Hoping for Mankind???: Sari Nusseibeh 3 of 4

Life has been a distraction from writing lately – an extension of this series to 4 posts is your reward for patience! And, here is a reminder of how I ended the last post:

Dr. Nusseibeh’s faith in humanity and endless optimism is refreshing yet confounding.  The next and last post will be my response to this.  Is this hope in mankind enough?  Is it sustainable?  And, if not, what is?  And, if not, then what are we left with?

Hope in mankind? If you look at the world today with its freedom, enlightened advancement and awareness about very complex things, with this idea of inherent goodness of man, there is virtually no reason the world should not be experiencing anything but prosperity, peace and health. Yet, with even a short gander at world headlines, we see that war, greed and preventable health problems such as hunger, malaria and depression impact every all corners of the world. We, as a race of beings, have everything at our disposal to exist without many of these problems. So, what is the problem? Why have we not overcome the trials of this world?

Inherent goodness in mankind simply does not exist – see the first 3 chapters of Romans. I cannot agree with Professor Nusseibeh on this. By ourselves, we take freedom, wealth and power and seek to increase and defend. And, if any of these are threatened, our actions result in the exact opposite for some others that are seeking these too. We want the good things and we don’t want anyone else to take what is ours. And worse yet, we don’t want anyone to take what someday may, even remotely possibly, might be ours. Our kind deeds often are seeking status or escape from loss of wealth – year-end non-profit giving in the US comes to mind. (Yes, my family benefits from this!) What is a good offer on behalf of the government to allow people to help others has become a calculated scheme to pay the least taxes. “I will give to prevent the government from taking.”

Even (especially) Christians (and other religious people) can take the very good things that God has given us and use them for self-preservation or self-promotion. If you are offended by this, then look up the Crusades…or modern suburbia (yes, my family sort of still lives there) for that matter. Stewardship of family has nearly paralyzed the Western Church, insulating it from true sacrifice.

My overarching point here is that mankind simply does not have an inherent goodness. Any evidence of goodness comes from either societal influence or norms or from a much higher source. And, the formers are an extension of the latter.

I don’t think, given enough time, the Palestinian/Israeli conflict will resolve simply because either group will suddenly care so much for peace that they will concede the necessary points. As history has proven, even if a large group cares enough to really push for peace, others will sabotage this because it means losing power or wealth. Think Arafat here…or Israeli settlements. Arafat could have agreed to a two-state solution producing years of near peace. But, that would have caused his flow of monetary support from across the Middle East to dry up. The refusal to stop or retract the Israeli settlements is about creating a dominant presence and supremely defensible position – in reality it equates more to offense than defense. By procuring more land for Israel it is extinguishing the existence for so many native Arabs. Neither position resembles, in the least, inherent good or care for greater mankind.

So, where does that leave us? Are we destined to self-destruction? I’ll extend this to another post – one just around the corner – not months away – maybe.

Feel free to post any comments or to challenge this in any way. Just click on the comment bubble next to the title of this post.

Problem + A Little Less Problem = Solution?

I think it is necessary for us to truly understand the environment of the people we plan to serve.  What do they experience on a daily basis – just trying to get by in life?  Without an understanding like this, it is too easy to erect walls of faux understanding.  It becomes easy to assume that ministry is either near-impossible, should look a certain way or should be abandoned all together.  The following article is quite indicative of the environment that children are being raised in in some parts of the Middle East. 

http://www.slate.com/id/2195684/?GT1=38001

The article talks some of solutions but misses the point to some extent.  There are solutions to such problems that are within reach and are quite effective.  The article points out that children are learning to hate those who don’t subscribe to Islam.  I think it is absolutely critical that they be taught to love their enemies.  It isn’t good enough to suggest that they not be taught to hate.  Teach them to love.  SAT-7 kids is doing this now, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

It’s like offering flour to someone who is eating sand.  It is better but really the tongue wants the sweetness that only pure sugar can offer.  Or, perhaps more accurately…if you are in a completely dark room you could try to remove some of the darkness.  How effective would that be?  Even the light of a candle would bring relief.  The world’s response to this situation is avoidance of the negative.  Our mission is to flood the lives of these children with light.  May the Lord work mightily in their lives.  May the next generation in this region be the ones who follow the One who brings life, hope and forgiveness.  Will you pray this with us?