I listened to a programme this week on the BBC World Service, called HardTalk. The guest was Kishore Mahbubani, an ‘expert on Asian and world affairs’, a scholar, thinker and author. Prof Mahbubani has just written a book in which he claims that the world is a more prosperous, peaceful and united place than ever before in our history. The interviewer was naturally suspicious and as the name of the programme implies gave him a pretty ‘hard time’, grilling him mercilessly on some of his ideas.
Now, I am no expert on these things, on politics, economics, world affairs, but what he said rang true for me. One, among many reasons he gave for this more peaceful, prosperous, unified world is the fact that so many of our leaders study at the same institutions, recognised centres of academic excellence, and then go back to their corners of the globe having forged friendships, partnerships and alliances with the people they meet and study with. That makes sense, the more we work together and get to know one another the less likely we are to want to bomb each other or destroy one another financially.
But that’s not what struck me, what struck me was just how resistant/reluctant we are to believe that the world might be improving, that goodness may be overcoming evil. I belong to a community of faith whose central belief is that resurrection is possible, that change is inevitable and that one day we will all be united in joy and harmony. We are in the resurrection season … resurrection is about hope. Why is it that we are so reluctant to believe not only that transformation is coming but that transformation has already begun? Why is that we profess hope but struggle to live hope?
Hope breeds courage, courage breeds action and action breeds transformation.
If we in South Africa continue to stare into the dark abyss of negativity, continue to separate ourselves behind walls and gated communities, continue to be frightened of a people who are fighting for food and opportunity and a means to survive then we will not see change. As long as we fight each other rather than the systems which are oppressing and marginalising the majority, keeping people poor and hopeless then we will not resurrect the country we love so desperately. As long as we remain fearful, we will remain hopeless and as long as we are hopeless we will lack the courage to act – to believe and to work for change.
As I listened to Prof Mahbubani I couldn’t help but feel hopeful, Optimistic! The change is coming, and the change will continue to come if we remember what kind of world we are hoping and working for. A united, peaceful, prosperous world can only be created by united, peaceful, prosperous people. People who pray, who have faith and who ACT for the upliftment of all – working consciously to break down barriers and to end hunger, poverty and oppression.
On this third Sunday of the resurrection, I am grateful for men like Kishore Mahbubani who point out not only that change is possible, but that change is coming.
*walks away whistling the hallelujah chorus*