Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Monday, December 3, 2012

Searching for real change... (I)

I went for about a 30k ride on my bike tonight. This was the first bike ride since I have had my catheter and bag fitted. Might get a different seat?
The need for Change
I was talking to people who worked with people released from prison. They said "If we get success with one in a hundred we feel good." I find myself frustrated again and again with people who will not change. I see heaps of people just existing in lifestyles that are sad and causing more and more problems for themselves and others.  Making news at the moment is that Party Pills are tested on animals! Also there are real problems with people who have various sorts of party pills, just talk to emergency workers about this. Binge drinking is also a major problem in New Zealand absorbing the resources of police, ambulance and hospitals. Why is it that we can't have a good time without these things? I encounter workers who rip off their bosses with bogus sick days and others with questionable ethics. We have religious and ethnic intolerance throughout the world, that could escalate. We have a growing gap between rich and poor within nations and between nations. This gap brings about deep problems and issues. I have been stewing on what directions could be taken to help bring constructive change. First lets explore some historical responses.
William Wilberforce
I have always been impressed with the life of William Wilberforce. I am amazed at the tenacity he had to bring about change to the slave trade - it took him decades of hard often unpopular work. One of the other things he was a part of was "The reformation of manners". This was a movement trying to bring moral change in English society. He saw criminals getting on a downward track toward increased criminality. One of his emphases was to get people to take seriously lesser laws. He was deeply concerned about the type of society he saw around him and did things to try to increase the moral fibre of the population. His approach was based on evangelical Christianity, and knowledge of scripture, but he also tackled issues of education for the poor. 
Moral Re-armament
Beginning in 1938 American Churchman Frank Buckman began a movement for Moral Re-armament. Nations were re-arming in a military sense, but he claimed the answer to the crises facing the world at the time was for nations to "re-arm moraly". "Moral recovery creates not crisis but confidence and unity in every phase of life." MRA was based on four moral principles. 
  1. Absolute honesty.
  2. Absolute purity.
  3. Absolute unselfishness. 
  4. Absolute love.
The goals were ....
  1. Encouraging care and responsibility in personal relationships and family life, in place of "me-centredness" and blame.
  2. Strengthening moral commitment in economic life, in order to create jobs and tackle the root causes of poverty.
  3. Strengthening the foundations of democracy that guard against selfish interests, corruption and indifference.
  4. Forging networks among people from different faiths and cultures.
  5. Healing the wounds of history.
In essence MRA wanted to create "A hate free, fear free and greed free world."
MRA in New Zealand
I remember my father in the early 1960's going to some local meetings of the Moral Re-armament Group. Once when I was helping him in his plumbing work he explained its goals and dreams to me. He had some hesitations though he held some of the values. One outstanding figure in NZ was Canon Wiremu Te Tau Huata. He had been an impressive military chaplain during the war and advocated for Moral Re-armament in NZ. He wrote a song for his children that he used in his campaigns. (Some ALL black Rugby players singing)
The english translation goes...
"Line up together, people
All of us, all of us.
Stand in rows, people
All of us, all of us.
Seek after knowledge
and love for others - everybody!
Think as one,
Act as one,
All of us, all of us."

Frank Buckman died in 1961 and his successor in 1965. After that the influence of the movement faded. It had a lot of criticism with a number thinking it was a cult.

Searching for change..

Each of these people saw problems with the basic morality and directions of their society. They responded by searching for ways which will bring real positive and constructive change. Often governments try to force change on people by decree or law changes or through economic encouragements or discouragement. (Changing drinking age, taxing liquor etc) Ultimately I think people need deep hope and direction and to grasp a vision of a better way. How do we respond today? 

1 comment:

Linda Myers said...

My best thought is that I need to live my life walking in the footsteps of Christ to the best of my ability, making a difference around me.

Otherwise, I worry about a bunch of things I can't control. Then I'm no good to anyone.