereas 'older societies have found (it) in the traditions of antiquity, or in the dogmas of priest or philosophers, the Americans find (it) in the opinions of each other."

"...the Americans endowed their own collective opinion with the aura and authority Europeans gave to their royalty, nobility, popes, academics and national myths."

"...faith in public opinion, becomes in such countries a species of religion and the majority is its prophet." (Italics mine).

It struck me, reading this, that although England has looked back on its historical traditions as the 21st century moves on it is becoming more generically like America and Australia, i.e. "the West".

The quote in italics gives food for thought in light of the change in opinion sharing with the prevalence of the internet to disseminate ideas. As much as people like to think that we are all individuals with our private religion it seems to me that "public opinion...(has become)...a species of religion and the majority is its prophet."

Friday, August 03, 2007

Hope

I am reading Juergen Moltmann's "Theology of Hope" and what an inspiration it is. I will reflect more on this as time goes by but a recent series of events caused me to reflect on the need for hope for those outside of the church.

Up until this week I was employed supervising men with mental illnesses. To avoid any compromising details it will suffice my purposes to say that the men have been very poorly treated. Basic rights have been neglected and. although I am less than perfect, I have tried to care for the men and treat them with the respect they deserve.

I had been contemplating leaving because I my time there has become very difficult in recent weeks but I didn't want to resign and leave the men in the same situation. Last week I submitted a 3 page report alleging bullying, harassment (for myself and the men) and lack of basic rights. This paper resulted in a meeting for myself with a senior manager and someone from HR in Sydney.

To cut the story short I was able to resign with cast iron guarantees that the company will be investigated thoroughly, assessments will be done for all men and that a proper complaints procedure will be put in place.

One of the driving factors for me is that my predecessors have eventually resigned but have left the men stuck in an awful situation where they are powerless, voiceless and hopeless. I have been driven by a prophetic calling to speak up for the rights of the oppressed. I recall telling one of the men that I would stand up for them and he told me not to bother because nothing would ever change. I refused to believe that and I carried on in the belief that God had put me in my role for a reason regardless of how difficult it was.

Please understand I am no hero. I spoke up because I could. No-one had followed the injustice through over a period of 8 years. Things are now going to change and I have assurances from Head Office. It is possible to bring hope to the hopeless.

I am working on a book project exploring Moltmann's "Theology of Hope" and its' potential to transform our conception of evangelism and witness. This journey has been extremely stressful but very rewarding.

Last weekend as I contemplated resigning, a friend offered me a role overseeing sales and marketing for his small business. This Monday I begin a role as Business Development Manager for Humanomics. This role is where I want to be headed and it utilises my skills and gives my family release from the financial constraints that we have been under. God wants people who will live faithfully and speak up for those who have little or no voice.

The final sub-point is that God can and does provide all our needs according to His riches in glory.