Sunday, February 08, 2009

Perspective!

I want to reflect on the word “perspective.”

We look at Zimbabwe and we hear about inflation running at 231million per cent the last time it was measured in July 2008. The country is clearly falling apart and the poverty is alarming. It is becoming a human catastrophe that is going unchecked it seems to me.

Today (Sunday) in our Church at The Coventry Methodist Central Hall our friends from the local Zimbabwe fellowship provided beautiful backing singing to the traditional Holy Communion part of the service. They sang the hymns in their traditional Zimbabwe language and I was overwhelmed with a mixture of emotions.

As I watched these folks, so happy and so obviously deeply in love with God I couldn’t help feeling humble. I wondered what was going through their minds as they, no doubt, thought about their families struggling back home in Zimbabwe.

I couldn’t help thinking about the word “perspective.”

We are rightly worried about the recession and the financial crisis that engulfs the leading world economies. But I can't help thinking; are we really suffering hardship when compared with the innocent and helpless people living in Zimbabwe?

The sheer joy and happiness of the Zimbabwe fellowship in Coventry has to be seen to be appreciated. I am proud to know them and I am proud that our Church in Coventry opens its doors and welcomes our friends from Zimbabwe into our Church with open arms. We can learn much from them.


Annie and I intend to join one of their traditional Zimbabwe services soon to experience their worship
first hand.

9 comments:

mike said...

A good vision, Trevor, except that the people of Zimbabwe are not helpless. Reports from there show many are working around the standard, failed economic systems--returning to a barter economy in many places. It is true that the leadership of Zimbabwe is completely to blame for that country's economic mess--a warning we should all heed. However, the citizens of that country are not helpless when it comes to changing leaders. Decades ago US President Harry S. Truman wrote that "...no government can exist without the support of the people it governs." When the people of Zimbabwe have had enough, they will change their government. Until then, they must be viewed as complicit in the situation, not as victims. We tend to see people as victims much too readily.

Of course, this is all coming from my rebel American, rugged individual perspective, which is out of favor these days even in the country that invented it.

mark jf said...

"We can learn much from them." Your exam question for today: such as? NB Please avoid sentimental and generic issues, instead focus on real takeaways we can apply to our own lives.

Sorry if I sound a bit hard-hearted and I'm glad you and they were able to take solace from your worship. But I get a bit worried about the cliche of "we can all learn from those in great distress" as it often (not here, but often) sounds like a cop-out: it can be a way of saying I don't understand the problem, don't know what to do about it but if we all admire their suffering we've conferred a dignity and meaning on it that salves my own conscience.

So - here's the challenge - just what are those lessons we can learn?

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Mike – good to hear from you.

I guess my vision is much simpler than arguing about whether the people of Zimbabwe can, can’t, should or shouldn’t help themselves.

My Christian feelings are ones of sympathy and support for people obviously living under duress.

I am sure they will find the strength to rise up because bad leadership is always rejected and beaten by people - whether we are talking national leadership; leadership in the smallest business team; or sports team; or any team. People always have the power.

The point of my post is that in perspective we have very little to complain about.

Sorry Mike but I do see the people of Zimbabwe as victims and make no apology for that and I offer them my Christian support.

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Mark – thanks for your comments - appreciated.

I think it is very easy for us - in the warmth and comfort of our very affluent lifestyles (compared with the great majority of people living in Zimbabwe) - to suggest solutions to the situations they face.

My point about what we can learn was more to do with the way these people worship. They adore God and they praise God and yet they probably have much to question about their faith. It is inspiring to me. I don’t ask or expect others to be inspired.

Actually I agree with you about how easily it can be to patronise people who are suffering by saying we can learn form them. I did not intend that to be my point. My point as explained in my earlier comment to Mike is simply that as a Christian I have terrific sympathy for the families in Zimbabwe who are undoubtedly suffering whilst the rest of the comparatively affluent world seem to stand by and watch. I wonder if we would be standing by so readily if Zimbabwe was an oil producing country.

What lessons can we learn?

Humility
Respect
Faith
Gratitude
Caring
Love
Family
Community Support

That's just a list off the top of my head … I am sure there are many more

Scott said...

Trevor,

This post could have the tailoring of a barn burner for you depending on the "perspectives" that people share.

While the people of Zimbabwe have much to live for and openly worship God, we, the developed nations must be careful about who we make our comparisons too.

If we look at the economies of scale, at no point in recent history can I remember so many people stuggling (here and abroad) to make a living in developed nations. This fact, which has been recognized by many governments, is troubling to what the future will bring.

A different "perspective", and one to keep in mind as we see the economy of our world shrink, is that we should not compare ourselves to those less fortunate in less developed countries. We should be their beacon, we should be their hope for a better future, we should, need I say, be better leaders for what their future may hold.

For our countries to regress because of corrupt and greedy leadership is unmistakeable and unforgivable for the citizens of the developed nations. We must show that we can make it through this current mess to be a leader for less developed nations. Not to forget, the failure of economies in developed nations with have far reaching affects in less developed countries with regard to donated items and aid to their progress.

We, the developed countries, have failed in our ability to lead and prosper with truth and humility. With that said, we must look to higher ground, less tolerance, and better leadership for our friends in Zimbabwe and other countries looking to our countries.

Just a different perspective...

Trevor Gay said...

"We must show that we can make it through this current mess to be a leader for less developed nations."

Thanks Scott - what a great concept you suggest: i.e. that we ‘allegedly’ more developed countries set a leadership example - now that is original thinking my friend – you could go far with radical ideas like that … :- )

Instead of being critical of ordinary people suffering abject poverty and abysmal leadership in various parts of the world, I would much rather my country lead by example and help poorer countries out.

I would love to see a change in what I call the ‘currency for intervention’ in other countries affairs, from; ‘who produces oil’ to; ‘who is suffering undeserved abject poverty.’

There would have been thousands of UK and US troops in Zimbabwe years ago if it were an oil producing country. There is something almost obscene about the double standards we apply in the name of human suffering and oppression under tyrannical leadership.

Blaming people for the circumstance they find themselves in is just too easy and convenient.

I read recently that the amount of money we spend in Europe per year on ice cream is enough to provide a primary school education for every child in the world. We surely have to seriously examine our priorities whilst our fellow human beings are wondering where their next meal is coming from. We cannot just stand by and say ‘it’s their problem, not ours’.

We all live on one planet and we do not own it.

Whilst I can see the points being made about the people of Zimbabwe helping themselves – and I believe they are trying - I love your concept of our leaders showing some real ‘world leadership’ on such matters.

Thanks again Scott.

Trevor Gay said...

PS Scott - I love the Mahatma Gandhi reply when he was asked what he thought of democracy in Britain.

He said “I think it would be a very good idea"

Scott said...

Trevor,

You guys eat a lot of ice cream; I like ice cream too.

Great response and even better wisdom by Ghandi.

Well done my friend!!!!!

503 and counting...keep on trainin'

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Scott

I love ice cream too - my favourite dessert in fact!

Gandhi must have been a fantastic man to know. Peace loving and tolerant of the prejudice, discrimination and ignorance that he faced. I’m told by my Indian friends that his place of rest is an amazing place where one can feel Gandhi’s presence – I can believe that. I have been invited by a good friend from India to visit Gandhi’s place of rest and that is something I definitely want to experience before I die.

How we could do with Mr Gandhi in our world right now.

Still a way to go on our fund raising ... but we are getting there. Thanks for your brilliant support Sir!