It’s one of many days where I get up and read the news – real news, and not just NZ news – the USA, UK, Australian and European news too – and rage against the amount of injustice and selfishness that is the Western World. It is so embarrassing, disgusting and depressingly frequent. Especially if we take the time to consider our tipuna – those who came before us – and what they were prepared to do to make the world a fairer place.
I was one of the first home-schooled children down south – taught with Mennonite (a branch of Amish/Quaker thinking) curriculum shipped from the USA. That kind of upbringing certainly had issues. I’m pretty sure that when my Christian Heritage Party voting pro-life birth parents went down that route they didn’t intend to produce a pro-choice feminist queer Greenie. But on maturing I’ve come to see the positives in that alternative upbringing, and one is gratitude for having the chance to be immersed in a world history very few if any other NZ children have been exposed to.
I grew up through the lens of understanding a proud history of the way our world changed and grew through the 15-1900’s – change created by ordinary people standing up for freedom and equality, a total refusal to blindly accept the prevailing religion or rule.
I read endless true tales of people who stood up with no fear and changed our world for the better no matter what the cost. Fox’s Book of Martyrs, Joan of Arc and the likes were compulsory and to me genuinely interesting and inspiring reading. So was my study of slavery and the US Civil War, as well as the Holocaust and World War II. Centuries of torture, martyrdom, imprisonment, mass murder and exile fighting for freedom and equality. Incredible bravery, incredible selflessness.
That education is what turned me into an activist. For me this belief in ending injustice & inequality is ingrained, for me this is normal. I certainly landed on the other side of the fence – but not really – while I’m non-religious, there are a lot of parallels between Quaker and Green thinking.
I am so frustrated to live in a world where the fight for equality, fairness and peace is a minority – I would understand it if we had actually reached that place, but from anecdotal stories, news right up to the UN’s reporting, it is clearly obvious and proven that we are far, far from it, and that we are going backwards from goals we made as a society – even those made in the recent past. But so many are asleep – lulled into oblivion by what we are fed by the mainstream media and government’s ‘everything is fine, move along’ lies; or worse are aware yet do not care.
Everywhere I look, everything I read, the stories I hear – the message from those in control to their citizens on how to act within society is the same. It’s every man/woman for themselves, and we should not give a fuck about anyone but ourselves. Put the blinkers on and ignore the poor/refugee/children/vulnerable/etc around us- as long as your money is protected and your little bubble is safe, stuff the rest, and believe that they have all the choices you do. It’s only up to them to fix their sorry life. Keep out of their mess, it’s their own fault, and keep yourselves busy chasing your own personal utopia.
Aka – neoliberalism.
How could we so quickly forget the millions and millions of our ancestors who fought for positive change, who travelled to far flung corners of an unknown world, who lost their lives to give us what we have today; turn our back on that history, shrug our shoulders powerlessly and say ah well, not my problem?
It’s Easter. And while we can correctly argue that religion has caused more war, hate and death than any other belief system, if you look at the words of Jesus from a literal, humanitarian (rather than religious) perspective, what he purportedly said is a damning rebuke of neoliberalism and our prevailing selfish culture. It also reminds us why being rich with money doesn’t equal richness in heart, conscience and life.
Matthew 7:1-2 Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
Matthew 7:12 So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.
Matthew 9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew 10:42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
Luke 3:10-11 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”
Luke 12:33-34 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Luke 6:37-38 Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.
Acts 20:35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’