Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Our" Interests? What about the Interests of the World?

MANAMA, Bahrain – Troops and tanks locked down the capital of this tiny Gulf kingdom after riot police swinging clubs and firing tear gas smashed into demonstrators, many of them sleeping, in a pre-dawn assault Thursday that uprooted their protest camp demanding political change... (AP)

Here it is the end of the morning and I'm just sitting down to write. Fortunately I only have four HUGE projects to complete today so there's no pressure!

If you've been watching the protests in the Middle East then you will have seen the exact location where our son, Andrew, lived until he left Bahrain a few short months ago. The protests have centered in and around the traffic circle overlooked by the tower condo where he lived.

Of course we're glad that Andrew is back in Tuscany, and that he is safe. And now it's tempting to simply dismiss the repression and suffering, because the moment we're not in the direct line of fire we're just not all that interested any more. 

But it's imperative that we don't dismiss anything that lightly. We are - first and foremost - all children of God, and citizens together of a huge and complex world, a world instantly connected via rapid travel, constant media attention and advanced social networking.

The time when we could say, "We're American, we're rich and comfortable, and we don't care what goes on in the rest of the world" is long gone. And well it should be. It's not just a global economy now, it's a global conversation - and we need to be prepared to enter into a worldwide dialog about what it means to be human beings living together on this amazing planet.

The worst we can do would be to consider our own interests in isolation. Listen to these words from Paul's letter to the church in Philippi: 

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others..." (Phil 2:3-4)

OKay, I know exactly where some people will take this. "But Mr. Paul was writing to Christians," they say. "You can't talk about social or political ramifications when the letter was simply words of advice directed at a bunch of believers!"

Oh can't I? It's interesting that the point comes up, because Paul goes on to reference Jesus, who applied his principles and values to anyone he met, Jew or Samaritan or Gentile, believer or otherwise. 

So let's read on....  "In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself..." (Phil 2:5-8)

That's what I'm talking about! I am a citizen of the world. And so are you. You don't have to be Christian, or American, or White, or middle-class to be my brother or my sister. You have to be human, and at last glance I noted somewhere between six and seven billion of us milling around on this planet!

The movement in the Middle East appears to be grass-roots, emerging from the common yearning we all have to live in freedom. Personally, I find a lot of hope in that! I think the days when we unquestionably support any and every dictator who promises us oil and a military base in return for looking the other way when human rights are denied.... I think those days should be over....



Anonymous said...

It is so encouraging to read something like this. May God bless you!

Saeed Raees
A friend of Matt Rich

Derek Maul said...

Thanks, Saeed.
Grace and peace - DEREK