"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Paint the Church Green

"Yes but the trouble is..." "OK but what difference will that make?" "Why should we be the first to do anything?" "How can we possibly make a difference when we see the sheer vastness of China and what is going on there?" "How can I do anything - I am on my own, consume little, have a very small footprint on this earth already!"
We were sitting around a table in one of those lovely big French style kitchens - where everyone can comfortably congregate and chat and eat and drink and be in fellowship one with another.
Who are we? Last year we formed an ecumenical group of ten or so Christians, to meet together regularly with a common purpose, to try to Paint the Church Green. * This is the name of the excellent little book by Ellen Teague around which we based our discussions, taking a chapter at a time. The book was written specifically as a group course, to enable us to explore the relationship between faith and concern for the natural world, encouraging, it says in the blurb on the back, positive suggestions for change.
And that is when the negative comments started coming. This was our first get together after a summer break, when, somewhat ironically, so many people go away - yes flying, driving long distances, getting away, as Satish Kumar and Peter Owen Jones both remind us, from what we ourselves have created!
And I was frustrated by those negative comments - perhaps reacting more strongly than was diplomatic in the circumstances. And of course they do all have good answers. For another blog post perhaps.

"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance." (Robert Kennedy, in a speech he made in Cape Town on 7 June 1966).

“Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world – indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”
American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead

There is an old story of a man who was walking along the surf at the edge of the sea. Every now and then he knelt down to pick up one of many hundreds of starfish left stranded by the tide, and threw it back into the water. ‘Why are you doing that?’ asked his friend. ‘How can that make any difference?’ ‘It makes a difference,’ came the reply, ‘to that one.’

So come on people - be positive. Start your own little ripples of hope. As Gandhi is so often quoted as saying: You have to be the change you wish to see in the world.

* The book by the way is published by Kevin Mayhew and I have not been able to find it on Amazon. The red roses were probably flown in from abroad - not a green thing to do when we have so many beautiful flowers of our own to enjoy in their own seasons - as again pointed out to us by Satish Kumar.

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