Letter from Peter

Crisis? What crisis?

We seem to stagger from one crisis to the next day by day. It may be the fault of the all pervading media, but I always seem to wake up to news which paints a grim picture of the world around me. Today it is plastic – we have filled the sea with our cast-off packaging and are in danger of killing off all swimming creatures. Yesterday it was air pollution – we have permeated God’s clean air with every kind of dust so that soon nobody will be able to breathe.

Before that is was pesticides souring the land, hunting destroying wildlife, corruption distorting politics, sexual aggression tainting careers. Then, of course, there is the dreadful state of our infrastructure, teetering on the brink like the railways, the dreadful housing shortage, the stretched to breaking point health service and our schools bursting at the seams.

I sometimes wonder how we can possibly continue without some major disaster.

And the reason for all this? Greed.

We want what we can get, we want it now, and we want it as cheaply as we possibly can. Instead of taking the long view, working through the implications and consequences of our actions, we – and I do include me – rush in. Our  political leaders are geared to a short term Parliament, so anything that may take longer than a couple of years is rejected. All eyes are focussed on getting re-elected instead of on the long term good of the country. That is why everything is mended with sticking plaster rather than given a considered, strategic remedy.

By contrast, religion is about being in it for the long haul. Christianity is about eternal values, about seeking to live a life which reflects a timescale far beyond a lifespan here on earth. “Life eternal” is not just something that starts when we die, but is a mindset for the here and now as well.

It is no longer fashionable to talk about sin, but almost all those vices which the term represents are down to short-termism – selfishly amassing everything for ourselves without a care for the consequences for others.

At 9.15a.m. on 21st October  1966 it took just five minutes for a pit heap to slide down the mountain onto the primary school of Aberfan in Wales. 116 children and 28 adults died. And they died because the mine owners did not deal with the pit waste properly –  a quick profit was more important.

That story is repeated again and again in our world, to our huge discredit. Destroying our environment is easy. It takes faith and wisdom to be proper stewards of God’s creation.

Peter Wolfenden