The stories in our heads

‘Steady reductions in Arctic sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade. This could potentially slash the time it takes to travel between Asia and the West by as much as 20 days’.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

‘Boy, we are in trouble’.

Prof Sir Bob Watson

Chair of the Report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

Sir Bob was talking about the looming catastrophe for the whole planet.  Over the past 50 years its population has doubled and ‘more people have been pulled out of poverty than ever before’.  But this has been achieved by ‘burning, poisoning and trashing large sections of the most biodiversity-rich lands and oceans. … The result has been the killing of thousands of species and now a million more are threatened. … For centuries, in western culture, the good life has all been about accumulating wealth, working hard, making sacrifices for the benefits of our children. We need to shift our thinking to the idea of a fulfilling life that is more aligned with a good relationship with nature and a good relationship with other people, that is, with the public good. We need to change the stories in our heads, because they are the ones that are now enacted in decisions all the way from the individual up to government’.

Mike Pompeo represents a way of thinking that dismisses all this as hindering growth, employment and wealth accumulation. His boss, the President of the United States, pulled his country out of the 2015 Climate Accords for this reason.

‘The Jews contradicted everything Paul said’, we read this Sunday. There was a clash in the stories in Paul’s head and in theirs. Confrontation dogged the history of the early Church and it has been the default mode of all history.

In the English Civil War of the 1640s parliament came up with a law called ‘a self-denying ordinance’ by which each member had to decide whether he wanted to be an MP or a soldier. He – it was always ‘he’ in those days – could not be both. At a stroke parliament produced a professional army that went on to win the Civil War.

Today we need another ‘self-denying ordinance’.  We cannot both focus on an ever expanding economy and save our planet from over-heating.  We need to change ‘the stories in our heads’ to seek ways of advancing that are in harmony with the recovery and survival of our planet.

12 May 2019               Easter Sunday 4 C

Acts 13: 14, 43-52      Revelation 7:9, 14-17              John 10:27-30

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